Local Hope - Xela AID Partnerships for Self Reliance logo

Build Your Own Trip
(1-12 Rooms)

Thank you for your interest in creating a Custom Service Trip to Guatemala, including Local Hope's Xela AID Complex and Eco-Guest House@San Martín Chiquito in the highlands. This option is meant for an individual who (1) prefers their own schedule rather than our 2-week package "Volunteer in Guatemala!" (2) is arranging a Group Trip (registering multiple people as the "Group Leader"), or by an individual who is joining a Group Trip. If you are interested in our two-week package for individuals, check out our "Volunteer in Guatemala!" offering. Following are some of the features of our Build Your Own Trip. Once you decide to Register, please set aside 30 minutes to complete the form. Register Now, or Read On!


Who Are We?
Local Hope is a not-for-profit human development organization with more than 32 years of experience in creating profoundly enriching experiences for volunteers. It is top-rated by Great Nonprofits and has earned the Guidestar Platinum Seal for Transparency. 100% of your contributions fuel our Empowerment Programs.

How Can I Be of Service?
You are invited to lend a hand in any one or more of our Empowerment Programs. Your service will be a gift to a child, young adult, or senior as they benefit from your skills, personal care and attention. We’ll welcome you in, train you, and turn you loose to share the talents and caring you have to offer. Serve several days, a week or more!

What Programs Can I Join?
Become a member of our team in one or more of our programs empowering self-reliance! Choose from • Montessori Preschool • Study Center • Computer Lab • Special Needs • Medical, Dental or Optometry Clinic • Leadership Training • Adult Literacy • Senior Services • ESL or English Practice with Students/Staff • Sports, and others.

Ideas for Volunteering and Additional Travel

> Choose the right vehicle size for your group (up to 12 rooms)
> Choose from various itineraries, such as Guatemala City direct to San Martín Chiquito or elect to add destinations including Antigua and/or Lake Atitlán before or after your service experience.


> Luxury accommodations at our five-star Eco-Guest House (12 rooms)
> Breakfast is included with your overnight stay.
> Delicious lunch and dinner made fresh from local ingredients are also available

> Welcome to the Xela AID Complex and tour of each program
> Learn fascinating facts during a tour of our village
> Volunteer Immersion Monday-Friday, optional expertly curated cultural experiences on the weekends
> Visit a home and learn about the lives of our Mam-Maya friends
> Explore a local open-air market to buy food and learn a Mayan recipe
> Help prepare and serve hot, nutritious meals to hungry children
> Prepare and distribute water filters
> Serve in any of our Empowerment Programs, spanning our Montessori Preschool, Study Center, Special Needs Program, Seniors Program, Medical Clinic and more...

Pre-Trip - Already speak Spanish, but want to brush up? Consider a few lessons with one of our Practice Partners.


Your First Day
Arrive in the afternoon at Local Hope’s Xela AID complex and our comfortable, top-rated Eco-Guest House in the misty Guatemalan Highlands. You’ll meet our Volunteer Coordinator who will be your main contact during your stay, as well as staff who will make sure your adventure in service exceeds expectations. A delicious, three-course dinner will be available each night at 6 PM as an option. If you like, after dinner enjoy fellowship, and games in the Eco-Guest House Hearth Room, near reception, with a staff member who will be onsite throughout your stay.


Day 1 (enjoy a similar schedule each weekday)
7 AM – Wake up with our village on this walking tour that introduces you to the homes, livelihoods, foods, local plants, politics, and hopes and dreams of the people of this rural Mam-Maya highlands community! Here’s a peek at how the rest of your day could look:
8 AM - Enjoy a delicious breakfast
9 AM – Meet kids and staff as you peruse our Empowerment Programs
10 AM – Visit the home of one of our treasured Master Weavers and learn about her daily life (she’ll even teach you a new skill that might come in handy…)
NOON – Enjoy a delicious lunch prepared fresh for you
12:30  – The leader of our fair-trade weaving cooperative will present an informative presentation on the colors and symbols found in Mam-Maya designs, accompanied by a demonstration of the ancient art of backstrap weaving.
2-5 PM - Start your service work for a program you’ve pre-selected (we’re also very flexible if you want to try something else!) You’ll work side by side with our local staff and the Xela AID kids, adults and seniors in our programs.
6 PM – A delicious dinner is served nightly, and you’ll enjoy “Feel the Magic,” our video that will introduce you to the range of Empowerment Programs you’ll be able to participate in.

