The mysterious Mayan culture lives on in colourful Guatemala. From ancient Mayan ruins to the beautiful historic capital Antigua, through mountainous rainforests to viewing the summit of the always-active Volcan Acatenango, this little country in Latin America is one of the hidden gems of the trekking world.
In fact, when I started to dream about creating She Walks the Walk, this was the trek I had in mind from the beginning. My parents own a little winter home here, so I have been coming to Guatemala for years (most recently in April 2022) – I know the area well. That’s why I’m doubly excited to share this walk with you!
Your Journey of Self-Discovery
Guatemala is good for the soul – especially for those souls needing to get off the treadmill. Every time I step off the plane here, I feel a load of stress fall off my shoulders. It’s a different pace with different goals and different expectations. We are here to enjoy the sun without running to our next appointment, to taste our food without rushing our meals, to take in all the nature and history of this ancient land without worrying about the clock. I find it’s a great place for me to reconnect with myself. And let’s face it, that kind of self-rediscovery is something we all need from time to time!
As you’d expect with She Walks the Walk, our walk will be something more than the trek itself. The distances, the challenges, the terrain, the sites, the people – Guatemala has the perfect mix of ingredients for a journey of self-discovery.
Discover Guatemala As You Re-Discover You
We’ll be exploring Guatemala in style! While staying in historic Antigua, Guatemala (Old Guatemala City), we’ll experience warm hospitality in a boutique-style hotel, hand-picked for its commitment to service and authentic representation of the culture. Antigua is one of the oldest cities in the Americas dating back almost exactly 500 years (it was founded on July 25, 1524). After walking through the town itself to take in Antigua’s old-world architecture, we’ll trek through mountains and cloud forests to one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Lake Atitlán.
Accommodations along the way are the coolest! We’ll be glamping in safari-style tents (see the video above) and eating local food prepared by experienced chefs as we wind down from the day. Count on some fireside chats and all the camaraderie that comes with bonding over a long day of hiking. It’s amazing how much we discover about ourselves simply chatting with new friends from around the world.
Of course, I’ll also be leading some specific activities to help you along your path to self-discovery including optional meditation sessions in the morning, journalling activities in the evening, and other group and one-on-one programming.
This trek includes two potential extensions, one before and one after. In the first, you’ll have the option to front-end your adventure with a climb up Volcan Acatenango (5,000 feet), and experience a night-time eruption that has to be felt as well as seen. Or at the tail end of our nine day walk, we’ll fly you up to Tikal National Park, home to the ruins of “The Jewel of Mayan Archeological Sites”. It is the largest archaeological site in North America – fascinating Mayan ruins and pyramids peek out from the surrounding jungle.
Whether you opt in for one or both extensions or you come only for the main trek, you’ll find Guatemala the perfect backdrop to take a breather from your life, re-evaluate your goals, and get you back on the pathway to the “you” you were meant to be.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but journeys of self-discovery – or self-rediscovery – work better alongside like-minded women who are experiencing similar crossroads in life. So let’s adventure together! Our Walk Guatemala G’WA has a limited number of spaces. To hold yours, please complete the fields below and select a date/time for an Introductory Meeting with Sam. This is your chance to ask questions, share some of your self-discovery goals and learn if a Global Walking Adventure is a fit for you.
To ensure the most meaningful experience during your G’WA, all prospective participants are required to speak to Sam in advance. Click the link below to schedule your Introductory Meeting. Following the call, your deposit of $1,199 USD will be due.
Sam’s Diary Excerpt
Two weeks ago, I had no idea I’d be sitting in a cafe with my father in the middle of Guatemala. But here I am. Drinking the world’s best coffee, with the world’s best father. I used some flight credits, got buy-in from my husband, rearranged the carpool to school, and surprised him. The look on his face when I walked through the door after a long-ass travel day was something I will cherish forever. “Sammy! What?” A sweeter moment I cannot imagine.
Now, this may seem like no big whoop. Especially since we live in the same bloody city most of the year. But here’s the deal: I wanted him to feel how much he means to me. And I did not want to have any regrets.
Dad made me believe in myself, because he always believed in me. I worked with him for more than a decade in our finance company before I realized it wasn’t the career for me. That’s part of the reason it was so difficult when I told him I wanted to leave the business and that my heart was already carrying me elsewhere.
