Things to do in
Santa Cruz La Laguna

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Our most recommended things to do in Santa Cruz La Laguna

Lake Atitlan Maya Kitchen: 3-Hour Cooking Class

1. Lake Atitlan Maya Kitchen: 3-Hour Cooking Class

Experience Guatemala in an authentic and personal way as you discover the flavors of Guatemala cooking at the Lake Atitlan Maya Kitchen. A 3-hour cooking class will help you understand how Mayan culture and Spanish colonial influences produced a variety of mouth-watering dishes. You’ll have lots of hands-on fun learning how to prepare up to 3 authentic Guatemalan dishes during this class. Learn how to prepare traditional recipes and come away with all the skills you need to prepare them in your own kitchen. If you like you can visit the market with your instructor to purchase the ingredients, or leave the chef do the shopping without you. After your lesson you’ll have a sufficient amount of the prepared food to feed your family or other group members. You’ll take home a printed copy of the recipes as well. The instructor will demonstrate the preparation of each recipe with explanations so you’ll have a complete understanding of the ingredients and the process. Private classes can be arranged for individuals, in addition to the shared classes for small groups. The Mayan cooks in the program are native to Lake Atitlan, and they carry on the rich traditions and culture that are expressed in the food. If you choose to include a market visit with your cooking program, you should plan on an additional 1-2 hours. Note that the instructors speak English or Spanish, or a little of both. All proceeds support the community of Santa Cruz La Laguna through the local nonprofit Amigos de Santa Cruz which runs education and economic empowerment programs (check out amigosdesantacruz.org or Amigos de Santa Cruz Foundation on Facebook for more information) Classes are taught by Claudia, a local graduate of Amigos' culinary program, and run for 3 hours with a plated 3-course lunch included on the patio overlooking Lake Atitlan. 

Santa Cruz: Hidden Waterfalls & Secret Paradise Hike

2. Santa Cruz: Hidden Waterfalls & Secret Paradise Hike

The day begins in Santa Cruz la Laguna, the rugged north shore of Lake Atitlan. The north shore of Lake Atitlan has no true road access, so you will be hiking along ancient paths that have been used by the Kachekel Maya for centuries. You will view villagers going about their daily life, encounter farmers tending their maiz and coffee fields, and see some of the most magnificent scenery in the world. This rugged and remote section of Lake Atitlan has barely been touched by the outside world.  Our hike takes us several hundred feet above the ever changing waters of Atitlan for breath taking views of the famous volcanoes. Then descend into the Pumpatin Canyon for a nature walk along the banks of the river. You will experience two different ecosystems as we walk from the upper lake shore into the narrow canyon. The further into the Pumpatin Canyon we hike, the more waterfalls we see. We have the potential to find up to 5 waterfalls. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of the river, and take a swim if you desire.

Los Elementos Adventure Center: Kayak, Swim, and Relax

3. Los Elementos Adventure Center: Kayak, Swim, and Relax

The day begins in Panajachel or Santa Cruz La Laguna, where your guide will meet you at your hotel and bring you to the boat docks along Lake Atitlan. From there, take a boat transfer to the Adventure Center in Santa Cruz, where you'll spend the day with a bilingual guide and plenty enjoy activities, all in line with USA safety standards. Kayak for an hour or so, take a swim in the crystal blue waters, or go for a cliff jump if you dare!   For lunch, enjoy a home-cooked meal by the center's very own chef; you're free to pre-order your meal selections based on your own tastes and preferences. After lunch, hike through the hidden Pumpatin Canyon through the lush local forest to a rock wall, where you'll have to chance to enjoy an invigorating and safe rock climb, with secure top-rope systems (harnesses, ropes, etc.). Climb up to 45 feet (14 meters), before rappelling down.   When you're ready, return to the Adventure Center for more free time to go for a swim, kayak, or just to hang out and relax. You can even try your hand at archery, try out a trampoline, or lie in a hammock and enjoy the splendid views. You can also schedule a professional massage or facial (for an additional charge).   You'll return to your hotel at around 16:00. Just pick your favorite activities and enjoy!

