Delve deep into Mayan history in Guatemala and Honduras as you discover ancient ruins hidden within the depths of the jungle. Tour fascinating cities and bustling markets as well as relaxing on the shores of the stunning Lake Atitlan.
From colourful markets rich with culture to Mayan ruins set deep within the jungle, Guatemala is an awe-inspiring country full of unusual wildlife and brimming culture. Visit the highlights in this two week itinerary.
Squeezed between El Salvador, Honduras and Belize to the south and east, and Mexico to the north, Guatemala is the kaleidoscopic land that has it all: unsurpassed Mayan ceremonial city ruins, smouldering volcanoes, misty cloud forests, deep azure lakes, miles of caves, and spectacular landscapes. Defined by its illustrious history and exhilarating mix of colonial cities, traditional villages, colourful highland markets, and rich indigenous culture, a holiday here is Central America at its more diverse.
As the birthplace of the ancient Maya, Guatemala appeals to both history buffs eager to learn about the legacy of this civilization, and nature-lovers keen to explore a vibrant landscape.
Head to Antigua, the original capital, for a feast of colonial architecture. Although the earthquake in 1717 left most of the city's buildings in ruins, it still charms with cobbled streets and Moorish buildings. Marvel at the twin peaks of the Fuego (Fire) and Agua (Water) volcanoes, shop in colourful markets, and admire the yellow-and-white façade of La Merced church.
Take a tour to where serenity awaits in the Highlands, most fabulously at Lake Atitlan - one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and the deepest in Central America. Framed by three volcanoes - Tomilan, Atitlán and San Pedro - it is an idyllic spot for swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, diving, kayaking, and exploring the villages and towns that stud its shoreline.
For a cultural whirl, head to the mountaintop Mayan town of Chichicastenango, famed for its twice-weekly ‘Chichi Market’ - Guatemala's largest and most colourful indigenous market. Also trip-worthy is both Quetzaltenango (known as Xela) for its hot springs, colonial architecture and handicrafts, and Sololá for its markets that draw huge crowds of traditionally-dressed Mayans.
Located in El Petén in the north is Tikal, the ancient Mayan city buried deep in the jungle. This is one of Central America’s largest archaeological sites complete with around 3,000 Mayan ruins, palaces, temples, and more. Southeast from Tikal is the Mayan site of Yaxha, famous for its twin pyramid complexes, acropolises, plazas and structures.
Guatemala's off-the-beaten-track delights are limitless. Take the riverboat trip from Rio Dulce to Livingston to sail past thick jungle filled with monkeys, birds, and more. Equally compelling is Semuc Champey, a remote paradise deep in the jungle that is home to a huge natural limestone bridge and a series of beautiful stepped pools and waterfalls.
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