I am an Adventure Girl.
But he knows that. Not only did he hold the door open for me to walk out, but he has also championed me every step. Even now. Dad watched me watching the puffs of smoke venting from Volcan Acatenango off my parents’ balcony. Maybe I could sneak away for a day and bag a summit?
* * *
Twenty-two of us from all over the world came together as a hodge-podge team. For six hours, we climbed steep passes of gravel and ash, slipping and sliding up the mountainside. We trudged up through a Cloud Forest that left me literally breathless and into an Alpine Forest with an intoxicating aroma of pine. Finally, we made it to within 600 metres of the summit of Volcan Acatenango.
It was a slog, but now here we were, standing so close. I felt her fury in each explosion. We counted down the minutes until sunset, knowing the darkness would set off the fiery orange of her lava. At one point after an insanely loud eruption, we heard a flurry of “Oh, Dios mío, Dios mío, Dios mío” from our guide. I didn’t have to speak Spanish to know what he was saying. Witnessing such power I’d never felt so simultaneously invigorated and terrified in my life.
Once the terror died down and I was able to simply enjoy the fiery display of volcanic fireworks, I thought about the fact that I never would have had this incredible experience if I didn’t put aside my life for a week so I could get out and actually live.
Seizing the moment may not always be a practical manoeuvre. There will never be a perfect time for us to act. Making more money, doing all the things, going about our rat-race lives often (too often!) takes precedence over stopping to smell the roses. But when we do, those are the moments that touch our souls, change our perspectives, and make our bodies sing.
Your Own Adventure Awaits
Global Walking Adventures (GW’As) are more than an epic trekking experience. They are mini-pilgrimages – reflective journeys of self-discovery as you walk alongside like-minded women. The external adventure is exhilarating, of course: walking through cloud forests, tip-toeing over rustic suspension bridges and just being in the presence of an active volcano are more than enough to fill your adrenaline tank.
But G’WAs are designed to turn you inside-out. Through our guided internal journey, you’ll be looking at yourself – and life – in whole new ways. Transformation is a given when you truly unplug, recharge, and re-evaluate.
Explore the Wild You
Here’s what you can expect:
Exclusive access on a path just for us: Walk through rugged landscapes only you have access to. We’re partnered with a local sustainable tourism company who’s worked with the rural Mayan communities for over two decades, cultivating and caring for this important pathway. You will not find the throngs of other trekkers as is a drawback with many popular hiking destinations. In fact, you are unlikely to see another soul but our own little group, and the odd farmer or two. That is until we venture into the heart of some of these villages.
Rekindle your personal spirituality: Lake Atitlán has a spiritual feel to it, with a kind of healing energy that is better felt than described. Widely known as a meditation and yoga mecca, the place is still steeped in tradition and mostly untouched by any sort of North American commercialism (I know, shocking, right?). Lonely Planet refers to it as “the closest thing to Eden on Earth,” a claim I can personally back up from my time there. Whether you’re journaling by the quiet waters or slipping away in a kayak to lose yourself in the reeds, moments of reflection will follow you everywhere.
A people you will fall in love with: Guatemalans are known for their warm, broad smiles. They will go out of their way to help, even with your broken Spanish. The country itself is rich in colour, heritage and talent. Living Maya culture is everywhere, with vibrant traditional dress and indigenous traditions. To watch three generations of Mayan women weave their gorgeous textiles is to witness mad skill in action!
Be humbled, challenged and inspired all at once: While trekking 53-kilometers may seem like a walk in the park for some, this is no kindergarten stroll. The hike itself is perfectly balanced with terrain your body will worship – flat, lush, cloud forests bursting with mosses and greenery – and a degree of difficulty that might leave you cursing. But every tough section comes with its own reward, either in the form of sweeping views 99% of the world will never see, or even just the realization that you’ve pushed yourself in ways you never have before.
Perspective, gratitude and camaraderie: Over the last decade of coming to Guatemala, I’ve reflected deeply on the waste in my life and what I prioritize as “worth chasing.” I’ve leaned away from accumulating stuff and become better aware of the importance of today. I learned this just by hanging out with Guatemalan families who’ve become my close friends. Though they face great challenges (and many live in poverty), they forge ahead with positive attitudes, resourcefulness and gratitude for what they already have.
