The Route of the Conquistadores

A Ride on the Wild Side of Guatemala




From $2,740 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • Introduction to Guatemalan singletrack on Volcan de Agua
  • Free time at Casa del Mundo on beautiful Lake Atitlan
  • Chill out in the Spanish Colonial city of Antigua
  • Cycle across the Cuchumatanes to magical Semuc Champey

Having run our first, pioneering mountain biking holiday to this wild and intriguing country over a decade ago, our Guatemalan cycling holiday continues to receive rave reviews.  We begin our adventure in Antigua, once the capital of Guatemala and also the centre of Spanish Colonial administration for the whole of Central America and Mexico. Here, we start out with a short, introductory ride on the slopes of Volcan de Agua, climbing 500 metres on a forest track and descending on a technical singletrack trail overlooking the city. Over the next 2 days, a mix of dirt road biking and singletrack takes us to Lake Atitlan, surely a contender for the most beautiful lake in the world, with its towering volcanoes, azure water and Mayan inhabitants. This is a full-on mountain bike holiday aimed at regular mountain bikers with a taste for the undiscovered. Working with one of the few ‘real mountain bikers' in Guatemala, the first half of the holiday will cover a lot of singletrack that has thus far been biked only by the locals and by KE groups. The second half of the trip will be more of a cycling journey, following dirt tracks into the remote region of the Cuchumatanes Mountains. Here, we embark on some real ‘backcountry' biking beneath 3600 metre peaks and gain a rare insight into the way of life of the local Indian people, as we cycle through their villages and visit their markets. Although we have operated this trip for several years, Guatemala's infrastructure is changing rapidly and some of the dirt roads that we used to include have now been paved. To ensure that this trip stays true to character, and to remain off-road as much as we can, we continually modify this trip and seek out new and challenging trails. We may even need to make minor changes during the course of a trip to keep it real. Overall, this is a spectacular and quite unique cycling trip. Guatemala is probably the wildest country in Central America - but also the friendliest.


explore international

Explore International. This is one of our Explore International holidays. Participants on these trips can book through KE or through one of our international partners. This helps us to gather together sufficient numbers of like-minded adventurers to get your holiday up and running quickly. Led by an English-speaking guide, the cosmopolitan nature of these groups can be an important part of the experience!

Is this holiday for you?

MOUNTAIN BIKING. Guatemala is proving to be a mountain bike adventurer's paradise and the first part of this trip, from Antigua to Lake Atitlan, makes use of a mix of tracks and trails including singletrack routes used by local bikers - we think that these trails are as good as anywhere in the world. After an introduction to Guatemalan singletrack on Volcan de Agua, we ride cross-country for 2 days to Lake Atitlan and then tackle a great ride above Panajachel, including a 'slickrock' section, that drops us back down to the lake again. Then, after transferring to the wild Cuchumatanes Mountains region, we ride quiet dirt roads and rainforest trails that connect the local villages, with some long climbs and downhill blasts. Whilst the support vehicle cannot always follow the bikes, it is never far away. With 15,000 metres of ascent and descent, this is a holiday for regular, technically competent off-road mountain bikers with a good level of physical fitness. It does have some technically demanding singletrack ascents and descents and sections where you will have to push or carry your bikes. Mountain biking in remote areas, you need to be confident in your ability. BIKE HIRE AVAILABLE LOCALLY.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Antigua. A group transfer from Guatemala City Airport is provided.
  • Introductory dirt road and singletrack ride on Volcan de Agua. Overnight in Antigua.
  • Ride on backroads, jeep track and singletack, via Parramos, San Andreas Itzapa and Zaragoza, to Tecpan.
  • Cycle a Spanish Conquistador trail to Lake Atitlan, with a great singletrack descent to Panajachel.
  • Singletrack descent to the lake from a high ridge. Overnight at the lakeside Casa del Mundo.
  • Free morning beside the lake, then afternoon drive to Huehuetenango (1900m) in the Cuchumatanes.
  • Cycle through Indian villages to a plateau with Cuchumatanes views. Descend to Todos Santos (2450m).
  • A cross-country ride towards the main ridge of the Cuchumatanes. Overnight at Laguna Magdalena.
  • Another great cross-country ride to the Ixil Triangle. Up and down beyond Palop and overnight at Acul.
  • Ride the old Spanish highway of the 'boqueron' to Cunen. Then local trails and jeep tracks to Uspantan.
  • Cycle above the Chixoy Valley, then descend and forest track back to our support. Drive to Coban.
  • Ride backroad and jeep track to the river pools of Semuc Champey. Afternoon R&R then drive to Lanquin.
  • Drive back to Antigua. Last minute shopping and celebratory dinner at a local restaurant.
  • Departure day. A group transfer to Guatemala City Airport is provided.
Sat 12 Nov - Fri 25 Nov Code GUMB/03/16/ Adult$2,740 Status Guaranteed Book now
More information
  • The Route of the Conquistadores
  • The departure reference for this tour is GUMB/03/16/
  • This tour begins on Sat 12 Nov and departs on Fri 25 Nov
  • This departure is guaranteed. Secure your place today with a deposit of $400
  • Single Supplement $715 - For all nights where single accommodation available (not available on nights 6 & 7)
Sat 17 Dec - Fri 30 Dec Code GUMB/04/16/ Adult$2,740 Status Available Book now
More information
  • The Route of the Conquistadores
  • The departure reference for this tour is GUMB/04/16/
  • This tour begins on Sat 17 Dec and departs on Fri 30 Dec
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of $400
  • Single Supplement $715 - For all nights where single accommodation available (not available on nights 6 & 7)
Sat 04 Feb - Fri 17 Feb Code GUMB/01/17/ Adult$2,740 Status Available Book now
More information
  • The Route of the Conquistadores
  • The departure reference for this tour is GUMB/01/17/
  • This tour begins on Sat 04 Feb and departs on Fri 17 Feb
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of $400
  • Single Supplement $715 - For all nights where single accommodation available (not available on nights 6 & 7)
Sat 29 Apr - Fri 12 May Code GUMB/02/17/ Adult$2,740 Status Available Book now
More information
  • The Route of the Conquistadores
  • The departure reference for this tour is GUMB/02/17/
  • This tour begins on Sat 29 Apr and departs on Fri 12 May
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of $400
  • Single Supplement $715 - For all nights where single accommodation available (not available on nights 6 & 7)
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for the itinerary, joining in Guatemala City. For clients making their own flight arrangements, Guatemala City airport is the most convenient for transfers to the group hotel. Please refer to the 'Joining arrangements & transfers' section in the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee

