This June, you have the opportunity to join artist Karen Vernon and explore the beauty and splendor of Guatemala. Discover some of the world’s most inspiring settings… the many layered textures and colors of Guatemala are an artist’s heaven and a traveler’s dream. The people and the culture will weave their way into your heart as you explore the ruins of the early Maya civilizations and the small villages where the indigenous population live, speak, dress and practice their religion as they did hundreds of years ago. The markets, the feel of Spanish Colonial, and the colorful countryside will all make you want to return again and again.
We stay at the most unique, luxurious hotels and dine on the finest cuisine (including the “typical” indigenous fare); travel the country in first class motor coaches with the best drivers and guides (all connected by cell phone and radios); comfortable seats, lots of room and viewing windows are the order of the day. Visit the “must see” as well as private venues that are not seen or experienced by others.
About the Artist
Karen Vernon is a very active painter. She has been painting in watercolor, oil, pastel or acrylics since her childhood. She has worked with watercolor for over 50 years and her skill in this medium is demonstrated in each of her painting, which are a visual enchantment of color and light. She is constantly seeking to interpret life around her and depicts her images in vibrant, often oversized images.
As a professional artist with a worldwide market, she has achieved notable recognition. Karen was invited to show her work in a three year traveling museum exhibition entitled “Sea to Shining Sea”. She was one of only 47 artists selected to participate in this major project honoring our country. Her paintings hang in museum collections in Europe and in the United States, as well as private and corporate collections, such as the Royal Family of Saudi, Delta Airlines, the Chateu de Vuilliens, the National PGA Headquarters, the Moody Gardens resort Hotel, and the Walt Disney Corporation. She has been elected to the Birmingham Watercolour Society of Birmingham, U.K., is in Who’s Who in American Art, Strathmore’s Who’s Who, and holds a signature membership in the Texas Watercolor Society and the Watercolor Art Society – Houston.
Karen Vernon is the founder of ACT, Artist Changing Tomorrow, a fundraiser to maintain and sustain art education.
“Vernon’s strong command of color contrast and remarkable control of detail lies at the base of her expressions of the love of nature and deepest human values”…Calvin Goodman, Los Angeles, CA.
“…her investigation of light and pattern is evident and her renderings, sophisticated.” The Chronicle Independent, Houston
Our Travel Itinerary
Monday, June 3rd
Guatemala City to Antigua
Fly to Guatemala City and after clearing customs, you will be met outside as you exit the terminal. We will transfer to the colonial city of Antigua for our stay at the Hotel Casa Santo Domingo.
As folks will be arriving at different times (some late into the night) dinner will be on your own tonight. We recommend the hotel’s fabulous dining room (we call it the Dining Room of the Monks).
Tuesday, June 4th
After breakfast, Karen will do an introductory demo on location. She will go over the materials list, the planned workshop itinerary, and individual goals each student has for painting on location in this exotic locale. We will meet in the beautiful gardens that surround the pool for a short introductory tour of our hotel. The Hotel Casa Santo Domingo, a Monastery built in the XVI century is beautifully restored and includes an extensive collection of Guatemalan Colonial religious works of art and is the most complete archeological monument in the Americas. A private glass art collection and candle and ceramics factories are located within the area of the archeological site. Every corner has a special detail or treasure.
In the afternoon, Karen will provide instruction.
This evening we will gather on the terrace overlooking the romantically beautiful city of Antigua for a sunset glass of wine, then a special dinner in the Casa Santo Domingo’s Dining room of the Monks. (B/D)
Wednesday, June 5th
Awaken to the sounds of the Macaws chattering and the sights of bright bougainvillea, emerald volcanoes, and richly textured ruins.
Painting on location at the ruins of Antigua. After a discussion of goals and intentions, Karen will work with painters while non-painters visit the Church of San Francisco, a Monastery of the Franciscan Order. Here you will find the tomb of recently canonized Saint Hermano Pedro de San José de Bethancourt, a Franciscan friar of the late 17th century, known for his great charity and love for the poor.
Sky Café for lunch.
In the afternoon Karen will continue working with painters and non-painters will visit the market and local shops. Meet in lobby for dinner departure to any one of the charming restaurants of Antigua. (B/L/D)
Thursday, June 6th
After breakfast in a local café and a tour of the main Plaza and Cathedral, we will walk to a pre-selected sight for some painting time. Colonial architecture surrounds us everywhere and will be the instruction of the day.
Painters lunch will be brought to location and non-painters will join them.
The rest of the afternoon everyone will be free for exploring Antigua, shopping, creative work, or enjoying the hotel pool and Jacuzzi.
There being a proliferation of wonderful European and other fine restaurants in Antigua, tonight you may dine on your own in the restaurant of your choice (check your Restaurant list) (B/L)
Friday, June 7th
Comalapa & Lake Atitlán
After breakfast we will get an early start today. We need to be checked out and on the bus by 7:30 for our scenic drive to Comalapa. This village has become an important center of naïf painting largely due to Andrés Curruchich, whose paintings are in galleries the world over. In the main plaza do not miss the famous colonial cathedral (1564) that is frequently depicted in the naïf paintings. Though severely damaged in the 1976 earthquake, the facade still overlooks the plaza. To the right of it is the new brick church, completed in 1986, of similar size and style in yellow and white, with fine carved doors and an interesting wood ceiling but never appears in the primitive paintings. Today is market day in Comalapa. Enjoy the colors, the people, and let your senses run free. Here Karen my do a demo in the amidst of the Maya specators.