Targeted meditation and structured self-evaluation: A G’WA is not just a trek! Walking is so much more for me – it’s a way to work out thoughts and feelings. This is particularly important when we hit a crossroads in life. (You can read about my own personal epiphanies on the Camino de Santiago here.) I help women dig deep into their own psyches through meditation and guided internal reflection. This is the part of the program you won’t find anywhere else. And we’ve arranged for something special to help you on your unique journey: a local Shaman will join us in Atitlan, for a one-on-one reading based on your specific date and place of birth.
“Me” time: That would be “you” time! A big part of the healing power of G’WAs is that they remove you from the daily grind. You step outside yourself and take a hiatus from your life. That in itself is amazing! But it also gives you the distance to re-evaluate your life – what’s working and what isn’t? You might have a huge epiphany or you might finally accept what you knew all along. You might come away with a whole new appreciation for the life you already have, and rekindle the desire to cherish it after a break from the stress. We all have our own answers to discover.
Things I’ve Learned…
I’ve learned a few things over the years. About always living up to other people’s ideas of who I should be as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a careerist – as a woman. About the treadmill. About the importance of taking out time for myself.
Travel gives us the opportunity to literally look at our lives from a new perspective. With time and distance, you can step outside of your life and examine it more objectively. Plus, you’re flooded with new cultures and a new way to look at things. You can’t help but look at your life through a whole new lens. And travelling with someone who’s been there – a career woman who got off the treadmill herself and can guide you to do all the same – makes all the difference.
That’s what She Walks the Walk and this Global Walking Adventure (G’WA) is all about. If you feel you need change in your life or you are about to make a big life decision or you believe you’re not living up to your potential, then get off your own treadmill and join me. I may not have all the answers you’re looking for, but I can help you find them. And I promise you’ll gain whole new perspectives.Let’s chat ahead of time! I’m available for emails and Zoom meetings if you want to learn more about G’WAs and how they can help you. I can answer your practical questions about travelling to this part of the world, and I can help you understand what to expect on your personal journey. You can also read about my own personal journey to Guatemala here.
Mysterious, colourful and delightfully different than its neighbours, Guatemala is Central America’s most diverse country, from its people to its landscapes. We’ve combined our favourite hotels, tours and places to visit into an extraordinary 9-Day She Walks the Walk Global Walking Adventure (G’WA), an experience that captures the best of Guatemala. From cozy boutique hotels in colonial Antigua to trekking through breathtaking landscapes to exploring Mayan pueblos that surround Lake Atitlán, Walk Guatemala delivers comfort, cultural immersion, authenticity and, of course, a giant helping of self-discovery.
Day 1: Arrival Day!
One of the strengths of Guatemala is its location. If flying from a southern US airport, it’s a quick 2-3 hour jaunt. (Coming from Canada or anywhere else will require a connection.) Our private shuttle will transport you to Antigua, and after checking in to your hotel we’ll enjoy a Welcome Dinner of traditional Guatemalan cuisine, and myself along with our trip leader will provide an informative and entertaining overview of what to expect during the trek.
Day 2: Explore Antigua.
Following breakfast and an optional morning meditation session, we’ll set out on a cultural walking tour of Antigua to explore the city’s history and architecture. During the three-hour walk, we’ll visit Parque Central, the main cathedral and its 500-year-old ruins, and the Palace of the Captain’s General. You’ll also learn about Maya archaeology through the spiritual stone of jade. The afternoon is yours to explore Antigua’s nooks and crannies. This is also considered a day to acclimate to the altitude, as Antigua sits at 5,000 ft/1,500 metres.
Day 3: Trek to Terra Camp.
Leaving Antigua, the first day of our G’WA to Atitlán begins with a visit to a shrine dedicated to the Mayan deity “San Simón”. Here, we’ll light a candle along with the locals to bless our travels. A short drive takes us to our trailhead where we begin our trek that ascends out of vegetable and fruit plantations into lush Guatemalan cloud forest, topping out at nearly 8,700 ft / 2,650 metres. We’ll have a picnic lunch in a sunny and secluded clearing with views of Volcan Acatenango, the highest in the Antigua Valley, overhead. Our walk then descends through another protected area below towering trees covered in epiphytic plants such as orchids and bromeliads before we arrive at Terra Camp. A hot shower, campfire and appetizers await before we settle down for a delicious dinner.
