Look up the following words on Google: Guatemala safety traveling. You only found horrifying links right? Well, I do not agree with any of those. I just spent two weeks crossing Guatemala and I am truly in love with the beauty of Guatemalan people, nature and traditions.
Here are my 5 favorite things I did in this Mayan country.
1. Wandering in Antigua
Antigua, the name says enough; the old city. You can walk through town and find many colorful houses, local restaurants, street vendors, churches, traditional clothing worn by the Guatemalans and volcanoes in the nearby surroundings.
Antigua is great for a walk with your photo camera, but also interesting for more physical activities. The Pacaya volcano has a trail you can hike to get a good view and experience BBQ-ing marshmallows on petrified lava!
2. Visiting the Kam’Ba caves and Semuc Champey
Did you ever swim from one pool to another? Well perhaps you have… but I mean, natural pools? Semuc Champey is a natural miracle of Guatemala where you can swim, jump of bridges and enjoy the Kam’Ba caves.
The Kam’Ba caves are the real adventurous part for me. Swimming through a dark cave with a candlelight in your hand was one my best experiences in Guatemala which I recommend any adventure seeker to go for!
3. Learning about the Mayan history of Tikal
When visiting Flores a visit to Tikal is probably your reason of even going to this island. In case you did not know; yes, Flores is an island in Guatemala. Tikal offers a great Maya site, supposedly one of the biggest and most impressive of all.
I enjoyed my afternoon visit to Tikal with a guide who knew a lot about the things that happened here during the diggings for the ruins as his father was one of the workers.
4. Waiting for the sunrise at Lago Atitlán
Who enjoys waking up at 3am? Well I most certainly do not! However, this time it was highly worth it. I decided to join the sunrise tour with a Dutch friend of mine and we were both stunned by the view lake Atitlán offered us.
After a short but intense hike up the mountain we arrived at the viewpoint where the sun started to show us her colors while the coffee was boiling on the campfire the guide had made. Great for photos! A tour operator called Bigfoot or your hotel can help you out to organize this early start of the day at the Indian Nose of Atitlán.
The best part probably was the being able to see the volcanoes on the right and even one of them kept on erupting every 10 minutes!
5. Spotting local traditions at Chichicastenango
Enjoy walking around with your camera trying to capture the local lifestyle? I do! Chichicastenango was a dream come true for photography in Guatemala. Local people together with their local lifestyle and clothes at the typical market setting.
If you like to buy souvenirs it is also the place to go to.
One tip. Never pay more than half of what they ask you to pay while bargaining!
A simple ride from San Pedro de Laguna took me to Chichi, arriving in the afternoon, followed by a ride to Antigua after the market visit to continue my journey in Guatemala.