Our ambassador Claudia La Roadtrippeuse shares the 5 places that have marked her the most during her trip to Guatemala.
My adventure in Guatemala began in the north of the country, in the small town of Flores. Capital of the department of Petén, it is the starting point of many excursions to Tikal, the most important Mayan archaeological site of the country.
Its airport makes it easy to access. I reached the touristy, but absolutely charming Flores from Guatemala City. It almost forms an island in the huge Lake Petén Itza and it is possible to reach several points of interest by boat from its shore.
I can finally relax ant take in the sun vitamin I needed in Flores colourful and dynamic streets. In April, I'm just in time to avoid heavy rains, as this season will begin very soon. It is close to 40° C; you have to be patient, but there are a lot of water activities available. There is nothing to complain about: beach, observatory and more.
The main reason for my visit to Flores: the archaeological site of Tikal, from the pre-Columbian Mayan civilization. Tikal is a site where you can admire monuments and temples built four century BC. Since 1955 it has become a national park and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
Pretty impressive, isn’t it?
Semuc Champey is so beautiful; it must absolutely be on your itinerary! The way to get there is winding and sometimes seems endless, but it is well worth it. I arrived in Lanquín, the host city of Semuc Champey, in the late afternoon, following a long day of bus transportation from Flores. Here, the scenery is miles away from Tikal.
It will take another hour in a pick-up box, through the jungle, to reach our accommodation. Isolated in the hollow of a dense and lush forest is finally revealed the fabulous natural site of Semuc Champey. It is only the next morning that I will have the chance to discover it. I opt for a turnkey package that will allow me to visit not only the azure pools, but also to make a trip to caves, accompanied by a local guide. This is the best decision I will make on my trip. I had a blast and it was a memorable day!
No one visits Guatemala without making a stop in the historic city of Antigua. I quickly fell under the spell of this city of a thousand colors and typical small houses. Surrounded by volcanoes, I learned a lot about the 1773 tragedy, when an earthquake destroyed most of the buildings of the time. Today, we trace the history by visiting the various preserved ruins and transformed into tourist places.
In Antigua, you have to fully experience the atmosphere of the parque centrale, climb to Cerro de la Cruz, taste the beers of the Antigua Brewery, stroll in the Mercado Central, pass under El Arco de Santa Catalina, not to mention the many museums, monuments and ruins. If you ever plan a trip to this location, I recommend at least two full days of sightseeing to get its pulse.
Lake Atitlan is also part of my favourites. It is a regular stop on a travel itinerary in Guatemala. After being there, we understand why it is unthinkable not to go there.
At Atitlan Lake, I got entirely immersed in the culture of the country. Here, washing is done in the lake, rubbing it on rocks. We move on foot or tuk-tuk, we eat patín and in the morning, we go to the street market. It's the difference between Western lifestyle and that of a population of a country like Guatemala and it is exactly this aspect of the trip that fascinates me: discovering the unknown.
My three days around Lake Atitlan lead me to see the impressive villages of San Pedro, San Juan and Santiago. On my second morning, I set out in the wee hours to climb Mount Indian Nose and admire the sunrise over the Mayan villages. This excursion is one of my most beautiful moments in Guatemala.
How to end a trip to Guatemala? Go on an adventure to the Acatenango Volcano! Everyone with whom I spoke about this madness confirmed to me that the feat was difficult, but feasible. We do not realize the effort it takes until we are on the scene. At least, that's what I understand as I complete this hike that will take me to the top of the Acatenango volcano. The ultimate goal is of course to observe the active Fuego volcano and to admire the lava explosions that occur there.
A simply magical experience that requires a fierce determination. A great accomplishment that fits well with the end of this wonderful journey in this Central American country.