Adventures / Remote Rides

Cycle Guatemala's Highlands

Ride remote trails through volcanic landscapes from colonial Antigua to spectacular Lake Atitlán

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Trip Ref #10525

Adventures / Remote Rides

Cycle Guatemala's Highlands

Ride remote trails through volcanic landscapes from colonial Antigua to spectacular Lake Atitlán

DURATION

9 nights

LOCATION

Guatemala

ANNUAL LEAVE

6 days off work

SEASON

Oct-Apr

GROUP SIZE

Up to 14 people

MEETING POINT

La Aurora Airport, Guatemala City

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel · Guesthouse

DIFFICULTY

Moderate

You should be a cyclist and able to handle cycling for 6 hours a day, but no technical experience is needed

Pedal along gravel tracks, roll down dirt roads and glide through forest trails as you traverse Guatemala's backcountry

Soak up colourful Antigua, visit Mayan ruins and glide through rural pueblos against the ever-present backdrop of volcanoes

Ride to Lake Atitlán and settle into your lakeside launchpad for hiking, kayaking and some well-earned downtime

Bed down in 5-star hotels with volcano views, boutique casas nestled in a nature reserve, and chill in a lakeside hot tub

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

Included

Guides

Expert, English-speaking local guides

Accommodation

Think high quality, historic spa hotels and family-run, boutique guesthouses

Transfers

To and from the airport, and everything in between

Meals

8 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 2 dinners

Equipment

Kona front suspension 'hardtail' mountain bikes

Support Vehicle

To hop into if your legs need a rest and to carry your luggage

Not Included

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Some meals as described

Tips for your guides

Flights to and from the meeting point

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City (GUA)

Any time on Day 1

Ends

La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City (GUA)

Any time on Day 9

Transfers

Transfers between La Aurora International Airport (GUA) and your hotel in Antigua are provided for any flight arriving on Day 1, and departing on Day 9 of the trip. If you wish to arrive earlier or stay on later, your host can arrange private transfers for an additional cost. See Optional Extras for details.

Travel options

There are direct flights to La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City from many destinations in the US, and via Madrid from Europe.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4 – Day 5

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 9

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Traditional Guatemalan food is based on Maya cuisine with Spanish influences. Classic meals usually include corn, beans, chillies, rice, pork, beef, chicken, cheese and tortillas as staple ingredients. Breakfasts in the hotels will be either a traditional local option or American-style. Picnic lunches will include a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, and snacks. Your host has deliberately not included the evening meals in Antigua and Lake Atitlán on this trip - Guatemala is cheap and it's great fun to explore the food options in each place. Antigua in particular is a food lover's dream, the street food scene here is worth investing some time and Quetzals in.

Vegetarian, vegan and most other dietary requirements can be accommodated on this trip.

What is the accommodation like?

Antigua

Your base in Antigua is at a luxurious 5-star hotel, Hotel Museo Spa Casa Santo Domingo. Set in beautiful grounds with volcano views, the hotel has an outdoor pool, spa and gym, as well as several museums and galleries, and Central Antigua is just a 10 minute walk away. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms. Please note that depending on availability you may stay at a similar standard hotel in Antigua, such as the 5-star Porta Hotel.

Casa Xara

In Tecpan during your backcountry ride to Atitlán you'll stay at Hotel Casa Xara, a unique family-run place set in a large private nature reserve. The main house is a converted mill and the beautiful grounds are dotted with a complex of smaller casas which make for a peaceful and memorable night after a good day of riding in the backcountry.

Lake Atitlan

At Lake Atitlán, you'll stay at a beautiful lakeside hotel called Casa del Mundo. Built into the cliffs on the fringe of the lake, the property has amazing views across the water toward San Pedro volcano. The hotel has a garden, terrace, bar and restaurant, a private beach area, a steam sauna and an amazing wood-fired hot tub overlooking the lake. You'll stay in twin-share rooms featuring hand-crafted Mayan décor and solar-heated water.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

Day 1

Explore Antigua

Meet your host at the airport in Guatemala City and get whisked to the colourful town of Antigua, located an hour down the road and nestled beneath the towering Acatenango volcano. Settle into your hotel before meeting up with your group and guide to chat through the adventure to come. The evening is free to rest up at the hotel or check out Antigua's many bars, cafes and restaurants.

