OFFICE VOLUNTEERS WANTED!

Quite a bit of change has occurred over the past five months here at QuetzalTrekkers, and this is a call to all of you whom are missing QT, but want to be involved in a different way. Quetzaltrekkers is in search of office volunteers, 6-month minimum commitment, preferably to start training early – mid March to replace those of us that are leaving in early April.

**Please note that ex-guides will get priority:

Finance Manager:

  • In charge of all finances: all pre & post-trek finances for guides, weekly reports, deposits, balances, etc.
  • Detailed monthly reports: compiling all of that month’s finances into a detailed spread that includes notes of expenses, trip details, etc.
  • In close contact with EDELAC’s accountants and Guadalupe.
  • Making and communicating financial decisions to the group and accountants.
  • Back up-guide when needed on treks (knowledge or will to learn how to lead all one-day hikes strongly encouraged).
  • Emails

Proficient Spanish required (you must be able to communicate and have meetings with EDELAC about financial decisions, etc.), knowledge of Excel, good with maths, and a love for hiking, the outdoors, and helping the niños.

Communications Manager:

  • Contact person for all partners in Guatemala: this means building relationships with our partner Spanish schools, hostels, shuttle agency, ect.
  • Event organizing, such as planning our benefit parties, etc.
  • Volunteer coordinator: you’re the main point-of-contact for all new and/or potential guides before making their big decision to come to Guatemala and during their trial week for all questions they may have before joining this crazy bunch of hikers.
  • Social Media: keep all forms of QT social media updated with fun photos, news, and campaigns.
  • Marketing: spread the word of QT around Guatemala both via web and going to places to build relationships with potential new partners, creating flyers & marketing materials to leave around, etc. 
  • Back up-guide when needed on treks (knowledge or will to learn how to lead all one-day hikes strongly encouraged).
  • Emails

Proficient Spanish required (you need to be able to communicate with local businesses, etc. whom may only speak Spanish to build relationships, etc.); basic graphic design skills (photoshop, wordpress, etc.); enjoying being on the road for marketing purposes; and a love for hiking, the outdoors, and helping the niños.

Believe us when we say this is a lot more work than it seems: you may be in the office some evenings past midnight doing pre-trip finances for all hikes leaving that morning, having to attend 457 meetings to get simple things like T-shirts ordered, spend hours in meetings with accountants, and even have to take embarrassing photos of yourself to get people to donate money for new gear. At the end of the day, these new roles have proved to make the lives of our hiking guides a lot easier, has built a closer communication with EDELAC, and most importantly- allows us to find, create, and earn more money for those that need it most: our kids.

This is still all volunteer work, and although we don’t offer much, we think what we can give in addition to the satisfaction of helping over 150 local children get a deserved education is plenty. We’re able to offer the same thing we offer to all our guides:

– Stay in the Guidehouse for 200Q/month rent
– Breakfast and dinner in the office

If you want to apply or want more information: quetzaltrekkers.volunteer@gmail.com

There’s still plenty of time to sign up for our special, 7 day Dia de los Muertos version of our Nebaj to Todos Santos trek leaving on Thursday, 27 October 2016! And for those who would prefer, we will also be offering a 4 day version of this trek that will begin on 30 October where we will join right in with the rest at the festival. You can learn more or book for either of these two special treks here! The first 12 people to sign up for either version gets one of our awesome Day of the Dead t-shirts!!!

Witness the infamous Drunken Horse Race, cemetery rituals, along with the already interesting cultures of the Cuchumatanes region plus get a cool t-shirt you can show off to your friends!

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Not sure how to celebrate Day of the Dead in Central America? Why not hike with us! To coincide with the world famous festival that takes place the week of November 1st each year in Todos Santos, Quetzaltrekkers will be offering two variations on our (also world famous!) Nebaj to Todos Santos trek.

The first, an extended seven day hike, will leave Xela on Thursday, October 27th, taking in the stunning scenery between Nebaj and Todos Santos (our usual 6-day trek), before meeting up with the Festival trek group in La Ventoza (a tiny town just outside Todos Santos) on the 30th.

The Festival trek, for those of a less walking mindset, takes four days and leaves Xela on Sunday, October 30th. We head north to La Ventoza where we will meet up with The Full trek group. After a relaxing temascal (traditional Mayan Sauna), we all have dinner and get to know each other before hitting the hay. The next day, both groups will climb La Torre together (the highest non-volcanic peak in Central America), soak in the luxurious views of Guatemala, and descend into Todos Santos, where we get to witness the unique Día de los Muertos celebrations, returning to Xela on Wednesday the 2nd.