We have undertaken to guarantee that all of our Land Only prices will not change once you have booked your holiday. Unlike some of our competitors we have decided never to surcharge, whether you are booking for this year or the next.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • point
  • airport
  • trip direction
  • bike
  • transfer

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Antigua. A group transfer from Guatemala City Airport is provided.

    Meet at the group hotel in Antigua. A single group transfer will be provided from Guatemala City Airport to the group hotel in Antigua. This transfer is usually in the late evening and it takes approximately 45 minutes to reach our comfortable hotel in Antigua, the ancient capital of Guatemala. KE Land Only package services begin with overnight at this hotel. Tonight’s dinner is not included in the trip price. If you arrive early enough, there are many excellent restaurants in Antigua offering a wide variety of cuisines and styles.

    • Accommodation Hotel

  • Introductory dirt road and singletrack ride on Volcan de Agua. Overnight in Antigua.

    Antigua has to be one of the most attractive cities in Guatemala and has a rich and colourful history. Founded in 1543, the city became the Spanish colonial capital from which most of Central and South America was once ruled. A wealth of impressive 17th and 18th century buildings, picturesque streets and a friendly population makes Antigua the logical choice as a starting point for travel in Guatemala. The city’s setting is also magnificent, surrounded as it is by 3 imposing volcanoes; Agua (3766m), Fuego (3763m) and Acatenango (3976m). In the morning, after a relaxed breakfast, we will unpack and reassemble our bikes. We will then set off for an introductory ride on the lower slopes of Volcan de Agua, Antigua’s most dominant feature on the horizon. The ride includes a tough 500 metre climb on a hard-pack road beneath the rainforest canopy. We then turn off onto a singletrack trail, to make the fun and technical descent back down to the valley. The lower trails on the volcano are fun and fast, with lots of great flow. It is important to note that the trails in the Antigua Valley are not purpose built for mountain bikes. They can be dusty, loose, off-camber and rutted. They can also be steep - both uphill and down! We’ll roll back around the valley to Antigua taking in the sights along the way. The ride will take around 3 hours and we will get back to Antigua in time for a late lunch at one of the many cafes. The picturesque patio at Cafe Condesa, or the famous Rainbow Reading Room are just 2 of the excellent lunch options. The rest of the afternoon is free time to stroll around the many cobbled back streets of this superb old colonial town. In the evening, we can explore the old part of town and take our evening meal at another great restaurant.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 505m

    • Distance 14km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 505m

    • Time 3 hrs cycling

  • Ride on backroads, jeep track and singletack, via Parramos, San Andreas Itzapa and Zaragoza, to Tecpan.

