Set in an impressive fertile valley and surrounded by giant volcanoes, Antigua is the best that Guatemala has to offer. The cobbled streets are lined with superb Spanish colonial architecture and give a feeling of travelling back in time.
The famous market of Chichicastenango is steeped in tradition and atmosphere. High quality handicrafts such as colourful masks and hand woven textiles line the stalls. Many rural people travel to town on market day and it is fascinating to see the unique blend of pagan and Catholic practices carried out on the steps of the churches.
Lake Atitlan is one of the most enchanting places of natural beauty in the Americas. It lies in an enormous caldera, dominated by three volcanoes and surrounded by numerous Mayan villages. Atitlan has long been a spiritual place for the locals, meaning ‘the place where the rainbow gets its colours’ in the Mayan language.
Livingston is Guatemala’s taste of the Caribbean with bright sunshine, rainforest and reggae beats. The road stops here, most places are only accessible by boat and life takes a more relaxed pace. With different people, food and scenery it feels like you are in another country!
Tikal is the most impressive city of the ancient Mayan world and an absolute must. It doesn’t get much better than this – an enormous site, encroached by tropical forest with steep pyramid temples that pierce the jungle canopy. Watching the sun set from temple 4 as you hear the booming roar of the Howler Monkeys is a magical experience.
Belmont House, 23 New Street, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 2BP