The small country of Guatemala marks the beginning, in the north, in the region known as Central America. With such a powerful neighbor Mexico, Guatemala has managed to highlight its attractions to become a little pearl of the region and each year attracts more tourists who are a little tired of the crowds.
Nature was generous to the country. Despite its small size it has mountains of over 4,000 meters and kilometers of Caribbean coastline and peaceful. Such contrasts have created a climate that fosters diversity that exist in Guatemala as diverse ecosystems such as mangrove wetlands Pacific or high mountain cloud forests.
Apart from the scenic beauty, also it has a large, both pre-Columbian cultural wealth as colonial, turning the country into a perfect destination for almost all types of travelers.
I was fortunate to cross it for a year and a half and, while not covering all (there are many things to see in Guatemala), left me eager to return. Here you have the itinerary of a two-week trip by Guatemala:
Guatemala City is a nice town and, at nightfall, seems dangerous. I drew a lot of attention to see inside the trucks carrying crates of soft drinks, an armed guard with a huge rifle guarding the goods.
The same happened in most of the shops in one of the most affluent areas of the city, which had the hotel (area 10).
Some of the buildings in the historic center (zones 1, 2 and 3) Guatemala City had to be rebuilt after the powerful earthquake of 1976. Take a tour of it and visit the Metropolitan Cathedral in the Plaza of the Constitution. There are other important churches such as San Francisco and gathering.
This department of Guatemala occupies just over 2% of the country but is one of its main economic engines. Its fertile lands of volcanic origin make it the garden of the country and also have a major liquor and textile industry.
But this is not what appeals to the traveler.
Start your route around the village of Almolonga. Madruga and stroll its fruit and vegetable market. Even the color of the merchandise on display can rival that of the clothing of women who buy and sell here.
Quetzaltenango has the highest percentage of indigenous people in Guatemala, making it the perfect place to immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of the country instead.
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Amid Columbian root is, however, the first Catholic church built in Central America. To visit you must go to Salcajá.
The chapel of the Conception was built in 1524 by Don Pedro de Alvarado, who baptized there in the first half-breed daughter, from his relationship with a Mexican Indian. It is baroque and its thick walls have withstood earthquakes whopping 3.
To relax a bit, I recommend you visit the hot springs of the Georgian sources. You can chat with many local tourists while you bathe in pools of volcanic waters.
If you are someone who loves nature and culture Lake Atitlan is to be found at the top of your list of things to do in Guatemala.
Populations of San Pedro, Santiago and San Juan have flourished on the banks of the country’s largest lake. More than 1,500 meters above the sea, there are many who live by fishing, but tourism has discovered this beautiful natural setting.
The majority quiche (one of Guatemala’s ethnic groups) works hard land surrounding San Juan produces beautiful textiles and garments.
The hippies took a while San Pedro and find bars with posters of happy hour where a few backpackers will be devoted to rest after climbing the San Pedro volcano 3020 high.
In Santiago, most of tzutujil, we met Grandfather Maximón, a kind of deity resulting syncretism between Maya and Christian religions. Believers are to pray to ask something specific and after a ceremony and economic offering, the Grandfather will do its utmost to ensure that the tormented desire is fulfilled.
If you want a little adrenaline, try the ziplines Chuiraxamoló ecological park in the town of Santa Clara. They have two cables, one 150 meters long and the other 400 meters (200 deep). Guatemalans flies over Lake Atitlan forests background.
Santiago de los Caballeros of Guatemala was the original name given by Charles V in the town of Antigua.
The architectural beauty of the city that was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Guatemala (comprising current Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica) is still evident today. For this he was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. Cobbled streets, houses, palaces and colonial churches, coats of arms on the doors, etc. In urban theme it is undoubtedly the jewel to do in Guatemala.
Today it is a vibrant city full of tourists and students of Spanish (he is one of the Central American cities with the highest density of schools that teach the language of Cervantes foreign students) where cafes, bars, restaurants, shops and markets always have life.
The only commercial success but this is that many Guatemalans living in Antigua, due to the exorbitant price increase in rents, have had to leave to live in the satellite towns.
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Tikal and Yaxha
Archaeologists have unearthed in the magnificent forest of Peten, part of the great Mayan imperial city of Tikal. Although some of its buildings date from the fourth century BC, the heyday of the city reach between 200 and 900 AD.
Temples, pyramids, stelae, houses, playgrounds, streets … Walk Tikal transports you to another world that ceased to exist many years ago but continues to amaze us. Under the mounds and trees still hiding many secrets waiting to be unearthed.
The appeal of Tikal and Yaxha (located 30 km southeast of Tikal), however, is not only architectural and historical. Both are invaded by the wild nature of Guatemalan forests. You can make your visit accompanied by spider monkeys, howler monkeys, foxes, rodents, birds and even the elusive jaguar.
Both towns maintain the mystery of not knowing what happened to them to be abandoned near the century X.
I was looking forward to visiting some beaches on both coasts, volcanoes and deepen more in the woods, but also in the daily life of the Guatemalan people. I am aware that it will need more time, but hope to return someday. Very big Guatemala!