Rights & Resistance

We’re building a community of “backpacktivists” that are socially, environmentally, and politically aware of their impact in the communities they travel to and live in. We work with our local partners on community-requested projects to uncover the intricacies of each place we go to.

Deep inside the original Banana Republic, a lush, fertile land conceals bitter fruit. We’ll trek through the majestic Cuchumatanes mountain range to hear personal accounts of Guatemala’s civil war. We’ll go off the grid to visit Rio Negro, home of the Maya Achi and site of the infamous massacre. And we’ll dive into the country’s tumultuous history in its capital city. Resistance abounds, and we’re about to embark on a journey to discover its many shapes, forms, and faces.

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15-DAY ↑

Fees + Community Contribution 

[currency_amount cad=”$1,990 CAD + $205 CAD NOW $1,490 CAD + $205 CAD” usd=”$1,910 USD + $195 USD NOW $1,440 USD + $195 USD”]

Program Dates

July 14 – 28, 2018

  • Explore the majestic Cuchumatanes mountain range on an epic three-day trek while hearing personal accounts of Guatemala’s civil war from the people most affected by it.
  • Go off the grid with a visit to the Rio Negro, home to the Maya Achi, the location of the controversial Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam and site of the infamous Rio Negro Massacres.
  • Dive into Guatemala’s tumultuous history while exploring the capital city on foot.
  • Learn how resistance can take on many forms while working on alternative agriculture projects on the shores of Lago Atitlan.
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Sample Itinerary

*This itinerary is based on our previous experience with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.

Orientation in Guatemala City

We will begin our adventure in Guatemala’s big and bustling capital of Guatemala City. Following arrivals at La Aurora International Airport, we’ll get acclimatized to the sights, smells, sounds, and smiles of the region. We’ll explore the city’s historical centre on foot, visiting the National Palace where 10,000 peaceful protesters recently forced the resignation (and arrest) of the President. We’ll also connect with Paulo from the organization HIJOS (Children of the Disappeared) to tour some of Guatemala’s politically charged street art while learning about the lingering trauma of Guatemala’s 36-year armed conflict.

Local Life in San Cristobal Verapaz

From the capital, our team will journey north into the region of Alta Verapaz, where we will settle in for the night with host families in the town of San Cristobal. We’ll enjoy home cooked meals, meet our friends at the Community Education Center of Pokomchí (CECEP), and visit a museum highlighting the history and culture of the Pokomchí Maya.

Living Resistance in Rio Negro

In the morning, we’ll catch a ride to the Rio Negro Valley, passing by the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam, a massive feat of engineering that was the catalyst for the tragic conflicts in the region. In the embattled community of Rio Negro, we’ll stay for four days listening, learning, and working alongside a courageous group of Maya Achi who have faced nearly 40 years of repression, culminating in the infamous Rio Negro Massacres of 1980-82 – still a living memory for many of the villagers.

Besides getting our hands dirty on a community-requested project, we’ll have the opportunity to hike to the community’s ceremonial altar and explore the beauty of the lower Cuchumatanes – the highest non-volcanic mountain range in all of Central America!

Trekking Through History from Nebaj to Todos Santos

From the Rio Negro, we’ll journey northwest to the Ixil Triangle and, at its apex, the quiet town of Nebaj. After a little orientation in one of Guatemala’s most war-affected regions, we’ll set off on a challenging but rewarding three-day trek across the majestic Cuchumatanes mountain chain to Todos Santos. Passing war memorials and sacred Mayan sites, we will see the woven textile and agricultural economies unique to the area and commune with some of the region’s most embattled communities and resilient peoples.

A New Era of Activism, Xela

After our epic trek, we’ll have a long travel day on micros and chicken buses. To break things up, we’ll make a quick pit stop in the indigenous metropolis of Xela (pronounced Shay-la) for lunch. We’ll see how activists are confronting continued challenges for local Mayan youth, starting with a visit with revolutionary-turned-reformer Willy at Café La RED KAT. He’ll treat us to a delicious meal and insightful chat about the “Guatemalan Dream” and how a change to the socio-economic order might be needed to bring about justice in Guatemala.

Growing Change, Lago Atitlan

As we wind our journey down, we head on to the mystical and enchanting shores of Lago Atitlan where we will stay with our friends at Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA) in San Lucas Tolimán, and learn about how they’re working to improve land and labor rights for Mayan campesinos throughout Guatemala.

We’ll also cross the lake by boat to visit OG’s Hub! The Hub is the physical embodiment of OG’s culture, philosophy, and mission. It is a place where solidarity is cultivated in and between people and local partners through conversations and collaborative projects. Here in San Juan, you’ll engage with the local Maya Tz’utujil community while learning how resistance can take on many forms, from confronting challenges with food security to preserving the local language and culture.

Finally, we’ll gather for disorientation – a staple of every OG program – where we’ll kick back to reflect, discuss lessons learned, assess our impact, and prepare for the journey home, before saying our goodbyes to the Hub and traveling back to CCDA for our last dinner as a group.


On our final day, with hearts full of memories, we will return to Guatemala City where our group will say adios and adelante!

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What’s Included?

A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region

Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day

All lodging and accommodations throughout the program

Three local meals a day

All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions

All group transportation on the ground

Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience

Support from OGHQ whenever you need it


This is not a vagabond’s adventure nor is it a five-star jetsetter’s cruise. We will be sleeping and eating as a team in hostels, homestays, and guesthouses that reflect a backpacker’s ethos. Grassroots travel and homestays will allow us to immerse in the local culture but living as Guatemalans do sometimes means living without some of the comforts to which we’re accustomed. Creepy crawlies are common while comfy beds can’t always be guaranteed – so come prepared! Though Western comforts should not be assumed, you can expect to better connect with locals and their culture.

Meet Our Regional Director

After running programs on three continents in as many summers, Bobby returned to his OG roots in Guatemala to manage the Hub as Regional Director. Throughout his travels he has found himself standing on top of an active volcano in Ecuador, watching the sun set across the Salt Flats of Bolivia, and working barefoot in the rice paddies of Cambodia. But nothing tops the smell of the pine forests back home in New England. When he’s not brainstorming new projects and animals to bring to the Hub, you’ll probably find him doing handstands.

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