Friends of USFUVG Trip

We invite you to join us for a unique experience of Guatemala!

Save the date — December 2-6, 2014

Seen through the University of the Valley of Guatemala (UVG) lens, you will experience “the land of eternal spring” through … its rich cultural heritage of the timeless Maya who today constitute 23 ethnic groups, … the Spanish legacy of colonial grandeur that is Antigua, … the hustle and bustle of a colorful open-air indigenous market, … the uncommon geography of volcanoes, coffee estates and the majestic jewel that is Lake Atitlán, … an archeological site just being unearthed and ‘discovered’ and, of course … its dynamic people.

We’ll take you behind-the-scenes to meet Guatemalans in their homes and experience their daily lives through their eyes. What’s more, you will visit the former military base in Sololá that has been converted by the University of the Valley of Guatemala into a thriving, remote campus serving the Mayan communities. You will see firsthand the promise and opportunity gained through education.

Come experience the heart of the Mayan world this December…
It would be our privilege to share with you this once-in-a-lifetime experience.


We will …

  • Visit the former capital city of AntiguaPicture of a street in AntiguaDesignated a UNESCO World Heritage site, the former capital city (1700s) is famous for its well-preserved Spanish Mudéjar-influenced Baroque architecture as well as a number of spectacular ruins of colonial churches. Enjoy walking tours and shopping the myriad of regional handicrafts coming from all over the country while staying in a magnificent former-monestary hotel.
  • Spend two nights on the shores of beautiful Lake AtitlánPicture of beautiful Lake AtitlánRinged by majestic volcanoes, verdant slopes and picturesque villages where the Mayan culture is prevalent and traditional dress is still worn, the lake is the center of the Highland region. In his 1934 travel book, Beyond the Mexique Bay, Aldous Huxley compared Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán to Italy’s Lake Como. The Italian body of water, he wrote, “touches the limit of the permissibly picturesque.” Atitlán, however, “is Como with the additional embellishment of several immense volcanoes. It is really too much of a good thing.” Guatemalans have interpreted this declaration by the author of Brave New World to mean that Lake Atitlán is the most beautiful lake in the world — which is the billing on most of the tourist brochures, despite Huxley’s ambivalent phrasing.
  • Take a walking tour of Chichicastenango and its world-famous, open-air marketPicture of a busy Guatemalan marketThis indigenous hill village and market is well known for its traditional K’iche Maya culture. It is one of the largest centres of trade since pre-Hispanic times, and people gather weekly in a spectacle of color.
  • Tour Finca Filadelfia, a family-owned coffee estatePicture of a Guatemalan coffee estateGuatemala has long been recognized for growing some of the highest quality coffee in the world. It’s climate, high altitude, fertile volcanic soils and traditional farming practices are all contributing factors. Tour and talk with the owner-operator of a family coffee estate dating back to the 1860s.
  • Enjoy dinner in a private home with UVG Rector Roberto MorenoPicture of a Guatemalan house and gardenWelcome reception with UVG Rector Roberto Moreno at the private home of a gracious Guatemalan family.
  • Explore San Andrés Semetabaj, one of the highlands’ oldest Mayan sitesPicture of an archeologist standing next to a wall of ancient pottery shardsJoined by archeologists from UVG and Stanford University, visit a site in the beginning stages of development, confirmed to be one of the oldest Mayan sites in the highlands of Guatemala. Results of studies published indicate the age of the Plaza Maya on site as predominantly Pre-Classic (first millennium B.C.). Currently undeveloped land, we will visit the ongoing exploratory archeological excavation accompanied by UVG-Altiplano students whose studies include community service work supporting this project. Visit the local EcoMuseo to see shards and discoveries.
  • Visit San Juan La Laguna by boat, a traditional Tz’utujil village of artisansPicture of a Guatemalan girl pointing to a mural Together with a UVG student who is a resident of the town, we will visit with the Tz’utujil people. Noted for their continuing adherence to traditional cultural and religious practices, the Tz’utujil weavers of San Juan are among the very few indigenous artisans who still make their own dyes largely from plants grown locally. Their extensive mural paintings throughout the town depict the cultural traditions, beliefs, ceremonies, and daily activities of their culture.
  • Enjoy Casa Palopó, for an unforgettable farewell lunch overlooking Lake AtitlánA cobalt blue room in Casa PalopóWe will lunch in this delightful town on the outside terrace of the beautiful Casa Palopó overlooking Lake Atitlán from its perch built into the surrounding hill.
  • Arrive a day early for an pre-trip golf extensionA hammock and pool with a golf course in the backgroundArrive the morning of December 1, transfer to Antigua. Enjoy an afternoon golfing at nearby La Reunion Golf Resort. Designed by legendary architect Pete Dye, the course resembles the 18-month calendar of the Mayans. One additional night at Casa Santa Domino. Additional Fee: $600 per person


2 Nights at the Condé Nast “Gold List” ranked Casa Santo Domingo Hotel in Antigua

picture of the hotel in antiguaA room in the Casa Santo Domingo HotelAn innovative hotel/museum, formerly a 16th century grand convent, Casa Santo Domingo houses treasures from the baroque period of ancestral America. The monastery was partially destroyed in the Santa Marta earthquake of 1773 and the remains represent expertly-preserved examples of colonial architecture. Rooms – once nuns’ quarters – are a unique experience with stone hearths, antique furniture and period oil paintings on the walls. Religious statuary-dotted courtyards are a magical experience.

