Guatemalan Highlands & Volcanoes

15 days
from
2 095 €
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Traveller ratings
4.1 / 5 from 17 reviews >
Challenging
Learn more
Trip code: 
TAE
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Point-to-point
Min age:
18
Group size:
4–16

Hiking amongst the mountains and lakes of the Maya.

In the central highlands of Guatemala, lofty volcanoes are commonplace. We hike through traditional Indian villages, coffee plantations and cloud forest as we climb peaks which offer staggering views. Although most of the volcanoes are now dormant, we walk to the lava fields of active Pacaya and to the steaming crater of Cerro Quemado. As well as the fantastic walking on offer, there is plenty of time to delve into the local culture and find out more about the Mayan Indians who live in the highlands.

Highlights

  • Stunning trekking in the Guatemalan mountains
  • 4-days point-to-point walking through Guatemala's volcanic heart, including Santa Maria volcano summit
  • Hike right up to Pacaya's dry lava field
  • Swim in natural thermal hot springs
  • Unique mix of Spanish and Mayan cultures around beautiful Lake Atitlan

Key information

  • 8 nights standard hotels with en suite rooms, 4 nights full-service camping, 2 nights in basic cabins with en suite rooms
  • 10 days walking 
  • Full porterage throughout
  • Altitude maximum 3500m, average 2400m
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 18 yrs

What's included

  •  All breakfasts, 11 lunches and 7 dinners
  • All accommodation (see accommodation section)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call us on
(0211) 99 49 02
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

10

Pace:

Challenging: Approximately 6-7 hours walking per day

 

Terrain:

Medium altitude; good paths with some steep ascents

Day by day breakdown
Day 26.0km/4.0miles
Day 37.0km/4.0miles
Day 45.0km/3.0miles
Day 612.0km/7.0miles
Day 711.0km/7.0miles
Day 817.0km/11.0miles
Day 919.0km/12.0miles
Day 1023.0km/14.0miles
Day 1218.0km/11.0miles
Day 1321.0km/13.0miles
St Catarina arch and volcano Antigua, Guatemala

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Antigua
to
Antigua
  • Day 1

    Start Antigua.

    Those on group flights will be met at Guatemala City airport and transferred to Antigua (approx. 1 hour). Land only clients will meet at the start hotel in Antigua.

    Accommodation: Los Bucaros Hotel or similar

    Standard Hotel

  • Day 2

    Pacaya Volcano hike (2570m).

    This morning we set off towards Pacaya Volcano which is a 1.5 hours drive away. The hike up Pacaya involves around 1.5 hours of continuous ascent on paths coated in volcanic ash, with much of the route being surrounded by subtropical forest. Due to the unpredictable volcanic activity, often we can't go all the way to the top. However, with clear weather we should have views of Guatemala City and the Pacific lowlands stretching away to the east. Close to the top, we break out of the trees and after a short walk across open land we come across the vast dry lava field. Due to the shifting lava flow, molten rock is unlikely to be visible but occasionally people can be seen toasting marshmallows on the fiery surface! After our packed lunch we will walk for about an hour to further explore the volcano before following the same path back to our vehicle. The descent takes around 90 minutes and the drive back to Antigua a further 90 minutes. On arrival, we have an orientation walking tour, visiting the main sights of Antigua's colonial city centre.

    Ascent 900m Descent 900m Max Altitude 2400m

    Time: approx. 4 to 6 hours

    Accommodation: Los Bucaros Hotel or similar

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 3

    To Panajachel and Lake Atitlan.

    After breakfast we drive about 2 hrs west towards Lake Atitlan. En route, we visit the Postclassic Mayan archaeological site of Iximche, a well-preserved city complete with ball courts, palaces and temples. After lunch we then drive to the trailhead for a 1-2 hour hike to Lake Atitlan. The route is mainly downhill (although you should expect steep and uneven terrain), passing through farmland and small villages before ending with spectacular views over the lake and the surrounding volcanoes. We spend the night in the bustling lakeside town of Panajachel.

    Ascent 0m Descent 900m Max Altitude 2400m

    Time: approx. 1 to 2 hours

    Accommodation: Utz Jay Hotel or similar

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Short boat ride across Lake Atitlan followed by Cerro de Oro Volcano walk; transfer to San Juan la Laguna.

