Mike and I invited Mynor, Josefa, and their son Manuel to join us on the Quetzaltrekkers trek from Xela to Lago Atitlán - nearly 30 miles in 2.5 days through a stunning variety of landscapes. We slept in group homestays, bathed in Maya temascales (sweat baths), and climbed in the dark the last morning to watch the sun rise over the lake. It was a challenging, enriching, and memorable journey - highly recommended.
We headed to Xela the night before the trek and stayed at a comfortable, friendly hostel called Casa Seibel.
We had time to explore the central area and cathedral...
...then headed to the Quetzaltrekkers office for a mandatory pretrek meeting. All guides are volunteers and the profits go to programs that support street kids in Xela. Our group included nationals from Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, the US, Guatemala, Iran, and Israel as well as US expats living and working in Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico - no 2 alike!
We ate dinner at a restaurant near our hostel called La Esquina Asiatica - wonderful food but really slow service (happens when only 2 people serve as wait staff and cooks).
The next morning we enjoyed a 5:30am breakfast back at the Quetzaltrekkers office, then hiked to the bus stop and took a bus to the start of the trail in the village of Xecam.
The changing landscapes were a highlight of the trek, 2nd only to our friendly, supportive, and interesting traveling companions - simply stellar.
Lunch on the trail - food in our bellies and less weight on our backs.
After arriving in the village of Antigua Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, we enjoyed cleaning off and relaxing 2 by 2 in Maya temascales.
We were up bright and early the next morning in time to see the full moon set over the hills, lots of bird life, and enjoy a nice breakfast in the comedor next door before heading out.
Early in the hike that 2nd day we came to 'Record Hill'. We were impressed by the energy of those who raced to the top but were happy to take our time; in addition to the incline and pack weight, the elevation felt like it was pulling the oxygen from our lungs.
Another Day 2 highlight: "Ice Cream Village". :-)
Then we continued on our way with breaks and scenery changes, "The Cornfield of Death" (not pictured) and, eventually, our 2nd group homestay in the village of Xiprian.
We rose at 3:30am on Day 3 and made the hike to a mirador (view point) just below Indian Nose in time to watch the sun rise and enjoy a hot breakfast; those are the lights of San Pedro near the center of the 1st photo, below.
Eventually we made our way down the steep path to La Voz Coffee Cooperative in San Juan La Laguna...
...then in pickups to Restaurante El Fondeadero in San Pedro for a celebration lunch together on the lake.
These were our awesome volunteer guides: Rhianna from The Netherlands, Melanie from the US (her parents are Guatemaltecos), and Hannah from Germany. You can see a full set of photos from this trek on my Flickr site. Happy trails!