Guatemala is a small exotic country in Central America located just below south-west Mexico and also bordering Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. It is has a diverse geography including 33 volcanoes, highland areas, cloud forest and rainforest. The country offers a unique cultural experience as well as access to some stunning scenery and the world’s most important Maya archaeology sites.
Guatemala has a unique culture with a large indigenous Maya population still living much as they have for hundreds of years and with many traditions & beliefs dating back to ancient times. There are 23 different Maya languages spoken in Guatemala and every village has its own distinctive textile using colors and symbols particular to their region.
Guatemala was conquered and ruled by the Spanish for over 200 years and you can still see the interesting mix of cultures that has emerged from the Spanish conquest and the materials and religions that they brought here.
The capital city is Guatemala City which is also the country’s main international airport and the main tourist areas centre around the Spanish colonial town of Antigua, Lake Atitlan, the market town of Chichicastenango and the rainforest area surrounding the town of Flores and the famous Maya Site of Tikal.
The beautiful colonial city of Antigua is located close to the capital making it an ideal first point of call. A dramatic setting in a valley with looming volcanoes adds to the atmosphere. Lake Atitlan lies in the central highlands, set in an enormous caldera and dominated by three volcanoes. It is one of the most enchanting places of natural beauty in the Americas.
Chichicastenango is a well known Indian market town and where Guatemalan handicrafts are renowned worldwide. This is one of the best places to see the intricate textiles and carved masks and test your haggling skills!
The Peten region is a vast, jungle-clad plateau in the north, where many of the impressive ancient cities and temples of the Mayans are now hidden amid the rich and diverse flora and fauna. Tikal is the most impressive Mayan site in Guatemala and perhaps in the whole Mayan world.
The tropical Caribbean coast contrasts greatly with the highlands and makes an ideal stopping off point as you head to the temples of the north. This once important port is now a backwater but retains its charm and a strong character.