Guatemala

Volcanic and laid-back, Guatemala is filled with ancient ruins, lush rainforests, vibrant markets and pleasant beaches. An ideal destination for a Central American hiking adventure, it is a wildly exuberant land of Caribbean coastlines, picturesque colonial towns, towering mountains and fertile highlands.

Blanketed in coffee plantations, sugar cane and the remains of a magnificent Maya heritage, its rugged landscapes are scattered with pre-Columbian relics that can trace their origins back to the height of the Mayan civilisation and the Classic period of Mesoamerican culture.

Bordering Mexico and heavily influenced by both the Maya and, more recently, Spanish traditions, Guatemala’s rich cultural landscapes span centuries of religious and political influence that can be seen in the cobbled streets and Spanish-style buildings of colonial Antigua, as well as the jungle ruins of El Peten and Tikal. The jungles and surrounding volcanoes offer excellent hiking trails, as does the spectacular setting of Lake Atitlan in the highlands of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Amongst the central Quiche Mountains, the stucco-white town of Chichicastenango plays host to one of the region’s most famous markets every Thursday and Sunday, providing a unique and colourful insight into traditional K'iche' Maya culture and the daily life of modern Guatemala.

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Be sure to visit Tikal at sunrise or sunset to avoid the crowds and have the best chance of seeing wildlife.

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