The Central American country of Guatemala, also known as the land of eternal spring due to it’s year round tropical weather conditions, is an immensely beautiful country fulled with ancient Mayan ruins, fantastic beaches, majestic volcanoes and tropical jungles.
The country is situated directly below Mexico and borders Central American countries such as Belize and Honduras to it’s east and south. The ancient Mayan culture and traditions is still evident here in Guatemala amongst the local inhabitants, even more so than any other place in Central America. The ancient Mayan people left behind countless of pyramids and temples and these are visited and explored by tourists from all around the world who travel here to see them in person. Guatemala has around 37 volcanoes, some of them still active, and no matter where you are in the country, there will always be a volcano visible, either right in front of you or somewhere in the distance. The beaches here in this beautiful Central American country rarely gets overcrowded like the ones do in the other more popular Central American destinations such as Mexico, Costa Rica and Belize. Add all of this up with the affordability and the friendliness of the local people and you will get an unforgettable Central American holiday destination that will be hard to beat. The local people of Guatemala mainly consists of a mixture of native Mayans and European ethnicities and they are separated into various tribes. The biggest of these tribes being the Quiche people. The main tourist attractions here will mainly revolve around the local holidays such as Semana Santa which gets celebrated in April. This usually involves people dressing in costumes and parading all along the cobble streets of Antigua. Another interesting thing about Semana Santa is that during this festival the streets get covered with sawdust in an attempt to make it perfectly level and then it gets covered with a layer of beautiful flowers.
Other interesting local festivals include Ascension Day of the Virgin and All Saint’s day. As with most other countries in Central America and Mexico, the local festivals and holidays are a mixture of native Indian and Spanish cultures. Guatemala stands out as being the largest sized country in all of Central America, excluding Mexico if you consider it to be part of Central America as opposed to North America, and has more to offer tourists than all of the other Central American countries combined (excluding Mexico of course). The country is still very small and can be seen in all of it’s glory during one vacation. And with it’s welcoming and friendly local people and breathtaking scenery, you might find yourself returning to Guatemala more than once to experience it all over again.
Visit the Mayan ruins: Out of all the places in Central America where the Mayans thrived, you will find that these ancient cultures built some of their largest and finest cities right here in Guatemala. Visiting some of these great ancient cities is a must for any tourist coming to Central America. These terrific ancient sites are all located in the least populated parts of Guatemala with most of them being in the jungles of the north. Tours to these great ancient sites can be arranged from Guatemalan cities such as El Mirador, Flores, Tikal and many others. Guatemala even has more Mayan ruins than any other country in Central America, even more so than the southern regions of Mexico as Mayan ruins only appear in the south of Mexico, unlike the other regions of Mexico which mainly has Aztec ruins.
Go on tours: Beautiful Mayan pyramids and temples are not the only places you can visit here in Guatemala as the country has loads more to offer those who are fortunate enough to come and visit here. Guatemala has a wide range of incredible volcanoes, interesting Mayan villages and one of a kind mountain lakes to visit. Tour operators that specialize in these types of excursions can be found in just about all of the major cities of Guatemala and the best part of these tour operators is that they are very reasonably priced.
Explore one of the volcanoes: Climbing volcanoes is a very popular activity for those who visit Guatemala. One of the most climbed volcanoes in all of Guatemala is the Pacaya volcano. What’s amazing about this volcano is that it reaches the height of just over 8000 feet and it is still active. Volcanoes such as these can be hiked by tourists themselves, however it is not advised for safety reasons, if you can, make use a tour guide wherever possible. The views from the top of these volcanoes, especially the Pacaya volcano is breathtaking and provides you with views of the ocean, villages and tropical jungles.
Visit Lake Atitlan: Lake Atitlan is regarded by many tourists as being one of the most beautiful natural destinations in all of Guatemala. Lake Atitlan can be found on a mountain at the height of about 5000 feet above the sea level and it is completely encircled by a group of active volcanoes. On the shores of this exquisite lake you will find Mayan villages and a town called Panajache, a tourist resort town where you can find a wide variety of hotels and restaurants.
Spend time on the beaches: Although Guatemala isn’t renowned for having some of the best beach destinations in Central America such as Costa Rica, Belize and Honduras, the country does have some wonderful beaches you can visit. An interesting feature about a lot of the beaches in Guatemala is that most of them has black sand, this is due to the volcanoes found along the shorelines of this unique Central American country.
As mentioned before, Guatemala has tropical weather all year round and this makes it a great destination to visit anytime of the year. The temperatures can vary as it is all dependent on where in the country you are at the time, for example if you are on the low laying regions you will be experiencing scorching hot weather, no matter the time of year. If you are in the higher regions then the temperatures could be somewhat cooler. It is important to note that the rainy season here usually starts sometime around the month of May and lasts all the way up until October. This shouldn’t deter you as the days are mostly sunny and hot with the tropical thunderstorms always arriving during the late afternoons and evenings. One drawback about the rainy season is that after an evening of heavy rain, the ground can be turned into a thick mud and this can often times make trips to the jungle either very unpleasant or impossible. The most popular times to visit would be between the months of December to March. If you do plan on coming here during this period then be sure to make your hotel reservations well in advance as it will be near impossible to find accommodation here on short notice.