The roots of
Día de Muertos
Guatemala & Honduras
By David Reyes
I have traveled with David Reyes in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico. He is an excellent guide and leader…very knowledgeable about Mayan history and culture. He is an excellent interpreter of and guide to the contemporary society of these countries as well. And then there are the birds! He can spot, identify and beautifully photograph these big and little beauties that are found throughout Central America. He is dynamic, energetic, humorous, multilingual, and a people person bringing out the best in all of his travelers. I eagerly look forward to my next Wonders for Wanders trip! Sharon B, New York
One more full day in Antigua, Guatemala. I highly recommend travel to this country. If you want to travel in Guatemala safely and comfortably...I recommend having David Reyes plan your tour. Does not matter how many people are in your group. David guides one person...to a group of 16-18 people. I thought that our group of 14 was ideal. David has a degree in Tourism. He is highly knowledgable. His English is perfect. I met David, several years ago, when he was our Tour Director for a tour to Guatemala and Belize. Since that time, David has led trips for my groups to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.
This trip was 5 star! You cannot beat the organization and agenda skills of Kathy partnered with David’s “on the ground” knowledge, skill set and personal interest in every individual. We smoothly sailed into and out of Honduras and for those with special interests such as birding or hiking, David did not disappoint. It was all there!!!
Maynor Ovando and a driver took us to two places for birding, plus a spectacular breakfast at Cerro San Cristobal. After birding around the restaurant, we went to Finca de Pilar, where there is a path up into the mountain as well as hummingbird feeders. Maynor was very knowledgeable about the birds and the area, really knows (and loves) the birds, and his English was also quite good. Thanks, Maynor!
David Reyes is a devoted and loving Guatemalan, who has always worked as tour guide since 2004. He became a trip leader and worked for several renowned international travel companies such as Coppola’s Resorts, Overseas Adventure Travel and Intrepid Travel.
Because of his knowledge in the in the travel industry David has designed many trips and David run them as well. David has visited over 70 ancient Sacred Sites (archeological centers) and almost every corner of Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America). He has been from Guadalajara in Mexico to Coiba in Panama (the largest island in the Pacific out of North and Central America), he has visited Teotihuacan in Mexico as well as El Mirador in Guatemala. David has met and guided the world in terms of nationalities, all types of adventurers and intrepid travelers, from High-end helicopters rides with Mickey Hart to jungle hikes or food tours. David Reyes is in short words a great Tour Guide/Trip Leader who will kindly take you through your travel experience and make the beast out of it!
In 2014 David Reyes met Kathy Dieder and Jack McDonald among others while travelling through Guatemala and Belize. Their friendship grew stronger and started to travel together to Mexico, Costa Rica and Nicaragua and Panama and El Salvador. David visited Jack McDonald in 2016 and both went to visit New York and Washington, both decided to come up with a Travel Company idea. Wonders for Wanderers was born! Unfortunately Jack passed, such a big loss.
David and MARTSAM joined forces to continue with Jack McDonalds’ legacy. So both launched Wonders for Wanderers. David leads W4W’s project where he and his team of specialist guides work hard to make the best out your trips.
Hiking and sightseeing on this trip will be at an easy level.
Día de Muertos
Wednesday, October 23 to Sunday, November 3
Day 1: Guatemala City, Arrival day – (22/10/2018)
Today we all get picked up at the airport and transferred to our hotel located only 20 minutes away (depends on traffic). Guatemala City, is a very active and cosmopolitan hub and very important in the country experience, to understand Guatemala you MUST experience “La Ciudad”, Guate city has every service that any demanding visitor may expect to find in a business or a pleasure trip. Hotel of several categories are available “El Centro” as part of the zone 1 is call is the real live zone of the city, all political- econonomical changes that influence the country take place here, their streets are a mix of beautiful old houses and modern buildings built by the “old families” are full of life and fighting to survive the municipality attacks against the traditional ways of rescue the historical centers in Mesoamerica. The best prices of the country for artesian goods are in the underground central market.
Day 2: Guatemala City, City tour of Guatemala, we will do some walking and some driving, Museums and historical places. (23/10/18)
What to bring? – Walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen, water, comfy clothes and a windbreaker.
9:00 am- We start our city tour and despite Guatemala city*s impression it is a wonderful place. It may take us a full day to see most of its highlights, historic squares and buildings.
9:30 am- Popol Vuh, museum and Ixchel textile exhibition. To appreciate the genius of the Classic Maya artists and scribes, a visit to the Museo Popol Vuh is essential. Although 90% of the visitors to Guatemala visit Antigua or Chichicastenango, and perhaps 50% visit Tikal, too few reach the museums. The exhibits are well designed in a modern manner. The building is new and looks suitably impressive.The exhibits include a colorful display of animals in Maya art. In addition to pre-Columbian art, the museum has a really nice selection of Spanish colonial art.