Day 4: When the going gets tough…
Day Two of our G’WA is challenging but brimming with adventure. We begin with a long descent through forest and agricultural fields into the La Vega River valley, more than 1900 ft / 580 metres below where we cross a hanging footbridge over the river. (Get ready to embrace your inner Indiana Jones!) A steep yet spectacular afternoon 2400 ft / 730 metre climb up takes us through coffee plantations to our lunch spot located near a quaint Mayan village. After lunch, we make a final push upwards to arrive at Fuego Camp by late afternoon. Time to pull up a chair, kick off your boots, and take in the panoramic view that includes a first-row seat to Volcan Fuego (Fire Volcano), one of the world’s most active volcanoes. With luck, it will light up the night sky with jets of molten lava. Around the campfire, a local women’s group will show you how to make traditional Guatemalan corn tortillas by hand (trust us, it’s harder than it looks!) before we sit down for dinner and a good night’s rest.
Day 5: Pristine Ridgelines.
Day Three of the mountain trek will immerse you in the finest natural scenery Guatemala has to offer. A morning push takes us to the highest point of the adventure, just over 9,040 ft/2,755 metres. We follow a pristine ridgeline for the rest of the day with panoramic views of six volcanoes and a cloud forest before arriving to Agua Camp. After some R‘n’R, we venture into the local Mayan community of Chuinimachicaj to visit a women’s cooperative that specializes in traditional backstrap weaving, an ancient art practiced for centuries in Guatemala and still used to weave fabric for clothing and other textiles.
Day 6: Lake Atitlán!
The final day of our mountain trek begins with a descent into the Madre Vieja River valley where we visit a picturesque coffee farm to learn about the planting and harvesting of small-batch coffee (and some tasting too!). We then begin a short ascent that takes us up to the rim of Lake Atitlán, offering expansive views of the water below and three massive volcanoes that surround it. From there, a final descent takes us to the lakeside village of San Antonio Palopó to conclude the first portion of our G’WA. You’ll board a private boat for the short trip to La Casa del Mundo [link to accommodation], a beautiful hotel perched on the cliffs overlooking the lake. Relax in their wood-fired hot tub as you gaze at the stars above.
Day 7: Explore or chillax.
The choice is yours. After a sumptuous breakfast overlooking the lake at La Casa del Mundo, we hop on a boat for a visit to the quaint Mayan village of Santiago where you’ll be met by your Mayan guide for a walking tour of this mesmerizing village. The day includes a visit to the local markets and shrines, historical sites and a delicious lunch. Upon returning to La Casa del Mundo, you’ll have the afternoon to swim, kayak, or just relax on one of the hotel’s many terraces overlooking the crystal lake.
Day 8: Memories, growth and friendships for life.
Sam will lead us in a morning meditation session (optional), focussing on our collective consciousness as women. We’ll then meet with a local Mayan Shaman who will conduct individual astrological readings and explain the mysteries of Mayan rituals. After lunch at La Casa del Mundo, we’ll head back to Antigua. En route, we’ll visit an important organization helping empower young Mayan girls, MAIA. This operation is near and dear to She Walks the Walk, as we are passionate about uplifting, educating and emancipating women wherever we go. She Walks the Walk will make a contribution in your name to further the work they are doing with young Mayan women in the region. From there, it’s a two-hour drive back to Antigua, we expect to be back late-afternoon. To celebrate completion of our G’WA, we’ll enjoy one of Antigua’s finest restaurants at a Farewell Dinner to share stories, laughs and memories of our time in Guatemala.
Day 9: Your G’WA is over.
…but the journey always continues. All good things must come to an end, unless you choose the 2-Day Trek to Tikal (see below – or you feel like moving to Guatemala (my parents did!). Following breakfast, you’ll depart Antigua by private shuttle for Guatemala City’s international airport and your return flight home.
Deciding to come all this way means a boatload of planning and a commitment to yourself you might not normally make. But you’re already here, so why not enhance your experience with one (or both!) of our G’WA extensions?
Pre-G’WA Acetenango Overnight Volcano Climb
Adrenaline, anyone? This is for the die-hards, and I do not say that lightly!