    We take a 30 minute boat ride across the lake to Cerro de Oro, one of the least-visited villages on the lake shore and dominated by the volcano of the same name. After walking through the charming village, we reach the start of the short but intense climb through fields and coffee plantations to the summit (1870m). On the way down we will pass a sacred site still used by Mayan shamans in their rituals. After a quick descent, we board a local truck for the short transfer (approx. 20 minutes) to Santiago Atitlan where we will have a stroll around the main square and lively local market before boarding another boat for the 35 minute ride to San Juan, where we spend the night.

    Ascent 500m Descent 500m Max Altitude 1900m

    Time: approx. 2 hours

    Accommodation: Chi-Ya Hotel or similar

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Free day in San Juan.

    Today has been left free to relax, walk along the lake shore or maybe even take a dip in the cool waters. It is possible to visit neighbouring villages from here, you may wish to spend some time at the local artists' and weavers' cooperatives or embark on a climb to Volcan San Pedro where, if weather allows, you can experience fantastic views of Lake Atitlan and the surrounding Volcanoes.

    Optional Volcan San Pedro Walk: Distance 11 km

    Ascent 1500m Descent 1500m Max Altitude 3020m

    Time: approx. 5 or 6 hours

    Accommodation: Chi-Ya Hotel or similar

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Lakeshore and climb up to highland plateau.

    This morning we begin our trek into the highlands with a boat ride across the other side of the lake, we will enjoy walking moderately up and down along the lakeshore, before initializing the climb up to the San Marcos mountains. The initial climb is quite steep and rocky, but we are rewarded with impressive views of the lake's shimmering waters and its surroundings. En route we will pass through remote local villages, where we stop and learn about local species. As we reach the top we have views to the highland areas and the Sierra Maria Tecun. We reach our camp set on a mind-blowing spot with breathtaking views over the lake basin and a large portion of the highlands. For those energetic enough, a 2 hour additional hike can be arranged to a local sacred mountain top.

    Ascent 900m Descent 150 m Max Altitude 2300m

    Time: approx. 6 - 7 hours 

    Full-service Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Spectacular ridge walk to San Marcos Peak.

    Today we have a fantastic optional full-day ridge walk today as we climb Pico San Marcos (2800m), ascending through highland forests and plantations. We would recommend wearing trousers as some of the path can be overgrown with vegetation. Near the top of the mountain is a cave which has been used in Mayan rituals for centuries. The summit is almost as high as the neighbouring San Pedro Volcano, but its location allows us to enjoy views in all directions so we can see not only Lake Atitlan but all the surrounding volcanoes and the main bulk of the highlands which we will traverse over the next few days. We return to our camp in the early afternoon. You can also choose to relax at the campsite instead.

    Ascent 300m Descent 300m Max Altitude 2980m

    Time: approx. 6 hours

    Full-service Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Trek through mountains to Santa Catarina.

    We leave camp this morning and follow ancient Mayan trade routes, crossing the Nahulate river and ravine as we move deeper into the highlands. We pass through several villages along the way and we camp tonight in the area of old Santa Catarina, whose population has gradually decreased as geological activity has resulted in the collapse of several houses over the years. Here we can enjoy a Temazcal, a pre-hispanic sweat lodge used to purify the body, which the locals use to this day as showers. Our campsite is located on the grounds of a local school.

    Ascent 1100m Descent 600m Max Altitude 3000m

    Time: approx. 6 hours

    Full-service Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Sierra de Parraxquim walk.

    Today's hike takes us onto a high plateau (approx. 3000m) which forms the eastern extension of the Zunil mountain range. We pass through a cloud forest before we reach the plateau where the landscape clears and we enjoy the open highland scenery. The area is home to the Quiche Maya people who still manufacture their textiles using traditional tools such as foot looms and backstrap looms. Our afternoon tea will be shared with the welcoming local community and their children. Tonight we camp on the school grounds of another one of the local schools.

    Ascent 900m Descent 300m Max Altitude 3300m

    Time: approx. 5 or 6 hours

    Full-service Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Hike Zunil Volcano (3542m).

    After breakfast we leave camp and hike up the Zunil ridge, offering spectacular views of the Quetzaltenango Valley as we make our way up towards the 3542m summit of Zunil, a picture-perfect conical volcano. We stop just below the top, where we can see 14 other volcanoes as well as Lake Atitlan in the distance, and have lunch. The descent takes us through cloud forest to the Georginas hot springs, where we stay for the next two nights. We will be staying in basic cabins within the cloud forest. In the evening, we can soak away any aching limbs from the day's hike in the hot springs while enjoying a nice cold drink.

