Solar Power and Natural Building on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala


ATC Volunteer Solar Team, Santa Cruz, Guatemala


Come join The Appropriate Technology Collaborative for the experience of a lifetime. Our Volunteer trips  focus on installing solar power at schools, nutrition centers, community centers and medical clinics.  We also learn local natural building practices on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.  Recent participants report ATC volunteer work projects as “life changing” and “the best vacation we ever had”.  (Note:  we promise hard work but most people call it fun)  While most tourists never experience Guatemala up close you will work hand-in-hand with local talent and gain insight into an indigenous Latin American culture.  Many local ATC staff speak the local languages Kachiquel and K’iche’.

The personal rewards from the ATC Volunteer for a Sustainable Future experience, in the highlands of Guatemala working with indigenous Mayan people are incalculable. Your perspective on life and the world around you will be changed. We start you off with an historic walking tour of Antigua Guatemala, a World Heritage site and former capital of Latin America and end our trip with a tour of the ancient Mayan city Iximche.   If you are game for hard work, daily hikes in the mountains and making new friends, an ATC Volunteer trip is for you. Some ATC volunteers have repeated the trip – there is always something new to learn!  We suggest you contact us soon at: ATC Travel Volunteer Form 

The Program:

The ATC Volunteer experiences focus on installing Solar Power on community buildings, medical clinics or other public buildings, learning Natural Building techniques, and getting your hands dirty working Permaculture, an organic and sustainable way to grow food and other resources.

About Guatemala: 

Guatemala is located in Central America. It borders the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea located just south of Mexico. Guatemala is rich in natural beauty and travel opportunities; it’s a country that offers much to those willing to step off the beaten track for a little while.

Antigua Guatemala is often regarded as the traveler’s hub, a picture-perfect Central American town ringed by volcanoes. La Antigua is a great place to learn Guatemalan history or simply sip some coffee in a street-side cafe and watch the world go by.

Lake Atitlan (or Lago de Atitlán) where our project is located is another frequent stop on any visitor’s itinerary. Lake Atitlan is a volcano-rimmed lake considered by many world travelers to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Guatemala is small with an estimated population of 13 million. It hosts a tropical climate along the lower elevations and cooler weather in the mountains where our project is located. The country is full of rich indigenous culture and Spanish traditions. However, Guatemala also has a nearly 80 percent poverty rate.

Guatemala, like many countries in the Americas, has a problem with crime in some areas.  ATC follows the U.S. Embassy STEP program and we receive regular updates on what areas of the country are safe to travel in.  For Volunteer for a Sustainable Future trips we stay far away from troubled areas.  All ATC transportation to and from Lake Atitlan is with highly qualified professionals.  Once on the lake we travel by water taxi and sometimes to reach a job site we might ride in the back of a pickup truck.

Our Ride to the Tzanjomel Solar Project

Our Ride to the Tzanjomel Solar Project

Itinerary One and Two Weeks:

Day 1 – Greeted at the airport by ATC Guatemala staff, a shuttle to Antigua.

Day 2 – AM, Breakfast then a walking tour of Antigua with a local historian;   travel to Lake Atitlan; dinner at our Hostel / Hotel with families and ATC staff;

Days 3-7 – (Work days, Monday-Friday): Breakfast served at 8:00 AM before traveling by boat (or truck) to work sites; work from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. with lunch on-site; free time after work to clean up; supper served family style; time for team activities and learning about solar power.

Day 8 – For Those Departing after 1 Week –  Travel to Mayan Ruins at Iximche; travel to Antigua; free time; walking tour of the Antigua Market (optional) overnight in Antigua.

Day 9 - Final Day for 1 Week Trip - Departure day, ATC provides transportation to Guatemala City Airport.

