With plenty of planned tours on offer, you’re never short of activities to make the most of your free time when volunteering in Guatemala. This country offers incredible natural beauty and intriguing historic sites for our adventurous volunteers to explore. We’ve listed below some of the popular sites and tours that past IVHQ volunteers have experienced while on the IVHQ Guatemala program.
In and Around Antigua
The IVHQ Guatemala program is based in the city of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with fascinating colonial history.
Visit the archaeological site and small Mayan city of Iximche, the first capital of Guatemala. Explore the ruins of this enigmatic city and visit the museum to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Mayan Culture. A trip to Iximche provides some great cultural insight and plenty of fantastic photo opportunities!
Take a two hour hike to the summit of the most active volcano in Guatemala! At a height of 2,500 meters above sea level, you can roast marshmallows over the heat from the crater, while taking in the panoramic views of the other volcanoes Agua, Acatenango and Fuego, which encircle Antigua.
Yalu Coffee Plantation
Experience the ultimate brew of adventure and eco-tourism in the beautiful organic coffee plantation of Yalu, nestled in the pristine and untouched hills of Sumpango. Start your adventure with a thrilling zip line tour through the mountain tops and once you have made it down the mountain, learn how the people of Yalu produce their rich and flavorful organic coffee that is unrivaled by any other farm in the country. You can end the tour with a cup of Yalu’s finest and wander through the Yalu village to learn about the daily life of the indigenous people. There are plenty of extra activities to choose from too, including picking fresh blackberries, mountain biking through the coffee trees, walking the eco-trails, taking a horseback tour of the grounds, or being introduced to the dairy farm to help milk the cows. No matter the activity, your trip to Yalu is sure to awaken all of your senses!
While volunteering in Guatemala, many volunteers choose to travel further afield to see more of what this great country has to offer. We’ve highlighted a couple of popular weekend activities for volunteers that our local staff are more than happy to help you arrange.
Famous for its captivating natural beauty and colorful Mayan villages, Lake Atitlan is a must see! Set about four hours drive from Antigua, Panajachel is the Lake’s most visited town. There are many activities to undertake during your visit, such as taking lanchas (small boats) to explore the villages surrounding the lake, markets, endless hiking trails (including volcano hikes), bike tours, horseback riding, birdwatching, kayaking and jet skiing.
Mayan Heritage and Garifuna Culture Weekend
This weekend trip is the perfect introduction to the varied landscapes and cultures of Guatemala and in just a few days, you will come to understand what makes Guatemala truly unique. Departing from the picturesque Antigua, you will head to Flores Island en route to Tikal National Park. You will spend a day on a guided tour, hiking ancient Mayan ruins and learning all the history of the sacred jungle. Inside the park, you can appreciate an assortment of wildlife, such as spider monkeys, howler monkeys, jaguars, deer, crocodiles, turtles and many birds. You will also visit a range of Mayan Ruins, including Complex Q, The Great Plaza, Temples I, II, III, IV, V, VI, Central Acropolis, The Window Palace and the Lost World.
After your tour of Tikal, you can shop for some unique wooden handcrafts in El Remate and then continue your trip to Castillo San Felipe, an ancient castle that served as a fortress during the Pirate Activity of Century XVI, and to the Island of Birds, a tiny island where the Cormoran lives. You will then travel to the completely different world of the Caribbean Coast, where you will discover the lush open waters of Río Dulce, the turquoise pools of Siete Altares, and the vibrant Garifuna culture of Livingston before returning to Antigua.
Just four hours from Antigua on the Pacific coast of El Salvador, El Zonte has long been known as one of the most famous surfing beaches in Central America. This beach provides epic waves for beginners, pros, and everyone in between. Here you can meet travelers from all over the world, learn to surf, perfect your technique, and soak in the El Salvadorian sun with a cold drink and a delicious meal. El Salvador is enchanting and if surfing is not your thing, not to worry - there is plenty of sun and sand to enjoy in El Zonte. Spend your time lounging in the hammock, swimming in the ocean waves, or arrange some local tours.
To apply for the program or explore the volunteering opportunities available in Guatemala, visit our Volunteer in Guatemala page.