During this private tour you’ll have the opportunity to explore unmatched deep sea angling in Puerto San Jose, as well as experience the amazing beauty of Holy Week, (Semana Santa) in Antigua, Guatemala. Antigua’s Semana Santa is the most extravagant and impressive in all Latin America, rivaled only by a similar event that takes place in Seville, Spain. The cobblestone streets of 16th century colonial Antigua are covered in alfombras (carpets) made up of colorfully dyed sawdust, pine needles, flowers, flower petals, corozo (yellow flowers pulled from giant palm pods), berries, fruits, and vegetables.
The celebrations reach crescendo proportion with the big processions and pageants on Good Friday. On Thursday night the streets are meticulously carpeted and on Friday morning a series of processions with teams of penitents wearing peaked hoods and accompanied by solemn dirges (melancholic music from local brass bands) and billowing clouds of copal incense accompany them as they carry the image of Christ and the Cross on massive platforms. Some of these floats weigh over 7000 pounds and require 60 men to carry.
No other town has the appeal and the charm of the world renowned Spanish Colonial Antigua, Guatemala. From its colonial architecture to its local markets, quiet courtyards with ornate gardens, this town is considered one of the most beautiful in Central America. It is like stepping back into time over 300 years.
Our Travel Itinerary
Sunday, April 7th
Guatemala City to Antigua
Arrive in Guatemala City and experience the thrill of a lifetime…Helicopters over the mountains and volcanos to the beautiful colonial city of Antigua.
John and Anita will be waiting outside of customs to take you to your waiting helicopter, and will accompany you to your accommodations in the colonial city of Antigua.
Accommodation: Casa Santo Domingo, a former Dominican Monastery
Upon arrival at one of the most beautiful former Monasteries (turned 5 star hotel) in the Americas, the Casa Santo Domingo, you will enjoy a welcome drink on the terrace, hearing a brief history of this former Monastery, while your luggage is being delivered to your room. The magnificently restored hotel and grounds includes an extensive collection of Guatemalan Spanish Colonial religious works of art and is considered the most complete archeological monument in the Americas.
Monday, April 8th
Awaken to the sounds of Macaws and sights of colorful bougainvillea before heading out to see the city. Antigua de Guatemala was voted # 5 in the list of top cities to see in Central and South America by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine Reader’s Choice Awards for 2013. "Charming boutique hotels, art galleries and small restaurants ... It's a "must-see town.” Coffee will be available in your hallway starting at 6:30 AM. We will depart by foot through Antigua, for breakfast at the Café Condessa.
One of the best-preserved colonial cities in the Americas, Antigua is a captivating town; it feels as though time stopped here 300 years ago. On a walk with us you will visit the Central Plaza and discover the main Spanish-Baroque influenced buildings in the town, which include El Portal, Palacio de Capitanes, and Antigua’s Cathedral. Carrying onward, we will take you through the locally-popular Tanque La Union, and across the calle to the convent Santa Clara.
Lunch at our favorite “bohemian” style restaurant, Café Sky, looking back over the rooftops to the Church San Francisco.
After a fun lunch we will visit the Jade Factory-Museum, to learn of the rediscovery of the ancient Maya Jade mines. This is the best place in Antigua to shop for factory- direct Jade.
This evening we will enjoy a superb dinner in the Dining Room of the Monks. (B,L)
Tuesday, April 9th
Antigua & Puerto San Jose
After a sumptuous breakfast in the Dining Room of the Monks, this morning we walk the grounds of the Monastery / Hotel and the excavated colonial era ruins, as well as visiting the interesting museums offered here. Afterwards John will offer a personalized special tour of the Convento Capuchinas, one of the most unknown and misunderstood, but one of the best preserved of all the colonial structures in the new world. Lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in Antigua - Epicure.
After lunch, you have options galore. We suggest the local Market – full of color, textiles, and other hand made items. Or, this may be the afternoon for some wonderful SPA treatments and leisure time. Dinner this evening overlooking the ruins of the Cathedral at Jean Francois’ French Restaurant – Tartines. (B,L)
Depart after lunch for Puerto San Jose and the Casa Vieja Fishing Lodge where you may settle in, take a refreshing swim in the pool, have a drink or two before dinner and visit with your Captain to get a preview on the next day’s fishing (B,L,D)
Wednesday, April 10th
Antigua & Puerto San Jose
For those seeking the ultimate sailfish on the fly experience, this is the place. The finest boats, tackle, captains and facilities are found at Casa Vieja in Guatemala. With experienced captains, well- appointed boats, and daily releases averaging 12 fish per boat per day, this is truly the finest operation for serious anglers in search of Pacific sailfish on the fly. Tasteful accommodations and fine dining complete the high-end saltwater experience.
The offshore waters immediately outside of Puerto San Jose/Puerto Iztapa Guatemala are without question the most sailfish rich waters in the world. For anglers looking for maximum number of shots, this is the place. Most of the fishing occurs in an offshore bowl that begins roughly fifteen miles offshore and terminates roughly forty miles offshore. The region’s sailfish typically run from 70-120 pounds and are known to be willing takers of both flies and baits.
Fly anglers will troll hook-less teasers to “raise” the fish and then the mates will attempt to tease the fish in close to the transom. When the fish is roughly 20 feet away the teaser is yanked from the water and the fly angler ties to immediate lay his or her fly in its place. If the bait and switch works, the fish will pick up the fly (often a large popper floating on the surface) and head away from the boat with it. The rest is mayhem! (B,L,D)
The sun rises early but you may sleep in today, or rise with the sound of the doves and the clatter of horse drawn carriages passing by in this magical city, and explore Antigua and its fascinating colonial history. Breakfast in the exquisite dining room of the Casa Santo Domingo then spend the day as you please but we will be on hand to direct you to the things you are most interested in seeing or doing. Lunch at your leisure.
