Panajachel
Bus & Minivan Tours

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Our most recommended Panajachel Bus & Minivan Tours

Lake Atitlan: Mayan Ceremony at the Sacred Caves

1. Lake Atitlan: Mayan Ceremony at the Sacred Caves

Experience an important ceremony of the Maya people of Guatemala at the most sacred and holy location on Lake Atitlan. Transfer to the trailhead from Panajachel. Then, walk to the 1st cave (a maximum 20-minute hike). Named “Nimajay,” “San Simon,” “Singing” and “Colorado,” the 4 caves have been used by the Mayans for centuries for their Fire Cleansing and Protection Ceremony. The highland tribes travel for hours to visit the holy caves, and you will feel the energy and power as soon as you approach the cave entrance. Watch the shamans perform the ceremony (not guaranteed, but available on most days), and experience an authentic part of the living Mayan culture of the Guatemala highlands. Your guide will explain why the ceremonies are performed, and teach you about the ritual and unique meanings of the Mayan calendar. Located 1,200 feet above Lake Atitlan, the caves offer panoramic views of the lake and caldera. Stand on top of Eagle Rock, and marvel at how the earth drops hundreds of feet around you. Feel your spirit soar like a bird as you stand with nothing but air on all sides. You can also visit the shrine of San Simon/Maximon, the colonial church, and a 200-foot waterfall.

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Chichicastenango and Panajachel One Day Tour

2. Chichicastenango and Panajachel One Day Tour

This day-long tour of Guatemala, beginning from Antigua or Guatemala City, covers market villages to picturesque lakes and is sure to give you a bar-none introduction to some of the country's loveliest sights! Start your day at the open market of Chichicastenango. Here, you can explore the indigenous market and witness the incessant exchange of fruits, vegetables and handicrafts between local people and foreigners. This charming local market really does offer just about everything—you can even shop for wood products, ceramics and the sorts of gifts that the Mayan priests offer on their pre-hispanic altars. We will then move on to visit Santo Tomás church, where the Popol Vuh (The sacred book of the Maya) was found. For the perfect end to the day we will spend the remainder of our time overlooking one of the world's most beautiful lakes.

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From Antigua: 2-Day Chichicastenango & Lake Atitlan Tour

3. From Antigua: 2-Day Chichicastenango & Lake Atitlan Tour

In Chichicastenango, explore the indigenous market and be witness to the incessant exchange of fruits, vegetables and handicrafts between the locals and foreigners. Lake Atitlán was formed when a volcanic caldera depleted its magma. Three stately volcanoes - Atitlan, Tolimán and San Pedro - rise gracefully from its southern shore, their perfect cones reflected in the azure mirror of the lake. Discover weaving made and worn by the Maya-Tzutujil and Cakchiquel women who live around the lake and many of the men also wear traditional, hand-woven clothing. Day 1 – Chichicastenango: - 07:00: Transfer from your hotel in Guatemala City or Antigua to Chichicastenango - 10:00: Arrival to Chichicastenango’s market.  In the center of town you will find the local market where you can buy wood products, ceramics and even gifts that the Mayan priests offer on their prehispanic altars. You can also admire the Church of Santo Tomas which was built by Dominicans and Kichen in 1540 on a Maya altar, which is used even today on the front steps of the church. On the other side, you will find Calvary Church and in the square, you will see a high stick where each year the Palo Volador is presented - 12:30: Transfer from Chichicastenango to Panajachel - 13:30: Have lunch at one of the most exquisite restaurants in Panajachel (own expense) - 14:30:  Free time to relax. Overnight accommodations in Panajachel Accommodations: Posada de Don Rodrigo or similar Day 2 – Lake Atitlan - 08:30: Take a private boat to cross Lake Atitlan and visit Tzutuhil village of Santiago de Atitlán. In this village, you will visit the confraternity of the local saint named Maximon or Ri Laj Mam, visited by different people of different ethnicities who come to ask for health and prosperity in their lives. Transfer back to Panajachel by boat - 13:30: Have lunch in one of the most exquisite restaurants of Panajachel (not included) - 14:30: Visit Santander Street of Panajachel and the handicraft market of this town - 15:30: Transfer back to Guatemala City or Antigua Guatemala

