Sololá Department Meet the locals

Our most recommended Sololá Department Meet the locals

From Antigua: 3 Mayan Villages on Lake Atitlan Day Tour

1. From Antigua: 3 Mayan Villages on Lake Atitlan Day Tour

This is a real immersion in the Mayan culture and you will see the lifestyle of the Mayan people. See how ancient technology is used for textile manufacture as you visit three Mayan villages around Lake Atitlan. The departure is from Antigua, with a 2.5-hour drive to Panajachel (Lake Atitlán). Then, visit San Juan la Laguna, San Pedro, and Santiago Atitlan, returning at the end to Panajachel. This is a round trip around Lake Atitlan, and there will be a one-hour stop in every town. Admire the colorful town of San Juan. Visit its attractions down the main streets such as galleries and women's coops, and witness a chocolate and coffee production demo. Then, explore San Pedro. A small town populated by Mayan Tzutujil. Discover its interesting sights and learn about the local culture there. Lastly, make a stop in Santiago Atitlán, where you can make a visit to a deity revered by the locals and visitors. Its market day is very colorful, and you can visit Santiago Apóstol Parish Church, built in the colonial times in the Renaissance style.

Explore San Juan - Full-Day of Cultural Sharing

2. Explore San Juan - Full-Day of Cultural Sharing

You have a full day to explore San Juan, the “Swiss village” of Lake Atitlan. You will spend approximately 5 hours on a guided walking tour where you learn about the unique changes that have transformed this Tzutujile Mayan village into a model community. Visit art galleries, woman's weaving cooperatives, a medicinal and curative plant garden operated by the comedrones (mid-wifes), a coffee tour, the school and library, confradia shrines, and even the mayor’s office. You will meet several families, visit with them about how their lives have changed through experiential tourism. See a traditional children’s dance performance, and learn about the story behind the dance. Enjoy lunch with local recipes from this area, or if you prefer enjoy a cheese sampler platter with over 20 cheeses, all from Guatemala. (Lunch not included in tour price). Several famous painters are from San Juan and we visit their galleries to see them at work. The village has over 40 public murals depicting important elements of the Mayan culture, the Mayan calendar and counting system. Your guide will explain the meaning behind each mural; including the Mayan story of creation, ceremony, counting system and the development of mathematics and the 5000 year old calendar.  Women Weavers and Nuestra Artesania includes demonstrations showing how the beautiful fabrics are made; from harvesting the cotton, to spinning it into yarn, dieing the yarn, and then creating one of-a-kind fabrics with the back strap loom. The Qomaneel center is a medicinal and curative herb garden operated by the midwives of San Juan. You are guided through the garden and given samples of each plant along with a description of its curative powers. All natural soaps, teas, and shampoos are made on the premises.   Learn about the confradia system and how it helps keep the traditions, both Catholic and Mayan. This tour gives the visitor a little bit of all that Guatemala has to offer. 

Lake Atitlan: Mayan Ceremony at the Sacred Caves

3. Lake Atitlan: Mayan Ceremony at the Sacred Caves

Experience an important ceremony of the Maya people of Guatemala at the most sacred and holy location on Lake Atitlan. Transfer to the trailhead from Panajachel. Then, walk to the 1st cave (a maximum 20-minute hike). Named “Nimajay,” “San Simon,” “Singing” and “Colorado,” the 4 caves have been used by the Mayans for centuries for their Fire Cleansing and Protection Ceremony. The highland tribes travel for hours to visit the holy caves, and you will feel the energy and power as soon as you approach the cave entrance. Watch the shamans perform the ceremony (not guaranteed, but available on most days), and experience an authentic part of the living Mayan culture of the Guatemala highlands. Your guide will explain why the ceremonies are performed, and teach you about the ritual and unique meanings of the Mayan calendar. Located 1,200 feet above Lake Atitlan, the caves offer panoramic views of the lake and caldera. Stand on top of Eagle Rock, and marvel at how the earth drops hundreds of feet around you. Feel your spirit soar like a bird as you stand with nothing but air on all sides. You can also visit the shrine of San Simon/Maximon, the colonial church, and a 200-foot waterfall.