    Ascent 600m Descent 500m Max Altitude 3600m

    Time: approx. 8 hours

    Accommodation: Fuentes Georgina or similar

    Basic Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Visit Almolonga, Guatemala's largest vegetable market. Free afternoon to enjoy the hot springs.

    This morning we drive (approx 45 minutes) to Almolonga and visit Guatemala's largest vegetable market. Almolonga is in the heart of the country's main agricultural region. The market gives us an insight into the life of the local Mayan communities and many of the traders and customers still wear the traditional highland dress. The afternoon has been left free to enjoy more time at the springs and to explore the surrounding area. It is possible to take an optional nature walk, in order to try to spot the Quetzal bird. You can also try an exhilarating zip line course flying over the forest.

    Accommodation: Fuentes Georgina or similar

    Basic Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Short walk to Cerro Quemado Volcano (3197m).

    Today we have a 50 minute drive to the start of our 1 hour hike up the 3197m Cerro Quemado ('Burnt Peak'), a jagged volcanic rock formation. The craggy summit is very interesting to explore and there are great views of the town of Quetzaltenango, or Xela as it is known locally. We will have a 2 hour walk at the top of the peak through the “Mar de Piedra” or Stone Sea, an area full of dry lava rocks. You may find gloves useful as you will need to scramble over rocks and these will offer protection for your hands. We will have time after our descent in the late afternoon to explore the colonial town. 

    Ascent 900m Descent 900m Max Altitude 3200m

    Time: approx. 3 or 4 hours

    Accommodation: Modelo Hotel or similar

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 13

    Hike Santa Maria Volcano (3772m); transfer to Antigua.

    We start early this morning to transfer about 40 minutes to the entrance of Volcan Santa Maria. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is one of the most prominent of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rises dramatically above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. Santa Maria erupted catastrophically in 1902 destroying its former summit. Since then, a complex of new lava domes has been growing inside the scar left by the 1902 eruption. At the start of the hike, the path is quite steep, and we will be walking mainly on loose dirt and ashes. As we approach the summit of the volcano, we will pass through a forest which has been burned by old eruptions. The views from the summit are impressive - on a clear day we can view up to nine volcanoes. The summit (3773m) also offers spectacular views onto erupting Santiaguito. The descent takes around 2-3 hours to where we meet the vehicle. Then we have a 3-4 hour transfer which takes us back to colourful Antigua.

    Ascent 1800m Descent 2300m Max Altitude 3800m

    Time: approx. 5 or 7 hours

    Accommodation: Los Bucaros Hotel or similar

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 14

    Free day in Antigua; optional visit to Finca El Pilar Reserve.

    Today has been left free to wander the colonial streets of Antigua and pick up some last-minute souvenirs from the well-stocked local markets. You can also visit a coffee farm located in a small town just outside Antigua, or visit Finca El Pilar, a private cloud forest reserve located on the outskirts of Antigua. When there, a hike to the Cucurucho Mountain is possible, offering spectacular views towards Guatemala City.

    Accommodation: Los Bucaros Hotel or similar

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    End Antigua.

    The trip ends after breakfast today. Those on group flights will be transferred to Guatemala City airport for the return journey to London.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Guatemala

Holders of British, Australian, New Zealand, US, Canadian and most EU passports do not require visas for Guatemala.

Vaccinations

Guatemala

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up‐to‐date information.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 11 lunches and 7 dinners included.

Breakfast is always provided in hotels and generally consists of bread, eggs, ham, fruit, juice and coffee. You can often opt for a Guatemalan breakfast which includes eggs, beans, plantains, local cheese and tortillas.

Whilst camping your food will be prepared by a local chef. Throughout the camping section of your trip we will ensure you have delicious packed lunches and evening meals designed to ensure you have the right balance of nutrients and carbohydrates to give you the maximum energy for trekking.

Although meat plays a key part in many Central American dishes, vegetarians are well catered for. Please advise us on booking of any special dietary requirements you may have.