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Panajachel: Santa Catarina and San Antonio Maya Tour

4. Panajachel: Santa Catarina and San Antonio Maya Tour

Immerse yourself in the culture of the indigenous Mayan communities of Guatemala on this flexible half-day tour from Panajachel. A local Mayan guide will lead you on an exploration of the villages of Santa Catarina and San Antonio above Lake Atitlan. For a more physically demanding tour, you can opt to hike above the lake. Alternatively, choose to travel by vehicle for a less physically challenging excursion. The hike starts 2,000 feet above the lake, with commanding views of the 3 volcanoes, the volcanic caldera, and the surrounding Mayan villages. Along the way, stop to chat with the farmers and learn about their farming techniques. Walking well-maintained, downhill paths, the hike will take about 2 hours, ending with a descent into Santa Catarina. For those who choose to travel by vehicle, the local shared taxis are a great experience, riding with the Mayans from the villages you will explore. Santa Catarina is a small village and easy to explore on foot. Hike past terraced fields of onion and garlic, cultivated just as they have been for hundreds of years. Go to the women’s weaving cooperatives and admire the beautiful textiles being made into table cloths, bed covers, and clothes. The colors used are of vibrant blues, purples, and reds, and are woven into elaborate designs. You will also go to the larger village of San Antonio, perched on the side of a steep hill. San Antonio is home to a particular type of ceramic design and you can tour the factory and store if you wish. Visit the ceramic shops, art galleries, and colonial churches of each village, and meet a Confradia family, who live on a system that dates back to the Spanish conquest. The Confradia people maintain the traditions of the Catholic saints, maintaining shrines to the patron saint of each village. For those interested in delving deeper into Mayan culture, the local guide can introduce you to a curasera, a traditional Mayan healer who can conduct a Mayan healing/protection ceremony, complete with the traditional temazcal sauna (sweat lodge).

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Solola Market and Mountain Villages Tour

5. Solola Market and Mountain Villages Tour

See the local handicrafts from this region, and shop if you wish.  However this tour is less about shopping and more about sharing the Mayan culture.  You will find the people warm and welcoming, and more of the Kachekel Maya dress in traditional traje (clothes).  Even the men still dress in traditional clothes. You will visit many interesting sights unique to this location including the local government office, and the indigenous mayor's office.  Learn how and why the two mayor's exist side by side.  Your guide can explain about the Mayan calendar and teach you about the unique Mayan counting system. Full day trip takes you high into the mountains above Lake Atitlan and features the Solola market, small farms, and Mayan villages. Drive through maize and terraced vegetable fields, coffee fields, old growth forest, and into the cloud forest.  Visit a sacred Mayan site with the chance to witness a Fire Cleansing Ceremony.  The day begins in Panajachel and the start of our adventure. You drive along ancient roadways that have been used by the Kachekel Maya for centuries.  You will view villagers going about their daily life, encounter farmers tending their maize and coffee fields, and see some of the most magnificent scenery in the world.  You can visit a sacred Mayan site where rituals are performed by the local shamans, and make your own offering at the alter. This rugged and remote area has barely been touched by the outside world.  Our drive takes us 2500 feet above the waters of Atitlan for breath taking views and pristine scenery.  We drive into the countryside to visit the small mountain village of Conception.  The road to this village has been paved for less than 10 years. The town is especially proud of its beautifully maintained church built in 1612.  Visit the confradia of Saint Frances and a lesser known Maximon.  Learn about the confradia systems and why they are important to the people of Guatemala.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Panajachel

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What people are saying about Panajachel

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 3 reviews

It may seem a bit pricey but well worth it. Your guide, Lee, will take you places you would not find on your own. As a Mayan in the know he can explain everything to you. You will not be disappointed

although we came late for the ceremony. the local tour guide was extremely knowledgeable. He showed me some great spots around and its overall history of his people.

Great tour! If you are interested in learning more about mayan culture or how cristianity has merged with local religion you should definitely give it a go.