The ancient Maya believed that the cosmos had three major planes: the Earth, the underworld beneath and the heavens above. On this Ride, you won’t do much underworld exploring but you will discover heaven on Earth.
Its name is Guatemalan singletrack and the countryside is riddled with hundreds of thrilling kilometers of it. The bright blue sunny skies will provide the heavens above and the volcanoes and mountains of Guatemala provide all the spectacular Earth you need to be transported to your own cosmic realm.
Mayan culture is still alive and well in Guatemala; on this trip you’ll ride through traditional villages where life continues mostly unchanged from ancient Mayan times. Spend the morning kayaking along Lago de Atitlán, a spectacular blue lake ringed by traditional Mayan communities and volcanoes and experience a different pace and way of life that just might transport you to the heavens above…
Join us as we embark on days filled with epic mountain biking adventures, and evenings enjoyed in the comforts of award-winning and culturally rich, high-end accommodations.
Is This Ride For You?
This Ride is for you if you love exploring other cultures from the seat of your mountain bike. You are a technically strong, experienced mountain biker who rides advanced level trails regularly. You can handle climbs up to 900 meters in a day. Your singletrack skills are solid and you can handle rooty, rocky and narrow trails. You’re open to new and exotic experiences, and don’t mind getting out of your cultural comfort zone once in awhile. Kayaking and swimming in Lago de Atitlán is a picture-perfect way to spend a morning! Kicking back after a solid day on the bike at a luxury, colonial-style hotel is a dream come true!
Day 1. Arrive Guatemala City, Welcome To Antigua!
Welcome to Antigua!
We’ll meet at La Aurora International Airport and transfer you to the beautiful colonial city of Antigua. The airport shuttle is included on Day 1 and we’ll organize two to three shuttles based on everyone’s arrival time.
For those arriving early, we encourage you to explore this historical 16th-century city, with cobblestone streets, vibrant architecture and citizens dressed in colorful Mayan clothing.
If you arrive earlier in the day, there will be an optional shuttle ride to get your legs spinning. There will also be time this afternoon/evening to build your bike with the assistance of the guides.
Tonight, we’ll have a meet and greet dinner in one of the local restaurants, where we’ll enjoy the local cuisine and review the exciting plan for the week ahead!
Day 2. El Zur Bike Park & Agua Volcano
We’ll meet at the hotel in the morning for a gourmet buffet breakfast.
Then, we’ll hop on the bikes and head up to the base of the Agua Volcano for our first taste of the local singletrack. At 3,760 m (12,340 ft) the volcano dominates the local landscape and towers above Antigua except when hidden by cloud cover.
The local Kaqchikel people have always called the volcano ‘Hunapú’ meaning “place of flowers.” The Agua Volcano is also home to a variety of amazing mountain bike trails.
Around the backside of the volcano is a private mountain bike reserve called “El Zur Bike Park” which includes over 30kms of hand-built singletrack bliss! El Zur is the only of its kind in Guatemala, and we have exclusive access to it!
Thank the locals for these incredible trails!
We’ll hop in 4x4’s and shuttle up to the end of the road at 2,800m. A short climb pays off with nearly 20 km of flowy goodness.
Tunnels, berms and suspension bridges are all part of this epic ride. If there’s enough left in the tank we can climb back up for another pass on the bottom third or head over and take a lap on the trail “G‑line”, a 3 km jump-line built by Gravity Logic (based in Whistler, B.C.) and inspired by the famous “A‑Line” trail at the Whistler Bike Park.
Tonight, dinner is on your own and there are many amazing restaurants to choose from. Your guides can recommend a variety of excellent restaurants close to your hotel. Explore on your own, or join other Riders for dinner.
We’ll spend the night back at the Los Olivos Hotel.
Day 3. Ixchime Enduro
We’ll enjoy a gourmet buffet breakfast at the Los Olivos Hotel before packing up and heading off on our next adventure.
This morning we’ll explore the Iximche Ruins. The old buildings were a Kaqchiquel Maya stronghold until the 1520’s when it was abandoned as the Mayan population fled from the Spanish.
The ruins are located in what is now the small town of Tecpan, a cool, highland forested region and one of the first permanent Spanish settlement.
Today’s ride starts with a shuttle up to a small village just beneath the Acatenango Volcano at 2,500 m (8,200 ft). Volcanoes dominate the view as we ride down the ridge back to the valley floor. Trails crisscross the landscape as we pass through agricultural fields & villages.
