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Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Summer 2019 Mayan Families Experience
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Come to Guatemala this summer and spend a week with Mayan Families in beautiful Panajachel from July 13 - 20. Lake Atitlán is a wonderful place full of luscious green scenery, ringed by steep verdant volcanoes, decorated with colorful Maya Textiles, and close-knit indigenous communities. Each community surrounding the lake has their specialty that adds to the vibrancy of the culture here. The opportunity will allow you to understand and work with the Mayan Families' mission, to volunteer with our programs in communities throughout the Lake Atitlán region of rural Guatemala and to learn how the indigenous villages can benefit from your impact.

Create transformative change by actively being a part of bettering the communities we serve through installing stoves, water filters, and serving lunch to the elderly community. Additionally, you will embark on a journey to many of our lovely preschools to experience the educational environments that we have created for our students. Build relationships with the families and children that we support and experience first-hand how lucky we are to be a part of this unique community.

This itinerary found below is family friendly for children ages 12+.  We only have 12 spots available, so reserve your spot now with a non-refundable, tax-deductible deposit of $200/person. The total program fee is $1000/per person which includes a $200 tax-deductible contribution to Mayan Families, 7 nights double-occupancy hotel, all meals except for one lunch and one dinner, group transportation to and from the airport, and all local transportation. The fee also includes the cost of a stove, bed, water filter, pila and bags of rice, beans, and corn to distribute to our beneficiaries, plus the cost to provide lunch to all of the ancianos in our elderly care program on the day you visit.  You will also receive a video file containing group memories of your week (with music and photographs) at the conclusion of your journey. 

Should our 12 spots fill quickly, we will host a second date during the week of Saturday, August 3rd thru Saturday, August 10th. If the July date does not work for your schedule, please contact us to add your name to the top of the list for the August week.

We hope that you will join us in Guatemala for a life-changing experience.  Please contact Natalia at for more information or submit your deposit through the link below.


Enter "Deposit for Summer 2019 Mayan Families Experience" in the comment section when completing your deposit.


Summary of Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Guatemala & private shuttle transfer to Panajachel

Day 2: Optional excursions to Panajachel Nature Reserve or Choco Museo, welcome dinner

Day 3: Introduction to Mayan Families staff and office, preschool visit + stove and water filter installation, lunch in San Antonio

Day 4: Artisan weaving demonstration in Chuk Muk + swim in San Marcos at the natural reserve + Mayan Families Artisan Shop and Trade School 

Day 5: Create food baskets, Elder Care program visit, free afternoon (or visit with sponsored students)

Day 6: El Barranco visit, bed and pila delivery, explore Chichicastenango market

Day 7: Depart Pana, tour Iximche Mayan ruins, overnight in Antigua (a UNESCO World Heritage site)

Day 8: Private shuttle to airport from Antigua or extend your visit

Day 9: Optional extension day in Antigua or Guatemala City

Day 1: Saturday, July 13th 

Arrive by 2 pm at Aurora airport, Guatemala City. Your tour leader will meet the group and provide private van transport to Panajachel. If arriving earlier, pick-up is available at Hotel Barcelo. It is approximately a three-hour journey from Guatemala City to Panajachel. Bagged lunches and water are provided on the ride. You will arrive at the hotel, check-in, and enjoy dinner and an optional swim at the hotel after a long day of travel.


Day 2: Sunday, July 14th 

The Mayan Families office is closed on Sunday, but your tour leader will help you to coordinate optional excursions (not included). Some possibilities are a trip to the Pana Nature Reserve (zip-lining, butterfly house), Choco Museo (history of chocolate making in Guatemala plus a chocolate making class), the Museum Lacustre Atitlan (located at the Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo) to learn about the treasures found deep inside the lake when the village of Samabaj was discovered. Have the option to enjoy a fancy lunch and botanical garden tour of the stunning Hotel Atitlan (where US Presidents have dined!). You are on your own for lunch.  A welcome dinner hosted at the Mayan Families office to finish off the day.

Day 3: Monday, July 15th

Enjoy the quick pick-up truck ride from the hotel to the Mayan Families office known as “the Rastro” and get your first glimpse of the centuries-old church of St. Francis in the main square. Meet the staff and see how the magic works at the office. Then, hop back onto the truck and head up the mountain to our Preschool in Pena Blanca. Enjoy a craft project with the kids and learn about the nutrition, hygiene and education services that we provide. After Pena Blanca, you will head to San Antonio. Stop for lunch at the lake’s best empanada shop and visit the famous pottery studios nearby. Deliver and construct a stove for a family in need, and learn how our Onil stoves are cost effective and provide safety from the risk of burns and smoke inhalation. Deliver a water filter to a family in need and learn how valuable this resource is to maintaining proper health. Return to your hotel and later head to a delicious pizza dinner at Circus Bar.


