Day 1: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Welcome to Guatemala. A Big Five’s representative will greet you at the airport and transfer to your hotel in Guatemala City. La Inmaculada Boutique Hotel
Day 2. Guatemala City
In the company of your specialist guide, you begin your day’s exploration of the nearly universal art form of graffiti. The area near the international airport at Juan Pablo II Boulevard features murals and sculptures by local Guatemalan artists. You also take in the Modern Art Museum, dedicated to the national art and artists. Your guide will take you through the exhibition which traces the origins of Guatemalan art in the 20th century. The exhibition is organized in a chronological order, with references to the various political and social periods. After the museum, visit an industrial area where graffiti artists create some of their amazing work, and watch a graffiti demonstration by a local artist. In Guatemala, graffiti can be dated back to the ancient time of the Mayan Civilization in Guatemala. Graffiti were incised into the stucco of interior walls, floors, and benches, in a wide variety of buildings, including pyramid-temples, residences, and storerooms. Graffiti have been recorded at over 50 Mayan sites, particularly clustered in the Guatemala Petén Basin. At Tikal, where a great quantity of graffiti has been recorded, the subject matter includes drawings of temples, people, deities, animals, banners, litters, and thrones.
This afternoon, enjoy lunch in the historic part of the city called “paseo de la sexta.” Here, your guide will take you to discover panoramic views of the most important monuments and buildings that have been inspired by graffiti, and to areas downtown. There are boutique art galleries and sculptures all along the walk down “Paseo de la sexta.” And later in the afternoon, you will head on to “Paseo Simeon Cañas” where you will find the 1905 Guatemala Relief Map – reportedly the only three-dimensional cement map in the world! Drawn almost perfectly to scale in relation to Guatemala’s original geography. The map is a reproduction of the country as it existed at the start of the 20th century. Francisco Vela designed the map to have 3D mountains, volcanoes, towns, rivers – one of which even has running water – roads and ports. Vela’s map has a complex level of detail that includes hundreds of smaller cities and pueblos and pinpoints exactly the country’s altitude, latitude and longitude, along with the accuracy of the model – 1:10,000 km horizontal and 1:2,000 vertical – is an impressive act of engineering. Visitors gain a bird’s-eye view of the map via two observation towers. Here, too, you will see a number of Guatemalan graffiti artists’ works. La Inmaculada Boutique Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 3. Guatemala City / Lake Atitlan
This morning, you drive to Lake Atitlan. On the road, stop at San Juan Camalapa, nestled among pine trees and cornfields just an hour and a half from Guatemala City. The town is famous for its 'naive' style artisans and was home to Andrés Curruchich (1891–1969), the first oil painter who was Kaqchikel, indigenous Maya peoples of the midwestern highlands. The painting tradition started in the 1930s when Curruchich started painting. His creativity gained him international success. This led him to teach new generations his form of painting. Today there are some 500 painters in San Juan Comalapa, the majority of whom still use Curruchiche’s techniques.
At the entrance of the town is a mural depicts its history. Here you have opportunities to not only visit local artists’ home-galleries but also see them at work. You will meet one of Comalapa's most noted artists and share a meal with him and his family in his home. After the tour, drive on to Lake Atitlan. Casa Palopo (B,L)
Day 4. Lake Atitlan - San Juan La Laguna – Lake Atitlan
Today, a boat ride takes you to the village of San Juan La Laguna. The paintings here are descriptive testimonies of the Tz'utujil daily life. Most of these local artists are self-taught without any formal training, which is why objects and people are presented on different levels and without symmetry. Local artists express themselves on the walls of their villages, businesses or even their own homes. Many of these indigenous cultures survive today and are great part of the Guatemala’s population. Your guide will take you to see some of the more than 30 murals throughout the town and visit more homes-cum-art galleries. After lunch, cruise back to the hotel to enjoy the spectacular sunset over the lake and drinks on the deck of your hotel. Casa Palopo. (B,L)
Day 5. Lake Atitlan / Antigua
This morning is at leisure to rest, or participate in one of the activities such as kayaking, zip lining or trekking around the lake. Later, you are go into Antigua for a walking tour of this enchanting colonial cities, and one of the best preserved in the Americas. Panza Verde Boutique Hotel (B)
Day 6. Antigua /Guatemala City / Bogota, Colombia
You transfer to the airport for your flight to Bogota, Colombia. Upon arrival in Bogota, please proceed through Immigration and Customs. After claiming your luggage, exit the Customs Hall where a representative from Big Five will be waiting to welcome you and transfer you to your hotel. Colombia continues to gain international fans through a cultural and artistic renaissance that continues to flourish. Nowhere is this more evident than in the street art adorning Bogotá’s walls, and which reveals the untrammeled creativity of the capital’s graffiti artists. Hotel Four Seasons Casa Medina (B)
Day 7: Bogota
Today discover Bogota’s city center with your specialist guide, who provides context as well as information about the city’s main sights and the engaging street art. More relaxed laws here including the declassification of graffiti from a crime to a mere violation have helped the capital city to become a vibrant gathering place for home-grown as well as world-renowned artists. Indeed, Colombia has embraced graffiti as the artistic expression of its people. Artists are often commissioned to create facades in an attempt by businesses to avoid mindless tagging, and advertising campaigns utilize the medium as a channel to reach their market. For the ‘grafiteros’ themselves, it is a chance to create powerful social commentary about the nation’s politics, to champion their heroes or simply to brighten the days of the people who have suffered at the hands of Colombia’s somewhat murky past.