    Heading out of Antigua (and the Antigua Valley), we start our 2-day ride across to Lake Atitlan on a quiet country road. Then, after just a few kilometres, we head uphill on a jeep track to the village of Parramos famous for its beans and other export quality vegetables. Traversing through Mayan cornfields we will reach the town of San Andreas Itzapa, where we will pay our respects at the Mayan shrine of San Simon, before moving on. There's a large-ish climb just on the other side of San Andreas on a rougher track. At the top of the climb, we'll meet the van one last time before lunch. The ride from here is a mix of varied trails, footpaths and dirt roads that lead across the highlands, crossing the Pan-American Highway twice on rideable footbridges and negotiating the town of Zaragoza. After a picnic lunch, we'll continue on to Tecpan, passing through small agrarian villages along the way. Finally, a beautiful stretch of singletrack takes us down through pristine forest to our riverside accommodation for the night, at a converted 1900's flour mill, now a characterful and excellent B&B.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Ascent 1250m

    • Distance 54km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 600m

    • Time 7 hrs cycling

  • Cycle a Spanish Conquistador trail to Lake Atitlan, with a great singletrack descent to Panajachel.

    Today we have an epic, cross-country ride following and old Spanish Conquistador corridor that connected the Antigua Valley and the simply stunning Lake Atitlan. As we need to cover some distance today, we will be riding a bit more dirt track and singletrack mix. There are a few steep climbs, as we cross between rivers valleys and ascend to the edge of the caldera within which the lake is contained. Lake Atitlan is astonishingly beautiful and lies in one of the most dramatic settings imaginable. Like Antigua, it is encircled by the near perfect cones of 3 volcanoes (Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro) and sits in a huge crater, which links these volcanoes. We finish off the day on some of Guatemala’s best singletrack, dropping 600 metres from the rim of the vast caldera to the lakeshore on the famous ‘Santa Cat’ trail. This is a steep and technical trail and at one point includes the descent of 200 plus steps through village streets - simply amazing. The toughest bits are easily avoidable, however and it is quite short. We overnight at a central hotel in the lively town of Panajachel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 945m

    • Distance 38km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1515m

    • Time 5 - 6 hrs cycling

  • Singletrack descent to the lake from a high ridge. Overnight at the lakeside Casa del Mundo.

    We transfer from Panajachel about 45 minutes up to the top of the ridges high above Atitlan. The ride starts on a technical singletrack climb, winding even further above the lake to around 2800 metres. Following a limestone rock trail, we reach the start of a long and technical descent that winds its way through forests and over rock gardens as it drops around 1000 metres into the valley of the Madre Vieja River. From here, we have a steep but short (2 km) jeep track climb up to the lunch spot. After lunch, the singletrack madness continues with more technical drops down to the lakeshore. Time permitting (and if we have enough energy to continue) there is another short (3 km) climb to an amazing piece of singletrack called ‘La Culebra’ or the snake that once again drops down to the lake. We will then take a 20 minute boat ride out to the amazing, cliff-side Casa del Mundo Hotel, our home for the night.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 560m

    • Distance 30km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1555m

    • Time 4 hrs cycling

  • Free morning beside the lake, then afternoon drive to Huehuetenango (1900m) in the Cuchumatanes.

    We have a free morning to enjoy the special ambiance of the Casa del Mundo. There is good swimming from the hotel boat landings in the warm clear waters and there is also the option to take a kayak out for an hour. Alternatively, you may wish to simply swing in a hammock or enjoy the hot tub above the sparkling blue Lake Atitlan. At midday, we take the launch back to Panajachel and have lunch at a cafe there, before setting off on the drive to the Cuchumatanes, a rugged mountain group that boasts the highest non-volcanic peaks in Central America. It is also probably the wildest area of Guatemala. Our destination today is Huehuetenango, the departmental capital of the Cordillera de los Cuchumatanes. Sitting at an altitude of 1900 metres, it has no particular attractions apart from its local market, but the relief map in the main square is a good indicator of what lies ahead. The Cuchumatanes, although vast and beautiful, are extremely precipitous throughout and the area has the most difficult access problems imaginable. But, of course, this is exactly why we are going mountain biking there. This region has always been remote from the influence of central government and until the late 1970's was troubled by guerrilla activity. Now at peace, the area still sees very few Western visitors and even fewer mountain bikers have explored this area. It will take us around 4 hours to reach Huehuetenango, where we check in at a basic hotel close to the town’s main square. In the late afternoon, there is time to look around and to buy any items you might need - there is even a good bike shop close to the hotel. We take our evening meal at a local restaurant.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Cycle through Indian villages to a plateau with Cuchumatanes views. Descend to Todos Santos (2450m).

