Travelers have loved Guate for decades. Long a favorite to ex-pats, students, backpackers, many hold it as a favorite memory, hoping to one day return. Like me, who studied Spanish there about 25 years ago, and have returned several times in recent years.
The international airport and highways are in excellent condition, making travel much easier. A mere 45 minutes after landing, you are in Antigua, the ancient capitol and a beautifully maintained colonial city, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Antigua looks like it did centuries ago, but now behind those lovely facades are restaurants, bars, handicraft markets, and hotels. It may be the boutique hotel capital of the world, with several for each taste and pocketbook.
The culture of the Guatemalan people is rich in history and tradition. To witness a celebration is almost indescribable, with ceremonies inspired by the ancient Mayans, by Christianity, or some combination of the two. Among the world’s most colorful is Semana Santa in Antigua. Holy Week traditions going back centuries are re-lived each year with alfombras, or carpets, made of colored wood shavings and flowers lining the streets. Processions of men in purple Roman robes and women all in black, parade through town along the carpets.
On any list of the world's most beautiful lakes is Lake Atitlan. It is surrounded by 3 volcanoes, and the climate is perfect and the views stunning. Twelve villages circle the lake can be visited by boat. Each has its own culture, traditions, and native costume.
Anyone interested in textiles will be thrilled by the costumes, each with an historical or geographic meaning; differing from one town or village to the next. Markets in Guatemala are cultural theater in action, and you must make time to visit. At Chichicastenango, the most well known, you can meet the artisans and bargain, as is commonly done, for home textiles, clothing, pottery, and crafts.
Active adventures in Guatemala include birding, trekking, bicycling, and volcano hikes. While you may not think of Guatemala as a culinary destination, we hope to change your mind on our Culinary Adventure. Visit markets, kitchens and coffee plantations and learn about local herbs, spices and roots, putting all to use in a cooking class! Our chef is well known in Antigua with a popular bistro. You needn't wait in line for a table; you can cook along with him in a private residence! And we support As Green as it Gets, a coffee coop, where you will learn how that coffee bean eventually ends up in your cup.
Tikal, perhaps the Maya world's best known city, lies in the Peten in the northern part of Guatemala. It is worth a day or a few to explore, and to take full advantage, we recommend staying at a jungle lodge on the grounds. There is nothing like waking to the morning chorus of tropical birds, and heading out to the ruins before the gates open for day visitors.
We are Guatemala Travel Specialists and look forward to helping you with your plans.