Keep your sketchbook or journal, and camera handy for capturing first impressions for next we will travel through the magnificent Guatemalan highlands with spectacular vistas and scenes of the Maya in a world not too changed from hundreds of years ago We will stop along the way at Katok, a local, well-patronized, smokehouse restaurant tucked away in the mountains for a light lunch. Then continue on to the most beautiful lake in the world, Lake Atitlán. Here we will be staying at the Hotel Atitlán, surrounded by botanical gardens, towering volcanoes, terraced mountainsides, and villages with beautiful lake views. We will take time to draw or photograph beside the lake, or just to reflect on Hotel Atitlán’s elegant gardens. (B/L/D)
Saturday, June 8th
Today is reserved for a special paint-out in the gardens of Hotel Atitlán. Non-Painters may explore the hotel environs, hike the nature walk (highly recommended), sketch, photograph, or just sit by the pool with a good book.
After lunch, we’ll visit the local town of Panajachel. Bring your camera to continue to gather images for your future masterpieces. After dinner there will be an informal critique and discussion.
Meet in the bar, then dinner. (B/L/D)
Sunday, June 9th
Chichicastenango & Lake Atitlán
Today, take minimal equipment for writing, drawing, and photography while you explore this unique Maya cultural experience. After breakfast we will depart for the famous Chichicastenango market; colorful, exciting; a maelstrom of furious commerce and the best place in the country to buy textiles and handicrafts.
First, we will visit the Santo Tomas Church to witness the convergence of the Catholic religion with the ancient Maya rituals (this is a good time to sketch and record sites within the Cathedral).
Then on to the market brimming with arts and crafts as well as everything imaginable for, of, and by the local Maya Indians.
We will have lunch at Don Juan After lunch we will return to the Hotel Atitlán. Karen will do a review of work done thus far and offer tips for use in completing projects. This evening we will enjoy a Churasco in the Ranchito, at the water’s edge. (B/L/D)
This day will be filled with cultural experiences and surprises!
A fter breakfast we will board a boat and motor across the lake to the village of San Juan for some local color and a little shopping.
We will meet back at the boat for a short ride to the unique home of Candis Krummel, built in the traditional style of Tz’utujil architecture and featured in Architectural Digest, August 2002, She and her Maya cooks will prepare a delicious traditional Tz’utujil gourmet festive lunch for us over an open wood fire. Have your sketchbooks and cameras handy. This will be an experience you will not soon forget. In the afternoon you will have an opportunity to prepare for showing off your work this evening. There will be a wine and boquitas party to share experiences of the trip and show off your work. (B/L/D)
Tuesday, June 11th
Lake Atitlán to Guatemala City
This morning you may enjoy the spirit of the place that has moved you the most. It will be a free morning to paint, explore the hotel environs, hike the nature walk (highly recommended), visit the local town of Panajachel, sketch, photograph, or just sit by the pool with a good book.
Have your bags picked up and checked out by 12:00.
After lunch we must say "adios" to Lake Atitlán and return to the Hotel Inter Continental in Guatemala City. We will dine together at a great Guatemala Steakhouse. (B/L/D)
Wednesday, June 12th
Return flights home. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
*Before you register, please read Explore Amazing Places Terms and Conditions
Included in your Semana Santa Tour: ▪ 10 days, 9 nights at unique and luxury hotels ▪ meals per itinerary, including gratuities ▪ hotel baggage handling gratuities ▪ deluxe motor coaches and private boat, including driver tips ▪ excursions and entrance fees listed in itinerary
NOT Included: ▪ Airfare from your hometown to Guatemala ▪ Airport baggage handling tips (we recommend 5Qs - or .75 cents per bag) ▪ Any “optional” venues listed as such in itinerary ▪ Alcoholic beverages and tips (10%) for alcoholic beverages ▪ Any Airport Security Taxes ▪ Any expenses incurred should you choose to deviate from the itinerary
Price: $2595 (Double Occupancy), $575 (Single Supplement)
Explore Amazing Places prefers payment to be made by check. You may make the $500 per person deposit*, pay your Balance Due, or pay the full amount for your tour by sending checks:
PAYABLE TO: Explore Amazing Places
MAIL TO: Explore Amazing Places
20553 W Legend Trail
Buckeye, AZ 85396
*If you are registering 120 days or less prior to the departure date of your tour, you must pay for the trip in FULL, rather than a $500 deposit.
If you prefer to pay by credit card, please use the link below and we will send you information on payment through Pay Pal. Explore Amazing Places was previously known as Explore Guatemala. All payment references are listed under the previous company’s title. Rest assured, your payment will be received by Explore Amazing Places.
You have many options when making your travel plans. If you’d like to purchase your own airfare and insurance, there are a myriad of online options available to you. However, When researching flights, we recommend you request a flight quote from our trusted air partner Exito Travel. They can be reached by phone at (800)-655-2053 or you can email them for a Flight Quote Request:
Exito Travel has provided us with a team that is focused on travel to each of our specific destinations. Be sure to let them know that you are traveling with Explore Amazing Places and provide them with the tour that you will be joining.
Exito Travel can also assist you with insurance for both flights and in-country travel. Be sure to let them know that you’d like a quote for travel insurance in addition to flight information when calling direct or using their online form.