Climbing Antigua’s remarkable Volcan Acatenango, which towers above the landscape at nearly 4,000 metres, is at the top of many adventure enthusiasts’ bucket lists. I consider myself to be in great shape, and found this experience literally took my breath away! From the 360-degree panoramic views, a series of steep switchbacks through Cloud Forest and the awe-inducing lava of Volcan Fuego flowing just a few hundred metres away, you’ll find yourself coming to life in brand new ways.
Kick-start your G’WA with this 2-Day high-altitude adventure.
$800 USD, based on double occupancy and inclusive of:
- ground transfer from Guatemala City International Airport to Antigua
- round-trip transportation from Antigua to Acatenango trailhead
- a bilingual (ENG/SP) trekking guide with certified first-aid training
- park entrance fees and camping fees
- Arrival Day accommodation at El Convento Boutique Hotel
- high-quality tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads and trekking poles.
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner on Day 2, Breakfast on Day 3
Day 1: Arrival Day.
You’ve made it to Guatemala! Let us take care of everything from here. We’ll meet you at the airport and transfer you to El Convento Boutique Hotel in colonial Antigua – a UNESCO world heritage site. You’ll have the afternoon or evening to explore and prep your gear for tomorrow’s big adventure.
Day 2: Hitting the trailhead!
We depart Antigua at 8:00am for a comfortable one-hour drive to the Mayan village of Soledad and the Acatenango trailhead. The 5,000 ft / 1,525 metre ascent winds its way up through four distinct ecosystems, starting with a tapestry of fertile agricultural fields where local farmers harvest corn, flowers and snow peas. From there, the trail rises into old-growth tropical cloud forest, home to a huge variety of plants and animals. The forest provides us shade and comfort as we push up the steep slope.
Emerging from the cloud forest, we enter a sparse high-alpine forest that reveals views of six additional volcanoes, making it a great spot for a scenic trail lunch. Following lunch, we make the final push of the day and climb above the tree line into the fourth microclimate… a wind-swept and mystical volcanic terrain. After setting up camp at 12,300 ft / 3,750 metres, it’s time to relax and take in the sweeping views of the Antigua Valley and Volcan Fuego before being served a hot dinner. The campsite looks directly over Volcan Fuego, and your evening is spent splitting time between gasping at volcanic eruptions and staring into a mesmerizing sky full of stars above.
Day 3: Pre-Dawn Start.
An early morning departure from basecamp begins a one-hour ascent up to Acatenango’s summit, a steep but rewarding climb through dwarf pine trees and gravel scree that leads to the top of the world. Once on the summit, you’ll find 360-degree views of Volcan Fuego, the Antigua Valley and the distant Guatemalan highlands that stretch all the way to the border of Mexico. After about an hour at the summit (depending on weather and time conditions), we’ll return to camp for breakfast before beginning a two to three-hour descent back down the volcano, arriving to La Soledad and our awaiting transportation mid-day. We should have you back in Antigua by early afternoon (~1:00pm), plenty of time to meet up with the rest of your G’WA teammates who are just arriving today.
Post-G’WA 2-Day Extension to Tikal
You’re already here, why not join us for a visit to the crown jewel of Mayan archaeological sites, Tikal National Park? It’s been fascinating visitors for over 100 years with its stunning beauty and sheer grandeur as it rises out of the lush jungle of Guatemala’s Petén district. Tikal is the largest excavated archeological site in the American continent, also Guatemala’s most famous national park, comprising 222 square miles of jungle all around the ceremonial centre. Although known for its rich cultural and archeological treasures, Tikal boasts one of the country’s most pristine natural areas with towering tropical forests that are home to tapir, jaguar, crocodile, cougars, monkeys as well as a colourful assortment of birds.
Today, Tikal National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is accessible via a short, 1-hour flight from Guatemala City followed by a 1-hour shuttle ride to the park. Tikal is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Guatemala. Rediscover the Wild You in Tikal!
Celebrate your G’WA with a trip to the jungle!
$1,399 USD, based on double occupancy and inclusive of:
- return airfare from Guatemala City to Flores/Mundo Maya airport
- return ground transfer from Flores to Tikal National Park
- private half-day tour of the Tikal Ruins with English-speaking guide
- lunch, dinner and breakfast on Day 2
- park entrance fees
- accommodation at Jungle Lodge, Tikal National Park
- high-quality tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads and trekking poles.
Day 10: Antigua to Tikal.