We’ll finish up the morning at a shrine to a local Mayan spiritual deity, Maximon.
A short shuttle takes us to the top of the mountains overlooking the ruins of Iximche. A series of steep technical trail offers up the first glimpses of Lake Atitlán and the ravines and valleys in-between. Our last descent drops us just outside of the Iximche Ruins where we’ll take a short guided tour of the site and then head off to the hotel for a well-earned rest.
Tonight, we’ll have dinner near Tecpan and spend the night at Casa Xara — a historic flour mill turned into a cozy, comfortable boutique lodge.
Day 4. Mayan Traverse
After a gourmet buffet breakfast at the hotel, we’ll load up and head towards Panajachel.
The vibrant colours of the market in Panajachel come alive as street vendors sell their traditional wares and artisan crafts.
Our route follows the exodus of the Kaqchiquel to Lake Atitlán after the Spanish conquest. The area around Lake Atitlán is still alive with their culture and language.
We will descend the infamous “Sendero de las vacas” named after encounters with cows ascending the deep, switchback trail that bikers had to climb up to let the herd pass! We’ll break a sweat on a long, gradual climb, but it’ll be worth it! At the top, we will get stunning views of the sapphire-blue Lake Atitlán, surrounded by volcanoes, it’s one of the world’s prettiest lakes.
After a picnic lunch with an incredible view we’ll descend the famous Santa Cat DH trail. It’s famous for it’s unique urban downhill through the town of Santa Catarina Palopó.
We’ll have a quick ride over to Panajachel to check-in to the Hotel Regis. We’ll enjoy the evening with cold beverages, delicious food and perhaps relax our muscles in the hot tub!
Day 5. Ride and Relax at Lake Atitlán
Lake Atitlán was formed by a volcanic eruption 84,000 years ago. Now filled with vibrant blue water and ringed by steep, verdant hills, it’s known for its Mayan villages and volcanoes with striking pointed cones and amazing riding!
We’ll head towards the lake and shuttle high above the blue waters to nearly 3,000 m (9,800 ft) which will provide us with a panoramic view of the canyons and volcanoes around the lake. We’ll climb 5 km on the trail to an area known as “El Corazon de las Nubes” which is a Mayan ceremonial site.
The ecology at this altitude in Guatemala is home to a unique mix of alpine grass, grazing sheep, and agave plants.
We will follow rocky, technical singletrack through pine forests passing through small Mayan communities and wave hello to the locals. After a picnic lunch and short shuttle we will continue our descent to Lake Atitlán in a 1,000 m downhill trail — the most technical trail of the week.
Day 6. Kayaking and Coffee, Plus Los Pinos Downhill
Today we’ll take a much needed morning off and enjoy Lake Atitlán. Swing in a hammock, take a swim or paddle to a nearby village (Kayaks included).
After a relaxing morning, we’ll head towards Antigua and get dropped at the top of the ridge above Antigua.
A “hato” in Spanish is where shepherds take their animals to graze. The tiny village of El Hato above Antigua was, in the not so distant past, a remote village at the end of a dirt road with no power. It just so happens there’s a lot of great trail riding there too!
From here, we’ll ride the Antigua Downhill course. After a short climb, we’ll ride a beautiful contour trail that winds its way through old-growth forests down to our mountain side hotel for the night.
We’ll enjoy sunset beers and volcano views!
Back in “Pana” as its locally known, we’ll meet a water taxi that will take us to our cliff-side hotel (the magical La Casa del Mundo) in time for a swim and cold beer!
Day 7. One More Time! “La Ultima”
In Antigua culture, there is always one more or “la ultima”. Whether it be a beer before closing time, or in our case, one last ride before its time to wash and pack up our two-wheeled machines.
The last hurrah! One last great Antigua trail ride. Short and sweet but full of steps, contours and technical riding. Leaving El Hato, the trail contours down towards Antigua.
It’s the perfect last piece of trail before you head home. Back at the shop, we’ll wash the bikes and your guides will help pack your bikes for the trip back home.
There will be time for last-minute souvenir shopping before we celebrate an incredible week at one of Antigua’s local restaurants with dinner and a few drinks at a famous local tequila bar!
We’ll spend the night back at the Los Olivos Hotel in Antigua.
Day 8. Farewell and Airport Transfer
We have reached the last day of our amazing trip in Guatemala and it’s time to say goodbye. Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then High-five your new riding pals before heading back to the airport.
We’ll arrange for airport drop-off on Day 8 based on Riders individual flight times.