Weather

Between November and February the daytime maximum is around 23ºC rising to 30ºC in summer. Nights are much cooler, around 6ºC in winter and 16ºC in summer. It can be surprisingly cold in the highlands on winter nights. The wet season is from June to October, when it normally rains on average one day in three. During the other months rain is much less likely, but there is the chance of an occasional storm at almost any time.

Guatemala City

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 5 (Challenging)

Though this trip is planned to avoid the full heat of summer and the rainy season, it can be hot and humid in Guatemala at any time of the year, and you should be prepared to walk long distances in sometimes difficult climatic conditions. The initial hikes are around 2-3 hours each, but for the majority of the trip you should expect to walk approximately 6 hours a day. Although the walks are not all necessarily long, you should expect steep ascents and descents. Although most of the trekking is relatively straightforward with well-defined and well-made trails, the ascent and descent of Pacaya Volcano can be testing because of the amount of volcanic ash on its slopes. Due to natural lava rock formations on the top of Santa Maria volcano some scrambling is required. On several days you will be joined by tourist police. They are a requirement of the local parks and will not interfere with your trip.

You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Call us on
(0211) 99 49 02
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & Camping

We stay in a variety of colonial and modern hotels on this trip, all with en suite rooms.
The camping will be arranged on a full-service basis, with all camp chores done and meals cooked and prepared for you. The first two nights camping will be at campsites with flushing toilets, one shower, and electricity points. The second two nights camping will be at campsites with flushing toilets, no shower and no electricity points.

For the two nights in basic cabins at the Georginas hot springs, there are en suite facilities with cold showers, thermal plunge pool and toilets in each cabin. Sheets and blankets will be provided. There are electricity points in the cabins.

Additional Accommodation

Pre and post tour accommodation can be booked through us. Please contact our sales team for further details.

The single supplement does not apply to the two nights in the Georginas hot springs where the number of available rooms is limited.

Call us on
(0211) 99 49 02
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call us on
(0211) 99 49 02
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed February 2016
    Mary Russell

    Tough but worthwhile

    Stunning views, tough climbs great guides

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The last day - an early start with a procession of head torches to climb Santa Maria. You spend the previous week climbing volcanos around Santa Maria, and the view from the top is absolutely amazing

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good, there were two - Juan and Raf. We always had one leading at the front, one at the back. We also had a Miguel join for a week or so, and 2 tourist police. We were well escorted.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Half the group got sick - be so careful with hygiene. Do all the optional stuff. It's cold at night, and often you'll sit outside to have supper on the camping days, but warm when you are walking in the days

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip notes were out of date - distances and climbs / descents, but every day was clearly described by the guides. Camping at the schools was a mixed bag - the first was awful, the second great. you could take pens / books for the schools if that is your thing
  • Reviewed January 2016
    Lesley Fysh

    Volcanoes

    Although the views are spectacular at certain points on this trip, much of the actual walking is not very interesting, being in trees most of the way up and down. The places that we visited, Antigua, Xela, Iximche and Lake Atitlan were all great, and we enjoyed seeing some of the traditional Mayan ways still going on. The trip deserves it's Challenging grading.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The views from the top of Volcan Santa Maria on the last walking day were very beautiful. The walk starts very early to maximise the chance of a clear sky before the clouds come in.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Juan and Rafael were great and very helpful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be sure it is the right trip for you. The walking is mostly steep uphill and then steep downhill among trees. It's not like trekking in Nepal or Ethiopia for example. Also, be prepared for eating outside on cold evenings at campsites and the hot springs (the evenings are cold there) so bring warm clothing for sitting around in.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you do this trip, do an extension to Tikal if you have time.
  • Reviewed December 2015
    Trevor Williams

    Guatemala

    Truly challenging trip that lived up to its billing. The final walking day was tremendous

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the top of the volcano on the final walking day and seeing the neighbouring volcano erupt.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both leaders were very good.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is challenging. Because of the nature of volcano's there is a lot of up and down and no ridge walks. Be prepared.K
  • Reviewed March 2015
    Barry Holmes