We depart Antigua for Guatemala City Airport at 4:00 am for a 6:00 am flight to Flores/Mundo Maya Airport. Following a 1-hour transfer to Tikal National Park, we’ll enjoy a private tour of the ruins including Complex Q, Main Plaza, 7 Temples and Lost World (3-4 hours). After lunch, we check into the renowned Jungle Lodge where you’ll have the opportunity to continue exploring the park or chill out by the pool.
Day 11: Tikal to Guatemala City.
Following breakfast at your hotel in the heart of Tikal National Park, a private shuttle will transfer you back to Flores/Mundo Maya Airport for a morning flight that returns you to Guatemala International Airport by 9am for international departures.
Your 9-Day Guatemalan G’WA includes almost everything:
- Return ground transfer from Guatemala City International Airport to Antigua
- 8 nights accommodations (boutique hotels, glamping-style tents)
- All meals and snacks throughout the itinerary
- “Trek Truck” featuring a hot water shower, toilet and sink
- Towels and bedding during the trek
- Potable drinking water
- Ground transfer from Antigua to trailhead
- Return boat transfer to/from hotel in Jaibalito
- Mayan Shaman ceremony
- Ground transfer from Panajachel to Antigua
- English-speaking Trip Leader during the 4-day trek
- English-speaking guides for Antigua and Lake Atitlán tours
- Trekking poles and First-Aid kit
- And, of course, Sam Plavins will be with you every step of the way
What’s Also Included (That You Won’t Likely Find Elsewhere)
The inner journey is just as important as the walk itself. Here’s what makes G’WAs truly special and much different from basic trekking tours:
- Daily meditation to start our morning
- Guided introspection on your personal inner journey – I’ll help you identify what led you to this crossroads in your life and what path might be right for you. This includes pre-G’WA preparation – a Zoom or phone meeting to establish the goals of your inner journey. We can go into as much or as little detail about the specifics as you are comfortable with.
- Post-trip follow-up on your personal journey
- Priceless personal revelations and lifelong connections with new friends
- Complimentary membership in our SWTW Private Community
- Little things that make a big difference
What’s Not Included
- Flight to/from Guatemala City
- Cancellation / Interruption / Luggage Loss / Emergency Travel insurance (required)
- Incidentals, such as drinks other than water when in town (tea, wine, coffee)
- Gratuities for Guide, Trip Leader
- Any PCR or Antigen testing required to be carried out pre or post-journey
- Taxis or other travel arrangements made outside of the tour itinerary
- Visas, if required (For the most up-to-date information, please see):
- https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/guatemala or https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Guatemala.html
*Tips are part of Guatemala’s culture. On the last evening of our G’WA, we will present our pooled gratuities as a gesture of thanks. Amounts will vary according to the itinerary and the duration, and everyone participates according to their own satisfaction. As a general rule, you may wish to allocate $150USD in cash towards this.
Little Things, Big Difference
Isn’t it often the little things in life that make the biggest difference? On a She Walks the Walk G’WA, many of the activities scheduled – such as meditation and group discussions – are about the inner journey you will take. These expeditions are as much about exploring the wild you as they are about trekking the wild terrain. Self-discovery is the main goal of every G’WA.
Our G’WAs include a number of special touches that we believe set us apart from most other guided tours. We want to create a worry-free atmosphere so that you can set yourself up for an optimal personal growth experience. For example:
- We want you to unplug, but recognize you’d appreciate a lifeline back home. That’s why we provide all clients with a local SIM card so you’re always connected when needed.
- Pre-travel anxiety is especially common following the chaos of COVID-19. We help alleviate that anxiety. All confirmed G’WA participants receive a one-on-one call with Sam (phone or Zoom), one month in advance of departure. We could send you reams of information (and we will), but nothing beats talking with someone who understands the world of travel insurance, who has stickhandled COVID-specific policies firsthand – not to mention someone who knows the itinerary intimately. We can discuss any aspect of the trek you like so you can go prepared.
- We also recognize the importance of showing cultural respect and will furnish each client with a Cheat Sheet featuring key phrases in Spanish and K’iche’ before we leave. This will help you develop relationships with the people we’ll meet along the way, many of whom do not speak English.