Day 2

Pedal the Antigua valleys

Cycling

4hrs · 28km · 350m up · 350m down

Set off for your first taste of pedalling in the Guatemalan highlands with a ride through the valleys outside of Antigua. The Almolonga Valley just west of Antigua was home to the second capital of Guatemala - Ciudad Vieja. The old city met a fateful doom in 1541 as a result of a terrible mudslide released from the crater of the Agua volcano. You'll ride through several small towns, each with their unique flavour, as you loop back into Antigua for a well-earned dinner and drinks.

Day 3

Antigua to Tecpán

Cycling

6-7hrs · 55km · 1250m up · 650m down

Head out of Antigua first thing to start your two-day ride across to Lake Atitlán on a backcountry route of dirt roads, trails, and gravel tracks. Head uphill on a jeep track traversing through Mayan cornfields to the town of San Andreas Itzapa, stopping at the Mayan shrine of San Simon. Continue on mix of varied trails across the highlands, crossing the Pan-American Highway on footbridges and pedalling through the town of Zaragoza. Pedal on to Tecpán through small agrarian villages, ending with a beautiful stretch of trail down through a forest to your riverside accommodation in a converted flour mill from the 1900s.

Today is a chunky day, but you'll have all day to make the distance and there is no rush. A support vehicle is on hand and there are several spots along the way where you can hop in if needed.

Day 4

Tecpán to Lake Atitlán

Cycling

5-6hrs · 40km · 945m up · 1500m down

An epic day in the saddle awaits with a little bit of everything. Start with a nice gradual dirt road climb out of Tecpán, quickly turning into a narrower trail as you wind your way through the pine-clad hills. There are some downhill sections and a couple of tough steep climbs. The ride takes you through a Mayan settlement before flowing downhill on the famous Sendero de las Vacas ('Trail of the Cows'). A 4km climb follows, up to a viewpoint above Lake Atitlán - your efforts are rewarded with amazing views as you tuck into lunch here. After lunch, hit the amazing, contouring 'Santa Cat' trail. Finish off the day as you roll into Panajachel, and take the boat to your lakeside hotel on Lake Atitlán.

Day 5

Hike, kayak and relax at Lake Atitlán

Kayaking

2hrs

Hiking

2-3hrs · 5km · 340m up · 320m down

Enjoy breakfast overlooking the lake before heading out to explore without your bike today. Hop in a kayak on the private beach at your hotel, paddling westward along the north shore of Atitlán, passing by tiny villages perched on the sides of the sheer ridges that rise up from the azure waters of the lake. If the weather is kind you'll stop for a dip and a cliff jump before cruising into the bay between Tzununá and San Marcos La Laguna. Swap your kayak for hiking boots and climb out of town on the lake trail which connects village to village, treating you to spectacular vistas of volcanoes San Pedro, Tolimán and Atitlán. Pass through villages and agricultural areas as you follow the shoreline for 1½ hours, eventually returning back to the hotel. Enjoy a well-earned late lunch and then you’ll have the rest of the afternoon free to swim and relax in a hammock or hot tub, while taking in the beautiful views.

Day 6

Downtime at Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán is such a beautiful spot - so kick back and fully soak in this special place. Enjoy a relaxed breakfast at the hotel and then do as you please with the rest of the day. You can head out to explore the area, which includes some of the picturesque villages specialising in traditional Mayan crafts and regional cuisine. You can take a public boat taxi to other parts of the lake, or head out on a hike to nearby towns. You can rent kayaks or paddleboards for more time on the water, or go swimming from the private beach at the hotel.

Day 7

Atitlán to Mixco Viejo

Cycling

6-7hrs · 45km · 450m up · 1600m down

Take in the views from Casa del Mundo one final time, before taking the boat back to Panajachel and the van to the trailhead for today’s ride. Hop back in the saddle near the town of San José Poaquil and pedal east along the northern side of the Pan-American corridor. Roll through rural areas and small pueblos as you make your way through San Martín Jilotepeque and then onto the Mixco Viejo Mayan ruins. Also known as Jilotepeque Viejo, this Mayan ruin is surrounded by ravines with stone platforms protected by stepped stone walls. Leaving the ruins, head to your hotel for the night to rest up before the final ride tomorrow.