    We ride out of Huehuetenango in the early morning and very quickly find ourselves at the bottom of a major ascent, where the tarmac road switch-backs upwards for 10 kilometres, involving a height gain of 1000 metres. This ride provides us with breathtaking views of the backbone of the Cuchumatanes Mountains and we pass through many small Indian villages along the way. These small villages will give us an excellent insight into the way of life of the rural Guatemalan people. Near the top of the climb is a belvedere where, on a clear day, views stretch as far as the volcanoes around Quetzaltengo and back to Antigua. A bit further above the viewpoint we start a rolling section of trail on a mixture of old jeep tracks and singletrack as we make our way across the plateau. From here, we have an excellent singletrack descent that drops us right down into Todos Santos (2450m). By the afternoon, in this part of the world, it often clouds up and our descent is likely to be shrouded in mist. Indigenous people inhabit the pueblo of Todos Santos and its ancient traditional customs are still intact. Here, the men still wear the traditional dress or 'traje' and perform many of the ancient rituals of the highland Maya. It is a spectacular town and our overnight stay is at a family-run guesthouse in the centre of the town.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Ascent 1760m

    • Distance 43km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1135m

    • Time 5 - 6 hrs cycling

  • A cross-country ride towards the main ridge of the Cuchumatanes. Overnight at Laguna Magdalena.

    The local men stand out a mile, for they all wear the traditional dress of baggy red and white striped trousers, with richly embroidered shirts, topped with wide collars. This is Guatemala at its most magical and colourful. The landscape on this part of the ride is an awesome mix of rocky peaks, coniferous forests, stretches of arid soil and also isolated fertile valleys where the pastures are home to flocks of sheep. Initially, we make a tough rocky ascent on dirt tracks back to the plateau and start of yesterday’s singletrack. We then cross the plateau on sheep tracks and dirt roads passing through pueblos to the edge of the main ridge of the Cuchumatanes. There is a great technical descent to a meet-up with the support vehicle for lunch. Our overnight stop tonight is in cabins at a community development project at Laguna Magdalena near Chancol. This will be a unique and quite rustic experience and will show us how the locals in the area live. Dinner is prepared by the villagers and carried down to the cabins.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Ascent 1435m

    • Distance 43km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1005m

    • Time 5 - 6 hrs cycling

  • Another great cross-country ride to the Ixil Triangle. Up and down beyond Palop and overnight at Acul.

    A long ride today and mostly unsupported, as we head across country to reach the Ixil triangle. We are effectively tracing a big loop around to the north of a deep ravine that separates the departments of Huehuetenango and Quiche. Riding across the mixed terrain of the high plateau of the Cuchumatanes, we enjoy fantastic undulating singletrack and dirt road trail riding. This is a real cross-country ride and arguably one of the best of the trip, with simply breathtaking scenery. Surrounded by pinewoods and mountains, it is easy to understand why the Spaniards found this area so hard to conquer. In more recent years guerrillas made this a major base for their operations, thankfully all resolved now. We could be forgiven for thinking that we’ve been transported to the New Zealand of old, as the surroundings are very reminiscent of that part of the world. At the northern extent of our ride, there is a technical and often muddy descent to the remote village of Palop and from there to Salquil Grande we follow dirt roads to a river valley. A longish climb to Tzabal, then down to another river and up again to Acul, where we spend the night in a small, rustic family run hotel, which comes complete with its own ‘Olde Worlde’ style cheese factory.

    • Accommodation Farmstay

    • Ascent 1110m

    • Distance 41km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 2080m

    • Time 6 - 7 hrs cycling

  • Ride the old Spanish highway of the 'boqueron' to Cunen. Then local trails and jeep tracks to Uspantan.

    Another long and challenging day lies in store for us today. Our previously used route has now been paved, but we have substituted an even better (and more challenging) alternative, an old highway that climbs steadily out of the Nebaj Valley. From Acul, we drop down to the road and follow an undulating track to Nebaj, the main town of the Ixil Triangle. We then pick up an old Mayan highway, possibly improved by the Spanish and known as the ‘boqueron’. This provides a picturesque route up into the mountains, with great views out across the Western Highlands. We then contour around the highest peak, with views of Tajumulco, before dropping down to a village where we meet up again with our support vehicle. We regroup, then drop down on super fun singletrack to our lunch stop in Cunen. Here, the second major set of climbs (including the 'Gringo Killer') starts, taking us back up onto high ridges and traversing through pine forest and small Quiche Mayan villages to Uspantan, the home of Nobel Peace Prize Winner and recent poltical figure Rigoberta Menchu.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 1970m

    • Distance 55km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1895m

    • Time 6 - 7 hrs cycling

  • Cycle above the Chixoy Valley, then descend and forest track back to our support. Drive to Coban.

