A personal journey

Hi! I’m Laura, Tourism Experience Manager at Pathways Guatemala Tours. Welcome! I’d like to introduce myself so you can understand the roots of this project. I’m Guatemalan and I love my country. I got my tour guide license since very young but prioritized my university career. Then I dedicated 10 years to work in some private museums in Guatemala City and as field research archaeologist in sites as El Mirador and other pre-Columbian minor sites in Petén, that’s when I learned to be outdoors and appreciate the natural resources that Guatemala owns. At the time I was doing Archaeology, but still keen towards tourism, I immediately embraced a job opportunity to teach matters of my specialty areas in several villages around the country, later I became a university professor, thus spending 13 years (and counting) in the educational sphere related to tourism and finding satisfaction doing it.

All these experiences together involved travelling, homestay, camping, trekking in the jungle, hiking volcanoes and naturally a lot of training and many other activities, but primarily it allowed me to build a true fellowship with the local families, young people, adults (mostly males as women didn’t get involved in tourism by the time, now it has changed a lot), community organizations and others. We’ve shared meals together, spent mornings and evenings laughing, and listened to each other life stories. I also lived myself the tourism experiences they offer, so I know exactly what Pathways Guatemala Tours brings to travellers. It all opened my eyes to everyday reality of rural and Mayan communities in Guatemala and I’ve just had to do something about it.

Tracing a pathway

I believe tourism can help improve people’s life, and so people became the heart of this project from the beginning. I started modeling the idea of a tour operator taking advantage of my knowledge of the community projects I’ve worked with and my understanding of their social dynamics but specially the issues caused by tourism. Then I founded Pathways Guatemala Tours in October 2019, it focuses on co-designing, developing and delivering quality community-based experiences in traditional and non-traditional destinations in Guatemala where culture and nature are enjoyable. Our aim is to reach out not only adventurous travellers but also those looking for a slow kind of travel and, of course, people travelling with a purpose.

Pathways Guatemala Tours is powered by a collective vision of tourism, it’s about linking travellers to communities and viceversa, in an effort to trace an innovative and a trustful path for both, travellers and our partner communities, through a modern and responsible approach of tourism management. The most important levels we work on are:

  • Business administration: our whole system relies on strict policies of fair trade and responsible tourism not only to reinforce social and environmental sustainability but to ensure its implementation in all stages of the operation and that they’re known and applied by everyone involved in the organization.
  • Experience designing and logistics: the experiences
  • Impact scaling and accountability: partnership would basically depend on the impact each of them has achieved and can scale, but also prioritizing those projects built by and for the communities, those promoting inclusion through participation and distribution of benefits (not only economical but other types) in a reliable way and those focused on the preservation of natural resources specially forests and water cycle, wildlife and even native seeds for food sovereignty.

Not trend, but philosophy

Heritage and living culture are also matters of concern to us as they go tightly hand in hand with all of our activities. So we’ve chosen to deliver experiences only in their more authentic context and meaning, respecting the deeply-rooted customs and traditions that embody ancient values resilient along +3,000 years of history of native societies, which later have been enriched with influences from Europe and other regions of the World. Acting this way avoids affecting their lifestyle but instead it contributes to the continuity of these legacies to the future generations of the communities that keep opening their homes to you and us trip after trip.

Nature is also part of our lives as Guatemalans, in nearby or remote places, it provides us of medicinal plants as an ancient but still lively tradition, good soil to grow many types of food and implement agroecological techniques, tropical and cloud forests that give refuge to wildlife, natural hideaways that keep millenary archaeological cities as secrets, retreats where you can renew your energy by hugging trees, hiking an active volcano or simply breathing fresh air, and sacred places to get lost in spirituality.

As traveller you will notice that we put in practice all that was mentioned before in the experiences you book with us because we have designed them to reflect our vision. Then you’ll find different ways to enjoy Guatemala while we accomplish our objective as an accountable business and you take part actively in it. We first put activities that allow you sharing with local people, and as second we mainly promote urban and rural walking to explore the destinations, if there’s need to we can use local transportation (chicken bus, tuk-tuk, bici-taxi, 4×4, canoe, etc.), it’ll make it funnier and bring you closer to Guatemala’s reality. 

Get in touch to know more and book now!