    Guatemalan Highlands & Vocanoes

    This trip was a bit different from the normal point to point trekking. It was much more varied and I very much enjoyed it. As an example, there is an optional ascent of Volcan San Pedro which has great views from the summit over Lake Atitlan. It's a fairly hard 1,200 metres of ascent. We took tuk-tuks to an early start around 07.00, were at the top by 10.30, enjoyed the views and instead of the normal packed lunch we were back down for lunch in a restaurant, after which we had a free afternoon. It was shorts and T-shirts by day but could be quite cold and windy at night ( most camping nights were spent on school playgrounds and we sometimes ate in a classroom on little children's chairs). I'd be happy to recommend this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were some great views, especially of Lake Atitlan. However, a special moment came just after a group photograph had been taken at the highest point of the trip, the summit of Volcan Santa Maria, when we were treated to an eruption of ash and smoke from nearby Santiaguito.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had three local guides, Juan, Rafael and Miguel. The first two spoke excellent English whilst Miguel would try to teach us Spanish in return for us helping him improve his English. All three were extremely helpful and each had a good sense of humour. I greatly enjoyed their company and had full confidence in them. Everything went to plan and they even laid on excellent weather.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you fly via the USA remember you'll need an ESTA and to queue up to go through immigration, even just for transit.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The only downside to this trip was the use of United Airlines. Across the Atlantic you only have to pay extra for alcoholic drinks but to Guatemala you only get a free soft drink and you have to pay for everything else, food and entertainment. They also may change your return flight whilst you are in Guatemala and they always seem to overbook.
  • Reviewed March 2014
    Chloe Knott

    Amazing Guatemala!

    Just returned from an amazing 2 weeks in Guatemala. The trekking was tough but beautiful and only one day was thwarted by an erupting volcano!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Highlights including enjoying leisurely beer in the natural hot springs buried deep in the jungle, zip lining over the forest canopy, a boat trip across Lake Atitlan and trekking to the top of several amazing volcanoes.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Juan and Rafa were brilliant. Lovely characters who were keen to show the best of their beautiful country as well as ensuring everyone had a great time.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take quick drying clothes, things can get quite damp on the camping nights due to the natural climate of the rainforest. Also it gets very chilly in the evenings so make sure you have a warm fleece and hat.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a great trip - if you are thinking of doing it don't hesitate - book it!
  • Reviewed December 2013
    Anonymous

    GUATEMALAN HIGHLANDS & VOLCANOES

    The sheer diversity of the trip is wonderful!  From exploring the vast and colourful vegetable market,  zip wiring, exploring Mayan ruins, boat trips, highland villages, bird watching,  soaking in glorious hot spring tubs, meeting friendly local people, including Miguel's lovely family, the whole trip was superb and that is before we start on the fabulous walking up five volcanoes............. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the top of glorious Santa Maria, with volcanoes galore all around, some of which we had climbed. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    All three group leaders were superb; special mention goes to Juan who was responsible, friendly, competent, flexible and good fun throughout.  We were particularly impressed with the way he responded to the group and made things happen even if they weren't on the 'trip notes'!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't be obsessed with 'trip notes'!  Flexibility is good - the 'off piste' activities that Juan and his team offered were some of the BEST bits!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The weather was superb throughout (sorry that the previous group were not so lucky)  with blue skies and sunshine every day.  The dry season had just started and we reaped the benefits.  Juan at the very beginning mentioned that life is not hurried in Guatemala and that we would enjoy it best if we relaxed and enjoyed the leisurely tempo of Guatemalan life.  He was right! The food that Juan Carlos and his ace team prepared in difficult conditions was superb.  Most of us found our way to his restaurant in Antigua on our free day there, just to savour the delights one more time!We visited the Filadelfia coffee plantation on our day in Antigua and found it fascinating - and you get to travel in a WW2 Unimog truck!
  • Reviewed December 2013
    Anonymous

    Guatemala: Land of the eternal spring (shower!)

