Teacher trip to the Maya Area
“The energy and passion from Diane translated into everything we did and everyone we met and to say she created the experience of a lifetime would be a huge understatement.”
Grindleford Primary School
The Maya: Past and Present
Next trip: Late July/Early August 2018
This 12-day field trip to Guatemala is a unique opportunity to learn from the Maya themselves about their lives, guided by a leading expert in the field. You will learn about both the ancient and modern Maya by visiting archaeological sites and museums, as well as local communities and schools.
The trip will culminate in the creation of a variety of lesson plans with resources that can be used in your school and made available to others. These plans will also be published as part of a book for teachers.
“Excellent and varied accommodation, the hotel in Antigua was beautiful and the quality of the meals was outstanding.”
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Primary School
- To provide broad exposure to both the ancient Maya civilization as well as the modern Maya culture
- Global Learning – Creation of links/partnerships with Maya schools and in doing so providing a unique opportunity to transform the lives of both children in your school and in Guatemala
- To provide experience and resources for teaching rainforests in geography
- Create a variety of lesson plans that cover all areas of the curriculum for teaching the Maya at Key Stage 2 *
- Produce a resource database of photos/videos/audio files for the topic
This trip will enable teachers to gain first-hand, the knowledge, experience, resources and passion for teaching the Maya, which can be passed on to their class, future classes and shared with other schools and the local authorities.
You may be able to receive some form of funding from your school as this is an extended CPD session (although we will be having a lot of fun at the same time). I am happy to confirm anything in writing to authorities detailing the educational value for teachers.
*Teachers from the United States and other areas in the world are more than welcome to join us – Key Stage 2 is equivalent to Grades 2-5, although you are welcome to write lesson plans for your grade if it is higher.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for teachers who are genuinely interested in learning more about the Maya, with a fantastic guide who caters literally for your every need and provides the most fabulous, unique experiences for you. It is well worth the time out and financial cost for a once in a lifetime CPD trip!”
Aldington Primary School
Day 1: Antigua
We will arrive at Guatemala City’s international airport, La Aurora and travel by shuttle to the beautiful colonial city of Antigua.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Antigua was once one of the regional capitals of the Spanish Empire. The city is full of colourful colonial architecture and is sandwiched between several volcanic peaks.
Day 2: Antigua
Presentation and workshop at Casa Herrera, a beautifully preserved 17th-century mansion, which acts as a research and teaching facility for Central American archaeologists.
This will be followed by a Kaqchikel language workshop with Ixnal, a Maya woman and Kaqchikel language scholar.
Day 3: Chimaltenango
In the morning, we will visit Melody Primary School in Chimaltenango where 80% of the children are Maya.
The school is part of the Doctors in Action Charity and provides quality schooling to underprivileged children. We will meet the teachers and children and learn about their school day and life in their community.
I have raised funds to have the internet installed at the school, so you will be able to introduce the children you meet to your class via skype when you return to the UK.
During the afternoon, we will visit Cerro de Cruz for stunning views over the city and its volcanoes.
This will be followed by a chocolate workshop learning how Maya chocolate is made as well as preparing your own chocolate drink and chocolate bar.
Day 4: Antigua
Visit the jade museum and factory to learn how the precious stone of the Maya was made by the owner, archaeologist Mary Lou Ridinger.
We will then learn how to make tortillas with Ixnal, the language scholar in her community in Santa Maria de Jesus. We will eat lunch with the Maya women from her community, a traditional dish called pepian
During the afternoon, a special Maya day ceremony will be held for us by Kawoq, a Maya shaman.
Day 5: Lake Atitlan
The morning will be spent visiting the pre-colonial archaeological site of Iximche, the capital of the Kaqchikel Maya. The site includes pyramids and a ballcourt.
We then travel to Lake Atitlan, one of the most scenic places in the world, where we will catch a boat to Santiago Atitlan, a beautiful village on the lake.
Day 6: San Juan de La Laguna
We will visit the traditional communities that live on Lake Atitlan’s shores, each with distinct languages, costumes and cultures.
The day includes visits to the workshop of local painters and trying our hand at creating our own piece of art!
