Guatemala is a hidden gem of South America, and for many deserving reasons. This country is South of Mexico, and North of Honduras, bordered by the Pacific Ocean. Guatemala is highly populated with Mayan culture and artifacts, which is intriguing to visitors and prideful for locals.
Who Were the Mayans?
The Mayan Empire is located in Guatemala, and lasted over 3,000 years. The Mayans thrived in developments when it came to agriculture, hieroglyph writing, mathematics, calendar-creating, pottery, and other forms of art.
Why You Should Travel to Guatemala
Guatemala is filled with enriching landmarks and geographic beauty, including historical points, volcanoes, trails, lakes, jungles, and more. Guatemala is extremely diverse and blends together populated city life with rural, desolate landscapes. Guatemala consists of some of the most stunning mountains in South America, combined with active volcanoes and beaches. Towns, villages, and cities are all centered in Guatemala as well, in which locals work and reside.
Given that Antigua was previously Guatemala’s capital, the city is filled with intriguing architecture, glittering churches, museums, Mayan markets and shops. Antigua is a perfect way to build the foundation for your trip to Guatemala. There are ample activities and stopping points in Antigua that are both entertaining and price-friendly.
Volcanoes are a main attraction in Guatemala, similarly to other South American countries. Volcano trekking can be an invigorating and physically taxing experience, or a rather relaxing one depending on where and how you do it.
At the Mexico/Guatemala border, Volcan Tacana stands tall at just over 4,000 meters. It also resides in a rather remote part of Guatemala as well, so visitors have the chance to do some other nature-esque sightseeing. Given the extreme height of Volcan Tacana, this hike is more appropriate for those who are on the more experienced side, especially to tackle the entire route’s length.
By far the most challenging of the treks is Acatenango, which stands above 13,000 feet. In addition to the intimidating height, visitors travel through four different ecosystems: farmland, cloud forest, high alpine forest, and volcanic zone. Along the way are a plethora of nature filled picture-worthy views, in addition to physical exertion that you’re guaranteed to feel for days following the trip.
Santa Maria glows over the city of Xela, and has historically erupted between the years of 1902 and 1929. A lava dome placed on Santa Maria’s side frequently erupts, making this volcano one of the more moderately safe ones. At the peak, enjoy views of Santiaguito, and Guatemala’s diverse landscape.
Xela may be Guatemala’s second largest city, but there are no luxury hotels and resorts to be found here. On the flip side, Xela is packed with some of the most famous volcanoes and lakes in Guatemala, as well as fresh food markets, and even the biggest outdoor market in Central America. Xela is also a great way to experience Central America’s savory cuisine, at one of the many local restaurants.
Hot Springs at Fuentes Georginas
The Hot Springs at Fuentes Georginas are a must-see of Guatemala. These natural hot springs radiate a tranquil, earthly vibe, perfect for morning and evening activity. Hot Springs at Fuentes Georginas are cornered by the most lavish mountains, so guests can take in the gorgeous scenery while hanging out in the water.
Mayan Ruins of Tikal
Tikal is an amazing place to experience the most famous torn cities of the Classic Period of the Maya. Located north of Peten, Tikal is the largest of the Maya cities. The Mayan Ruins of Tikal are also set in a high canopy jungle, encircled by thousands of buildings, temples, and forestry landscape. Some temples housed by Tikal include The Temple of the Great Jaguar, Temple of the Mask, and Temple of the Double Headed Serpent. Each temple has its own unique history and set of characteristics, which is part of the reason the Mayan Ruins are so popular for tourists.
Also known as the “lost city of the Maya”, El Mirador has now been taken over by a jungle. At one time in history, El Mirador was the largest city in Mayan civilization, and one of the largest pyramids in the world resides here. Traveling to El Mirador is on the more adventurous, risky side, as it requires an overland trek of up to three days, through layers of jungle to reach the old city.
Other historical landmarks and ruins that are well-known to Guatemala include Yaxha, Iximche, Quirigua, and Nakum. Visiting these cultural centers can make you feel as if you’re being transported to a different world and period of time.