What to See and Do in Guatemala
From the moment of arrival, you’ll notice the people of Guatemala have an obvious kindness about them. They would give you the shirts off their backs if you asked. Some people consider that a surprise, considering that Guatemala is only 21 years out of their civil war.
Antigua, Guatemala (not to be confused with Antigua, the island) a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a unique colonial town famous for its extremely well preserved Spanish Baroque influenced architecture. Surrounded by three awe inspiring volcanoes, Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. Fuego can be seen smoking daily, and on occasions late at night or very early morning, you could be treated to explosions complete with flowing red lava. Don’t worry her touch doesn’t extend to Antigua, just the magical views! If you aren’t content with exploring photogenic, ancient monastic ruins with Volcano Agua as a back drop, people watching in the Central Park while sipping on delicious Guatemalan coffee or eating in one of the many restaurants is fantastic! You could choose to climb Volcano Acatenango one of the more difficult climbs or an easier challenge, Volcano Pacaya, which rests closer to Guatemala City.
About two hours out of Antigua is Lake Atitlán. An absolutely stunning lake that received a pretty spectacular mention from the well-known author Aldous Huxley from his travel book ‘Beyond the Mexique Bay, “Lake Como, it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlán is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing.”
Over night on Lake Atitlán at least once in your life and be treated to the sleeping giants of Volcanoes San Pedro, Atitlán and Tolimán offering you an impressive wake up view.
An absolute must while in Guatemala is to ride through towering canyons encrusted in jungle, by boat. You’ll drink in the steamy atmosphere where Mayan temples sit surrounded by the howls of monkeys, chirps of toucans and the silence of days gone by. The departments of Izabal and Petén are a highlight for everyone from the adventurous to the faint of heart!
In Izabal let the warm air catch you as you speed down the Rio Dulce and into the canyon, which will lead you to the Caribbean culture of Livingston. Finish the day with a local dish of Tapado, which is a seafood explosion cooked in coconut milk, delicious and messy all at once. And don’t forget about the secret hot waterfall to relax and take consciousness away!
The department of Petén, which borders Mexico and Belize becomes more lush with dense jungle surrounding the archaeological site of Tikal. An early morning entry to the park ensures that you will be all alone in your exploration. Or will you? Spider monkeys, howler monkeys, jaguars, ocelots and toucans inhabit the sixteen square kilometres that includes approximately 3000 structures! We always recommend a local guide, lots of water and some good walking shoes. And of course your camera, just in case that shy jaguar does walk by!
We have only scratched the surface of this beautiful, diverse and culture rich country. You could easily spend weeks in Guatemala and still have more to explore. By joining our groups to Guatemala you are able to see all the highlights using your time most effectively.