7 Day Package - Explore Lake Atitlan & Antigua

4. 7 Day Package - Explore Lake Atitlan & Antigua

Day 1 > Arrival in Guatemala & world-Famous Antigua. An exquisite Spanish Colonial town with elegant 16th & 17th Century architecture, cobblestone streets, a tranquil central square, stylish hotels, luxurious shops and superb international cuisine. The town enjoys a unique and impressive setting nestled beneath three towering volcanoes and surrounded by lush evergreen forests. Day 2 > Antigua. Walking Tour of Antigua. The tour will focus on Antigua’s architecture, history, restoration and cultural trends. Your tour can include a visit to the Jade Museum and also the museums at Paseo de los Museos at Casa Santo Domingo, the Chocolate Museum, the central plaza, Arch of Santa Catarina, and more. Day 3 > Amazing Chichicastenango. You will have time to enjoy the spectacular outdoor market of Chichicastenango –one of the world’s most famous outdoor markets! People watch in thisvery Mayanvillage, and also‘shop until you drop’or until 1pm when the market closes.  Walk through the cemetery and sacred Shaman Hill, Pascal Abaj where you are likely to see Mayan fire cleansing ceremonies. Located at 2500 meters above sea level, this town is famous amongst tourists for its market on Thursdays and Sundays, where spats of traditionally dressed villagers in a kaleidoscope of colors, come to sell their very colorful textiles, fruits, vegetables and flowers. Although seemingly very commercial, there is much mysticism in the air. You will be amazed by the religious blend that exists, where colonial Spanish Catholicism, modern evangelism and ancient Mayan tradition, blend in a uniquely harmonious fashion. There is something deeply moving about watching a Mayan Indian or shaman, engulfed by incense and surrounded by flowers, praying to a catholic God and at the same time practicing ancient Mayan rituals, all in an old Spanish colonial Cathedral. Day 4 > Lake Atitlan– 3 village boat tour of San Marcos, San Juan, and Santiago. This spectacular full day trip will take you from one end of the lake to the other. You will visit the villages of San Marcos, San Juan and Santiago, with time to explore each village. Your first stop is San Marcos, where you stop for a swim and optional cliff jumping. Then you will depart the north shore for San Juan, the “Swiss village” of Lake Atitlan. You will enjoy a guided walking tour and visit art galleries, woman's weaving cooperatives, a medicinal and curative plant garden, see a children's dance performance, and learn about the Mayan calendar. Your third stop is Santiago. The bay of Santiago is a photographer’s dream. We take a tour along the shore of the bay before we start our walking tour. Your first stop is a visitor center that offers insight into the life of the Tzutujile Maya. There are interpretive displays on the history of the traje (traditional clothing), spiritual beliefs and Maximon. Easy walking is involved. Day 5 > Lake Atitlan– Hike (or Drive) the Upper Mayan Trail, Solola and mountain villages. This day affords you some truly amazing lake views! At the hikes’s conclusion you will spend some time at the colorful market of Solola. Your hike takes you along ancient paths that have been used by the Kaqchikel Maya for centuries. You will view villagers going about their daily life, encounter farmers tending their maiz and coffee fields, and see some of the most magnificent scenery in the world. This rugged and remote area has barely been touched by the outside world. The hike takes you 2,500 feet above the waters of Atitlán for breath taking views and pristine scenery. Day 6 > Lake Atitlan– Kayak and Hike Mulit-Sport. This full day includes a kayak tour along the rugged north shore, and a hike back thru San Marcos, Tzununa,  El Jaibalito and Santa Cruz la Laguna. We paddle for 1 ½ hours along the shores of Santa Cruz la Laguna, El Jaibalito, and Tzununa, ending in San Marcos.  You will have many up close encounters with Mayan men who fish from hand hewn cayukas as they have for centuries.  You will feel privileged to share the lake with these proud fishermen who make Lake Atitlan so unique. You paddle along rugged cliff faces filled with exotic plant and bird life.  You have the opportunity to cliff- jump into the crystal clear waters, or just enjoy a swim and sun. We pull into the Bay of San Marcos and gear up for the next part of our adventure. The  north shore of Lake Atitlan has no true road access, so you will be hiking along ancient paths that have been used by the Maya for centuries.  You will view villagers going about their daily life, encounter farmers tending their maiz and coffee fields, and see some of the most magnificent scenery in the world.  This rugged and remote section of Lake Atitlan has barely been touched by the outside world.  Our hike takes us over one thousand feet above the ever changing waters of Atitlan for breath taking views of the famous volcanos.   Day 7  > Departure Day - This days activities will depend on your departure time. We will insure you have the most time to enjoy the day, plus get you to the airport in time for your departure.  We may travel to Antigua for a second night, or to Guatemala City to visit musuems and other sights.  It is all up to you. Come enjoy the most popular sights of Guatemala in 7 days.

