Colors of Guatemala- Mayan Culture, Landscapes, Birds, and more.  

Lake Atitlan and Antigua, Guatemala

January 31st to February 8, 2025

Aldous Huxley wrote in his travel book Beyond the Mexique Bay “Atitlán is (Lake) Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing.”

A Complete Photo Adventure and Retreat

This workshop will be based at the beautiful Lake Atitlán, in the Southwestern highlands of Guatemala. Lonely Planet calls it "the most beautiful lake in the world." It's a place where luscious forests and active volcanoes surround the lake. The lake is sacred to the indigenous Mayan communities that still live in villages along its shores.

When you think about Guatemala, you can't help but think about color.  There's the colors of the 400 species of birds that inhabit the highland forests around Lake Atitlán.  And in nearby villages where indigenous Mayan people wear handwoven  garments as they walk streets lined with colorful buildings and art. 

We will visit San Juan la Laguna, a preserved Mayan village where markets are filled with colorful crafts made by local artists, and weavers. Trips to Panajachel, Santa Cruz la Laguna, and Santiago la Laguna offer photo opportunities to practice street photography and portraits of the indigenous Mayan people and their culture.

We'll be staying in a luxury 3-story villa overlooking Lake Atitlán. Over the years, our hosts, the Fritchmans, have established themselves as part of the Guatemalan community. They are welcomed by the locals who open their homes, weaving circles, and coffee plantations for an intimate view of life in Guatemala. A local guide and translator will accompany us.

After getting many great photos along the lake and Mayan villages, we will complete the trip in colonial Antigua. The city was the capital of the Captaincy General of Guatemala from 1543 through 1773. The Baroque-influenced architecture and city design dating from that period still stands, some in crumbling ruins. Antigua was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. 

Please note: most photos on this page are courtesy of GuateMaya Tours.

Photo workshop opportunities include

  • Sunrises and sunsets along the forested shores and hills of Lake Atitlán.  
  • Photograph 5 preserved Mayan villages with markets, churches, businesses, cafes. See the handicrafts in Panajachel-- known for colorful textiles and a colonial church;  Santa Cruz la laguna's authentic local experience, San Pedro la Laguna, San Juan la Laguna's markets, and everyday life in Santiago where women still wash the family laundry in the lake. 
  • A day with Guatemala's top master birder, photographing the bird species including the quetzal, Guatemala's national bird, and other birds found nowhere else in the world --Bushy-crested Jay, Wine-throated Hummingbird, Pink-headed Warbler, and so many more. 
  • Photograph Women's Weavers Co-op presentation. Photograph a Chocolate Cacao factory presentation where we will see chocolate from bean to bar.
  • Tour and photograph a coffee plantation.
  • Shooting along the shore, hills and volcanoes (if erupting and safe) around Lake Atitlán
  • 2 dinners out experiencing the exciting night life in nearby villages (included in price)  
  • Night photography opportunities at the casa and along the lake.
  • Excursion to visit and photograph Iximché a Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican archaeological site in the western highlands of Guatemala.
  • 3 nights and 2 full days exploring colonial Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Pampering at Casa Valdres

  • Luxurious villa on gated, beautifully landscaped grounds with numerous trees, flowers and fruits.
  • View of the lake and volcanoes.
  • Daily Yoga/stretch classes catered to photographers - hips, shoulders, flow, yin, yoga Nidra, and deep rest meditation 
  • Evening workshops to cover the next day's subjects --birds, landscapes, street photography, travel photography
  • Swimming in the private infinity pool. 
  • SUP (stand up paddle boards provided) on the lake. 
  • Locally sourced meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), snacks and non-alcoholic beverages available to the group.
  • Chillin' on the docks, gazing or shooting the Mayan stars.  

What You Need to Know 

Who Should Come?

  • All level photographers- this is a workshop and will be paced as such. 
  • Anyone with curiosity and a sense of adventure and patience.
  • All cameras welcome-- from iPhones to DSLRs

Physical requirements

There will be walking on uneven streets, and moderate hiking required. 

This is not suitable for those with ADA needs.

For those with serious knee and back limitations, it can be difficult to disembark from the water taxis. 

What's Not included?

  • Airfare
  • Alcohol
  • Hotel lodging in Guatemala City (if needed before or after retreat begins).
  • Donations and tips to locals to photograph them.
  • Personal souvenirs
  • Covid-19 testing if required by US regulations. This will be scheduled into our plans if required. The cost is approximately $50-75 per person. At this time, this is NOT required.
  • Travel Insurance is highly recommended and not included in the price.  Travel Guard or IMGlobal are two good choices. 



$700 discount if paid in full before May 1  $5500

Companions are welcome for $3800 (regularly $4000)

Please email [email protected] if you only want to pay companion deposit now. 

Price Includes:

10 days/9 nights in Lake Atitlán and Antigua

Meals, double-occupancy lodging,

Van transportation from GUA to Lake Atitlán and from Antigua to Guatemala airport.

All Tuk-tuk carts, water taxis (lanchas)

Covers tips for the casa's staff and families.

Daily workshop instructions and photo review.

(Note: Companions will not receive instruction and are expected that they will not be taking photos. They are welcome to relax at the villa.)

All installments are non-refundable.  If there is a waiting list, we may be able to apply payments to future workshops. 

Please wait for your confirmation email before booking the flight. 

Have questions?  Happy to help...

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About Us

Barb Gonzàlez

Photographer - Leader - instructor

The photo workshop is led by Barb Gonzalez, who, after a lifetime of doing photography, worked for a dozen years as a travel photographer for Central Oregon and Pacific Northwest publications.  She brings her knowledge of travel, and street photography, and her expertise in landscape and birding photography.  

A longtime writer that is known for simplifying technology, Gonzalez  speaks at a level that meets each photographers needs as participants come away from her tours and workshops with new skills and knowledge to continue taking better photos.

Visit Barb's online gallery at

Stewart and Pejota (PJ) Fritchman

guatemaya tours-Casa Valdres Hosts

Our hosts Stewart and PJ Fritchman of GuateMaya Tours have been traveling for many years from Bend, Oregon to Guatemala. Stewart's warm hospitality and excellent cuisine choices surely are a reflection of Bellatazza, his popular coffee house in Bend.

PJ is a 500-hour yoga instructor with focused studies on Yoga Nidra, Energy Medicine, a Reiki Master, and a yogi since 1996. She has brought health and balance to her students throughout the USA and Guatemala.