The city’s best museum, the Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Dress, focuses on textiles of Guatemala’s indigenous community, with an impressive array of hand-woven fabrics from 120 highland villages, some of which date from the 19th century. It will provide you with a good background in the regional differences among textiles before you head out to the highlands. You’ll also find sculptures, photographs, and paintings, including works by Andres Curruchich, an influential Guatemalan folk painter. Multimedia and interactive weaving displays make the museum engaging for all ages—watch one of the short introductory videos describing the museum’s holdings to get you grounded—and there’s a café, a bookstore, and a terrific gift shop.
12:30 city center walk, main Plaza and 6th. av. On this walk we will get to enjoy monumental public buildings, churches and Homes were constructed under the influence of 22 world arquitectonical styles with predominance of the neoclassic style and the Guatemalan colonial style, which respected the grid layout of the streets and plazas.
14:00 Lunch time
15:00 visit to Cemetery in Guatemala City. The General Cemetery was built in a place that was known as “Potrero de Garcia”, which was purchased by the government of Justo Rufino Barrios in 1878. It was opened to the public in 1881 even though it was not completed yet. Within the cemetery there are eight Mayan hills that were part of Kaminal Juyú, separated from the rest of that Mayan city by a ravine. The hills surrounded and old field that might have been used to play ceremonial ball, although its space seems too long and narrow based on other ball fields found in different Maya cities.
17:30 back to the hotel
Day 3: Copan, Honduras. Transfer day (24/10/18)
What to Bring? Comfy clothes, comfy shoes, books and music.
Today we drive through the eastern Guatemala, along the Motagua river basin down to Honduras.
8:00 am. Transfer to Honduras, it may take about 6 hours.
13:00 Lunch upon arrival at Copan, Honduras
The Copan ruins majestically display ancient natural culture, and the people of the town of Copan have become friendly merchants, working in an envious setting against the clear green and blue mountains. “Copanecos” have found that delicate blend of being able to show visitors their beautiful world, without destroying that which makes it so unique. It’s an artistic town. Intricate wood and stone carvings of the ruins, the land, agriculture and animals, along with hand-made leather trinkets, which are available everywhere, make excellent vacation souvenirs. The cobblestone streets and fresh tortillas being grilled on the street corners mix with the voices of townspeople sharing the day in the town plaza. Copan is the heart of activity in north western Honduras. It is intimate, friendly and colorful: narrow streets, brightly colored buildings, numerous cafes, restaurants, hotels, and shops make for its lively example of rural Honduras mixed with the accommodating desire for tourism.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and border taxes)
Day 4: Copan, Visit (25/10/18)
What to bring? Mosquito repellent, sunscreen, hat, walking shoes, walking stick.
7:45 am- Pick-up time to get to Copan National park, it opens at 8:00 am.
Guided tour at the archeological site of Copan, it will take about 3 hours.
Copan began as an agricultural settlement around 1000 BC. As it grew, the site functioned as the political, civil and religious centre of the Copán Valley as well as the center of a larger territory that covered the southeast portion of the Maya area. From the early 400s to 820 AD, a series of 16 kings ruled Copán, all of them belonging to a single dynasty (family).
The Maya leader Yax Kuk Mo, came from the area of Tikal (Petén) and arrived in the Copán Valley in 427 AD. He started the dynasty that transformed Copán into one of the great Maya cities. The greatest period of Copán, paralleled that of other major Mayan cities and occurred during the Classical period from 300-900 AD.
11:00 am. Guided Museum visit
13:00 Lunch time
15:00 Bird sanctuary visit https://www.macawmountain.org/
Day 5: We travel to the Guatemalan Cloud Forest. (26/10/18)
What to bring? Comfy shoes, comfy clothes and ready for 5 hours drive.
7:30 am, departure time. We head to the cloud forest of Guatemala in the Verapaz area. As we track back to the dry-forest region of Guatemala we will enjoy this great ride throughout the wild-wild east of Guatemala.
12:30 pm. Lunch time, why not to give a go to the local Cakiq https://www.mayanfamiliescanada.org/recipes.htm
14:00 Hotel check inn
15:00 Hike trough Biotopo Mario Dary Rivera
The Quetzal Biotope, officially known as the Mario Dary Rivera Nature Reserve, is one of the most fascinating nature reserves in Guatemala, protecting 3,000 acres of cloud forest and many species of birds, butterflies, orchids and exotic flowers. The Quetzal Biotope was established in 1977 to protect Guatemala’s rapidly shrinking cloud forest and its inhabitants.
Since it’s inception, the nature reserves has been under the administration of the San Carlos University, which has done a splendid job and made the Quetzal Biotope one of the country’s top destinations for nature lovers and bird watchers.
19:00 pm. Dinner
Day 6: Out adventure just gets more interesting… we get pick-up by 4×4 vehicles in order to reach remote areas in the Guatemalan highlands. (27/10/18)
6:00 am. Optional hike to Ram Tzul waterfall view point (2 hours)
8:00 am. Breakfast
9:00 am. Departure to Finca Mil-Amores. This is an adventurous route that see few foreigners and although a long and bumpy day*s drive, it takes us into a region that is remarkably rich in Culture and Costumbre (ancient tradition).