We will also spend time with Ixoq Ajkeem (women weavers) learning how the women use natural dyes to make their beautiful textiles, how the back strap loom is used and how they make medicines out of the local plants. We will eat a
traditional meal of the area with the women.
Day 7: Chichicastenango
We will visit the famous market of Chichicástenango, the centre of K’iche’ Maya culture and also Santo Tomas Church, where both Maya and Catholic rituals are blended together.
After some serious shopping we will visit the archaeological museum in Casa Santa Domingo, a wonderfully restored convent.
The day will finish with a visit to Cerro San Christobal, an organic farm and restaurant to watch sunset over dinner and drinks.
Day 8: Tikal
We will take a flight to the truly breathtaking ancient site of Tikal, right in the middle of the Guatemalan rainforest.
Tikal was one of the largest Maya cities, including great pyramid-temples over 50 metres high, palaces and stelae and is home to many howler and spider monkeys
and coati mundi (pisote).
The site is part of the one-million-hectare Maya Biosphere Reserve. Over 54 species of mammals and over 300 species of birds have been identified at Tikal including toucans and parrots.
Day 9: Tikal
If any Classic period city aspired to become the capital of the Maya world, it was Tikal.
The central part of the ancient city alone contains 3,000 buildings and covers about 16 square kilometres.
Estimates vary on its population but likely had approximately 90,000 inhabitants. Tikal was occupied for 1,500 years— from 600 B.C. to 900 A.D., and archaeologists know of at least 33 rulers.
We will hike through the jungle in the dark to see the great pyramids in the moonlight and then onto Temple IV, to see sunrise on top of the highest pyramid in Tikal (64 metres high).
We will then take a tour of the site. In the afternoon there will be time for further exploration, museum visits or relaxing by the hotel pool.
Day 10: Explorations in the Rainforest – Uaxactun
With my colleague Roxanda Ortiz, we will venture off the tourist trail and take you deeper into the rainforest, visiting the ancient site of Uaxactun, famous for its architectural complex that served as an astronomical observatory. Roxy is a naturalist and archaeologist and will tell you everything you want to know about the rainforest environment. You will also gain some insight into what it is to
Roxy is a naturalist and archaeologist and will tell you everything you want to know
about the rainforest environment. You will also gain some insight into what it is to
be an intrepid jungle explorer!
Afterwards, we will spend some time in Flores, a beautiful village on an island in Lake Peten Itza, the last place where the Maya succumbed to the Spanish in 1697.
We will then fly to Guatemala City, a sprawling metropolis that is the city’s commercial centre and main transport hub.
Day 11: Guatemala City
We will visit the extensive collection of ancient Maya artefacts and modern Maya textiles at Ixchel & Popul Vuh museums in Guatemala City.
We will fly out of Guatemala in the afternoon.
Day 12: London
We will arrive in the UK.
Price – £2050
The cost includes all accommodation, meals, transport, including internal flights, entry to all sites and museums, workshops and gratuities. Accommodation, meals and transport are all of a high standard. The only thing that is excluded is your flight from the UK to Guatemala City, which starts at £490.
This trip is non-profit, hence the price (tour operators quote £4,000 excluding flight), although you will be following a similar itinerary and staying in quality hotels.
Moreover, the people you meet will all be friends and colleagues of mine, so rest assured you are getting not just the best treatment and an expert to answer all your questions, but you will be able to meet people and visit places that tourists would not normally have access to.
Previous Teacher Trips to Guatemala
- 3rd April – 14th April, 2017
- 29th March – 8th April, 2016 (see the 2016 programme)
- 25th July – 3rd August 2012 (with the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, Tulane University – US teachers)
“What an incredible experience! This would not have been possible without Diane’s excellent knowledge and contacts regarding the Maya. I felt very privileged to visit these places and listen to truly inspiring and knowledgeable experts. If you are passionate about teaching the Ancient Maya, this trip is extremely worthwhile and will give you the subject knowledge and understanding required to truly inspire your pupils. Thank you Diane, you are absolutely amazing!”
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Primary School