2 Nights at the Hotel Atitlán in Lake Atitlán, Sololá

picture of the pools outside the Atitlán Hotel with the lake beyond and the volcano in the distanceA room in the Lake Atitlán HotelThe grounds of the hotel were purchased by the Rivera family in the 1920s and developed into what was once a productive coffee plantation. The hotel was first conceptualized in the 1970s. Each room is individually decorated by members of the family using Guatemalan art, and has its own private balcony and breathtaking views of Lake Atitlán. The hotel grounds host many species of trees and plants as well as a habitat for a great variety of birds.

Famously noted as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and located in the Guatemalan Highlands, Lake Atitlán is volcanic in origin and ringed by three 10,000 foot peaks – Toliman, Atitlán and San Pedro. It fills an enormous caldera formed in an eruption 84,000 years ago. One of the country’s most prized natural treasures, the lake is surrounded by many villages in which Maya culture is still prevalent and traditional dress is worn. There is no road that circles the lake. We will visit indigenous towns accessible only by boat.


Tues 12/2
  • Picture of a hotel in Antigua lit up at nightArrive Guatemala City, transfer to hotel in Antigua, the well-preserved city of Spanish Baroque architecture founded in the early 16th century and today a UNESCO World Heritage city
  • Group lunch at Hotel Casa Santo Domingo
  • Tour of convent, museum, and grounds
  • Afternoon free in Antigua
  • Dinner and overnight at Casa Santo Domingo; introductory talk on Guatemala
Wed 12/3
    Picture of a mural of a woman picking red coffee beans
  • Breakfast at Casa Santo Domingo
  • Tour and lunch at Finca Filadelfia Coffee Plantation
  • Afternoon free in Antigua with option of outings on foot
  • Dinner at a private home in Antigua hosted by UVG
  • Overnight at Casa Santo Domingo
Thurs 12/4
  • Picture of a woman selling vegetables in the mercadoBreakfast at Casa Santo Domingo
  • Travel to Chichicastenango – tour famous indigenous town and market, renowned for its traditional K’iche Maya culture
  • Enjoy lunch at the Hotel-Museum Mayan Inn, which dates back to the 1930’s, overlooking its courtyards and gardens
  • Visit UVG Altiplano Campus – tour campus, meet students
  • Transfer to Hotel Atitlán in Lake Atitlán, Sololá
  • Dinner and overnight at Hotel Atitlán – talk about the Lake and the Mayan people from UVG educators
Fri 12/5
  • Picture of a Guatemalan feastBreakfast at Hotel Atitlán
  • Explore San Andrés Semetabaj — tour archeology site, visit Ecomuseo, guided by archeologist
  • Lunch at private home in Lomas de Atitlán overlooking the lake
  • Stove and water system installation project in local homes partnering with HELPS International,
    a poverty alleviation organization
  • Dinner and overnight at Hotel Atitlán
Sat 12/6
  • Picture of two Guatemalan women in bird-print blousesBreakfast at Hotel Atitlán
  • Visit San Juan la Laguna village by boat accompanied by UVG students, visit traditional weaving cooperative, murals, and student houses
  • Boat trip to the village of the Kaqchikel Maya, Santa Catarina Palopó
  • Farewell lunch at Casa Palopó
  • Afternoon transfer options: direct to Guatemala City for evening return flight, back to Antigua to overnight at Casa Santo Domingo for next day flight, or extended stay by individual’s own arrangement
Additional trip option:

Arrive the morning of December 1, transfer to Antigua. Enjoy an afternoon golfing at nearby La Reunion Golf Resort. Designed by legendary architect Pete Dye, the course resembles the 18-month calendar of the Mayans. One additional night at Casa Santo Domino.

Fee: $600 per person


Intricate blue tile and a decorative fountain

$2,600 per person, based on double occupancy for in-country experience

+$400 for single occupancy

*Airfare is not included and is the responsibility of the individual

University of the Valley of Guatemala (UVG)

Picture of smiling Guatemalan students using computersThe US Foundation of the University of the Valley of Guatemala (USFUVG)

The University of the Valley of Guatemala (UVG) and its Altiplano Campus

Scholarship Program

UVG-SAS/San Andrés Semetabaj Project

Lake Atitlán Project

The University of the Valley of Guatemala (UVG) Spanish-language Website


Hand-carved wooden masks
Wondering what to read to enrich your travel experience?

For an extensive list of informative, entertaining and useful books on Guatemala and its culture, history, traditions, indigenous cultures, archeology and more, click here to peruse titles for new and noteworthy, classic and hard-to-find items.

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