    Guatemala has great potential as an adventure travel destination, but my holiday (in October 2013) was blighted by frequent torrential rain that significantly detracted from the experience.  The 2013 Trip Notes were not always representative of the walks actually on offer – Exodus have assured me that this is going to be corrected for departures in 2014 onwards.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I was hoping for plenty of stunning highland views on this holiday and I’m sure they’re available in good weather, but the heavy rain severely limited what we were able to see.  Instead, spending time with Quiche Maya locals in the highlands of Guatemala was a highlight – despite current FCO advice stating that Guatemala suffers from high rates of crime, I never felt in any way unsafe whatsoever and I don’t think I’ve ever visited such a friendly and relaxed country.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Juan and Esteban were friendly and enthusiastic guides.  They did a good job of making alternative accommodation arrangements when our campsite flooded and booked alternative excursions for us when we all got fed up with trekking on washed out paths in the pouring rain.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Come prepared for all weathers and avoid travel to Guatemala in October if the end of the wet season in 2013 that I experienced is anything to go by.  If bad weather washes out the paths, trekking poles are pretty much essential – particularly for the steep descent off the Zunil Ridge down to Georginas Hot Springs. The accommodation arrangements for the 6 days of trekking are supposed to consist of camping in tents.  Spacious canvas tents were provided, but they weren’t waterproof so we ended up sleeping on the think foam mattresses provided on the floor of a nearby refuge for the first two nights of the trek and on the floor of a classroom of the local school for the 3rd and 4th nights (again on the think foam mattresses provided).  Note that the 2 nights spent at Georginas Hot Springs actually involve staying in cabins rather than camping. Money exchange in Antigua was somewhat time-consuming – it may be better to get some Quetzales changed at the airport at the beginning of the trip where exchange rates are as competitive as in town. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I didn't find this tour to be a particularly challenging volcano climbing trek, it’s more of a visit to the Guatemalan Highlands with a variety of countryside walks on offer (the only summit we climbed to was Volcan San Pedro and this wasn’t actually part of the Exodus itinerary).  Following discussions with Exodus after my holiday in October 2013, Exodus have assured me that they are going to amend the Trip Notes to more accurately reflect the walks on offer each day for departures in 2014 onwards.
  • Reviewed November 2013
    Anonymous

    The real Guatemala

    There is a wet season. We saw highland Guatemala like it truly is, even when the tourists aren't there. Mountain villages, colourful markets, a religious festival. But it rained, a lot. The wildflowers were magnificent, but we didn't get many views of distant volcanoes. The active volcanoes on the itinerary were both deemed currently too dangerous. For me, as a seasoned Scottish hill walker, too few of the days were long and challenging. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The flowers and the food.Relaxing in unlimited hot water at Fuentes Georginas after a wet and eventually rather cold afternoon on the hill. Saunas are recommended.We saw a quetzal too, quite close and for around half an hour.  Pity it was misty.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The weather gave our leaders extra work to do, making changed arrangements.  There was no question of camping because of the weather.  All done without a hitch or a murmur. They were also very good at providing alternatives, including necessary transport, for the 'days off'. They knew where to eat - excellent food.  Excellent food on the trek too, prepared by a professional chef.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Brace yourself for Miami airport on the way back - it's not good.  And use the bathroom before joining the 2 hr queue!If you use poles, do remember to bring them. Paths are steep and very slippery if wet.
  • Reviewed November 2013
    Anonymous

    50 shades of fogs

    Guatemala is a fantastic country with great people and the tour leaders were excellent.  However, I was disappointed that Exodus offered this trip in October (in-between the rainy and dry season) as (1) we had rain almost everyday and could not fully enjoy the views nor the camping (tents were not waterproof!) and (2) most importantly it felt quite unsafe to go downhill in some parts due to the rain. I recommend this trip but not in October.
  • Reviewed March 2013
    Anonymous

    GUATEMALAN HIGHLANDS & VOLCANOES

    Very impressive trip: stunning scenery, fabulous hiking, and a fascinating insight into Mayan history and Guatemalan life. We had a great group, and a lot of fun.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A real highlight was seeing two erupting volcanoes, and watching the sun rise over Lake Atitlan. I really enjoyed getting off the beaten track, and experiencing local hospitality.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Leaders, Pedro and Esteban, were excellent. Their enthusiasm, professionalism and insight made our trip great fun and extremely rewarding. They worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make everything run smoothly -- and to offer us a range of interesting options during our time in Antigua and Lake Atitlan. A special mention too for our local guide, Miguel, who made us so welcome, and helped make our trip so sociable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Unquestionably a serious hiking trip. A fabulous choice if, like me, you want some challenging mountain trekking. Expect the itinerary to vary slightly, to meet changing conditions. Enjoy going with the flow -- the tour leaders never failed to deliver!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Keen walkers, who want something different, will love this trip. I enjoyed everything from the food, to the fun, to the fabulous views. I've been given a fascinating insight into Guatemala's history, culture, and coffee production. The saunas and hot springs were pretty good too. A great experience all round. Many thanks.

Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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