Panajachel: Families and Beginners 3-Hour Rock Climb

4. Panajachel: Families and Beginners 3-Hour Rock Climb

Enjoy a 3-hour rock climbing adventure in Lake Atitlan that is perfect for anyone with no experience, or who has only ever climbed in a gym before. A professional teacher will be on hand at all times, and will provide you with all the equipment and instruction necessary for a safe but fun adventure. The only climbing school in Guatemala where you can learn the basic principals of top rope climbing, you will receive full instruction on tying knots, harness sizing, and climbing techniques. After the class, try your skills on one of the easier walls. A unique over-the water climb is available for those looking for more experience. Get a taste for climbing and you might even decide to advance to a climbing camp in Santa Cruz La Laguna on Lake Atitlan’s northern shore. Climbing sites are available for a range of ages and abilities, and stays of a week will immerse you in the beauty of the lake and fertile farmland.

Santa Cruz Guatemala: Los Elementos Community Tour

5. Santa Cruz Guatemala: Los Elementos Community Tour

Learn about the projects to improve the education and provide a higher standard of living for the indigenous Mayans of Santa Cruz. Amigos de Santa Cruz have been active in the remote village for over 15 years, making great progress in improving the education of the children, providing opportunites for higher education, and teaching better nutrition, self-awareness, and citizen responsibility. See how programs, such as early childhood education, community development, sex education, and sustainable food production are helping to improve the lives of the locals, and how the farmers are yielding better crops through permaculture and organic gardening. Visit the retail craft store to find unique handicrafts made by the students, including aprons, bags, beaded jewelry, wood and metal items, children's puzzles, puppets, and candlestick holders. Go to the town square with its centuries old church, and visit a family home to watch women practice the art of the backstrap loom. During your tour, a delicious lunch will be served by the students in the student run café inside the vocational training center. Help plant a seed of hope for a better future with your visit, and learn more about this ancient culture along the way.

Private Tour: Chichicastenango Market and Lake Atitlan

6. Private Tour: Chichicastenango Market and Lake Atitlan

Take time to journey beyond Guatemala City to take in the beauty of the surrounding region and learn about local culture and history. Explore the Chichicastenango Maya Market, and the scenic Lake Atitlan with your guide and make lasting memories of your time in Guatemala.  You will be picked up from your hotel in Guatemala City and then journey to the Western Highlands to arrive at your first location of the day, Chichicastenango. You will be mesmerized by this region of Guatemala an area most travelers would daydream about. The region is home to quaint and colorful mountain villages, highland lakes, forests and the majority of Guatemala’s indigenous people. Once you arrive at Chichicastenango Market you will begin your walking tour of the market. The market is the heart of commercial life for “maxeños”, having changed very little throughout the centuries. With your guide explore the pathways of the market and view the colorful handicrafts and produce offered by the local people of the region. Before departing Chichicastenango for the town of Panajachel you will also visit Santo Tomás Church, built in 1540 over the base of an archaeological pre-Hispanic temple. This church is a splendid example of colonial architecture, as the Mayan and Latino influence is mixed throughout both the interior and exterior of the building. Your tour will then continue to Panajachel which sits on Lake Atitlan. Visit Santander Street and enjoy a spectacular view of Lake Atitlan, considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Three spectacular volcanoes, Tolimán, Atitlán and San Pedro form the natural frame of the lake itself. The lake is truly a natural beauty to marvel at. In the afternoon, enjoy a relaxing return transfer back to Guatemala City.

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What people are saying about Sololá Department

Overall rating

5.0 / 5

based on 1 reviews

An amazing tour! Totally recomended, we learned a lot about the mayan culture, history and deities. Salvador, our guide, is from Lake Atitlan, he is amazing, truly recomended. At the start, due to a confusion with the name of the hotel, the driver didn't pass for us. But Salvador made the arrangement with the company to give us a private shuttle few minutes after. So, it was great! Again, totally recomended. You have to walk a lot in the tour to enjoy it in fullness, so is not recomended for childs or old people.

Had a great time! The tour was extremely organized, with on-time pick up from my hotel in Antigua directly to Lake Atitlan, wth a boat to take us between the various villages. Freddy was an awesome tour guide! And our driver was also very nice - we experienced hale on the way back to the hotel and he made sure we were safely taken care of.

although we came late for the ceremony. the local tour guide was extremely knowledgeable. He showed me some great spots around and its overall history of his people.

Great tour! If you are interested in learning more about mayan culture or how cristianity has merged with local religion you should definitely give it a go.

Very good private tour, spanish guide Elena was amazing, many activities! Very recommended