The Mayan ruins are the country’s main attractions and the most notable are El Mirador, perhaps the cradle of Mayan civilisation, and Tikal.
Guatemala has many volcanoes, many of which are over 3,000 metres high.
- Volcán de Pacaya (2500m) – this is an active volcano located about 30 minutes from Antigua. Some days it will not be accessible as the volcano may be too active to safely observe. Bring a jacket as it will be windy and cold at the top (although the ground is warm) and wear long trousers as the volcanic rock can easily cut you. Tour guides can be arranged from Antigua. Until the last eruption in late May 2010, it was possible to walk right up to the lava and barbecue hot dogs and marshmallows. Although the excursions are still common and travel agencies still advertise with photos of tourists who have done this in the past, it is no longer possible.
If you decide to go to Pacaya on your own, the prices are quite reasonable. About Q25 ($3) for entry to the park itself. At the entrance to Pacaya National Park, you need to take a local guide licensed by the park to take you to the top of the volcano. There are two separate entrances to the park, the first is in the town of El Cedro and the second in the town of San Francisco. The El Cedro route is an easier climb, about 2 hours up and 1 hour down to the volcano. The entrance to San Fracisco is a few kilometres past El Cedro. It is a slightly steeper climb. The whole park is patrolled by both local police and soldiers…. it’s pretty safe. The locals also offer to take you on horseback for about Q125 ($15), which is a great alternative if you don’t like hiking. They will offer them to you when you start the climb. There are also toilets and snacks/drinks available for purchase at both entrances. Secure parking is available for those arriving without a group.