Guatemala may be small, but it’s packed full of things for travellers to do. Here, we have selected some of them and presented them in a completely original and groundbreaking list-like format for you. Isn’t the internet great?
Climb a volcano
Guatemala is not short on seismic activity, and as a result the country’s landscape is littered with towering volcanic peaks, both of the dormant and active type.
The most accessible, and perhaps the most thrilling, is Pacaya, a couple of hours’ drive out of the tourist-hub of Antigua. Adventurers climb through volcanic rock on a quest to find real-life flowing lava. Depending on the conditions (remember, it is a volcano and is in a constant process of change), you may be lucky enough to come across a river-like rapid of glowing hot liquid gushing down the mountainside.
Be sure of foot though, as there are no protective fences between you and the lava. There are other more challenging climbs around Antigua, as well as Quetzaltenango (Xela) for the serious hiker. It is highly recommended to go along with a reputable tour company since danger abounds in various forms!
Stand atop an ancient Mayan temple
Tikal was once one of the most powerful Mayan cities, and much of its remnants have been restored for modern appreciation and learning. Deep in the El Peten jungle, its temple tops soar above the tallest of the trees.
The brave of heart are able to climb several of the crazy steep structures to look down upon the canopy, people, and, often, monkeys below. Awe-inspiring and educational at the same time, Tikal will blow the socks off everyone — from the most hardcore archaeology nerd to the most historically naïve.
Boat across Lago de Atitlan
Aldous Huxley had an unrelenting passion for this lake, and it’s easy to see why. With its deep blue waters surrounded by steep volcano slopes, and dotted with villages where traditional dress is still the norm, Atitlan is a breathtaking beauty.
Amazingly, many of the villages speak entirely different native languages even though it is possible to stand on the shore of one and peer across the waters to a neighbouring community on the other side. A particular highlight of Atitlan is in the village of Santiago, where an effigy of Maximon, a rum drinking, cigar smoking religious deity resides. Santiago also witnessed horrible atrocities during the violence of the 1980s and early 90s. Some evidence of the happenings can be seen in local art works. For the adventure-goers, seek out the cliffs near San Marcos for some extreme jumping possibilities!
Swim in the Green Pools of Semuc Champey
In the heart of Guatemala, not too far from the city of Coban, Semuc Champey is a series of refreshing green pools. A powerful river roars underground for a short section, perhaps 200 metres long, while above ground, some sort of geological phenomenon causes the pools to form.
They gently flow from one to the other in small steps with crystal clear, green water trickling down in harmonious bliss. You can get the adrenaline going again in a series of caves just down the way. They can be explored, with the help of a guide. Light your way with a candle as you climb through waterfalls and jump off cliffs into the dark.
There are a ridiculous amount of Spanish Schools in both Antigua and Quetzaltenango (often known as Xela). The fierce competition means that rates are some of the cheapest to be found in all Latin America.
For example, typical prices are less than half those offered in Mexico. Many schools will also offer homestay opportunities with their programs, so you can really immerse yourself.
Don’t bother too much about booking from home, you will able to bargain for a better price and find a school suited to your needs a lot more easy once you are on the ground. Be sure to shop around — quality and rates vary quite a bit.
Inspired? Explore Geckos Adventures awesome trips in Guatemala.