At Origin

Applications Closed



At Origin

Not the program for you?

Go back to see other programs

  • Deconstruct the myths and realities of fair trade.
  • Cultivate coffee alongside local coffee farmers in Sacatepéquez and harvest honey with local beekeepers in San Juan La Laguna.
  • Meet revolutionary guerrillas-turned-reformers now fighting for food security and justice in San Lucas Tolimán.
  • Learn the traditional art of back-strap weaving from Indigenous Mayan women in Xela and San Juan la Laguna.
  • From climbing an active volcano to soaking in mineral hot springs and a volcanic lake, experience Guatemala’s astounding natural beauty up close and personal.

Program Dates


December 27 – January 3, 2017
Applications Closed!

Fees + Community Contribution 

$1,035 + $90
$1,155 + $100


Share this Program

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.

Location: Guatemala City, Antigua
Accommodation: Hostal Antigueño

We begin our journey in Antigua where the group will acclimatize to the sights, smells, sounds, and smiles of the region. We’ll explore the cobblestone streets of Central America’s historical colonial capital as we orient ourselves to the country’s cultural and geographic landscape. Get ready to experience modern Mayan culture and relish in its delectable delights!

Coffee & Culture
Location: Guatemala City, Antigua, San Miguel Escobar
Accommodation: Hostal Antigueño

We dive right into our exploration of the global food system as we head out to nearby San Miguel Escobar to explore the coffee chain from seed to shelf with De La Gente, a sustainable agricultural cooperative. We will join founding members Filiberto and Timoteo on the slopes of Volcán Agua where we will learn to pick, process, and roast our coffee. We will also join another farmer’s family for a culinary lesson in typical and traditional Guatemalan cuisine.

Market Justice
Location: Santa Anita
Accommodations: Homestay

After a brief journey north-west via chicken bus, our group will settle into the community of Santa Anita where we will work with a coffee and banana cooperative founded by former civil war combatants. We will get to know their stories and share our own, building solidarity in a way many travellers never have the chance to experience. To top it all off, our team will stay in the homes of local families, sharing meals and deepening connections.

Coffee Revolutions and Harvesting Honey
Location: Santa Anita, Colomba Costa Cuca
Accommodations: Homestay

While in Santa Anita we will also get our hands dirty in compost, and learn the art of bee keeping. We will collaborate on the construction of the community’s new beneficio, or mill, where their coffee will be washed, depulped, fermented, dried, and sorted.

A New Year Above the Clouds
Location: Zunil, Quetzaltenango
Accommodations: Fuentes Georginas

On New Year’s Eve, we will say farewell to Santa Anita and journey to the town of Zunil to begin an epic climb of Pica Zunil. From this collapsed volcanic dome, we will see the immense beauty of Guatemala’s highland plateau and the iconic summits that punctuate it. From there we’ll hike down through cloud, pine, and bamboo forests to Fuentes Georginas, a volcanic hot spring, where we’ll be hangin’ in bungalows and BBQing up a storm to ring in 2016!

Growing change
Location: Lago Atitlan
Accommodations: The Hub

We will conclude our exploration at Operation Groundswell’s place-based operations or Hub, located on the shores of beautiful Lago Atitlan. The Hub is a 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. It is also a site where OG can test and develop new ways to create positive impact alongside our participants and our local partners. We will use our time here to participate in a collective permaculture project and taste the fruits of our labour.

Location: Lago Atitlan
Accommodations: The Hub

After a whirlwind week, we’ll spend Day 8 resting our tired legs, refreshing in magical waters, and reflecting on our awesome adventure. We’ll have the chance to kayak on a volcanic lake or simply stroll along its waters. We will discuss lessons learned, assess our impact, and prepare for the journey home.

Location: Guatemala City

Finally on day 8, with hearts full of memories, we will return to Guatemala City where our group will say adios and adelante!

Scroll below for more program details

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! Be ready to share the wonderful simplicity of life in rural Guatemala.

Meet Our Regional Director

Christine Sanderson

Christine fell in love with Latin America’s cultures, landscapes, and language as a teenager living in Chile and couldn’t get enough. She continued her southern adventures working on an archeological dig in Peru and establishing a community library and youth music program in rural Nicaragua, before finally diving head first into the land of beans & corn tortillas (a.k.a. Guatemala).  Since then, she’s led two seasons of OG programs and after hiking in the highlands, experiencing fast-paced local transit, and becoming addicted to Guatemalan coffee, there’s no turning back!  She’s now living and working at the Hub full time as Guatemala’s Regional Director.  When she’s not in the office you can find her playing with the Hub dogs, Luna & Cappu, climbing another volcano, or out practicing her salsa moves.

If Not Now, Then When?

The world is changing. Help change it for the better.
Join the growing community of ethical travellers.