Guatemala is a land of great natural beauty, marked by highland lakes, exotic wildlife and some of the highest volcanoes in Central America.The worlds biggest Mayan ruins Tikal is in Guatemala,Mayan civilization is also known as the world’s most ancient civilizations.Guatemala is the centre of the Mayan World.The knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, medicine, agriculture, and architecture was superior.The first evidence of human settlers in Guatemala goes back to at least 12,000 BC. There is evidence that may put this date as early as 18,000 BC, such as arrow heads found in various parts of the country.The indigenous culture in Guatemala is considered the strongest in Central America, particularly in the central and western highlands of Guatemala.
Ever since my school days I have been very much Intrested into the Mayan civilazation and continued to do so even when I grew up and I always belived that I was a Maya in my last birth.4 times I planned to Visit Guatemala and almost when I was done planning ,I had to cancel my trip for some reason.My first destination is no doubt Tikal and then the volcanos of Antigua and to visit the Mayan villages and yes Antigua is the best place to learn spanish. and thirdly the capital city of Guatemala is Guatemala city.If you ever plan to visit these places do try travelling to the mexican border and try to visit this small town called "Chiapas" where its beleived that few mayan villages are ever today alive and stay away from the mordern days people are very reserved.If you get lucky you get to share a meal with them.The mayan music,the culture everything is so unique and yes sometimes the music may even scare you.I have always wanted to understand ,what was the human sacrifce about that mayans followed so much as a religious practice.
Guatemala borders Honduras, El Salvador , Mexico and Belize.Guatemala is a mountainous country. Two mountain chains enter Guatemala from west to east, dividing the country into three major regions: the highlands, where the mountains are located; the Pacific coast, south of the mountains; and the Peten region, north of the mountains. Volcan Tajumulco is the highest mountain in the country and of all of Central America. Guatemala enjoys a rich biodiversity, with lakes, rivers, swamps, rainforests and mangrove areas all adding to the abudant flora and fauna.
Cities In Guatemala
In Guatemala City, be sure to check out the central market, the plaza, the cathedral and the palace.
Flores is a small island town. It is breathtaking and has some cool bars. It is also the jumping point to Tikal.
Antigua is a small colonial town just outside Guatemala City, which was once the Guatemalan capital. It is placed on the Unesco World Heritage List.
Quetzaltenango, also known as Xela, is a picturesque town attracting more long term travelers who are serious about learning Spanish in one of it's many language schools, or volunteering with one of the many NGOs based in the town. Quetzaltenango is also a great place to organize some fantastic volcano hikes.
Caribbean coastline of northern Guatemala, gateway to Belize by boat.
Caribbean coastline of northern Guatemala, west of Puerto Barrio,a beautiful tropical islands to relax and to be between the jungles and ocean.
Great market town
Twin lakeside town to Flores.
Buses taking you deeper into the Guatemalan Highlands.
A great hub to explore the magical Ixil region.
Tikal is a park that boasts the presence of Mayan temples, jaguars, monkeys and all sorts of small interesting creatures. The combination of these ancient Mayan temples with dense jungle and beautiful wildlife makes this one of the nicest Mayan sites anywhere in Central America.
Lakes and volcanoes
Lago Atitlan, framed by volcanoes and dubbed 'the most beautiful lake in the world', is a must. Semuc Champey is a spectacular staircase of turquoise pools suspended on a natural limestone bridge in the Alta Verapaz. Pacaya is the most accessible of three active volcanoes and has a geological museum and a geothermal generation plant.
The most famous is Tikal, where temples and pyramids rise out of tropical forest alive with birds and monkeys.
Guatemala boasts a variety of animals and birds in some of Central America's best preserved rain forests jaguar, ocelot, tapir, spider and howler monkeys, toucans, hummingbirds, parakeets and vultures, to name a few. Peten has the best of Guatemala's nature reserves. If you are after the elusive and majestic Quetzal (Guatemala's national bird) the cloud forests of Alta Verapaz are a good place to start.
Buy a huge range of Mayan textiles, crafts, hammocks, clothes, jewelry, home furnishings, ceramics and folk art in the highlands, local handicrafts and carved woodwork in El Remate in Peten, antiques and art in Antigua. The best markets are in Chichicastenango, Panajachel, Santiago, Antigua, Guatemala City.
Hiking, mountain biking or horse riding in the western highlands, best with a guide. Try deep sea fishing off the Pacific coast, kayaking or altitude diving in Lake Atitlan.
Being a true Catholic country, most villages and towns will be associated with a saint or two, and so will throw a large fiesta on the said saint's name day. When traveling around, it is worth while finding out what saint the town has adopted and on which day the name day falls.Mayan fiestas are usually full of colour, marimba music, dancing. Drinking has also become a large part of many fiestas and as the celebrations goes on.
That said, rivers, waterfalls and nature in general is much more beautiful during rainy season from May to October.