Open-Air Marketplace – Explore a market chock full of fresh foods, flowers and surprises as you shop for food you’ll cook.
Learn a Mayan Recipe – This authentic recipe is yours to take home, and also, to enjoy for lunch or dinner!
Serve Hungry Kids – Some kids come to school hungry, making it hard to learn. Join our cooks to prepare and serve hot nutritional drinks and meals!

• Deliver Pure Drinking Water – Prepare and deliver a water filter, providing 10 years of healthful water to a family in need.
• Fight Food Insecurity – Malnutrition is rampant in our region post-Covid so here’s how we help save lives. Pack life-saving food bags and distribute them to local seniors and others without enough food to eat!
Backstrap Weaving - Enjoy a lesson, and keep the loom!

Sacred Lake Chicabál – Love to hike? Then you’ll be thrilled with this half-day experience climbing to the rim of an ancient volcanic caldera and descending 600 steps into its placid crater lake! Shrines to the “naguals” dot the shoreline along with colorful flowers placed in reverence. Surrounded by lush, green forests, you’ll breathe in fresh, crisp air. Many visitors report feeling a profound connection to nature and ancient traditions.

Hot Baths at Las Georginas – More of a soaker than a hiker? Grab your bathing suit! Las Georginas offers a rejuvenating escape for our volunteers set amid lush forests. For the adventurous, hike with your guide down to less-visited pools to soak in the depth of a forest. Our volunteers report that they enjoy both the breathtaking views of the highlands getting to Las Goerginas, and the relaxing experience of the baths.

Colonial Quetzaltenango – If a semi-urban experience and architecture is more your thing, don’t miss this town, known locally as “Xela” (Sháy-la) (not pictured). You’ll visit Central Park, a vibrant hub of activity where locals stroll amid gardens, children play, and artisans showcase their crafts. The Park boasts the stunning Cathedral del Espíritu Santo, built in the 1600s. We’ll also visit the local cemetery with its colorful tombs, and visit the graves of several notables.

Magnificent Lake Atitlán and Panajachel – A guide will accompany you on this journey to see the twin volcanoes and breathtaking landscapes of Lake Atitlán, one of the most beautiful locations on earth. This excursion includes a trip by local launch to the colorful and photogenic village of San Juan, the last stronghold of natural dying of weaving materials. You’ll see demonstrations of this process, as well as chocolate making. After your adventure on the lake, stroll through the streets of Panajachel, Guatemala’s colorful marketplace, and grab a bite to eat locally. Included: Transportation, Guide, Lake Tour, Box Lunch (if desired, or eat locally)

At your last breakfast, our caring staff will meet you to say their goodbyes. See options at registration for transportation to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala City or other destinations.

You'll leave with memories to last a lifetime, and a standing invitation to come back soon to visit—and bring family and friends!

• Should you plan to spend the night in Guatemala City before you begin your service adventure, or on the night before your return home, we always recommend the
Barcelo Hotel in Guatemala City. They will pick you up from the airport free of charge until 11 PM, and provide you with a free shuttle back even for very early morning departures.

• You will choose the length of your stay, options, and travel to other destinations to determine the cost of your experience which others have consistently characterized as "an excellent value."  Details are available during registration.
• Note that a stay at our Eco-Guest House is $65 per night per room, with breakfast included for up to 2 people. There is a minimal charge for a third person.
100% of your contribution fuels our Empowerment Programs and may be fully tax deductible!


Questions? Give us a call.
(951) 733-2588

We look forward to welcoming you!