2019 GUATEMALA - LAND OF VOLCANOES AND THE MAYA
Antigua Guatemala, Pacaya & Fuego Volcanoes,
Lake Atitlan and Chichicastenango.
March 15-24, 2019 - 8 spots available
Join me and fellow Central American photographer Jeffrey Muñoz as we visit our favorite photography spots in Guatemala - The Land of Volcanoes and the Maya.
Guatemala is a lush paradise, with terrain that runs from mangrove swamps to 7000-foot mountains. The Maya civilization started in Guatemala approximately 4,000 years ago. Its hieroglyphics couldn’t be deciphered until the 1870s and 20% are still a mystery. Our understanding of them is changing almost daily with new discoveries all around the country.
There are over 800 species of mammals and the country it’s an up-and-coming destination for bird-watchers, photographers and nature lovers. Guatemala is also known as the "Land of the Eternal Spring" since most of the country enjoys mild temperatures year round due to the elevations through out the country.
When you arrive in the country you will be greeted by hundreds of mountains and volcanoes that seem to always be around you. It doesn't matter where you are in the country, you will always see mountains and volcanoes.
Guatemala has the highest amount of volcanoes in the region, with 37 in total spread along its territory. That is because it is located along the ring of fire. Three tectonic plates meet in it and are constantly bumping into each other as they have for centuries.
Our base of operations will be Antigua Guatemala. Antigua is a small city surrounded by volcanoes in the central highlands of Guatemala. It’s renowned for its Spanish colonial buildings, many of them restored following a 1773 earthquake that ended Antigua’s 200-year reign as Guatemala’s colonial capital. The city is famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture as well as a number of ruins of colonial churches. It is a World Heritage site, and is perhaps the most popular tourist destination in Guatemala.
We will have plenty of time at Antigua to photograph the fantastic colonial architecture, the old ruins, and all the wonderful scenes around the city. Our itinerary also has plenty of leisure time scheduled for you to visit the local shops and markets around the city.
Volcan de Fuego
"Fuego" is famous for being almost constantly active at a low level. Small gas and ash eruptions occur every 15 to 20 minutes, but larger eruptions are rare. We will climb Fuego's neighbor volcano, the Acatenango. From the Acatenango we will be at eye level with Fuego as we photograph. Normally the hike to Fuego takes over 6 hours but we have arranged for special permission to climb the volcano on 4X4 vehicles using private roads on private farms. Our vehicles will carry us and our gear almost to the summit where we will set up our camp. Our tour includes 2 days of camping up at the home base next to Fuego. From here we will be able to photograph the eruptions at a safe distance. Photographing the volcano at night is an experience like no other. Long 5-10 second exposures will create fabulous images of the active volcano. This will be an experience of a lifetime.
Pacaya volcano is one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes, and its frequent eruptions are often visible from as far as Guatemala City. Typical activity in recent years includes strombolian activity, lava flow emission and intermittent phases of lava fountaining..
The Pacaya Volcano is one of the stops during our tour. We will camp for one night at the volcano's base were we will photograph the lava flows and eruptions at a safe distance. If conditions permit we will also hike into the lava fields to photograph the lava flows coming down from the caldera.
The climb to base camp will be by horseback. Horses will be available for participants wanting an easier way to get up the mountain. All horses will have a handler that will accompany you up the mountain making it a fun, safe, and a unique experience that you won't soon forget.
Lake Atitlán is a body of water in a massive volcanic crater in Guatemala’s southwestern highlands. Ringed by steep, verdant hills, it’s known for its Mayan villages and volcanoes with striking pointed cones. Our home base here will be the town of Panajachel. "Pana" as the locals call it, has vast open air textiles markets where the Maya people sell their world famous textiles. It is a popular getaway for local people and tourists.
We will visit various photography spots along the lake shore to photograph the impressive volcanoes that surround the lake. We will also visit the "Nariz del Indio" overlook where we will photograph the stunning sunrise above the lake.
Chichicastenango is a town in the Guatemalan highlands.. It’s known for its open-air craft market and indigenous Maya culture. The 16th-century Santo Tomás Apóstol Church has long been used for both for Catholic worship and Maya rituals.
We will visit "Chichi" during market day. Its an experience like no other.. Hundreds of Maya people fill the open air markets to sell their crafts. Locals travel from villages throughout the countryside and gather at this market to sell their beautiful handicrafts, colourful textiles, fresh produce, traditional clothing and more at this bustling and vibrant local market.
- Day 1 - Arrive Guatemala City - transfer to Antigua Guatemala. Overnight at Antigua (hotel)
- Day 2 - Antigua Guatemala - Pacaya Volcano. Overnight at Pacaya (camping).