Explore the Heart of the Mayan World - 10 Day Adventure

5. Explore the Heart of the Mayan World - 10 Day Adventure

Day 1   >>> Arrival in Guatemala & world-Famous Antigua Enjoy two days in Antigua - one of the world’s oldest & most beautiful colonial cities. Antigua, Guatemalais an exquisite Spanish Colonial town with elegant 16th & 17th Century architecture, cobblestone streets, a tranquil central square, stylish hotels, luxurious shops and superb international cuisine. The town enjoys a unique and impressive setting nestled beneath three towering volcanoes and surrounded by lush evergreen forests. Day 2  >>> Antigua & Travel to Chichicastenango Meet for a leisurely and informative Walking Tour of Antigua. The tour will focus on Antigua’s architecture, history, restoration and cultural trends. Your tour will include a visit to the Jade Museum and also the museums at Paseo de los Museos at Casa Santo Domingo.  In the afternoon you will take a private shuttle from Antigua to Chichicastenango. Day 3   >>> Amazing Chichicastenango In the morning, you will have time to enjoy the spectacular outdoor market of Chichicastenango – one of the world’s most famous outdoor markets! People watch in this very Mayan village, and also ‘shop until you drop’ or until 1pm when the market closes. Walk through the cemetery and sacred Shaman Hill, Pascal Abaj where you are likely to see Mayan fire cleansing ceremonies.  Day 4  >>> Lake Atitlan– 3 village boat tour of San Marcos, San Juan, and Santiago This spectacular full day trip will take you from one end of the lake to the other. You will visit the villages of San Marcos, San Juan and Santiago, with time to explore each village. Easy walking is involved and the trip is approximately 5-6 hours.Your Itinerary may vary from the following, but just tell Lee what you are most interested in seeing or doing and he will do his best to accommodate:  Sample Itinerary: The day begins in Santa Cruz where you depart for the west end of the lake. You get to see the villages of El Jaibalito, Tzununa, San Marcos, and San Pablo as you make your way along the north shore. Your first stop isSan Marcos, where you stop for breakfast and optional cliff jumping. Then you will depart the north shore for San Juan, the “Swiss village” of Lake Atitlan. You will spend approximately 2 hours on a guided walking tour and visit art galleries, two woman's weaving cooperatives, a medicinal and curative plant garden, or you can learn about fishing and paddle a traditional cayuka (canoe).   Several famous painters are from San Juan so you will also visit their galleries to see them at work. Women Weavers and Nuestra Artesania includes demonstrations showing how the beautiful fabrics are made; from harvesting the cotton, to spinning it into yarn, dying the yarn, and then creating one of-a-kind fabrics with the back strap loom. The Qomaneel center is a medicinal and curative herb garden operated by the midwives of San Juan.  You are guided through the garden and given samples of each plant along with a description of its curative powers.There are no entrance fees at the cooperatives. Your gift purchases or donations are how these centers function.  Your third stop is Santiago. The bay of Santiago is a photographer’s dream. We take a tour along the shore of the bay before we start our walking tour. Your first stop is a visitor center that offers insight into the life of the Tzutujile Maya. There are interpretive displays on the history of the traje (traditional clothing), spiritual beliefs and Maximon. We have lunch before we tour the local church and visit Maximon. The Mayan visit Maximon to ask for healthy crops, to help cure illness, to find love, or to cast a spell on a neighbor. Be sure to buy some candles, cigarettes, or liquor to make your own offering!!!A small fee is required for admittance. The Catholic church was first constructed in 1547, however the original structure has been destroyed several times over.  The church has two wooden alter pieces from the original 1500's, as well as other ancient artifacts.  This was the sight of many incidents during the 30 year civil conflict, and ultimately lead to the murder of Father Stanley "Alpa" Rother in 1981.  We visit Father Rather's personal living quarters, learn about his efforts to help the villagers during the war, and discuss the history of the war. Day 5  >>> Hiking the Upper Mayan Trail at Lake Atitlan (or driving tour).  