The afternoon is unscheduled. Explore, or shop on your own. This colonial jewel of a city covered in colorful bougainvillea with its cobblestone streets is filled with monumental buildings, including 30 churches, 18 convents and monasteries, 15 hermitages, 10 chapels, and the San Carlos University.
Dine tonight at yet another of Antigua’s superb restaurants. (B)
Thursday, April 11th
Antigua to Lake Atitlán / Puerto San Jose
Leave this morning for the famous Chichicastenango Maya Market and Lake Atitlán. Meet your professional driver for a private transfer to Chichi and Lake Atitlan in the Guatemalan highlands. Total travel time will be approx 3 hours.
Built over a Pre-Columbian Maya temple, we first visit the 400 year old Santo Tomas Church to see the convergence of the Catholic religion with ancient Maya rituals. Then, come ready to shop and bargain in this colorful 800 year old K’iche” market where Maya families buy and trade. Bargain for exquisite textiles, unique handicrafts, and brightly painted, carved masks, all replicating designs and techniques passed down through many generations.
After Lunch we depart for the lake and Hotel Atitlán. Surrounded by botanical gardens, towering volcanoes, terraced mountainsides, and villages with beautiful crystalline lake views that dominate one’s field of vision from every angle. This evening we will gather in the bar for a social libation before we dine on a meal especially prepared for us by the chefs of Hotel Atitlán.
Accommodation: The beautiful Hotel Atitlan
Hotel Atitlan is one of Guatemala’s finest and most charming boutique hotels. The hotel is situated 10 minutes from the main town of Panajachel on what once was the estate of a family owned coffee plantation, now a lush botanical garden. The decorations are beautiful, with hand-carved wooden furnishings blending exceptionally well with ornate ceramic tiles. It is wonderfully decorated with wood hand-carved furnishing combined with ornate ceramic tiles. The design and décor reflect the elegant Spanish colonial style of an 18th century Guatemalan plantation. Floors are made from traditional tile and covered with beautifully hand-woven area rugs. Hotel Atitlan is designed to be a relaxing home away from home for discriminating travelers in search of a truly unique experience.
Here at Casa Vieja Lodge where you feel you are in a tropical paradise, the staff will come to your door for your personal wake up call bring a steaming pot of Guatemalan coffee, cream and sugar. A delicious hot breakfast is only moments away, and the boats in the Marina are only 5 minutes away. Fishing with some of the best captains and crews in the world, who routinely set records for fish caught and raised will be the thrill of a lifetime.
Friday, April 12th
After a sumptuous breakfast on the Terrace, we will depart for a boat trip around the lake, disembarking at the Maya village of San Juan La Laguna where our guide Lee will take us to a weaving cooperative for demonstrations of weaving, dye techniques, and a look at the finished textiles and then to the chocolate shop to learn the art of processing cacao. There will be plenty of time to browse and shop. (B,L)
After breakfast leave Casa Vieja for Antigua where your van from Hotel Atitlán will meet you to take you to Lake Atitlán. Here you will meet up with some fabulous ladies for the afternoon, evening, and if you are good, the rest of the trip. (B,L)
Saturday, April 13th
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast on the Terrace, then today is an opportunity to just relax and enjoy your magnificent surroundings, or if you prefer, several other options abound. You can hike the Nature Walk of the Atitlan Nature Reserve, see a butterfly area, and try the zip-line at Cables X- tremos ... all only a ten minute walk from the hotel. You may also choose to take a tuk-tuk (small passenger vehicle) into the nearby town of Panajachel for a little shopping and people watching. A stroll through the beautiful botanical gardens of Hotel Atitlan where you will discover over 200 varieties of roses, an orchid collection, a tropical Heliconia garden, and a small English style knot garden, is relaxing and an opportunity to commune with nature. Also, if you’d like we can offer an amazing Maya cooking class, or a boat trip around the opposite side of the lake to view several Maya villages, beautiful homes of the Rich & Famous of Guatemala, fishermen in their Cayucos, and Maya women doing their laundry on the rock outcrops of the lake (while passing on the day’s gossip). (B,L)
Sunday, April 14th
Lake Atitlán & Guatemala City
After breakfast, it will be your last chance to enjoy the most beautiful Botanical Gardens in Central America, and to visit the unique gift shop for those last minute purchases. After lunch on the terrace we depart for Guatemala City. (B,L)
Accommodation: Real InterContinental Hotel
Located in Zona Viva, the heart of Guatemala’s entertainment and business district, the Real InterContinental Hotel provides guests with modern amenities and comforts in this historic city. Every room has been designed to ensure a positive experience, with streaming speed internet service, soundproof windows, ergonomic mattresses and more.
Monday, April 15th
We’ll make sure you arrive at La Aurora International Airport safely and comfortably. Navigating this modern airport is a breeze and will punctuate the incredible experience you’ve just had. Bon Voyage and we hope to see you again soon! (B)
Included in your Tour:
▪ 9 days, 8 nights at unique and luxury hotels ▪ meals per itinerary including tips ▪ hotel baggage handling and driver gratuities ▪ deluxe motor coaches/private boat ▪ excursions/ entrance fees per itinerary
▪ Airfare from your hometown to Guatemala ▪ Fishing Trip ▪ Helicopter Service
▪ Airport baggage handling tips (we recommend 5Qs, or U.S. . 75per bag) ▪ Alcohol or personal room charges ▪ Guide tip (when we provide a guide we recommend $3 - $5 per person)
Explore Amazing Places Tour: $2210 per person Double Occupancy
Deposit: $500 per person
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: John Korte
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.