As a volunteer in Guatemala you’ll be warmly welcomed into the safe and culturally-rich Maya Highlands town of Tecpán. From the colorful dress of Maya woman walking down a cobble-stoned street, to the volcanoes that seem to rise straight out of the ground, to the freshly-made tortillas, Guatemala is a country for the senses. Guatemala has one of the largest populations of indigenous citizens in Latin America and many of our volunteers tell us that Guatemala, with its many traditions, is a place unlike any they’ve ever visited. Tecpán is ideally located 60 miles northeast of Guatemala City and just 30 miles from Antigua and Lake Atitlan. Once the former capital of Guatemala, Tecpán is nestled in a vast and lush volcanic valley. Here you will be welcomed by the hospitality of the Guatemalan people who are usually mestizo, a mix of Spanish and Maya ancestry, or they are direct descendants of the Maya. You’ll experience the vibrant culture of Guatemala, a land where the ancient and modern converge.
Nestled in the Maya Highlands, the Home-Base in Guatemala immerses you in a rich Maya farming community. Just a 10-minute walk down scenic rural roads, you’ll find yourself in the bustling city of Tecpan, the heart of the surrounding villages, with access to cafes, shops, and restaurants.
Rest and relax in comfortable rooms, each with a private bathroom, and reflect in the incredible scenery while soaking in the traditional life, colorful fabrics, and unique cultural systems through your new Maya neighbors. Every moment in your home in Guatemala will be a relaxing retreat from your impactful volunteer work.
In the large dining area, share traditional Guatemalan cuisine with your fellow volunteers, including some old favorites like homemade guacamole and corn tortillas, and some new dishes that are sure to please, like hearty stews, fresh tropical fruits, and frijoles volteados, a popular local dish.
Squads Abroad in Guatemala is led by Juan Carlos Buonafina a veteran coordinating international exchange programs for volunteers. Juan Carlos is an educator, an intercultural exchange professional, and an expert at guiding international volunteer experiences. After receiving his degree, Juan Carlos started his career with our partner organization, Cross-Cultural Solutions, specifically leading the teen program in the Maya Highlands of Tecpan. He manages a small permanent team of local staff that design and runs each program; the staff will make you feel at home acting like a second family during your stay and helping you better understand the culture and maximize community impact.
Each weekday afternoon our professional staff guide the group on Cultural & Learning Activities in the local area. In Guatemala these activities include, but are not limited to, an in-depth orientation, guided walking tour of Tecpan and a visit to local family farm. Tour the nearby Iximché archeological ruins and participate in a Mayan Shaman Ceremony. Take Spanish & Kaqchikel lessons as well as cooking lessons to make tortillas and tamales. Visit Dona Clara’s home in Santa Apolonia for traditional pottery demonstrations. Listen to guest speakers talk about the Education System in Maya Schools, the Healthcare System in Rural Guatemala, and, the Beliefs of Indigenous Communities.
On the weekends your group may choose to explore other areas of the country through our guided overnight packages. Spend one or two nights exploring Lake Atitlan, Antigua, or take an internal flight to Tikal and the Peten National Park.
Embark on a day or overnight group excursion to Lake Atitlan. Travel to the town of Panajachel located on the northeast shore of Lake Atitlan and take a private boat tour across the lake to the small Maya village of San Juan de la Laguna. Enjoy activities such as artisan workshops, a zip-line adventure, or refreshing swims and paddle-boarding on the lake.
Journey to Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was once the grand capital of the Spanish Empire. Spend the day or overnight in Antigua and enjoy a historic tour, coffee farm tour, artisan shopping, and a final dinner and closing ceremony.
Take an internal flight from Guatemala City to Flores airport near Tikal. Tikal was once the greatest city of the Mayan civilization between 900-700 B.C. Today this must-see destination is tucked inside the Tikal National Park and Peten tropical rainforest. Stay in the nearby city of Flores on Lake Pete Itza. Spend a full day exploring the incredible ruins and adjacent rainforest with a private guided tour.