This September, you have the opportunity to join the Rockport Center for the Arts and experience the amazing beauty 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 haciendas 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 Rockport Center for the Arts
ROCKPORT CENTER FOR THE ARTS, entered its 50th year of operation in 2019. The Art Center was located in the blue Victorian house at Rockport Harbor near Rockport Beach. On August of 2017, the facility suffered catastrophic damage due to Hurricane Harvey’s direct impact on Rockport. A world-class Sculpture Garden featuring works by Kent Ullberg, James Surls and the late Jesús Moroles have accentuated the Art Center since 2000, making it one of the most prestigious showcases for fine art in South Texas. Some of the sculptures sustained damages during the storm, yet none were lost. To protect one of Rockport’s most important art legacies, sculpture conservation that started in 2017 will be completed in 2019. Inspiring exhibitions, an annual Artist-in-Residence program and traveling exhibits are part of the repertoire the community and its visitors have come to expect. The many activities of the Art Center draw forty-thousand visitors per year. This spring, the Rockport Home and Studio Tour will allow visitors to see some of the most unique artist studios in Rockport’s storied art colony, as well as newly remodeled homes and a boat. In the summer, the 50th Annual Rockport Art Festival is the place to be July 4th weekend. More than 10,000 people attend each year to enjoy music, food and artwork from 120 of the best artists from around the country. Early in November, the Rockport Film Festival, local in flavor – international in scope, entertains audiences with the best independent cinema. Workshops, classes and mentoring from established artists are part of a well-crafted art education program. For decades children have enjoyed free, high caliber art instruction year-round through ArtSpace Summer Art Camp and Free Family Saturdays. Since Hurricane Harvey, not a single program or event have been canceled. In fact, new programs and events have been added, such as Art Center Market. Held every 2nd Saturday, visitors can shop for unique finds and one-of-a-kinds, all made by artists from around Texas. Ninety-nine days after Hurricane Harvey, the staff and board of directors re-established operations in a building located in downtown Rockport at 106 S. Austin St. The building was beautified with murals on November 2019. All programs are fully operational and a full calendar of exhibits is in place for 2019 and 2020. The Art Center is open Monday through Saturday from 10-4pm. ADMISSION IS AWAYS FREE. Visit www.RockportArtCenter.com or call 361-729-5519 for more information.
Our Travel Itinerary
Travel Itinerary September 12th - 21st, 2019
Thursday, September 12th
Fly to Guatemala City and after clearing customs, please exit the terminal. Be sure to have a dollar or two handy if you need help getting your luggage to the bus. You will be met and taken to the beautiful Hotel Inter Continental in Zona Viva, an upscale area of the city, where we will spend the night.
Because travelers will be arriving at all different hours, dinner will be on your own tonight. The hotel has several restaurant options, as well as room service.
Friday, September 13th
Guatemala City to Lake Atitlán
Rise and shine; have an early breakfast. Please have your bags outside you room before going to breakfast, and check out before 8:15. Our day will begin with a wonderful introduction to Guatemala and its culture by visiting the Ixchel (textile) Museum with its outstanding collection of native Maya costumes. Just next door we will explore the fascinating Popol Vuh Museum containing a number of Maya archaeological relics and serve as an introduction to Guatemala and its culture. Have a camera (always ask if it is permissible to take a flash photo) or small sketchbook handy while touring the museums to capture ideas and details.
We will stop on the way to our next destination, at a local smoke-house chalet tucked away in the mountains, for lunch. From here we 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, to Lake Atitlán, arguably “the most beautiful lake in the world”, where we will stay at the 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.
Gather in the bar for social hour before we dine on a meal especially prepared for us by the chefs of Hotel Atitlán. (B,L,D)
Saturday, September 14th
This day will be filled with cultural experiences and surprises!
After breakfast we will board a boat and enjoy a relaxing cruise to San Juan la Laguna, one of the many Maya villages surrounding Lake Atitlán, 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 and her son Cameron 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. This will be an experience you will not soon forget.