    The terrain gradually becomes less and less dramatic, as we begin to leave the high mountains of the Cuchumatanes. Today begins with a rolling ride on a paved surface, passing the town of Chicaman. A long (10km) gradual uphill on a dirt road then leads us to the top of the hills above the Chixoy River. Now, we have a fast descent on a trail with some technical sections and at the village of Ojo de Agua, we begin a rougher piece of dirt track/singletrack that takes us down to the river. Crossing the bridge, we start a long climb for the rest of the day. It’s roughly 27 km from the bridge to the end of the day, broken up into a couple of major climbs, the first of which is the most difficult. Finally reunited with the support vehicle in the town of Santa Cruz, we load up and transfer by road to Coban. The Coban region lies in the middle of some of Guatemala's densest cloud forest. It is an area famous for its coffee production and one of the only remaining places where it is possible to see the quetzal, Guatemala's national bird, monetary unit, icon and source of civic pride. We overnight in a big 70’s-style hotel in San Pedro Carcha.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 1600m

    • Distance 59km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 2045m

    • Time 6 - 7 hrs cycling

  • Ride backroad and jeep track to the river pools of Semuc Champey. Afternoon R&R then drive to Lanquin.

    Our last ride is to the pristine clear blue waters of Semuc Champey. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with numerous pools of cool river water, just perfect for swimming. Many people regard this spot as the most beautiful in the country and we will spend the rest of the afternoon here. It is the perfect spot in which to finish our exploration of Guatemala. The first, fast 50 kilometre section of today’s ride follows a straightforward and undulating road, with good views. We then descend on a rough limestone road to the riverside town of Lanquin. Here, the main challenge of the day begins, as we make the at times very steep 3 kilometre climb to a ridge, followed by an easier, if bumpy jeep track descent to Semuc Champey. After our swim, we transfer back to Languin and our ‘posada’ accommodation.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Ascent 1090m

    • Distance 68km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 2075m

    • Time 5 hrs cycling

  • Drive back to Antigua. Last minute shopping and celebratory dinner at a local restaurant.

    With a very early start, we can make it back to Antigua by mid afternoon. It is a picturesque drive across central Guatemala, stopping off for breakfast en route. We will be reminded that there are not many flat areas in this wild country. Back in Antigua we have time for last minute shopping and to celebrate the successful completion of a unique trip in one of the many restaurants. There is a choice of venue for our farewell dinner, but whatever the group’s taste we are sure to have a memorable party.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Departure day. A group transfer to Guatemala City Airport is provided.

    KE Land Only package services end after breakfast with a single timed group transfer back to Guatemala City Airport. An extension to the amazing Mayan archaeological site of Tikal is available. Contact the KE office for details.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • A locally based US bike guide
  • Single Guatemala Airport transfer Day 1 and Day 14
  • All land transport involved in the itinerary
  • All accommodation as detailed in the trip dossier
  • All meals
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas (if required)
  • Tips for drivers and other staff
  • Guatemala City airport transfers (other than single timed group transfers)
  • Departure taxes (if applicable)
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc
  • Bike Carriage on the flights - please check with your carrier for charges

Antigua has lots of exciting and varied restaurants, where we can sample the delights of Guatemalan cuisine. Western-style food is also usually available. Outside of Antigua, the emphasis will be on tasty, simple local fresh produce.

All meals included, from breakfast on Day 2 of the Land Only itinerary to breakfast on Day 14..
There will be a single group transfer on Day 1 of the trip itinerary, coordinated with the arrival in the late evening of the United Airlines flight. The group will be met in the arrivals area of the airport and transferred to the group hotel - look out for the KE sign. This transfer will be shortly after midnight. At the end of the holiday, there will be a single group transfer to the airport, coordinated with the early afternoon departure of the United Airlines flight. Those departing later than this can also use this transfer.
During this trip the group will spend 3 nights in a comfortable and atmospheric 'posada' style hotel in Antigua. Accommodation for the remainder of the trip will be in a mixture of hotels, guesthouses, farmstays and simple lodges. These vary in standard from very basic (although the best available in the area) through to excellent, such as the Casa del Mundo on the shores of Lake Atitlan where tourists are regularly catered for. In the Cuchumatanes, where foreign visitors are almost unknown, the available accommodation is more basic. Whilst most accommodation is arranged on a twin-sharing basis, at the community cabins beside Laguna Magdalena as many as four people may share a room. If you are travelling by yourself, you will be paired up with another single client of the same sex. Depending on availability, it may be possible to pre-book single rooms for the nights that you spend in Antigua. For additional hotel prices and single supplement costs, please refer to the dates and prices page of the trip on our website. Please note it is not possible to pre-book single rooms at any of the places we use outside of Antigua. You may be able to arrange a single room on arrival, depending on availability, and pay the difference to the trip leader.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

A locally based, English-speaking bike guide will lead the trip. There will also be a support vehicle and driver.