Day 4: Tuesday, July 16th

Cross the lake to Chuk Muk for a backstrap weaving demonstration.  Visit the colorful market and enjoy lunch in Santiago. Take a lancha to San Marcos and swim at the natural reserve. Return to Pana and have a chance to shop our Artisan Shop and Trade School products. Time to return briefly to the hotel to prepare for a traditional Guatemalan dinner and tortilla making competition at Jose Pinguinos (included) ends your delightful day.


Day 5: Wednesday, July 17th

We’re back at the office today to begin working! Spend the morning measuring and packing beans, rice and corn; three of the staples in our Strengthening Communities food baskets. Create extra bags of corn as gifts for the ancianos in our Elderly Care program. Travel by truck to the Elderly Care Center where you can assist with the serving of lunch and provide a bag of corn to each elder as a gift from your group.  After the ancianos finish their meal, our staff will provide you with a typical lunch. Return to the hotel after lunch and enjoy free time until dinner. Enjoy exploring around colorful Panajachel, the lake and local markets. For dinner tonight, we’ll be enjoying the make-your-own-taco buffet at Mister Jon’s on Calle Santander.

Day 6: Thursday, July 18th

Head north through Sololá for a quick stop at the El Barranco preschool to visit the children, tour the compound which was primarily funded by the Upper Arlington Rotary Club from Ohio, and deliver a bed and pila to a family in need. Carry on to Chichicastenango for an eccentric market experience and guided tour. While there, visit the 400-year-old St. Thomas Church and walk up the 18 steps representing the 18 months of the Mayan calendar. Enjoy an Italian lunch in Chichi, and return to the hotel. Meet for a farewell dinner, overlooking the Lake.


Day 7: Friday, July 19th

Check out of your Panajachel hotel and head toward Antigua with a stop in Iximche to see the Mayan ruins. It’s not uncommon to see indigenous Maya performing rituals here among the ancient structures. Enjoy a bagged lunch as the journey continues (1.5 hours) to Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Check in to the hotel and enjoy the afternoon exploring this charming colonial city. Walk under the famous Santa Catalina Arch, and visit the Antigua Cathedral. Dinner is at Frida’s, near the arch, where delicious food is served, (especially the nachos). This restaurant and bar pay tribute to world famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Dinner and drinks are not included due to the variety of menu options.

Day 8: Saturday, July 20th

We will arrange a group 8 am airport shuttle to accommodate the early afternoon departing flights (included in the package), or we can help you to coordinate private transport (not included).  Antigua is approximately 90 minutes from La Aurora airport, depending upon traffic. There are lots of lunch options at the airport.



Day 9 (Optional): Sunday, July 21st

Remain in Antigua for one or more days to extend your trip, and we’ll help you to coordinate your new hotel and transportation requirements.  There is lots to explore in and around Antigua, including the Finca Filadelfia Coffee Plantation (mountain biking, mule riding, and other nature and adventure options), hiking to the top of the Pacaya Volcano, the museum and ruins at the Casa De Santo Domingo Hotel (a photographer’s delight), a carriage ride through the square, and much, much more!


Special Notes:

  • Our fee is based on double occupancy.  Contact us if you would like us to quote a rate for a single traveler.
  • This itinerary was designed for adults and children age 12 and over.
  • Breakfast is included in your hotel stay.  Please enjoy breakfast before your meeting time or sleep-in and pack some power bars for the road.
  • $200 of the fee is a tax-deductible donation to Mayan Families, which supports our programs and mission.
  • Participants are responsible to arrange their own flights to and from Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City.  Your incoming flight must arrive prior to 2 pm on Saturday.  If you arrive early, you may either wait at the airport or you may take the airport shuttle or a taxi to the Hotel Barcelo where you can enjoy lunch and await your fellow travelers.
  • Should you experience travel delays, we will work with you to arrange private transportation to Pana and a possible overnight stay in Guatemala City.  Should you wish to arrive on Friday in Guatemala City, we can reserve overnight accommodations for you at the Hotel Barcelo (a former Marriott property) with our volunteer rate for less than $100/night, including an amazing buffet breakfast.
  • Private car transport from Antigua to La Aurora Airport could range from $50-$75 (total) depending upon the number of people and suitcases, which dictates the size of the vehicle required.
  • A parent or guardian is required to accompany all children under age 18. 
  • You are not required to bring donations with you, but ask us for a copy of our Wish List if you have space in your suitcase.
  • Pricing for this trip is based on a total of 8-12 participants.  The reservation period will end when at capacity (12) or by March 31st.  If we do not have 8 participants registered at that time, we reserve the right to cancel this itinerary.  Please invite friends!


Spaces are filling up quickly! CLICK HERE to reserve your spot on this life-changing experience! Enter "Deposit for Summer 2019 Mayan Families Experience" in the comment section when completing your deposit.

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