May
26

Guatemala Highlights & Tips.

I had planned to write several post about Guatemala, but I’m behind on my blog and am trying to catch up. I spent a little over 2 weeks in Guatemala and loved it. For now I just want to include all the highlights of my time there and give a few tips that may help you. Yes giving a “Hand Job… on a Chicken Bus” will forever be the highlight of Guatemala for me, but I did more than just that so here you have it.

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A shot of Antigua, Guatemala from above on "El Cerro de la Cruz". If you look closely you can see the volcano in the back.

ANTIGUA – When you arrive to Antigua you will see that it is a very cliché colonial city/town. To be honest I did not like it at all when I first got there… I thought wow this town is very clean cut and beautiful (I’ve grown to love gritty towns). After a few days I started exploring a bit more of it and it grew on me (now I love it). Upon arriving to my hostel I made friends with Pedro and Alice we travelled together through most of Guatemala & they are also a reason I have some amazing memories of this town and Guatemala.

  • TIP – Antigua is very touristy and everything everywhere is very expensive. I would recommend eating at the markets. Also some of the hostel are not that great we stayed at the Black Cat the first night and it was just horrible. We later took Globetrotter Girls advice and stayed at Yellow House and loved it.

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Pedro, Alice & Me climbing Volcano Pacaya. A bit sad it was such a cloudy day but the hike was still amazing and worth it.

VOLCANO PACAYA – After arriving to Antigua I had a million options of what Volcano to climb. I did research and climbing this volcano seemed like the best one to do. Even though it was a cloudy morning day I was not able to see much, but it is was still amazing. When you make it to the top it’s like you are on a different planet since it just recently erupted its left the top full of ash and lots of dry lava.

  • TIP – When you get to the volcano you will have the option to rent a horse for about $30 round trip or you can rent a stick for less than $1. I would highly recommend renting a stick it helps a million!!! Plus it makes for some amazing pictures.

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A shot of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala from one of the pick up trucks taking us around form town to town.

LAKE ATITLAN – I stayed in the town of San Marcos and to be honest their is not much you can do there, but seemed like the best choice compared to the other towns. Even though the towns are not that pretty Lake Atitlan is just amazing… the scenery is priceless.

  • TIP – Be sure to take the water taxi between San Marcos and Panajachel then from there take a minivan too Godinez from there take a pickup too San Lucas Toliman and then from there take another pickup to Santiago from Santiago take a water taxi to San Pedro and then from there back to San Marcos by water taxi. This entire trip will cost you less than $10 and can be done in one day. You will not regret it when you are on the pick ups you wil see some of the most amazing scenery ever.

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A shot of bargaining witht he ladies at the market in Chichicastenango!

CHICHICASTENANGO – Now this town is very authentic and one of the best places to see indigenous life! The town it self is not pretty at all, but its worth a visit for one of the biggest markets in Guatemala.

  • TIP – Actually spend the day there and be sure to do your shopping after 2pm closer to 4pm when they are putting everything up. They will try to sell you everything at way cheaper prices as they would rather sell something at a low price then have to pack it and carry it back up. Also be sure to check out the cemetery its so bright and colorful very pretty.

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Shot of the Central Park of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. I loved this city a lot, because it reminded me of Monterrey, Mexico. The Central Park is surrounded by amazing buildings/ It was nice to sit here and just people watch.

QUETZALTENANGO – I  loved this city a lot. It’s a huge city that I fell in love with immediately. It was nice clean but also had a gritty side to it. I also loved the fact that it looked and reminded me of Monterrey, Mexico (one of my favorite cities in the world). I also loved spelling this name out when I updated my Facebook or Twitter status.

  • TIP – Don’t use taxi’s you can get just about anywhere by using the collectivos. They charge Q1.25 (less than $0.20). You can take the collectivo from the bus terminal to the central park and from there walk to whatever hostel you are going to stay at since most are near it. I would also recommend to stay at Don Diego’s Hostel, it was great, clean and cheap.

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A shot of me tubing in Lago de Peten Itza

FLORES – There is not much to do in this town. It is a very cute tranquil island town. You will spend your days here swimming in the lake near the docks.

  • TIP – Stay at Hostel Los Amigos they let you borrow tubes to take to the lake for free. Also if you wanna save money be sure to eat at the central plaza you will amazing combos for less than $3.

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The world famous Tikal temple!

TIKAL – This is now the 3rd set Mayan of ruins I have seen. My 1st ones were the Copan Ruins and then the Palenque ruins. I must have to say so far these are the most impressive ones. The height and size of these temples is just ridiculous. I still can not fathom to think how they made some of these structures. It is also crazy to know that some of them were built 800B.C. (YES BEFORE CHRIST).

