Learning Through the Locals: The Colorful Culture of Guatemala

Meet local artisans, weavers, archaeologists, schoolchildren and more as you delve deep into the culture of Guatemala on an exploration of both seaside towns and the bustling cities.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23377RJ
12 days
Starts at
Special Offer
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At a Glance

With a human history that dates back 20,000 years, descendants of indigenous peoples make up almost half of the Guatemala’s population. On an educational journey, explore the past by learning about one of Guatemala’s greatest treasures: Its people. Discover how tradition blends into the modern world by observing kite-makers in Sumpango. Get up close to sacred Maya sites as you explore ancient civilizations with a local archeologist. Study Guatemala’s education system while meeting schoolchildren and learn about textile creation from the artisans themselves. On this fascinating dive into Guatemala, gain a deep understanding of a culture framed by beliefs of generations past, and learn from community members who weave them into everyday life today.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Delve deep into the lives of the ancient Maya as you explore the Tikal Ruins – a Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican archaeological site.
  • Learn about indigenous cultures and small town life during visits to local communities along the shores of Lake Atitlan.
  • Uncover the history of coffee production in Guatemala during a field trip to a local plantation.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Popol Vuh, The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life
by Dennis Tedlock (Editor)
The definitive, unabridged collection of creation myths and stories of the Quiche people, fundamental to understanding the worldview of the highland Maya.
Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan: Volume One
by John Lloyd Stephens
The first volume of Stephens' 1841 account, an instant bestseller and still an excellent introduction to the people, culture and archaeology of Central America. It follows Stephens through Belize and Guatemala, with several chapters on Copan. With 127 engravings by Frederick Catherwood. We also carry Volume Two. ($14.95, Item MYA05)
Tropical Nature
by Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata
Two uncommonly observant and thoughtful field biologists offer a lucid portrait of the tropics through 17 marvelous essays that introduce the habitats, ecology, plants and animals of the Central and South American rainforests.
Birds of Tropical America
by Steven Hilty
An ornithologist and veteran leader of birding expeditions, Hilty serves up short essays on how to find and better appreciate the dizzying variety of neotropical birds, their habits and habitats, diversity and distribution in this well-loved book.
The Maya
by Michael Coe
Coe's clear and concise illustrated survey of the Maya highlights the chronology, accomplishments and legacy of the Maya.
Central America Map
A detailed map of the Central American isthmus at a scale of 1:1,100,000.
The Copan Sculpture Museum, Ancient Maya Artistry in Stucco and Stone
by Barbara W. Fash
Director of the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions Program & Mesoamerican Laboratory at the Peabody Museum, Fash brings insight and an on-the-ground perceptive to this illustrated overview of Copan, both a museum catalog and an introduction to the Maya.
Time Among the Maya, Travels in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico
by Ronald Wright
Wright combines journalism, archaeology and an ear for dialogue in this engaging account of travels among the contemporary Maya.
The Lost Cities of the Mayas
by Fabio Bourbon
The discoveries of British artist Frederick Catherwood and his American companion John Lloyd Stephens, the first Westerners to see the Maya cities of the Yucatan, are chronicled in this illustrated, oversized biography, featuring 200 color engravings of the monuments of Central America, Chiapas and the Yucatan.
The True History of Chocolate
by Sophie D. Coe, Michael Coe
This scholarly history of pre-Columbian chocolate by these married archaeologists reveals chocolate's origins as a ceremonial beverage in ancient Olmec and Maya society. The Coes trace the treat's evolution from a food of the gods to the salons of Europe down through the masses to Hershey Pennsylvania.
Animals and Plants of the Ancient Maya, A Guide
by Victoria Schlesinger
A comprehensive guide to the natural and cultural history of 100 plants and animals of the Maya world, primarily those from the lowland tropical forest of Central America but also including savanna, mangrove and coral reef habitats.
Guatemalan Journey
by Stephen Connely Benz
Opening with a long chapter on life in Guatemala City, Benz’s memoir moves on to the remote highlands and other little-visited regions. An excellent account of Guatemala’s political history, traditions, and indigenous cultures.
An Album of Maya Architecture
by Tatiana Proskouriakoff
Scholar, artist and architect Proskouriakoff presents breathtaking artistic reconstructions of what Maya cities may have looked like in their heyday in this classic work, first published in 1946.
Insight Guide Guatemala, Belize & the Yucatan
by Insight Guides
This handsome guide gives a profusely illustrated overview of Guatemala, Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula, featuring concise essays by well regarded authors on natural history, politics and culture.
Maya Art and Architecture
by Mary Ellen Miller
An illustrated overview of the art and architecture of the Maya, making use of the latest discoveries at Tikal, Copan and Palenque to demonstrate the range of Mayan artistic influence. Revised and updated, this new edition includes color illustrations throughout.
The Code of Kings, The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs
by Linda Schele, Peter Mathews
A vivid guided tour of seven Maya sites, including Palenque, Tikal and Chichen Itza. This outstanding book features photos and line drawings throughout, and introductory chapters with a succinct introduction to Maya history and culture.
Culture Smart! Guatemala
by Lisa Vaughn
A concise and practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.
Antigua and My Life Before
by Marcela Serrano, Margaret Sayers Peden (Translator)
Set in Santiago, Chile, and the Guatemalan city of Antigua, this is the story of two women --- one a famous singer, the other an artist/architect -- and a tragic shooting that sparks off memories of their friendship.
The Guatemala Reader
by Greg Grandin (Editor)
A lively, literate sourcebook on the politics, economy and society of Guatemala, aimed at students, travelers and scholars.

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