This magical country in Central America is also the most populated and diverse. Guatemala once formed the core of the ancient Maya civilization, which extended across Mesoamerica. Today it is a geological treasure with stunning landscapes, artisans creating traditional wares that date back thousands of years and astounding archaeological sites. It’s alive, magical, mystical and ancestral.
The pyramids of Tikal are a tourist drawcard and so is visiting a Maya village in the highlands. There are also influences of the Spanish, with some of the best scattered around Antigua, the old capital.
While national parks are few, they are impressive. In the Petén region, there are the lush canyons of Río Dulce, or the deepest lake in Central America, Lago de Atitlán and the Cuchumatanes mountains. Below ground, the cave-riddled Verapaces is a labyrinthine marvel. At the fabulous turquoise-green pools of Semuc Champey, you can dip your toes in both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The adventure traveller is not left wanting with the stunning treks through forests to volcanoes, white-water rafting, caving and scuba diving. At Lake Atitlán, coffee connoisseurs won’t be disappointed with several plantation tours available.
Guatemala is very laid back, and many go here purely to rest, relax and unwind. There is a hammock almost everywhere. With distances between relatively short, you can easily visit a few destinations on a day trip.
Guatemalan handicrafts vary from region to region and include delicate stitching, beadwork and pottery. It is hard not to pick up a little something to take home. After dark, there are plenty of restaurants and bars to discover – and Central America nightlife always parties into the early hours.
Restaurants and bars range from classy to bohemian - some are more expensive and others affordable with a better atmosphere. The beers and cocktails are usually well-priced, the music often live, and the company a mix of friendly locals and fellow travellers.
Guatemala is known as the country of the eternal springs and enjoys a pleasant climate all-year-round. Almost right on the equator, it has only two seasons: The Wet and the Dry.
The Wet extends from May-October. The Dry, which is the busiest time to visit, is from November-April. Good deals can are available in the shoulder seasons.
On an average temperatures flutter around 22ºC. In one day, it could be 18ºC in the mountains and at the coast 25ºC. Pack for the activities you want to do.