  • TIP – I normally read about the ruins and then go with out a guide to save some money. For this one though I decided to do it with a guide and I am glad I did. I learned so much more this way and also know I would have gotten lost in the jungle with out him.

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    So there you have it my highlights of Guatemala. What do you think? Have you been to Guatemala what are your highlights of this amazing country? Are you planning to go to Guatemala let me know if you have any questions I would be more than happy to answer them.

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    Comments

    1. I was wondering what kind of highlights this would be after your chicken bus adventure :P The view on the Lake Atitlan looks awesome, I could see myself just sitting there the whole day enjoying the view. I guess you had to practice a few times before you could pronounce Quetzaltenango :)
      Tijmen recently posted..Interview with Megan from OnMyWayRTW

      • Jaja I could see how the title could be a little drity but nope this is a regular post. Oh man I would have loved to just sit there and enjoy the view… too bad I did not do that though. Oh & yeah I sitll can’t say the name of that town and I am fluent in Spanish.
        Jaime recently posted..Hand Job… on a Chicken Bus!!!

    2. I’ve been to Guatemala just for a few mins because we landed there with a little plane to go to Copan ruinas, so I haven’t seen much (just the grass landing strip and a beautiful sunset + the “border” to Honduras: a falling apart wooden gate).
      All the tips looks great, especially the collectivos – I used this kind of transportation in Russia and Egypt and it’s fun and super cheap. :)
      Giulia recently posted..When you fall in love in Egypt and you’re a foreigner

      • Giulia you will def have to come back to Guatemala some day. It really is an amazing country with so much to do and see. I agree collectivos are freaking awesome and the best way to get around big cities for cheap.

    3. I will be able to take advantage of this blog much more than the last one, LOL. This was really informative and I will be using this as a reference for sure as I piece together my plans for early 2012. Thanks man!
      Scott recently posted..Traveling On Ice

      • Jaja yeah Im sure Scott this will be much more useful than my last post. I’m glad this will help & if you have any questions about Central America let me know. As for budgetting you have seen my daily budget right?

    4. Thanks for these awesome tips! I’m going to be in Guatemala in just over three weeks and I’m planning on hitting up pretty much everything you’ve mentioned :) You didn’t make it out to Semuc Champey?
      megan recently posted..Photo Friday- Sisowath Quay at dusk

      • Hey Megan let me know if you need any help with anything. Id be happy to answer any questions. As for Semuc Champey…nope I didnt make it out there this time around. Was short on time and it was out of the way. Ive heard nothing but amazing things about it though.

    5. mira las viejitas making you look tall! jajaja

    6. Glad you have some down time in there, some of those lakes/rivers look just plain awesome.
      Justin Hamlin recently posted..Foto Friday – May 27- 2011

    7. Oh, Guatemala! I lovelovelove Guatemala, it was the first country I ever visited and I just keep going back. Like you, I wasn’t really big on Antigua at first. It’s pretty and nice but so touristy. I haven’t spent much time there, though, and I intend to spend a while longer there when I return in January. Pana and Lake Atitlan are some of my favorite places in Guatemala….Panajachel fuels my shopping addiction and Lake Atitlan is just so beautiful. We took a boat across the San Juan the last time I was there and visited a coffee and weaving cooperative, which was really cool!

      I’ll be visiting Tikal, Quetzaltenango and possibly Flores when I head to Guatemala for a few months in January.
      Sky recently posted..Upcoming Adventure: Habitat for Humanity – Ghana

      • Jaime Davila says:

        I loved Guatemala, but loved Nicaragua even more. Everything you say about Guatemala though is so true…and yes Lake Atitlan I think is hands down one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. I love how it’s a million shades of blue. You will be going to many places I loved while I was there when you are there. Enjoy it & hope my tips helped ya a bit.

    8. We are trying to figure it out if the ChiChi market is worth the day trip or would it better spent in Xela or Lake Atiltan area? We have about three weeks to spend in Guatemala. All the books talk about it but we have been burned by that before.

      Keep up the great stories!

      • Jaime Davila says:

        Yes yes & YES!!! Adam it’s so worth it… I loved it. It’s one of the largest markets in all Central America… the colors the smells, the sights are all amazing. It’s crazy to see the whole market full swing during the day and then in the vening gets all taken apart and everyone puts everything on their heads and carries it all to their homes in the mountains. Also when you visit ChiChi be sure to visit the cemetery. It is just around the corner and is SO COLORFUL!!!

    9. Gautelma is a perfect destination to travel, If you want some thing new and adventures than must vist Gautelma. On my last vacation I was at Lake Atitlan and at Tikal with my family and I really enjoyed there.

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