Some of your family or group may choose the hike, while the others would meet us at the market. On this day you will be hiking the Upper Mayan Trail affording you some truly amazing lake views! At the hikes’s conclusion you will spend some time at the colorful market of Solola. Your hike takes you along ancient paths that have been used by the Kaqchikel Maya for centuries. You will view villagers going about their daily life, encounter farmers tending their maiz and coffee fields, and see some of the most magnificent scenery in the world. This rugged and remote area has barely been touched by the outside world. The hike takes you 2,500 feet above the waters of Atitlán for breath taking views and pristine scenery. It is a difficult walk/climb, but is not overly challenging for those in good health. The walk is approximately three hours through magnificent scenery. Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way. You walk through a remote Mayan village high in the mountains where we find the road. There we take a collectivo (shared van/pick-up) the last few miles into Solola. In Solola you visit the second largest market in Guatemala, then return via chicken bus or pick up into Panajachel.  We have the opportunity to observe a Mayan ceremony at the sacred caves of San Jorge.  We are able to              observe the Fire Cleansing Ceremony on most occasions, but it is not guaranteed. Day 6    >>> Lake Atitlan– Kayak and Hike Mulit-Sport  Full-day trip begins and ends in Santa Cruz. This full day includes a kayak tour along the rugged north shore, and a hike back thru San Marcos, Tzununa,  El Jaibalito and Santa Cruz la Laguna.   Meet at the hotel dock to gear up for a day of adventure. It is best to wear your swimsuit or other appropriate boating atire as you will get wet along the way.  We supply dry sacks for your backpacks and other gear for the second part of the day. Be sure to bring your camera, drinking water, and some sunscreen.   We paddle for 1 ½ -2 hours along the shores of Santa Cruz la Laguna, El Jaibalito, and Tzununa, ending in San Marcos.  You will have many up close encounters with Mayan men who fish from hand hewn cayukas as they have for centuries.  You will feel privileged to share the lake with these proud fishermen who make Lake Atitlan so unique. You paddle along rugged cliff faces filled with exotic plant and bird life.  You have the opportunity to soak in the hot springs and cliff- jump into the crystal clear waters, or just enjoy a swim and sun. We pull into the Bay of San Marcos and gear up for the next part of our adventure. The  north shore of Lake Atitlan has no true road access, so you will be hiking along ancient paths that have been used by the Maya for centuries. You will view villagers going about their daily life, encounter farmers tending their maiz and coffee fields, and see some  of the most magnificent scenery in the world.  This rugged and remote section of Lake Atitlan has barely been touched by the outside world.  Our hike takes us several hundred feet above the ever changing waters of Atitlan for breath taking views of the famous volcanos.  We end our hike in Santa Cruz la Laguna at the end of our day of adventure. Day 7  >>> Guatemala City tour The capital city has many sights to enjoy, and most visitors miss this opportunity. You can let me show you my favorites, or you can choose from the options described below.   There are several museums that offer the visitor an in site to the Maya. The Popol Vuh Archaeological Museum and the Ixcchle Museum. Free evening to explore the Zona Viva area. It is safe and has many restaurants to enjoy. I will escort you if you wish, and this may be preferable.  I know the area well and am comfortable with its safety. Overnight Guatemala City For your Guatemala Hotel (2 nights, Day 7 & Day 9) we recommend that you book directly with one of the many hotels which are near the airport. Day 8   >>> the world famous mayan ruins of Tikal 4:30 am Shuttle from your Guatemala City Hotel (near the airport) to the TAG Hangar at the GUA airport 5 am Check-in at the TAG (18 calle & Avenida Hincapie zona 13 Hangar 16) (passport required) 6:30am Flight TG 01 with TAG from the TAG Hangar at the GUA Airport to FRS 7:30am Go to the Tikal Inn personnel at the FRS airport. Shuttle from Flores airport to Tikal National Park (park admission included). There may be a wait for the next flight (have breakfast) 9am English tour: Complex Q, North and Central Acropolis, Mundo Perdido Complex & Temple IV. Lunch at Hotel Tikal Inn (beverages and tips not included) Visit to museum on your own. Admission not included Overnight at Tikal Inn (double occupancy) Day 9   >>> the world famous mayan ruins of Tikal Breakfast/Free morning (US$20 park admission not included) 2 pm Shuttle fromHotel Tikal Innto Flores airport 3 pm Check-in at the TAG counter (passport required) 5 pm Flight TG 02 with TAG from FRS airport to the TAG Hangar at the GUA airport 6 pm Shuttle from the TAG Hangar at the GUA airport back to your Guatemala City Hotel Day 10     >>> Departure day Check out of your Guatemala City Hotel in time to catch your flight home. 

