In the Guatemalan highlands, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Antigua, lies Lake Atitlan. Renowned as one of the world’s most beautiful lakes, this volcanic crater is the deepest lake in Central America, and is considered a sacred place amongst the Maya people.
The World of the Maya
Not many can say that they’ve visited a sacred lake in Guatemala—but teen travel to GLA’s Guatemala: Children of the Maya program offers the opportunity to do so! Not only is Lake Atitlan a place of surreal beauty, but it is also a region packed with traditional Maya culture. You’ll have the opportunity to visit several tiny towns that dot the coast of the lake, which are accessible only by boat because there is no road that circles the lake. You’ll see traditional marketplaces, avocado farms and coffee plantations that have changed little in centuries. Locals dressed in traditional Maya clothing will greet you with open arms as you explore the lakeside towns. The chance to visit this untouched region is the adventure of a lifetime!
Embracing Ancient Maya Culture
The opportunity to visit Lake Atitlan is not the only chance you’ll have to dive into a culture that is over 4,000 years old during your time in Guatemala. On the same weekend excursion, you’ll also have the chance to immerse yourself in the Maya culture with a visit to the outdoor marketplace in Chichicastenango. This market, which is the largest in the western hemisphere, is packed to the brim with traditional handicrafts, textiles, and food. It is open only on Thursdays and Sundays, when the entire town comes together to embrace the K’itche’ Maya culture. You’ll wander the market, taking in the endless stands of fresh produce, Maya clothing, and hand-carved wooden masks used in traditional dances. Take advantage of opportunities to connect with indigenous Maya in their community, listen to local bands play their music in the streets, and observe as people young and old engaging in exciting cultural activities. You’ll also have the chance to learn or improve upon your Spanish, while practicing your new skills with the friendliest people you’ll ever meet!