Guatemala was one of the three countries my friend Lena and I visited during our one month trip to Central America. After an amazing backpacking time in Mexico, it was hard to believe that it can get even better! I had no idea at that time what to expect of the country. Honestly, I didn't know much about it. I've only heard about the scary border between Mexico and Guatemala due to drug trafficking and that's it... In this blog post, I'll let you know, what places we managed to visit in the short time, encompassed by photos taken during our trip!
SEE ALSO: Top Things to See in Mexico
Already crossing the boarder was quite of an experience, I guess we were two scared girls at the time. We continued the road to Panajachel with a chicken bus - the one you see below, which was, let's say a funny thing! It was a cheap ride but the long hours, the heat and the crowds made us tired at the end... but we were young and ready to do it all! :)
BTW. Try the transport with a look a like chicken bus - it's a bit more retro and with a feeling of a train - it is called the CA Express. It has reliable WiFi, Power Outlets, Comfortable seats, and a bar onboard. The fridge in the bar, the WiFi, and the power outlets are powered by solar panels on the roof.
With its 11,142 inhabitans, Panajachel is a small picturesque town in Guatemala. The street with the name "Calle Santander" is a famous though-way for tourists. I remember buying some cute souvenirs in one of the stands here and going out for dinner in a cool restaurant. It's the place to be in Guatemala! Especially the area at the beach was fascinating with many boats waiting to take the locals and tourists to the other side of the Lake Atitlan.
With its tranquility, lake Atitlan was a great balm for the soul. One day we rented a kayak and rowed a little bit to get a feeling of the lake while drinking a cactus drink we got the other day. I also remember some nice evening talks with my friend Lena at the lakeside and a chilly swim in the sunset hours. If you have the chance, make lake Atitlan as one of your travel destinations.
What to Do and See at Lake Atitlan:
- Go kayaking
- Take a swim
- Order a drink at Buddha Bar
- Catch the sunset
- Meditate in one of its meditation centres
- Visit the thermal baths in San Pedro la Laguna
- Explore San Marcos
Antigua - a city which is still on my mind, in all these years, after all travelled destinations. With its 45k inhabitants it is a small city, known for its Spanish colonial buildings. As far as I remember, I really liked it's lively vibe, all the cafes and restaurants, fantastic food and cute parks. Why I probably liked it so much was because of the bohemian touch it comes with. Our hostel had an epic terrace with a few hammocks.
What to Do and See in Antigua:
- Santa Catalina Arch
- Saint Joseph Cathedral
- Parque Central
- Cerro de la Cruz
- Convento Santa Clara
- Antigua Market
- Organise a Tour to Volcano Pacaya
Make sure to check out the Spanish School, which offers internships, volunteering opportunities, Spanish and English teaching courses (TEFL/TESOL) in Guatemala!
The volcano Pacaya is an active volcano in Guatemala with its height of 2552 m. The last eruption took place in June 2015. Due to its activity it is a popular tourist attraction. From Guatemala City it is about 30 km by car. Climbing the volcano Pacaya was not as though as I imagined it to be. It was a 2-hour hike from the parking spot to which we were brought by one of the guides. Every minute that we spent on this volcano, was well worth it! The cherry on the top was the marshmallows we baked in the lawa.
Boat Trip at the Rio Dulce
At the end of the week we went on a boat trip at the Rio Dulce river. The nature was beautiful and the girls that managed those wooden boats at this early age were fascinating too!
If you are a big fan of the Caribbean, Livingstone will be your place. The reggae vibe comes in every corner. I really liked it. Livingstone was the last stop before we headed on to Belize. From the town we caught a boat to South of Belize. Quite an awesome way to cross the border.. :)
What to do and see in Livingstone:
- Hang out at Playa Blanca
- Do a boat tour
- Dance to reggae
Although we have spent only 1 week in total in this country, I have the feeling, I got the vibe of Guatemala. I still remember the good taste of their coffee, the delicious fruits, friendly locals, reggae music, and it's bohemian vibe. What I also won't forget how crazy humid it was while we were there. But still, Guatemala, hope to see you again, one day! :)
Have you travelled to Guatemala? What places did you visit? Please share it in the comment section below!