This is a unique opportunity to see Todos Santos and experience the Day of the Dead celebrations, all the while supporting the great work of EDELAC! This annual festival is celebrated October 31st to November 2nd, centering on All Saints’ Day – November 1st (“Todos Santos” translates to “all saints” in English). Festivities include traditional dances, marimba music, a fairground, worship in the local cemetery, and most widely known, the famous horse race. This can be a scene of true mayhem due to the riders’ penchant for drinking alcohol for days leading up to the races!

For any questions or more information, contact us by phone, e-mail or drop by the office (hopefully to sign up!).

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Quetzaltenango, also known by its Mayan name Xela (Shay-la), is the second largest city in Guatemala and one of it’s most rewarding travel destinations. Here are our top 10 things to do in and around the city. Enjoy!

1. Visit El Cementario General

El Cementerio - Xela

It might sound like a morbid suggestion, but Guatemala approaches their cemeteries with vibrance and beauty and the cemetery near El Calvario is no exception. Take an hour or two to wander through the aisles of brightly colored tombstones and family mausoleums.

2.  Dive into a bustling market

Mercado La Democracia

Do like the locals do and head to one of Xela’s markets to pick up fresh produce, electronics, toiletries, clothes or just about anything you might want to find. You have plenty of options to stroll through, with La Democracia, Minerva, Las Flores and Municipal all offering glimpses into Guatemalan daily life.

3. Climb a nearby volcano

Santiaguito erupting

Guatemala – the land of volcanoes! No visit to Xela is complete without climbing to the highest point in Central America (Volcán Tajumulco) or watching Santiaguito erupt from the top of Volcán Santa María. Quetzaltrekkers offers hikes to both – find out more here.

4. Eat delicious street food

Enjoying street food

Tostadas (fried corn tortillas topped with mixed vegetables), pupusas (thick corn tortillas usually stuffed with cheese and/or pork skin), elote (corn on the cob), chocobananos (frozen bananas coated in chocolate) and 3 for Q10 tacos (a QT favourite!) – Xela’s range of street food is as diverse as it is delicious. Take your pick from the many vendors set up around Parque Central.

5. Hunt for bargains at MegaPaca

MegaPaca Xela

Whether you’ve lost your luggage, didn’t pack enough for the chilly nights or just need some retail therapy, clothing giant MegaPaca has got you covered. Located next to the Minerva bus terminal, you could spend hours here browsing the second-hand goodies that get shipped in from the US.

6. Learn español

Spanish vocab

One of the main reasons travellers pass through Xela, the city is home to many affordable and high-quality schools where you can brush up your Spanish skills in no time. You can find a list of them here.

7. Volunteer your time

Xela and its surrounds are ripe with worthwhile volunteer opportunities. Check out EntreMundos for a comprehensive list of organisations in need, or learn more about getting involved with EDELAC, Hogar Hovde or Quetzaltrekkers.

8. Witness a Mayan ceremony from up high

Cerro Quemado

La Muela (The Molar), part of Cerro Quemado, is a volcanic dome field where many Guatemalans perform sacred worship rituals. It also offers some of the best rock climbing in the country, and it’s not uncommon to hear gospel singing and chanting echoing off the walls as you scale heights. Quetzaltrekkers offers 1 and 2 day climbing trips here; contact us for more information.

9. Eat delicious baked goods

The Bake Shop

If you’re here on Tuesday or Friday, a visit to The Bake Shop near Mercado de la Democracia is a must do. The donuts, pumpkin bread and cookies at this Mennonite-owned bakery will satisfy any sweet tooth. And for those other times, there’s always Xelapan.

10. Soak it up at Fuentes Georginas

Fuentes Georginas

Just a short chicken bus ride away is the town of Zunil, where you can catch a pickup to the natural thermal baths of Las Fuentes Georginas. Or for the ultimate day out, join us on our combo hike where you’ll climb up Volcán Santa María in the morning and relax your muscles in the hot springs in the afternoon. Bliss!

We love trekking with familiar faces, so as a little incentive to come hang out with us again, this month we’ll give you guys a free t-shirt when you sign up for a second hike with us.  