Day 8 – For Two Week Trip - Travel to a Coffee Cooperative – Time Off – Possible Evening Dinner in San Pedro

Day 9- For Two Week Trip – Visit Panajachel, Use ATM, Visit Representatives of Mayan Power and Light

Day 10 – 13 Work on Solar and Natural Building Breakfast at 8:00 AM, same as days 3 – 8

Day 14 - Water Taxi to Panajachel, Visit Mayan Ruins of Iximche, Travel to Antigua

Day 15 - Day Off in Antigua, visit market, lunch at Arco Iris, Dinner at Pena de Sol Latino or Napoli

Day 16 -  Departure day, ATC provides transportation to Guatemala City Airport.

Note: Trip includes special events throughout the week, including cultural experiences visits to local NGOs, market tours, boat rides, etc..  All food and travel is covered in the Program Cost.  Beverages other than coffee or tea at breakfast and safe drinking water all day are not covered in the Program.


Volunteer Trip Travel Dates (One and Two Week Trips):

February 28, 2015,      March 14, 2015,          May 2, 2015,               August 1, 2015

February 27, 2016       March  (TBD)              May 1, 2016


Natural Building 2012 - 2013

Natural Building 2012 – 2013



Hotels / Hostels include double- or triple-occupancy rooms and are simple, clean and typically located near the project site. Guatemala’s climate can be hot during the day and cool at night. Hot water is provided but will probably not work 100% of the time.  Hotel rooms will be cleaned and maintained daily.  Lake Atitlan is at an altitude over 5,000 feet so mosquitoes are rare.  If you are staying in a Hostel room please check your valuables with ATC staff or the Hostel desk.

Program Cost – One Week: (airfare not included)

US $1,450.00  Based on Double Occupancy, Hotel Room

US $1,550.00 Based on Single Occupancy, Hotel Room

US $1,250.00  Based on staying in Hostel Dorm Room


Program Cost – Two Weeks: (airfare not included)

US $2,150.00  Based on Double Occupancy, Hotel Room

US $2,300.00 Based on Single Occupancy, Hotel Room

US $1,850.00  Based on staying in Hostel Dorm Room

La Iguana 2012 600

View of Lake Atitlan From La Iguana


Take the ATC World Design Challenge:

The Appropriate Technology Collaborative is challenging travel volunteers to make an even greater impact on poverty. We are asking all ATC teams to help us raise an additional $10,000 in the coming year to support ATC’s projects in Latin America. Take the challenge – ask for details on the trip or contact us – Volunteer Travel Information 


Team leaders:

John Barrie

John Barrie - Santa Cruz Solar 2012

John Barrie – Santa Cruz Solar 2012

John Barrie is the Executive Director of the Appropriate Technology Collaborative.  John is an Architect and Industrial Designer who noticed the lack of investment in improving technology for the majority of the world. John started ATC to re-direct research and development into Appropriate Technologies to improve the health and dignity of low-income people worldwide. John has also been an Adjunct Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan.


Monika Goforth

Monika Meeting Daycare Team

Monika Meeting Daycare Team 2014

Monika is a rural development worker specializing in community empowerment to grow strong and stable local economies.  Raised in Latin America and Asia, she is fluent in Spanish and English.  Monika joined ATC in 2013 and serves as the ATC Guatemala Program Manager with executive responsibility for all ATC Guatemala operations.  Before working with ATC,  Monika worked with Central American eco-communities, orphanages, and permaculture farms in food production and natural building.

Charlie Rendall

Charlie Rendall 2009 sq600

Charlie Rendall – Natural Building Tour

Charlie has been building houses and landscaping gardens in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala for eight years. He has become a recognized natural building expert specializing in Bamboo, Adobe and Bajareque and runs educational courses on natural building through his organization, Return to the Forest. Charlie also runs a non-profit, Meiker, a community tool library and building skills training. Originally from London, England, Charlie holds a Masters Degree in Social Anthropology, and has studied Buddhism, Yoga, business and social development in India. For several years he taught transferable skills development to postgraduates at University College London before meeting his wife and becoming technical director at her arts education project, La Cambalacha.


Find out more!

If you are interested in travel with ATC Contact: