Guatemala is rich in natural beauty and travel opportunities. It is a country that offers so much for those who are willing to get off the beaten track for a while.
Antigua Guatemala is often referred to as a hub for travellers, a picture-perfect ruined city in Central America surrounded by volcanoes. From here you can hike up the Pacaya volcano, take a bus to the bustling market of Chichicastenango or simply sip a coffee in a sidewalk café and let the world go by.
Lake Atitlan (or Lago de Atitlán) is another frequent stop on any visitor’s itinerary. It is a lake surrounded by volcanoes, with many backpacker hostels and Mayan villages on its shores.
Flores, in the wild north of Guatemala, is a tourist-friendly island in the middle of Lake Petén Itzá. From there you can take a bus to Tikal, one of the best-preserved Mayan ruins in the world. Howler monkeys and dense jungle make visiting the ruins an adventure in itself.
- Semuc Champey, Lanquin, near Coban, Alta Verapaz. Semuc Champey is a cascade of turquoise limestone pools created by the river, which plunges for some time before emerging with a spectacular waterfall. It is worth going to Lanquin also for the beautiful lodges that have sprung up in this charming hilly landscape.
Rio Dulce The Rio Dulce is a majestic emerald green river wedged between Belize and Honduras and flowing into the Caribbean Sea. The Rio Dulce region consists of two towns on either side of one of Central America’s largest bridges, Fronteras and El Relleno. Rio Dulce is a haven for sailors and backpackers, with plenty to do and see. Finca Paraiso is a hot waterfall that feels like a spa day in the jungle; Castillo San Felipe de Lara is a historic fortress complex and an inexpensive way to spend the afternoon visiting the castle and swimming in Lake Izabal. The many species of birds and animals (including manatees) make Rio Dulce a great place for birdwatchers, animal lovers and fishing enthusiasts.