We’d love to see what exciting places you wear them in, so send some pictures our way or upload them to social media with #quetzaltrekkers. 

Happy trekking!

The Quetzaltrekkers

Big shout out to Steven Gerner for his donation of poles, batteries and head torches! YOU ARE AWESOME! IMG-20160627-WA0001

Another enormous shout out to Mrs.Baker for her donations to the Hogar Abierto, as stylishly modelled below! The hats, scarves, gloves and stationary are much appreciated and we are so grateful for your contribution! 

On that note, any gear donations or school supplies are always welcome! 🙂

Many of you may have heard about our unfortunate robbery last week. It was really sad and a big blow for Quetzaltrekkers BUT not to worry, having rallied the troops we are steaming on forward! Thank you for everyone’s support!

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Sunrise from Santa Maria

Our treks have been AMAZING this past week! The Santa Maria Full Moon trek was spectacular, the sunrise was described as “the most incredible thing I have seen so far in Guatemala!” (Courtney Unruh, Guide.) Tajumulco and Lago Atitlan treks have been really lucky with the weather, also witnessing the most breathtaking views! Check out our Facebook for anawesome video from the top of Tajumulco!

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Dinner with the kids!

Playing football with the kids this week was, as always, an embarrassment for the gringos, who unfortunately suck compared to these pro’s! However, it is always lovely to let off some steam and enjoy a break with the kids! We were also happy to host a fantastic meal here at the office, followed by plenty of dancing and music! For the guides, seeing the kids is always an incredible experience as we get to see first hand the difference our treks make. So thank you guys for choosing to trek with us!

After a wet couple of treks with lots of slipping and sliding, many verses of “Singing in the Rain” and “It’s Raining Men” being sung, and a road block due to local protests, we have recovered from tropical storm Colin happier and busier than ever! With a new influx of some really awesome guides, things couldn’t be better here in Xela! Our benefit party last Thursday at El Shamrock Pub was a blast – thank you everyone for coming out to play! The funds that we raise at these events send children from the Hogar Abierto to University, so thank you once again. We’ll be doing more fundraising at the Xela Pub Crawl this Thursday so please feel free to come grab your tickets here at our office (inside Casa Argentina hostel, Diagonal 12, Zone 1). Only Q20, and free shots along the way!

Don’t miss our incredible Full Moon Santa María hike, an unforgettable experience under the moon and stars – Monday, June 20th at 9pm!

Saludos!

More exciting news from Xelaju! Coming on the heels of our brand new website, we’ve got a brand new logo. A big thanks to Britney Arkin, who volunteered her time to create not only the logo you see above, but also the “QT Xela” icon that you can see below.

Feels like everything’s starting to come together on our website…we’re just ironing out the final glitches, pages that aren’t working 100%, and improving the pictures across the entire site. With each step it becomes more and more incredible to look back at where the website was only 2 months ago. It’s as if we skipped forward a decade in internet-years! Most importantly, the website seems to be doing it’s job of helping people book treks. We’ve seen higher rates of booking across the board and gotten feedback from many trekkers already telling us that they had a positive experience with our booking process. More deposits –> more trekkers –> more money for the kids.

All thanks to the work of two volunteers (along with Britney, Paddy Monahan designed the entire new QT website), who donated their time and talent for QT and the kids. This is what makes this place so magical!

Coming soon: new QT t-shirts, stickers, and patches. We’ll have our sexiest guide model some when they come in, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out more of Britney’s work at britneydesigns.com and let us know: what do you think about the new logos?

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Hiking Santa Maria volcano under the full moon light is an unforgettable experience and probably the highlight of any trip to Central America!

Towering over Xela, this perfect cone-shaped volcano can be climbed in about 4 hours. Leaving from the village of Llanos del Pinal after a short shuttle bus ride from our office, we start walking around midnight, and reach the summit long before sunrise to enjoy the lights of Xela and the changing colors of the sky.

From the top, as the sun comes up, we have spectacular views of the western highland volcanoes,  the city of Xela, Cerro Quemado, and a birds-eye view of Volán Santiaguito.

Santiaguito is one of the 3 active volcanoes of Guatemala, producing thundering explosions and sending impressive clouds of ash every 40 minutes!!!

This challenging hike is well worth the effort.

Join us in this incredible adventure!!!

Santiaguito eruption