Lunch somewhere along the way.
17:00 pm. Estimate arrival time.
Free time to explore the surrounding area of the hotel property.
Day 7: Hacienda Mil Amores, San Juan Acul, Nebaj, Quiche. (28/10/18)
Today we choose from hiking to exploring nearby villages or just relax!!!
Welcome to the Western Highlands of Guatemala. Cool, brisk weather, misty, dramatic mountain ranges and lush cattle pasture are the norm. Hacienda Mil Amores is pretty far off the gringo trail. You won’t find any memorable t-shirts, trendy bars or businesses catering to tourists.
What you will find are classy, standalone cabins with fireplaces, wonderful hot full pressure showers and comfortable beds all housed on a quaint, European-esque dairy farm. Hiking trails crisscross the surrounding mountains where locals tend to small fields, collect firewood and raise livestock. You’ll likely wake to cowbells in the morning, and might forget you’re in Guatemala while walking around the lush green fields divided by fresh, cold streams and brusque rock formations.
If you’re looking for a quiet or romantic getaway and you have the time to get there, Hacienda Mil Amores is the right choice. Cheese plates with wine, delicious typical food, beautiful hiking and a super quiet, relaxing atmosphere will make your stay memorable. Keep in mind you’ll be in the middle of nowhere.
Day 8. Fallowing the same roads that locals fallow to get to Chichicastenango… we will get to Atitlan, we stay at Hotel Bambu, near Santiago, Atitlan. (29/10/18)
6:00 am. Breakfast
7:00 am. Departure time to Atitlan
On our way we will have the great opportunity to explore some ancient Maya-Quiche such as Gumarkaj
Q’umarkaj was one of the most powerful Maya cities when the Spanish arrived in the region in the early 16th century. It was the capital of the K’iche’ Maya in the Late Postclassic Period. At the time of the Spanish Conquest, Q’umarkaj was a relatively new capital, with the capital of the K’iche’ kingdom having originally been situated at Jakawitz (identified with the archaeological site Chitinamit) and then at Pismachi’. Q’umarkaj was founded during the reign of king Q’uq’umatz (“Feathered Serpent” in K’iche’) in the early 15th century, immediately to the north of Pismachi’.In 1470 the city was seriously weakened by a rebellion among the nobility that resulted in the loss of key allies of the K’iche’.
Day 9: A day to explore Santiago Atitlan and surrounding areas… as well as its hidden rituals. (30/10/18)
Today we can choose from exploring Santiago Atitlan on our own to get active a hike from Tzununa to Jaibalito (about 2 hours) and enjoy the lake as few visitors would.
What about some Kayaking?
What about meeting Maximon? (a local divine entity)
19:00 Dinner time.
Day 10: Transfer to Antigua. (31/10/18)
8:00 Departure time to Antigua via the Pacific Coast-Line
Enjoy this unusual ride from the highlands to the sugar-cane fields of La Costa back into the highlands once in Antigua.
The city of Antigua, capital of Sacatepéquez Province, Guatemala, is a charming old colonial city that for many years was the political, religious and economic heart of Central America. After being destroyed by a series of earthquakes in 1773, the city was abandoned in favor of what is now Guatemala City, although not everyone left. Today, it is one of Guatemala’s top visitor destinations.
13:30 pm. Lunch upon arrival in Antigua, Guatemala!!!
14:30 pm. Check inn
15:30 pm. walking tour in Antigua.
19:00 pm Dinner
Day 11: Sumpango (01/10/18)
This November 1st, or Day of the Dead in Guatemala, the municipality of Sumpango celebrated with their famous annual Kite Festival. Thousands of people from all over the country, as well as foreigners, travel to Sumpango on this day to see the magnificent, giant kites that various community groups from Sumpango have been working on for months prior to the event. There is music, food, drinks and dancing on this joyous event, which is the pride and joy of citizens of Sumpango. When you see the incredible kites, it is easy to see why.
Day 12: Dia de los Muertos (02/11/18)
Time to explore Antigua and its surrounding villages
8:00 am. Breakfast
9:00 am. We start our Antigua village tour, we get to explore the surroundings of Panchoy*s Valley, as we move a long we learn about their Costumbre (tradition) on the Dead. This tour involves visitng cemeteries in every one of the 04 villages.
15:30 estimate time to be back at the hotel in Antigua
16:30 to 17:30 Lecture given by a Guatemalan scholar about Dia de Los Muertos for ancient and modern Maya.
19:00 Traditional dinner for Dia de Los Muertos en Guatemala
Fiambre is a traditional Guatemalan dish that is prepared and eaten yearly to celebrate the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) and the All Saints Day (Día de Todos los Santos). It is a salad, served chilled, and may be made up from over 50 ingredients.
Day 13: Transfer to the airport – (03/11/18)
Today you have an airport transfer included.