Day 8

Back to Antigua via Sumpango

Cycling

6 hrs · 35km · 650m up · 950m down

Fuel up on breakfast in the hotel before the final ride of the trip, following a now familiar mix of terrain and stunning volcanic backdrop to the town of Sumpango. Carry on with a gradual downhill towards Pastores, Jocotenango and finally rolling back into the cobblestoned streets of Antigua. The town is at your disposal this evening to toast a successful adventure with dinner and drinks in the lively parts of Antigua.

Day 9

Farewell Guatemala

Your trip comes to an end today after breakfast as your host drops you back off at the airport in Guatemala City in time for your onward flight.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What is included?

Kona hard tail mountain bike (models available include Honzo, Process, Precept and Kahuna) with flat pedals
Helmet (please bring your own if you are able to)

What do I need to bring?

CYCLE KIT

Pedals and saddle if you would rather use your own (these will be fitted to the bike for you)
Helmet (these are provided but bring your own if you'd rather)

CLOTHES

Padded cycling shorts
Sports top or cycling jersey
Fleece x2 or similar layers for the evenings
Rain and windproof lightweight jacket
Cycling gloves
Buff or neck scarf
Warm hat
Warm gloves
T-shirts
Underwear and socks
Sunglasses and sunhat
Something to sleep in
Cycling shoes/trainers (bring your own pedals if using cleats)
Sandals
Casual clothing for the evenings

OTHER

Swimwear
Bumbag or small rucksack for riding
Quick-dry travel towel
Universal travel adaptor
Passports (and visas)
Travel insurance documents
Earplugs (optional)
Suncream
Personal first-aid kit
Insect repellent
Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
Alcohol hand-gel
Reusable water bottle (1 litre) x2
Energy bars and snacks

Pre/post trip accommodation in Antigua (single, twin or double)

Payable Before Departure

Pre/post trip accommodation in Antigua (single, twin or double)

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Private transfer between Guatemala City airport and Antigua (each way)

Payable Before Departure

Private transfer between Guatemala City airport and Antigua (each way)

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 443kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

It's no secret that we love cycling and many of us at HQ think it's the best way to see a country, however, we realise that organising your own trip can be a total faff. On our cycling trips, we've found a local guide who has put together a perfect route and will navigate for you all the way. We even send a van that transports your overnight luggage and provide high-quality bikes and delicious snacks to keep you going. Faff eliminated! All you have to do is turn up, pedal and take in the landscape with your fellow tourers. You don't need to be a lycra-clad 'roadie' although they're welcome too!

You'll ride a 'hardtail' - front suspension mountain bike which is perfectly suited to the gravel and dirt roads you'll be rolling along on this trip. Your host uses Kona bikes with a variety of models available, including Honzo, Process, Precept and Kahuna. The suspension can be locked for a speedier ride when on the flatter road sections.

No technical skill is required, just some strong-ish legs and a sense of adventure! You should be comfortable riding back-to-back days covering an average of 50km a day. You will need to be a cyclist and some previous experience of riding on dirt roads, away from tarmac, would be useful but not essential - you'll soon learn that 50km on road is quite different to riding on gravel and dirt tracks, and a different type of cycling fun. The riding on this trip is on approx 80% dirt roads and 20% paved roads. Although you will be riding mountain bikes, this is not mountain biking in the standard sense - the bikes are chosen because they are robust and comfy, so perfect for the type of terrain covered.

A support vehicle is on hand throughout the adventure and there are several spots on each day where you can hop in if needed.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Dry season runs from November to March, with the fringe months of October and April also being good times to visit. The Guatemalan highlands have a great climate for cycling, with lows of 10°C and highs of 27°C generally.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion. Your guide will help with advice however, we suggest the amount below as a guideline per person:

Guide: $3-5 US dollars per day

Of course, you are free to tip more or less and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Tap water in Guatemala is not safe to drink, so you'll need to stick to bottled or filtered water. Each hotel you'll stay in will have filtered water where you can fill up your bottles before each ride. Your host is passionate about reducing single-use plastic waste in Guatemala, so they won't provide plastic bottles of drinking water at any stage.

Yes you can leave your excess luggage in Antigua if you need to. Be aware that after Day 3 you won't be returning to Antigua until the end of the trip, so you'll need to take everything you need with you for the ride.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

For current advice about travelling in Guatemala, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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