14th August 2019
Guatemala is one of the most unique and beautiful destinations to explore in Latin America. One day you could be trekking up the side of a volcano, the next you could be ziplining through misty clouds over a jungle canopy, or learning about coffee production in a remote highland town.
Whether you stay for seven days or two weeks, there are numerous historical, cultural and action-based activities on offer to get to know this mesmerising country a whole lot better. If you’re planning a trip to Guatemala here are some highlights to include in your itinerary.
Nestled in the protective surrounds of the Tikal National Park, in an area of 16 square kilometres, Tikal showcases more than 3,000 structures.
The Mayans existed in Guatemala from 250 to 900 AD and the ruins of this once mighty civilisation can still be evidenced by its collection of impressive city-states dotted across the landscape. Tikal in the rainforest of Petén, northern Guatemala, is considered the most important of all the ancient Mayan complexes.
Enjoy a private guided tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site to see iconic towering stepped temples, the highest of which is 212 feet, along with a dizzying number of crumbling but impressive pyramids, ancient plazas, and acropoli. Round off the visit with a thrilling zipline tour over the treetops immersed in the sights and sounds of the jungle.
Visit the city of Antigua located in southern Guatemala.
Take a trip through the Spanish colonial era, existing from 1519 to 1821. Surrounded by volcanoes, this small city is the second former capital (the current capital is Guatemala City) and is known for its stunning examples of Spanish architecture.
Spend a morning or afternoon browsing the stalls of the market, or mercado, visiting Spanish arches or Baroque churches, hiking to a scenic lookout point Cerro de la Cruz “hill of the cross,” or visiting and sampling the wares of some of the country’s best chocolatiers. If you time your visit for Easter Lent and Holy Week, you’ll witness some of the most colorful religious celebrations in the Americas.
Chichicastenango, located in the western highlands of Guatemala, comes alive every Thursday and Sunday with its famous market, or mercado, erected in the narrow streets. This is where you can browse and buy a wide variety of beautifully handcrafted and homemade products; from handicrafts, food and flowers, to pottery, textiles and more.
Apart from buying a local souvenir of your trip, it’s a fascinating place to observe the indigenous Mayan K’iche dressed up in their multi-colored traditional outfits, gathering to sell their wares.
Guatemala is world-famous for its coffee production and the industry has been the backbone of the country for over 100 years.
If you love a good cup of coffee then you’ll want to include a visit to one of the community-run coffee farms in the central highlands where you can visit a working plantation. Meet the farmers and find out about the whole process from cherry to cup, including working conditions, farming methods, tasting, and production.
You will have the opportunity to try Guatemalan coffee throughout your trip particularly in towns such as Lanquin and Quetzaltenango. Guatemala City also has an expanding coffee shop scene where the local coffee is served by enthusiastic baristas.
With just 2% of the country urbanised, Guatemala’s rugged and fertile landscape offers some stunning trekking routes.
Tikal National Park and Yaxha National Park will satisfy your craving for all things jungle with day treks to mysterious Myan temples and evening excursions to spot the native nocturnal wildlife. In Yaxha you can climb to the top of a temple and watch the sunset over the rainforest canopy.
Hiking up the slopes of volcanoes is also a popular adventure activity. Many, like Pacaya volcano near Antigua, are active which lends a sense of excitement to the proceedings. For a gentler excursion, the stepped, turquoise pools and cascading waterfalls of Semuc Champey near Lanquín are one of Central America's most spectacular natural sights.
Here you can swim and take a short walk to a panoramic lookout site. Hang around until dusk and you’ll witness thousands of bats in a nightly mass exodus from the Lanquín Caves.
The UNESCO Site of Antigua boasts a number of excellent hotels. One of these is the charming El Convento, an award-winning luxury hotel with 26 suites. Each suite has an additional outdoor bath or bright balcony for private reflection.
La Inmaculada is a luxurious accommodation option when staying in Guatemala City and has each of its rooms named after types of coffee. Guests are invited to enjoy a coffee tasting with the in-house barista.
An undoubted highlight of a Guatemala trip is the chance to stay at the remote Chiminos Island Lodge. Situated 3 hours south of Tikal on the shores of the beautiful Petexbatun lagoon, it offers 5 bungalows nestled in the jungle with impressive lagoon views.
Combine nature with luxury by staying in a fully-equipped luxury glamping tent with a queen-size bed. Learn how to make traditional Guatemalan blue corn tortillas, chat around the campfire and enjoy views of active Fuego Volcano before heading off to your cozy bed.
Whether you’re into glamping by the side of a pristine lake or staying in a comfortable hotel, Guatemala can accommodate you. These Wild Frontiers tours provide all the highlights and accommodation mentioned above and give you the chance to experience this intriguing country on an intimate level. Check them out:
Contact Wild Frontiers to learn more about our tours for your world destination trips.