We estimate that $300 should be easily sufficient to cover your incidental expenditure including tips to local staff, drinks and souvenirs. If you expect to buy considerable quantities of soft drinks, wine or beer, or if you intend to buy expensive souvenirs you should make an allowance for this. Credit cards can be used in Guatemala in major towns and cities and cash can be drawn from ATM's using a credit or debit card.

Tips are the accepted way of saying ‘thank you’ to your local guides and other staff. They do not form part of their wages. KE always pays local crews the best rates of pay, no matter what country they are in and any tips they receive are seen as a personal thank you from group members. For our part, we advise local staff that tips are a bonus and entirely dependent on the services provided. We recommend that you pay tips to your guide and driver(s) if you feel that their services have met your satisfaction. We suggest that $25 per client, per staff member, is a reasonable level of tipping. You will usually have 2 cycling guides and 1 support vehicle driver.

Taking a bike on an aircraft is usually straightforward, although in almost all cases there will be a significant charge for carrying your bike. Different airlines have differing policies with regard to baggage allowances and transporting bikes. You should check the current policy of your chosen airline in this respect before purchasing your air ticket. Look in the ‘baggage’ section of the airline’s website for this information. Check the weight and dimensions of your intended check-in baggage in advance of your arrival at the airport, as airlines may charge for both excess and oversize baggage, or refuse to carry oversized baggage. If you are using a domestic flight to connect with your International flight then it is likely that a different baggage policy will exist for the domestic and international flight sections. Again you should check the baggage policy with your chosen domestic airline prior to booking your domestic flight tickets. Any additional charges incurred for transporting your bike on any of the flights required for this adventure (international, domestic and internal flights within the trip itinerary – if applicable) are the responsibility of each individual client.

Your Bike MUST be at least a mid level Mountain Bike such as a Specialized Rockhopper or Trek 6500, fitted with knobbly cross-country tyres. Front suspension is essential and comes as standard on the vast majority of modern mountain bikes. Whilst 'hardtails' work OK for this trip, it is likely that a full suspension bike will allow you to make more of the terrain. Please call us if you are unsure about the suitability of your current bike. We cannot stress enough the importance of ensuring that your bike is in perfect working condition before you start this trip. You are depending on your bike to transport you throughout your holiday and across demanding terrain. It is VITAL to ensure it is THOROUGHLY SERVICED to guarantee it is in good mechanical order before departure. If you are not mechanically minded, get your local bicycle dealer to service it for you. For home mechanics, points to note particularly are:

a) Check rims and if they are worn, cracked or dented replace with a new rim or wheel to avoid wheel failure. It is especially important to check that the rims on rim-braked bikes are not worn concave by the brake blocks - replace them if they are.

b) Check wheels are true and spoke tension is tight.

c) Check ALL bearings and quick release skewers, adjust / grease bearings as required.

d) Check and, if required, replace brake and gear cables.

e) Check brake discs, brake pads, calliper mounts and cables / hydraulic lines - replace if necessary.

f) Check, lube / threadlock (as required) and tighten all bolts to specified torque settings (esp. suspension pivots, bottom brackets, disc rotor bolts & disk mount bolts).

g) Check chain, cassette and chain rings for wear - replace if worn.

h) Make sure you have the right tyres, inner tubes and BIKE SPECIFIC SPARES for your bike.

Whilst not essential, it is a good idea that you familiarise yourself with how to carry out at least some basic repairs to your bike e.g. fixing a puncture and changing an inner tube. Naturally, our bike guides will always be happy to assist with any repairs. However, due to the often-remote nature of our trips, being able to carry out a simple repair can save time and the inconvenience of waiting for assistance.

Travelling with a bike is usually as straightforward as travelling with any other type of baggage, providing you have packed it adequately. We have many years experience of travelling with our bikes, and nowadays we think that the best way to travel and fly with a bike is to partially dismantle it and put it into a purpose made soft bike bag. Although more expensive than a cardboard bike box, they are smaller in size to transport and are considerably easier to handle. To pack your bike you simply remove both wheels and pedals and prepare it for travel as follows. Obviously, extra care when packing your bike can minimise the chances of accidental damage occurring in transit. Ask your local bike store for plastic wheel hub protectors (which will prevent damage to your bike bag) and plastic fork and frame spacers, insert the spacers into the dropouts, tape them in place and then put extra padding over this area. Use pipe insulation lagging (from your local DIY store) to cover frame tubes, forks and seat post. If required, remove your bars from the stem and attach them carefully to your frame/forks using plastic ties or pvc tape -ensure that your Ergo/Sti levers are well padded to minimise the chance of damage. You may also wish to remove your rear gear mech, pad it with foam and tape it to the chainstay out of harm's way. Finally, you should partly deflate your tyres, but leave some air in them to help absorb any impact on the wheels. Don’t forget to pack wheel skewers, pedals and any bolts you have removed, these are the items that tend to get left behind. Finally, find an old cardboard bike box and cut out panels to fit inside your soft bike bag for extra protection. Don’t forget to bring sufficient packing materials to pack your bike on the way home. PLEASE DO NOT USE a purpose-made rigid bike box -these are heavy (which can put you over your baggage allowance) and are also too bulky to be easily stored or transported on the group’s support vehicle.