Post-trip Follow-up once we return will help you process what you’ve learned and apply it to your everyday life. Everyone is at a different crossroads, so it’s difficult to find any one specific example. But let’s say your crossroads was similar to mine: you weren’t sure if a career change was right for you. We can take what you learned (yes, you want a career change!), plan the next steps (what career do you want?), and make sure your ducks are in a row (you’re good financially, you have the support of your family, etc.) I can’t make decisions for you, but I will show you options so you can make the choices that will work best for you.
She Walks the Walk’s Global Walking Adventures are partly about absorbing the local flavour and culture. We’ve gone out of our way to ensure you experience “the real deal” of Guatemala—we want you to remember all those little touches that also stand out to us when spending any time in this gem of a country.
Part of the G’WA will be spent in boutique-style, locally-owned hotels favoured for their exceptional service and attention to sustainability. Are they involved in the community? Do they support local micro-enterprises? If the answer is yes, and their service is of the highest standard, we are in alignment.
The other half will find you in comfortable and spacious “safari-style” tents, the kind you don’t typically see when camping. Depending on your height, you’ll be able to stand and move around freely, while resting those weary muscles in a queen-sized bed topped with a cozy duvet comforter. Lanterns, towels, mats… we’ve thought of everything here. Simply relax and enjoy!
Dates & Prices
2023 Dates & Prices
|February 19th – 27th||$4,799 / person||$800 – $1,399||$699 / person||$1,199|
This program is optimally paired with one of our Guatemalan Extensions, either Pre- or Post-G’WA. Pricing includes all taxes, levies, park permits and fees; and is based on double occupancy in USD. Pricing does not include international airfare to / from your destination. Single Rooms / tents are possible, subject to availability and on request with our Single Supplement fee of $699. All prices are subject to change. See terms and conditions for this trip for more information.
Can I Do It?
She Walks the Walk Global Walking Adventures (G’WAs) are accessible for anyone with the right attitude, the right footwear and a spirit of adventure. Having said that, not everyone will enjoy the challenging bits. But isn’t that the point? To put ourselves in situations we know won’t be easy? To see what we’re capable of and experience the uncomfortable?
Absolutely, you can do this. But the short answer to the loaded question, “is it hard?” is “yes.”
We know that most women would be up for a self-discovery adventure, given the right opportunity. Anyone comfortable on longer hikes in varied terrain should be able to manage this trek. Though the elements will stretch you (at times) and the dust kicked up from your hiking shoes can be annoying, you do not need to be a tri-athlete or take a boot camp to get yourself whipped into shape.
On that note, I should also stress that if you are a triathlete or hard-core trekker, this adventure may not be for you either. We encourage all women to travel at their own pace – and that pace tends to be slower than what many experienced trekkers are used to. We leave camp each morning around 8:30, and usually arrive at our next camp by 4pm each afternoon. G’WAs are designed to be challenging, but not extreme for the average active person! If you have any questions or concerns about the trek and your abilities, let’s talk! I can answer your questions and help you assess if this is the right journey for you.
This DJ Takes Requests…
If you are looking for a Global Walking Adventure that is less active, drop me a line! I am always on the hunt for new and exciting walking adventures. I’m willing to look at alternate options if the interest is there.
What to Bring
Congratulations on your upcoming G’WA! Now that your plane tickets are booked, it’s time to start thinking about what to bring. We’ve put together a “Packing Primer” tol serve as a useful guide while you begin the countdown to your big adventure.
Before we get into specifics, here are a few packing principles to keep in mind for your walk:
- It’s all about the layers. Daytime and nighttime temps in Guatemala can vary drastically, as can conditions when we climb or descend along the route. So it’s important to have the option to add or remove clothing layers. We recommend a moisture-wicking/quick-dry short-sleeve, long-sleeve shirt for sun protection, lightweight fleece/jacket and a lightweight rain coat. Lightweight pants are also advisable.
- Trekking clothes vs. camp clothes. At night you should be prepared to shed your “walking uniform” with access to comfy clothes for relaxing. Keep in mind that all three of our camps are around 8,000 ft (2,440M) which means the night will be chillier. Shoes you can easily slip in and out of, warm socks and even a winter hat are recommended.
- Daypack vs overnight bag. One of the great things about our G’WA is we do all the heavy lifting! While trekking, all you’ll need is a daypack for clothes, water, camera, etc. We’ll move any larger overnight bags you have from one camp to the next. FYI, our guides pack trail lunches and snacks, but if you have something you’d like to nibble on during the trek, do bring it.
