Guatamala Semana Santa (Holy Week)

Travel Idea:

Guatamala Semana Santa (Holy Week)

Like this vacation? Speak DIRECTLY with the travel agent who compiled it!

Length of trip:

10 days

Approximate price of this trip per person:

from $ 2995

Best travel dates to go:

Apr 03, 2009 to Apr 12, 2009;

Detailed Description of this trip:

Witness the magnificent pageantry of Semana Santa in charming Antigua, Guatemala, where the Holy Week celebration is larger and more elaborate than anywhere else in this hemisphere. Citizens of all ages join together each day between Palm Sunday and Easter to carpet the streets with intricate designs of flower petals and pine needles. Thousands of purple-robed celebrants carry enormous floats on the carpeted streets from dawn to dusk. The fervor, emotion, color and religiosity are intense, and in every aspect they reflect the unique blend of indigenous tradition and Roman Catholicism that defines Guatemala. On this Journeys Festival Trip, you first spend four days in the gorgeous volcanic highlands, based in a hotel on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Visit Mayan villages. Meet healers, weavers and artisans. Explore the markets of Solala and Chichicastenango. Then bring the insights gleaned from this immersion in traditional Guatemala to the climactic four days in Antigua. We are pleased to offer you very select hotel reservations, which are exceedingly difficult to obtain within a year of a Holy Week trip. Your lovely small hotel in Antigua, just a short walk from the procession routes, offers a quiet courtyard and garden for a respite from the festivities.

Trip Properties:

Trip Itinerary:

  • Day 1 - Guatemala City

    Arrive Guatemala.

    Upon arrival in Guatemala City, you will be met by your bilingual driver who will transfer you to a lovely local hotel for the night.

  • Day 2 - Guatemala City

    Guatemala City/Lake Atitlan.

    This morning visit the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology to view the most complete collection of archaeological pieces of Guatemala Maya culture. The collections of jade and of indigenous textiles are impressive.

    Private Car Service

    This afternoon enjoy the scenic 2 1/2 hour drive to Lake Atitlan. Atitlan, a 50-square mile natural treasure of deep crystal blue water, is bordered by three imposing volcanoes.


    Enjoy the gardens and grounds of your lakeside hotel situated on the outskirts of Panajachal. Settle in for a 4-night stay.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 3 - Chichicastenango

    Chichicastenango (a.k.a. Chi-chi).

    The road from Atitlan to Chichicastenango winds through the central highlands. Chichi is the market of markets, not just for the local color which is dazzling, but also for the array and quality of handicrafts.


    In the center, you'll find textiles, candles, wood carvings, pottery, gourds and masks from all over Guatemala. On the edges, you'll find trinkets, tee shirts, natural remedies and all manner of baked goods. But Chichi is more than a market, it is a spectacle. The extensive market area surrounds St Tomas Church where Mayan rituals are freely expressed amid the grand Catholic imagery.


    On the broad staircase leading up to the church entrance, worshippers burn incense, families have picnics, itinerant merchants rest with their wares, and flower vendors display their sensuous bounty. Throughout the cobblestone streets, on Sundays and on festival days, the religious brotherhoods (called cofradias) march in procession to musical accompaniment. Wander freely and fix your focus on the content that interests you most. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.

  • Day 4 - Guatemala

    San Juan La Laguna and Santiago Atitlan.

    Cross Lake Atitlan in a comfortable motor boat to visit the villages of San Juan La Laguna and Santiago Atitlan. San Juan La Laguna is quaint, quiet, immaculate, and distinguished by pretty streets of white-washed walls adorned by murals painted in the local naif style. Visit artists' studios and the women's textile cooperative. Continue to the larger village of Santiago Atitlan where the blend of traditional religion and Catholicism is at its most bold and unabashed.


    Visit the village's life-size wooden statue of "Maximon" (mosh-ee-MONE), a combination Mayan god, Spanish conquistador and Biblical Judas worshipped as a protector here and in other highland villages. During Holy Week, Maximon is often paraded through the streets of Santiago. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.

  • Day 5 - Solola

    Solola Market.

    In the traditional town of Solala, high above Lake Atitlan, market day offers the best possible overview of Mayan highland culture. Dressed in the colorful traje (traditional woven clothing) which is distinctive for each village, and speaking an array of Mayan languages and dialects, traders come from great distances to buy and sell their goods and wares for the week ahead. While the market at Chichi offers a wealth of handicrafts, and may be described as the most important market for tourists, the market at Solala is for the locals. It is our privilege and our treat to respectfully observe and learn.
    Meals: Breakfast

  • Day 6 - Antigua

    Azotea Coffee Farm/ Museums/Antigua.

    En route to Antigua, visit the traditional wood carvers' workshops in the village of Jocotenango and the marvelous coffee farm and culture museums at Azotea. The working coffee farm and exhibit areas provide insight into this critically important Guatemalan industry. The museums offers a fantastic collection of traditional Mayan musical instruments and wonderful life-size displays of village life, costume and custom.


    This afternoon settle into your charming small hotel in the old city of Antigua. The courtyard, gardens, hammocks and swimming pool will offer you a haven from the Holy Week frenzy on the nearby streets. Meals: Breakfast

  • Day 7 - Antigua


    The colonial town of Antigua will be your home for four nights. Here you will enjoy the amazing processions and decorative carpets that adorn the streets of this beautiful colonial capital. Watch as the city comes to life as thousands come to participate in the largest celebration of Holy Week in the Western Hemisphere, and second largest only to Spain.


    Today you will enjoy a walking tour of Antigua with your guide. Observe the architectural and historical highlights including the Iglesia San Francisco, the Cathedral, Central Park, and La Merced Church.


    This is a flexible tour, and you may choose to visit other monuments, museums, or attractions.

    Food and Dining

    Your guide will recommend a restaurant for dinner and then in the evening you can roam the colonial streets that are decorated with alfombras (flower or saw dust carpets).
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 8 - Antigua

    Antigua: Good Friday Processions.

    An early morning start with your guide will allow you to observe the final touches being made to the alfombras before you watch the processions that are carried out with great humility and solemnity. Witness the largest procession from La Merced Church as thousands of visitors gather to observe the sculptures of Jesús Nazareno and Santísima Virgen de Dolores.


    In the afternoon watch the enchanting ceremony of the crucifixion of Christ at San Jose Cathedral. The procession of San Felipe Church with the sculpture of Señor Sepultado and Virgen de Soledad can be watched late afternoon. Here is where the Christ figure is carried on the shoulders of 80 carriers wearing black robes , cucurucho hats, and carry lanterns to light their way.


    You are encouraged to dress appropriately for these most somber religious ceremonies as you will observe many who are emotionally moved.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

  • Day 9 - Antigua


    Today is free to enjoy more processions and religious ceremonies. You won't want to miss midnight mass also known as Vigilia Pascual which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Meals: Breakfast

  • Day 10 - Antigua


    This morning you will transfer to Guatemala City for your departure flight home. Meals: Breakfast.

Planning a similar vacation?
Work with the expert travel agent who compiled this trip
to build your own personalized itinerary!
Fill out the form at the top of the page

Planning a similar vacation?

Have the expert travel agent who compiled this itinerary build a dream vacation for you!

Additional comments about your trip (optional)

Font Size: increase font size decrease font size