We have a support vehicle throughout the holiday that will carry the group’s main baggage from one night’s accommodation to the next. However, the support vehicle can only follow about 50% of the route taken by the bikers. On other sections of the route, whilst the biking group is effectively unsupported, the support vehicle will usually be quite close by. We want everyone to enjoy their cycling experience on this trip and we recognise the importance of group members being allowed to cycle at their own pace. For some of the sections this works OK. However, on some of the more ‘out there’ cross-country sections, where route-finding is more of an issue, we will be riding more as a group. Arrangements can easily be made for the support vehicle to pick up any group members who wish to take a break from cycling at any time.

One option is for you to use your own bikes on this holiday. It is the bike you know best and will provide you with the best riding experience. However, good quality rental bikes are available locally for this trip. Our ground agent in Guatemala hires out Kona Cinder Cone hardtail and Kona Precept full suspension bikes, each equipped with disc brakes and Shimano components. These bikes have 27.5 inch wheels. Bike hire costs are. Kona Cinder Cone US$399. Kona Precept US$499 (July 2015 - subject to change). Payment must be made directly to the tour leader on arrival in Guatemala in US dollars cash. Please note, if you hire a bike you will be liable in the case of it being lost or damaged. If you wish to hire a bike, please contact the KE office and we can reserve one on your behalf. We must stress that your hire contract will be with our local agent and that KE cannot be held responsible for any issues arising from bike hire. If you hire a bike, we recommend that you take your own shoes, pedals and possibly even your saddle, which will go a long way towards making it feel like your own bike. You will also need to take your own helmet, which must be worn at all times when riding.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday involves going to moderately high altitude.  During the course of your trip you will reach altitudes in excess of 2500 metres.  Most people will have no difficulty with this level of altitude but before coming on the holiday, we recommend you read the advice on trekking at high altitude.  You can also talk to one of our trekking experts if you have any concerns about altitude.

The following is a basic checklist to help you with your packing. We recommend using the layering principle of clothing for varying climatic conditions. Good padded cycling shorts are essential.

Your Bike MUST be at least a mid level Mountain Bike such as a Specialized Rockhopper or Trek 6500. Front suspension is essential. It is vital that your bike is THOROUGHLY SERVICED and in perfect working condition before the trip.



  • Stiff soled cycling / SPD shoes


  • Base layer - short sleeve cycling top (x 2)

  • Mid layer - long sleeved cycling top (x 1)

  • Outer layer - lightweight waterproof jacket

  • Long sleeve baselayer top

  • Warm fleece jumper/jacket

  • (it can be cold in the evenings in the Cuchumatanes)


  • Regular biking gloves
  • Long fingered cycling gloves


  • Padded cycling shorts (x 2)

  • Cycling tights or tracksters


  • Biking glasses

  • Cycling helmet - mandatory

Daypack and contents

  • A cycling daypack (e.g. Camelbak) of at least 10 litres total capacity is recommended

  • Water bladder - min. 2 litres

  • Lightweight waterproof top

  • Multi-tool

  • Puncture repair kit

  • Inner tube

  • Pump

  • Camera

  • Sun cream

  • Small roll of gaffer tape

  • Basic First Aid Kit. Including: antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, Insect repellent, and re-hydration salts (Dioralite).

Trek Bag Contents

  • Travel and apres biking clothes

  • Trainers/Leisure shoes for apres biking

  • Wash bag and toiletries

  • Antibacterial hand wash

  • Small padlock (to lock trek bag)

  • Swimwear

  • Chamois cream (e.g. Assos/Ozone)


Please note: If you are hiring a bike, you do not need to bring any spares – just a pump, a repair kit and a 27.5 x 2 to 2.3 inch inner tube. Note that the newest Cinder Cone and Precept hire bikes have 27.5 diameter wheels.

You should bring the following with you as a minimum. Whilst not essential, it is a good idea that you familiarise yourself with how to carry out at least some basic repairs e.g. fixing a puncture, changing an inner tube. Naturally the bike guide will always be happy to assist with any repairs, but due to the often remote nature of our trips, being able to carry out a simple repair can save time and inconvenience waiting for assistance.

  • Tyres - for this trip you will need cross-country tyres suitable for mostly dry conditions.