Visit the best examples of walls in the city that have been appropriated by the city’s urban artists. The tour takes in streets with colorful, dynamic and often controversial paintings by renowned urban artists such as Toxicomano, Crisp, Pez, Lescivo, TOT, among others. Several of these artists are also making an international name for themselves in places like Miami. Recognized galleries carry out urban art exhibitions and promote their artists. You also explore the remarkable Gold Museum accompanied by a specialized guide to learn about the importance of gold to the early Colombian indigenous tribes. After this, you meet a local artist, who will teach how to create your own graffiti with different techniques. Hotel Four Seasons Casa Medina (B)
Day 8: Bogota
Today, head north towards Zipaquirá, traveling across the central region of the savanna, home to Colombia’s famous flower cultures as you see from the greenhouses along the road. Upon arrival at Zipaquirá, you encounter the impressive Salt Cathedral, a magnificent work of engineering. The name Zipaquirá evokes Zipa, chieftain of the Muiscas community and absolute master of the area’s rich salt mines. Begin in a tunnel that exhibits the 14 stations of the Way of the Cross that leads to the dome where you can observe an impressive cross sculpted in low relief. You finally arrive at the three naves of the cathedral joined by openings that represent the birth and death of Christ. The central nave houses the main altar with its 16-meter/52-foot cross, and the Creation of Man, a marble statue by the sculptor Carlos Enrique Rodríguez. Hotel Four Seasons Casa Medina (B)
Day 9 Bogota / Cartagena
After breakfast, transfer to Bogotá´s airport for the flight to Cartagena. The afternoon is at leisure for you to use as you wish. Tonight, you enjoy a horse carriage tour. Hotel Casa San Agustin (B)
Day 10: Cartagena
Start your day with stunning panoramic views of this ancient city, the sea and the port from La Popa Monastery and Church, which was constructed in 1606. Continue to San Felipe castle fortress on San Lázaro Hill, which was begun in 1536 to defend the city from pirate attacks. Explore the fortress and the castle, which is striking for its grand entrance and its complex maze of tunnels. It is the most formidable defensive complex of Spanish military architecture. Your next stop is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the inner Walled City of Cartagena. Take in the San Pedro Claver Convent and Church compound, dating from the mid-17th century. Inspect Las Murallas, the thick walls built to protect the city. Construction began towards the end of the 16th century, but took two centuries to complete due to repeated damage from both storms and pirates. Completed in 1796, only 25 years before the Spanish were expelled, the wall is an outstanding piece of military engineering and feature vaults and archways built used until late 1700s to store armaments and, in the 19th century as a prison. Today, the spaces serve as an artisan and craft center. After lunch, visit the city's Getsemani District, where your specialized graffiti guide will explain the art found on some of the ancient walls. Hotel Casa San Agustin (B)
Day 11: Cartagena
This morning, you head to the community of San Basilio de Palenque, about 60 kilometers/37 miles away. Enjoy the drive, about an hour, along the Vía de la Cordialidad. Recognized by UNESCO, the town’s name comes from the Palenques. In the colonial era of the 17th century, fugitive and escaped slaves formed communities such as San Basilio de Palenque. This community has survived with their practices, customs and traditions intact. They retain heavy African influences in their daily routines such as their Palenquera language, for example, which blends elements of Spanish with the Bantu dialects of Africa.