- Sun protection. As we move higher in elevation, the sun becomes stronger. So even if you tan beautifully at the beach, be sure to pack ample and strong sunscreen (minimum 50 SPF). Bring a hat that will protect your face and ideally your neck, as well as sunglasses with quality UVA/UVB lenses.
- Acclimatization and hydration. Antigua is located at 5,030 ft (1,553M)—so be sure to take it easy and drink lots of water during your first day or two in-country while you acclimatize. During our trek we will hike on average 5-6 hours per day and top out around 9,000 ft (2,745M). Hydration is a vital component to having a good time! We recommend you come prepared to carry 3-4 litres of water per day, which you can refill at camp each morning.
From November to April, the weather in the highlands of Guatemala is characterized by warm, sunny days (16-29 C) and cool evenings (2-10 C). Although technically the dry season, Guatemala’s highlands do experience some rain and mist as well, especially at night, and particularly in the Cloud Forest.Download Packing List
Meet the Team
Sam Plavins is a former financial service advisor who got off the treadmill to pursue her own passions. She believes we should not be afraid to question the path we’ve taken. Or society’s version of who we ought to be.
A life-long adventurer, Sam has travelled the world with her family and on solo adventures. She started “She Walks the Walk” as a way to help other women at crossroads find more meaning and purpose in their lives. Sam lives with her family in Thunder Bay, Canada, and when she’s not out walking, she’s writing her book or looking for her lost cell phone.
Originally from Paris, France, Julie Carcaud has the same travelling spirit that Sam has. Her mantra is “C’est juste la”, which roughly translates to “It’s just around the corner…” It’s a mantra that she says will guide the second part of her life, now that she has passed 50. After she and her husband raised two incredible boys who have now flown the nest, Julie is ready to journey on a new road ahead.
Julie worked in Paris in the communications department of a large international service group until her husband’s job took the family to Morocco. During their 11-year stay, the family trekked the country exploring its cities and villages, its deserts and mountains, its culture and food. While working for a publishing house in Casablanca, she published her own book based on these adventures called “Street Food in Morocco: An Authentic Taste” with co-author Asmaa Chaidi and photographer Cécile Tréal.
Besides Morocco, Julie has also travelled to Central America, Indonesia, Australia, and other countries – always with a pack on her back and good shoes on her feet. She first met Sam on the roads of Peru and found they shared a similar outlook on life. She trekked the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco with Sam in September 2021.
Julie shares her adventures with her family in her blog, On the Treq Again (onthetreqagain.com). She will be an invaluable team member and free spirit on our Moroccan Walk, helping Sam on as both Guide and Cultural Liason.
Your She Walks the Walk Global Walking Adventure is confirmed once the following conditions have been met:
- A mutually satisfactory “Introduction Meeting” with Samantha Plavins
- Payment of the deposit
- Completion of our Registration Package
- Execution of the SWTW Terms and Conditions including the SWTW Travel Policy
FAQs & Terms
Do I have to share a tent with someone?
I don’t care about self-reflection, but still want to go on the adventure.
What happens if I can’t finish the G’WA due to injury or sickness? What happens if I need to get home in the event of an emergency?
I’m afraid I will hold the group back. What happens if I’m slow?
Who comes on a She Walks the Walk G’WA?
I’m still nervous about the physicality. How fit should I be?
How many women participate in each G’WA?
What languages will you support on the Guatemala G’WA? And what should I know in advance?
What is up with the water situation?
What is the food like?
How long will I have to go without a shower?
How much should my backpack weigh? What about my expedition duffel?
How will I charge my electronics?
Is the internet / cell service readily available?
Do I need specific vaccinations (COVID-19 and other) to visit Guatemala?
What about COVID-19?
What about currency?
What is the weather like?
Is Guatemala safe?
Terms & Conditions
We do not believe in mollycoddling our clients. You’re a grown woman. And you get that travelling to the other side of the world presents some new challenges.
You must be prepared to accept the risks, both known and unknown, of your Global Walking Adventure. The following policy provisions form part of the SWTW Terms and Conditions and will apply to all services being provided to you and your participation in a G’WA with us. Please read this policy very carefully as you will need to sign off on it in order to participate.