Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, is home of the Tzu’tujil Maya people. Our vibrant town is full to overflowing with culture, artisans, natural wonders, and history. We love to create personal experiences for you and your fellow travelers that are rich in meaning and offer an intimate glimpse of our beautiful traditional town.
Each tour we offer is customized for you and the experience you’d like to have. We recommend a minimum of a half-day tour (2.5 to 3 hours). Full-day (6-7 hours) tours are for those who want to explore a bit more.
While most of our tours are done on foot, transportation can be arranged. We love to take the time to both share and give you the opportunity to ask lots of questions.
Located in the very center of town this lovely and simple church is one of the oldest in the Americas (1547). The beautifully hand carved wooden panels of the altar show the sameness of the sacred within the Catholic and Traditionalist Maya lived together for centuries. You will also visit the burial altar dedicated to Father Rother, a martyred priest from the Oklahoma Diocese, who was beatified by the Pope in 2018.
Maximón (Rliaj Mam)
Visit the local Cofradia (Ceremonial House) to hear the oral traditions and a bit of how the Old Ways of the Maya continue to live, unbroken, for some 3000 years. This is one of 12 Cofradias (other Ceremonial Houses) that are located in the homes of people throughout town. You can also arrange a Maya Ceremony or blessing with a local Shaman if you want a deeper and more sacred experience.
Visit the Cofradias
If you’d like to delve deeper come and visit multiple Cofradias on a walking tour. You’ll learn of the sacredness, relationship and ancient oral stories of the Nawals (ancient wise ones), and the ancestors. At each Ceremonial house you will learn about the altar and its meaning, why people do ceremony there, and make a brief offering of candles and a tithing. (extra fee applies).
This is the site of a very important event in Guatemalan history that had a great deal to do with the eventual Peace Treaty that ended the 36-year Civil War in 1996. A powerful place to learn about the history of both Santiago and the country, including both its tragedy and the beauty of resilience that lives here.
Local markets are an awesome way to really get to know and experience how life is lived here. The market in Santiago is also located in the center of town and is vibrantly alive with all kinds of fruits, veggies, amazing people, and the wonderful wildness of daily life. And you can try some of the local street food if you’d like!
Main Street is brimming with shops and stores. Known for our exquisite weavings, woodcarvings, bead jewelry, and all manner of artists. It’s a great shopping spot. And I’ll show you some of the hidden gems of artisans that you might not otherwise find. I’ll also take you to known artisans of quality, fair pricing, and save you time searching through countless shops and haggling for prices.
Santiago abounds with traditional Maya weaving and clothing. Learn about the amazing back strap loom huipils (women’s tops) and corte (skirt) weaving, the rich symbolism, embroidery and beautiful traditional ways of the Tzu’tujil.
Visit this amazing program, founded here in Santiago and now a national organization which advocates for the rights of people with special needs. Learn about their work and tour their beautiful artisan shop where local members of the project make all the products. You are guaranteed to learn, smile and be inspired (additional transport fee of 50Q may apply).
Half Day (3 to 4 hours) – $60 US / 450Q for 1-3 people. Each addition person $15 US / 100Q. Kiddos under 10 tag along for free.
Full Day (6-7 hours) – $125 US / 900Q for 1-3 people. Additional folks $20 each.
Not-for-Profits & Large Groups – Contact me directly for group pricing.
What’s Included: Guide, translations, offerings made on our behalf, and a great time in Santiago.
Not Included: Additional Transportation, food, or customary offerings at sacred sites we visit.
Santiago also has an ever-growing number of wonderful coffee shops and restaurants. If you’re having lunch while here this can be arranged based on your preference and budget. Options range from street food and the local “Comedor” to “Higher end” yummy food in our hotels, and small quaint mid-range local eats.
If you are staying in another town here on Lake Atitlan, travel by boat is the easiest and most economical. Publicos, public boats, leave regularly. If you want to be timely, the early morning boats are the most punctual. Boats leaving at others times of the day can vary as they wait until the boats are full before they depart. Private boats can also be arranged.