In Palenque, you have the opportunity to meet a family, who will talk about their way of life. Talk a stroll around the community to listen to tales of religious beliefs and customs and watch as the women demonstrate how to carry fruit in a head basket while walking. Hotel Casa San Agustin (B)
Day 12: Cartagena / Buenos Aires, Argentina
After breakfast, you are transferred to the airport to board your flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Upon arrival at Ezeiza International Airport, you clear customs and immigration, collect your bags and exit the airport, where a Big Five representative will be waiting to welcome you and escort you to your boutique hotel. HUB Porteño (B)
Day 13: Buenos Aires
This morning, you meet your guide, an archaeologist who specialized in history and urban development and has a special interest in cultural heritage and contemporary historic processes. Together, you explore Buenos Aires, which has recently become one of the most important world capitals where restriction-free graffiti and street art are flourishing. As one of the latest contemporary artistic expressions, graffiti is marginal and transgressive, ingenious and poetic. It is acknowledged as a form of free expression that is attracting both local and international artists. Although not a new phenomenon, its recent development in Buenos Aires has caught the attention of academics in areas such as arts, history and sociology. Street art and graffiti are well rooted in the culture of this city, where porteños express their ideas – political, social and even sentimental. You go off the typical tourist path to gain an overview of the city as a showcase for mural painting.
You explore works like those is the northern neighborhood of Colegiales, Villa Urquiza, Coghlan and Saavedra; see new works such as Patxi Mazzoni Alonso’s recent mural on the wall of a newspaper kiosk in Coghlan, done just a few days ago. Alfredo Segatori painted the Corazon Palpitante wall, and Alfredo Segatori created the Beating Heart mural – both created in Coghlan, Buenos Aires as part of a project sponsored by BA Street Art in 2015. Visit the Metro and Bicentenario Museum; and the Metro Station Federico Lacroze with murals by artists such as Animalito Land, Ice, Luxor y Oz Montania. Then, stop by the house of one of the most noted artists, Marino Santa Maria, to meet him and, if you like, even try your hand at painting with him. HUB Porteño (B)
Day 14: Buenos Aires – Pampas – Buenos Aires
Today, enjoy a full day exploring the Pampas, an immense plain that covers the central area surrounding the city, across almost 1,000 kilometers/621 miles. El Ombú de Areco is one of the historical estancias in the region and is located in San Antonio de Areco, birthplace of the famous gaucho tradition. The estancia´s name comes from the most representative tree of the pampas: the ombú, with its huge crown and ancient roots. The magnificent house was built in 1890 by General Pablo Ricchieri, who legend claims had his solid gold saddle buried there, although it has never been found! After arriving at the estancia, enjoy tasting the traditional empanadas for lunch along with asado with slices of tasty beef and ribs roasted slowly over a charcoal or wood fire, and a variety of salads. All paired with exquisite Argentine wines.
After lunch, you are welcomed to explore the grounds on foot or by horse-drawn carriage. You can also opt for a horseback ride. The gaucho riding style that has developed over the centuries has comfort as the main priority as they spent – and still do – many hours in the saddle. The very pace of the horse itself is gentle, with a particular easy loping canter which both horse and rider can keep up for hours if necessary. If you would rather relax and enjoy the peaceful environment, you can opt for a swim on one of two swimming pools, go for a bike ride, or play a game of ping-pong or pool. Traditional pastries and home-made cakes are served with tea before you head back to the city. HUB Porteño (B)
Day 15: Buenos Aires
You are in for a treat today with a private tango class taught by professional dancers. You learn the fundamentals of the traditional tango danced in the city’s milongas, Argentine tango dance halls. Later, you will go to a milonga where your guide will explain everything about the tango - the dance, the music, the history, and the milonga culture. By the end of the night you will have a firm grasp on the true Argentine tango, and understand why people become addicted to energetic dance. HUB Porteño (B)
Day 16: Buenos Aires / Depart
Transfer to the airport to board your flight back to the USA (B)
Land price, per person, double occupancy: From US$600 per person, per day - minimum 2 people.