There will be a wine and boquitas party to share experiences of the trip and show off your purchases. Dinner on your own, if you want it (after a late lunch, and boquitas and wine). (B/L)
Sunday, September 15th
Lake Atitlán & Chichicastenango
This morning we are off to the Maya market of Chichicastenango, where the traditions of the past encounter the present in a kaleidoscope of colors and a flurry of activity. Feel the energy of the sights and sounds of the open air Chichicastenango market. Record your impressions with sketchbook and camera. First, we will visit the Santo Tomas Church to witness the convergence of the Catholic religion with the ancient Maya rituals, then on to the market brimming with arts and crafts as well as everything imaginable for, of, and by the local Maya.
Meet for lunch at Restaurante Don Juan, then depart for Lake Atitlán.
The late afternoon is free time; enjoy!
This evening we will experience and savor a Guatemalan Churasco (barbecue) in the Ranchito, at the water’s edge. (B,L,D)
Monday, September 16th
Lake Atitlán & Tarrales
Have a delicious breakfast, then enjoy a free morning to relax and enjoy your magnificent surroundings, including a stroll through the beautiful Botanical Gardens of Hotel Atitlán where you will discover over 200 varieties of roses, an orchid collection, a tropical heliconia garden, a small English style knot garden, as well as see their many exotic birds. The swimming pool is heated, the Jacuzzi is delightful, and a massage (pre-arranged at the front desk) is absolutely delicious. Other options abound; from taking a tuk-tuk (small passenger vehicle) into the nearby town of Panajachel for a little shopping, hike the nature walk (highly recommended), or an adventurous flight through the air on the exhilarating Cables Extremo (zip line), soaring high above the lake with amazing views.
Before lunch, have your bags packed, placed outside your door, and be checked out (pack an overnight bag to carry on the bus). Other luggage will remain on the bus). After lunch, we will depart for Los Tarrales – a natural private reserve with thousands of acres of virgin forest. The Spanish word tarral means bamboo stand. Los Tarrales Reserve was named after the abundant bamboos, which occur in various species throughout this area. The reserve is situated in southern Guatemala, on the south slope of Volcan Atitlán, and is part of two biomes; a subtropical humid forest and a mountain forest. It is home to many bird species making it a popular spot for birders. Los Tarrales is a working farm that produces coffee and tropical ornamental plants, which are harvested, packaged, and shipped off to U.S., Guatemalan, and European markets.
Upon arrival at Los Tarrales, we will have time for a bit of exploration of this “antique” coffee finca. This evening we will gather in the lodge dining room for a sumptuous, home cooked, family style dinner. Afterwards finding your way to your sleeping quarters you will have thoughts of “Out of Africa”. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, September 17th
Tarrales & Antigua
"Tarrales is great. On a relaxed morning simply birding on trails that led off from the cabins I found over 100 species of birds, including five species of parrots, three motmots, White-bellied Chachalaca, Highland Guan, Long-tailed Manakin, Rufous Sabrewing, and Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow. I can’t wait to get back and spend more time in such a birdy and hospitable setting." - Steve N. G. Howell, March 2008, author of A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America.
Early breakfast, then we are off to bird watching, hiking, touring the flower and plant operation, and a visit the school and jail house on the finca. We will spend the morning here and depart after lunch.
Next we travel to the colonial city of Antigua and the renowned Hotel Casa Santo Domingo, which is built around the ruins of a Dominican monastery founded in 1542. The magnificently restored hotel and grounds include an extensive collection of Guatemalan Spanish Colonial religious works of art and is considered the most complete archeological monument in the Americas.
We will have a welcome drink in the courtyard while luggage is being delivered to our rooms.
After arrival, one of the first things you’ll want to do is make your reservation at the SPA Casa Santo Domingo for your free time on Thursday or Friday.
A sumptuous dinner tonight in the Dining Room of the Monks, prepared by award winning chef and author, Mario Campolo. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, September 18th
Awaken to the sounds of Macaws and sights of colorful bougainvillea. 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.”
We will depart by foot for breakfast in a local café, then a walking tour of Antigua. Surrounded by breath-taking views of volcanoes, the sights, the sounds, and texture of this remarkable city of Antigua has changed little in the last 300 years. We will visit the Parque Central with its large central fountain and see many of the spectacular structures and ruins from the 1600s: the Cathedral de San José, Parque La Union and the Santa Clara ruins. We’ll walk to the Church 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.
Lunch at our favorite Bohemian restaurant, Café Sky. After lunch we will visit the Jade Factory/Museum to learn of the rediscovery of the ancient Maya Jade mines (best place in Antigua to buy Jade – factory direct).