Santa Cruz La Laguna 6-Hour Adventure Activities Tour

6. Santa Cruz La Laguna 6-Hour Adventure Activities Tour

This half-day adventure tour from Santa Cruz La Laguna includes a kayak along the rugged and remote north shore of Lake Atitlan, followed by a hike back through the Mayan villages of San Marcos, Tzununa, and El Jaibalito. At the meeting point, a qualified kayak instructor will supply dry sacks for your backpacks and gear for the 2nd part of the tour. All the guides are experienced kayak teachers, and can show you basic paddling techniques. You will paddle for about 2 hours along the shores of Santa Cruz La Laguna, heading past the Mayan settlements of El Jaibalito and Tzununa en route to San Marcos. Encounter Mayan men fishing from hand-hewn boats known as “cayukas,” just as they have done for centuries. Gaze at the rugged rocks that provide home to exotic plant and bird life. You will even have the opportunity to jump into the crystal clear waters from the cliff tops. Pull into the Bay of San Marcos to gear up for the 2nd part of your adventure. The north shore of Lake Atitlan has no road access, so you will be hiking paths that have been used by the Mayans for centuries. See villagers tending their maize and coffee crops en route. This section of Lake Atitlan has barely been touched by the outside world, and from your privileged position several hundred feet above the ever changing waters of Atitlan, enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding volcanoes.

Santa Cruz Guatemala: Los Elementos Community Tour

7. Santa Cruz Guatemala: Los Elementos Community Tour

Learn about the projects to improve the education and provide a higher standard of living for the indigenous Mayans of Santa Cruz. Amigos de Santa Cruz have been active in the remote village for over 15 years, making great progress in improving the education of the children, providing opportunites for higher education, and teaching better nutrition, self-awareness, and citizen responsibility. See how programs, such as early childhood education, community development, sex education, and sustainable food production are helping to improve the lives of the locals, and how the farmers are yielding better crops through permaculture and organic gardening. Visit the retail craft store to find unique handicrafts made by the students, including aprons, bags, beaded jewelry, wood and metal items, children's puzzles, puppets, and candlestick holders. Go to the town square with its centuries old church, and visit a family home to watch women practice the art of the backstrap loom. During your tour, a delicious lunch will be served by the students in the student run café inside the vocational training center. Help plant a seed of hope for a better future with your visit, and learn more about this ancient culture along the way.

Other Sightseeing Options in Santa Cruz La Laguna

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