  • Pump

  • Plastic tyre levers

  • Small tube of grease

  • 1 rear brake cable

  • 1 rear gear cable

  • Spare set of brake blocks / disc pads (front and rear)

  • 2 spare spokes for front and rear wheels

  • Spoke key

  • 4 x inner tubes Spare chain links

  • Liquid chain lube (bottle not aerosol)

  • Multi-tool with Allen keys

  • Chain link extractor (if not on multi-tool)

  • Puncture repair kit

  • A rag and brush for cleaning bike and drive train.

  • Spares specific to your bike**

KE tools and spares


On all of our trips we carry a toolkit and a basic range of spares for emergencies. As bikes become increasingly part specific it is impossible to carry a comprehensive range of spares compatible with all makes and models of bike.



**Please ensure you bring any bike-specific spares that might be needed - such as a disc brake bleed kit (and appropriate fluid).


Energy Gels/Sports Drinks/Power Bars

Our back up vehicle will carry ample supplies of water, snacks and lunches but if there is a particular energy gel, sports drink or power bar that you fell you need - take some with you.

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

Visa Guatemala

UK and USA passport holders do not require a visa for short stays.

Transit via USA

You will require an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), and you must get this before boarding any US-bound aircraft or ship, or entering on a land border. The fee is USD$14 and you should apply for it at With the ESTA complete, the majority of British Citizen passport holders can enter the US under the Visa Waiver Programme, VWP. As of 1st April 2016 you will be required to have a passport with an intergrated chip. Note that if you have travelled to Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan in the last 5yrs you will have to apply for a visa.

NOTE: This is required if you are transiting through the USA 

You should contact your doctor or travel clinic to check whether you require any specific vaccinations or other preventive measures. You should be up to date with routine courses and boosters as recommended in the UK e.g. diphtheria-tetanus-polio and measles-mumps-rubella, along with hepatitis A and typhoid. Malarial prophylaxis is not usually required for trips in the mountains, however if you are visiting rural and remote low lying areas then they might be necessary. On holidays to more remote areas you should also have a dentist check up. A good online resource is Travel Health Pro.


Zika virus has been confirmed as active in this country. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes, like dengue and malaria. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. The symptoms are generally mild and self limiting usually lasting 2 - 7 days. 80% of people exposed to the virus for the first time experience no symptoms. Pregnant women are advised to avoid areas where the zika virus is active. For the latest information, please see our 'KE Safe' Updates

The unit of currency in Guatemala is the Quetzal (named after the national bird).

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

This is a tough trip and the better conditioned you are the more you will enjoy it. We suggest that you adopt a sensible weekly exercise regime and undertake lots of long cycle rides in hilly country to ensure you are physically capable of taking part in this trip - this will also provide you with an opportunity to make sure all your riding kit is tried and tested before you travel. Cycling is obviously the best activity to prepare for this holiday, however, running, squash and swimming are also good for developing aerobic fitness and stamina.

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

From the middle of October through to the start of March the average daytime temperature will range from 17 to 25 degrees centigrade. You should take shorts and short-sleeved bike tops and carry a lightweight waterproof in your Camelbak or similar daypack. Around Antigua and Lake Atitlan, temperatures will drop only slightly at night, and you will be comfortably warm with a lightweight fleece. At higher elevations, in the Cuchumatanes Mountains, the weather is much more unpredictable. Temperatures here can fall to freezing at night and even during the day lightweight biking overtrousers or tights may be needed. This area can also experience storms and you should be prepared for some wet weather.

  • Guatemala. Lonely Planet

  • The Maya World. The Rough Guide

Guatemala: ITMB Publishing. 1:470,000

Indexed, double-sided map with street plans of Guatemala City and Antigua. Elevation colouring with spot heights indicates the topography. Sand and swamp areas as well as active volcanoes also marked. Road network includes seasonal tracks and indicates intermediate distances on major and some minor roads plus locations of selected petrol stations. Railways, local airports and landing strips, ferry routes on Lake Izabal, plus the country’s local administrative boundaries with names of the provinces are also shown. National parks and biosphere reserves are clearly highlighted, with symbols showing archaeological sites, waterfalls, caves, mines, wells, etc.

Extend Your Holiday


When booking your holiday, you will be able to 'add an extension option'.

Once we have received your booking we will contact you to discuss additional services required for the extension and to take any additional deposit.

The Mayan City of Tikal

Dating from 700 BC, Tikal is one of the world’s premier archaeological sites and one of the Guatemala’s most interesting attractions. Once the centre of the Mayan civilisation and occupied till around 900 AD, this impressive lost city was eventually deserted and gradually disappeared into the encroaching jungle. It was only in the 1840’s that European explorers rediscovered this site and began the process of unearthing the various pyramids, temples and plazas which can be seen today.

The Mayan City of Tikal

From $650 per person

More info

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