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)
Thursday, September 19th
The sun rises early; wake up to the cooing of the doves in this magical setting. Breakfast in the exquisite dining room of the Casa Santo Domingo. For those interested, this morning there will be a tour of the grounds, ruins, and museums of this splendid Dominican Monastery, and later a visit to the least understood and most mysterious of all the ruins in Antigua, the Convento de las Capuchinas.
Lunch at the one of Antigua’s wonderful eateries across from the ruins of El Carmen, arguably one of the most photographed in Antigua. Spend the afternoon as you please, but we will be on hand to direct you to the things you are most interested in.
A free afternoon for shopping, exploring or SPA time.
Dine this evening in the restaurant of your choice; list and recommendations available. (B,L)
Friday, September 20th
After a sumptuous breakfast, make sure to take advantage of the hotel’s SPA today.
Additionally, you may explore or shop on your own in this designated UNESCO World Heritage City. 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.
Ruins and/or shopping begins with visiting the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced, the Arco de Santa Catalina, built 1613 (the most photographed colonial structure and the symbol of the city), where the nuns practiced a vow of seclusion which did not allow them to be seen or have any contact with the outside world. Many shops await you along the way but be sure to drop in at Nim Pot, an amazing shopping experience (we call it the WalMart of Guatemala).
After the day’s activities we will return to the quiet and relaxing atmosphere of the Casa Santo Domingo.
Dine tonight at yet another of Antigua’s superb restaurants. (B,D)
Saturday, September 21st
Depart Guatemala City
Individual departures for return flights home. (B)
Optional Tikal Travel Itinerary
Wednesday, September 11th
Guatemala City & Flores
Fly to Guatemala City and after clearing customs, please exit the terminal where you will be met by an Explore team member and our driver. You will be taken to another terminal to catch your plane for your Tikal Maya Ruins adventure.
We suggest you take only a small bag with your overnight necessities and leave the bulk of your luggage in Guatemala City. We will have a secure place for luggage left behind.
Your Tikal experience then begins with a short flight to Flores, where you will stay at beautiful Hotel Bolontiku on Lake Petén Itzá.
Thursday, September 12th
Tikal & Guatemala City
After breakfast your guide and driver will take you to the jungles of the Petén and the “Center of the Maya Universe” ….Tikal, considered by many to be the most impressive Maya ruins anywhere, and a legacy that has slumbered remarkably intact under a mantle of thick vegetation for nine centuries. Tikal’s origins are barely discernible with pottery findings dating from a few hundred years before Christ until its eventual decline and abandonment in the 10th century. Surrounded by exotic scenery you will spend the day viewing palaces, ball courts, burial chambers, stelae, and temples based on top of mammoth pyramids. If you feel up to it you may climb Temple IV for a spectacular view of nothing but green jungle and the towering temple tops that push through the tree canopy. You will have lunch in the park and then visit the Tikal museum.
After your Tikal adventure, return to Guatemala City for an overnight stay at the Hotel Inter Continental, in Zona Viva, a vibrant and upscale area in Guatemala City. (B,L)
Tikal Option Includes: • Round trip airfare to Flores • Hotel • Guide • Park entrance fee • Lunch in the park (drink not included) • Breakfast • All ground transportation
Minimum number of travelers required in order to confirm Tikal trip is 8
Not Included: • Guide and Driver tip • Airport Tax (Q20 each way) • Dinner in Flores • Alcohol or any other drinks or personal charges not on itinerary
Price: DBL (share a room) $570 / SGL (private room) $635
*Before you register, please read Explore Amazing Places Terms and Conditions
• B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
• The itinerary is carefully planned but subject to minor changes to take advantage of new travel opportunities.
Included in your Tour:
10 days, 9 nights at unique luxury and five star hotels ▪ Meals per itinerary, including tips ▪ Hotel Baggage handling and driver gratuities ▪ Deluxe motor coaches/Private boat ▪ Excursions/entrance fees per itinerary
▪ Airfare to, and from Guatemala ▪ Airport baggage handling tips (we recommend $1 or Q8 per bag) ▪ Any additional security or airport tax ▪ Alcohol or personal room charges
COST: $2600. If you’d like to upgrade your room to a SPA LIVING room, add $50 per day (or $200).
$455 (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.
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