There are plenty of reasons, why you should travel to wonderful ancient Guatemala! Some of them are:
- fairytale landscapes like not from this world and gorgeous nature
- strong Maya culture
- tremendous ancient Maya temples in lush jungle
- delicious dishes made of tortillas, beans, plantains, vegetables, eggs and tasty corn drinks
- ancient colonial cities
- active volcanoes
- great handicrafts
After you have read this articles, I´m sure your next journey will lead you there
Places to visit:
- Lago Atitlan
- Western highlands (Chichicastenango, Rabinal, Salamá,..)
- Lanquin and Semuc Champey
- El Remate, Flores
- Climbing volcanoes, e.g. Volcano Pacaya or Acatenango
- Wandering trough lush jungle to a natural wonder in Semuc Champey
- Visiting Maya ruins – the most impressive one is Tikal
- Exploring the ancient (and most beautiful city in Central America) Antigua
- Enjoying the tranquility and peace in El Remate by the Lago Petén Itzá
- Get to know the vibrant Maya culture and visiting the biggest handicraft market in Chichicastenango
- Driving along deadly roads in the western highlands
- Relax and eat good food in the small colonial city Flores
After I saw fantastic Antigua, I decided to continue to Lago Atitlan. There are shuttle buses and local “Chicken Busses”. The prices are not that different, but the adventure is definitely higher in a Chicken Bus 😉 The drive takes around 4-5 hours (depends on the traffic).
What can you do here?
- relax and eat
- climb up volcanoes
- rent a canoe
- explore nearby villages by boat
- make hiking day-trips
- enjoy the fantastic views of the lake and surroundings
There are several villages around Lago Atitlan. The most famous for travellers are Panajachel, San Pedro La Laguna, and San Juan La Laguna. The other ones can be for example easily visited by boat. I decided to get to San Pedro! Everything is already on a hight of about 1500 meters a.s.l.
I really liked this little village directly by the lake. It´s already very touristic, but still it has flair and tradition. I stayed in the hostel “Casa Elena” for 50 Q per room! My breakfasts I took usually in the restaurant “Nick´s”, which is directly at the dock – it´s huge and includes normally tortillas, eggs, beans, sauce, plantain, cheese fruits and coffee – and everything for between 20 and 28 Q.
The landscape is fantastic – the clear lake, the nature, the mountains and volcanoes around it!
Sunday is market day, and I decided to go for a walk around the village.
The next day I rented a canoe for around 3 $ per hour and got lost into tranquility, nature and indescribable beauty! That´s the feeling of life, and I never wanted to lose it…
Later I went for posting some postcards to the postoffice, and there I talked with a local woman who worked there. We were talking about Maya traditions, tourism and the culture there, and she told me, that about 5 years ago, the tourism started in San Pedro. Before that, the traditions and cultural things were more anchored in the society, but now many people are wearing western clothes, learning English (especially children are learning rather Spanish and English instead of their Maya language at school), using Smartphones, and so on. Maya cultures are more and more erased because of tourism and western influences! And I guess, it will unfortunately continue like that…
The next day, I decided to visit the village Santiago Atitlan, because the woman told me, that Maya traditions are still very alive there, and that they hardly speak Spanish with each other. Moreover, everybody still wears traditional clothes. So, I wanted to see that and headed there by local boat, while it was raining heavily My visit was very interesting – I went to the big village market, the main place and the church. But there is not so much to see there, don´t expect a lot of entertainment.. it´s rather the traditional flair, which you can feel!
Thanks for reading!
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