- Day 3 - Pacaya Volcano - Antigua Guatemala. Overnight at Antigua (hotel)
- Day 4 - Antigua Guatemala - Volcan de Fuego. Overnight at Fuego (camping)
- Day 5 - Volcan de Fuego. Overnight at Fuego (camping)
- Day 6 - Volcano de Fuego - Lake Atitlan. Overnight at Atitlan (hotel)
- Day 7 - Lake Atitlan - Chichicastenango - Lake Atitlan. Overnight at Atitlan (hotel)
- Day 8 - Lake Atitlan - Antigua Guatemala. Overnight at Antigua (hotel)
- Day 9 - Antigua Guatemala. Overnight at Antigua (hotel)
- Day 10 - Transfer from Antigua Guatemala to Guatemala City Airport. End of services.
Photo Tour / Workshop Details
$4500 USD per photographer (double occupancy)
Single Room Supplement - $495 USD
Number of Participants
Limited to 8 Photographers
Physical Level - Moderate
There will be a 2 hikes during this trip and one climb on horseback. Both hikes are easy to moderate and about 45 minutes in length. We will be hiking in altitudes of approximately 3000 meters above sea level. We will also tent camp for three nights during this tour.
- Accomodations at the finest hotels and lodges.
- All camping and outdoor gear needed for outings at volcanoes.
- Transportation through out the tour.
- All meals (excludes dinner on arrival day).
- Bottled water throughout the tour.
- Airport transfers to and from the airport.
- All national park entrance fees.
- All applicable taxes.
Does not include:
- Airfare to and from Guatemala City.
- Dinner the first night.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Items of personal nature, such as laundry, phone calls, souvenirs, etc.
- Gratuities for local guide / trek porters / drivers.
We are limiting the number of photographers to 8 (4:1 ratio instructor to participant) so you can get our full attention and be very comfortable at all shooting locations and during transport with your photo gear.
A $2000 deposit is required at the time of enrollment with full payment due by November 15, 2018.
Deposit can be paid via PAYPAL (plus 3% fees) by clicking here:
or by mailing a U.S. Check or U.S. Money Order Payable to:
Hector D. Astorga
2510 Dove Avenue
Mission, TX 78574
Deposits & Cancellation Policy:
- A $2000 deposit is required at the time of enrollment with full payment due by November 15, 2018.
- Deposits and tour/workshop fees are non-refundable.
- If the photo workshop is full and someone from the waiting list can take your spot, your tuition is fully refundable minus a 15% cancellation fee.
- We are not responsible for cancellations due to medical or other reasons.
- Should cancellation be required due to severe weather, an alternate date will be scheduled at no additional charges.
- No fees will be refunded if you withdraw after the photo workshop begins.
- We are not responsible for any fees associated with non-refundable air travel, we highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance. www.insuremytrip.com
Photo Tour / Workshop Leaders
Hector D. Astorga
Hector D. Astorga is a professional nature photographer based in South Texas. His love of nature and the outdoors began as a child in his native country, Honduras. He is a professional guide for visiting photographers at the Santa Clara Ranch and also serves as the ranch manager. He conducts photography workshops there and at other locations in North America, Central America, and Africa.
He is a four-time Grand Prize winner of the Texas big nature photography competitions. In 2013 and 2015, he was the Grand Prize winner of the Wildlife in Focus Nature Photography Contest. In addition, he was the top recipient of the Valley Land Fund Nature Photography Contest in 2010 (Professional and Open Divisions) and in 2008 (Small Tract Division). He won top honors in the 2009 National Wildlife Federation Photography Contest and in the 2012 Rocky Mountain Outdoor Writers and Photographers Photography competition. In 2016, one of his images was selected as a “Best of Show” by the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) in their Annual Showcase competition.
His work has been featured in Nature’s Best Magazine, Audubon Magazine, National Wildlife Federation, Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, National Geographic Guide Books, The Chicago Tribune and other national and regional publications.
Hector is a member of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), Rocky Mountain Outdoor Writers and Photographers (RMOWP), Texas Nature and Environmental Photographers (TexNEP), Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) and of Nikon Professional Services (NPS).
Jeffrey was born in San Jose, Costa Rica. He studied biosciences at the University of Costa Rica and later at the National Learning Institute, where he earned his certification as a general naturalist guide for Costa Rica. His first travels abroad to the United States and South America taught him the importance of being conscious of other cultures. This awareness is what led him to want to educate people about his own culture and into the field of ecotourism. He started working as a guide in early 1998 because he wanted to be closer to nature as well as to the Costa Rican people. These experiences, as well as his travels to Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Europe made him aware of the importance of nature, its conservation, and the world’s cultural heritage.
“My experience as a licensed naturalist guide over the past twenty years has been invaluable. I have worked with groups in Costa Rica’s main continental and marine areas that include: professional photographers, journalists, wholesalers, senior citizens, families, students, naturalists, bird watchers and adventure travelers. All of these people have been the main inspiration to continue with my personal environmental and cultural education.”
He received his Photo Instructor certification in a multi-day training workshop. Developed and taught by National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions photographers, the workshop helped him develop additional insight and skills in Nature photography.
For more information or questions please contact Hector Astorga:
Phone: (956) 821-0701.