GUATEMALA The Heart of the Mayan World
A remarkably diverse country for nature and culture lovers, with an invaluable and incomparable history and archaeological wealth.
The epicenter of the incredible and fascinating Mayan culture (ancient & contemporary) and home of the mysterious and magical Mayan Biosphere Reserve, the second largest lung in America (after the Amazon) and where most of the Mayan sacred sites (not ruins) are lost in the dense jungle.
Whether you want to summit active volcanoes and roast marshmallows, hike between the indigenous Mayan villages of the highlands and have a cultural immersion, to explore and connect with the energy of the ancient sacred sites in the lowlands, or just relax in its wonderful beaches of the Pacific and Atlantic, you are definitely going to have an action-packed journey around these lands.
People come around here to learn about our roots and culture, its customs and traditions, in addition to exploring its natural and incomparable beauties
So get ready to discover the great Mayan mysteries and its great life secrets and lessons!
Next, a list (regardless its order) of its trendiest and hotspots destinations for you to plan your best vacation holiday travel package in Guatemala.
A World Heritage site and pueblo magico (a magical town), surrounded by mountains and the majestic volcan de Agua (Water Volcano), and without a doubt, the most visited site in Guatemala.
It was cataloged along with Mexico city and Cusco (Peru), as one of the new world’s three largest capitals (in its times of glory) of all Latin America. Nowadays it is the perfect mixture of the old colonial world with the modernity of today, and among its most touristic places stand out: its Plaza Mayor, the Cathedral and its ruins, Tanque la Union, the world famous Calle del Arco, the panoramic Cerro de la Cruz, various shops and craft markets, jade factories, coffee plantations, etc.
Antigua, the place you will always want to return to.
Entire indigenous Mayan original towns, the home of our living Mayan culture, and the perfect combination between natural wonders and ancestral customs and traditions.
Impressive mountainous landscapes full of crops, volcanoes, and our people and towns’ deepest roots.
Indeed one of our favorite sectors in the whole country where we have spent many years planting lots but lots of seeds germinating and growing.
And with this, we mean our social outreach to their different indigenous communities, initiatives, and community/social projects.
The most famous hike in Central America.
Having an altitude of 3976m (13,045ft) is the third highest point in the region, and together with its twin and active brother, the Fuego volcano (Volcan de Fuego) overlooks the historic and colonial town of Antigua.
At its summit, you can also see the Pacific Coast, the marvelous Lake Atitlan, and the chain of volcanoes that compose part of the ring of fire.
Wonderful micro-climates, unique vegetation, and scenery out of this world are what you can expect on your hike to the Acatenango volcano.
A must-see location when you visit Guatemala.
One of America’s most active volcanoes.
Having completed most of its growth around 20,000 years ago and leaving a plateau between him and his brother the Acatenango volcano, he is now the star of a magnificent show going on every day! Not only is it 3763m (12,346ft) high, but it also has constant eruptions, always creating one of the most incredible shows you are ever going to see in your entire life.
Its massive eruptions can be seen easily from Antigua and even from Guatemala city or Lake Atitlan when they get big, and for this same reason, it is impossible to get to the summit.
Exceptionally beautiful, highly demanding, and truly rewarding.
Cataloged as the most beautiful lake in the world.
Atitlan or “the water of our ancestors” is surrounded by three majestic and impressive volcanoes (known as its guardians): the San Pedro, Toliman, and Atitlan, and in addition it has two more volcanoes on its horizons (Acatenango and Fuego).
The lake was created after a massive volcano eruption that happened thousands of years ago being nowadays the Lake itself as the crater.
An ideal place to relax with its landscapes and immerse yourself in the Mayan culture, meditate and make endless active and holistic activities, highlighting the exploration of their indigenous towns, such as Panajachel, San Antonio & Santa Catarina Palopó, Santiago Atitlan & San Lucas Toliman, San Juan La Laguna, San Marcos and San Pedro La Laguna.
Aldous Huxley described Lake Atitlan as “too much of a good thing. It touches the limit of the permissibly picturesque”. And we know that you are going to love it too.
The Cenotes, or “Tzonot” in Maya language, means coves with water bodies created by underwater currents. Located just on the border with Mexico in Nenton municipality of Huehuetenango, it is one of the favorite locations for people who seek beautiful waters and amazing skies.
The Cenotes were of high importance for the Mayan civilization. They were seen as an entity that has a relationship with the cities. They collected and used water from them, and in return, they did Mayan ceremonies and offerings in their surroundings. The waters of the Cenotes are considered sacred for the Mayan community. Luckily for you and us, it’s allowed to swim in these pristine calm waters.
You are going pass by a spring that gives birth to Rio Lagartero, remarkable and worthy of a stop on the way over here. Our camp also has a natural spring where you can taste the most freshwater available.
Truly unique in Guatemala.
A unique natural formation in the Huehuetenango department, almost on Mexico’s border. There is not much information about it other than it has 200m depth and 170m width.
It’s hard and nearly impossible to access the bottom, however just a few people have been down. There are a lot of myths and stories about it, because of the same reason. Some people say an underwater river rocks the rock above it, creating a giant cavern that then collapses.
Now the remaining crater is filled with a thick forest on the bottom habited mainly by bees. You might even see some remains of old Mayan paint on the walls if you have a sharp eye. The hike to this place is beautiful and definitely is going to take your breath away once you see it!
As named by the local communities because of its healthy waters due to occasional high winds, Laguna Brava is one of the most beautiful and significant lagoons in Guatemala. It is considered the second-largest water supply in the country besides Lake Atitlan. Located on the Yuxquen village near Mexico’s border, it sits at one of Guatemala’s most furthermost points.
The nature surrounding this area is incredible, with waterfalls, caves, and cenotes. Crossing the lagoon through a magical journey in wooden boats guided by the local guides, you will discover the three cenotes at its other end.
Laguna Brava is the dream place of those who love nature and the great wonders that these remote places have to offer.
Actually the largest open-air market in the Mayan world.
The center for buying, selling, and exchanging for the different Mayan ethnic groups, and the place where you can find all kinds of agricultural products and diverse handicrafts, such as textiles, ceramic objects, wood carvings, etc.
In addition to the importance of the market, we also have to make an honorable mention of the singular Church of Santo Tomás (founded in 1540), with a mixture of Mayan spirituality, cosmovision and Catholicism, and whose utmost importance is to have been where the Mayan Bible, The Popol Vuh (or book of creation for the ancient Mayans) was found.
Our largest department with an invaluable and incomparable history and archaeological wealth. The real center for the lovers of expedition and adventure full of dense tropical forest, where our great civilization’s stories and legends were born.
Home of the mysterious, powerful and magical Mayan Biosphere Reserve (the second largest lung in America after the Amazon) and where the ancient Mayan headquarters were located.
Indeed one of our favorite sectors in the whole country where we have spent many years planting lots but lots of seeds germinating and growing. We mean our social outreach to their different indigenous communities, initiatives, community/social projects, and the jungle’s preservation.
The first archaeological site in the world to be listed as both Cultural and Natural Heritage of Humanity and along with Chichen Itza the most well-known and essential of the whole Mayan world.
A sacred place full of magic and mysticism, whose history begins around 2000 years BC, and nowadays archaeologists are still working around here, finding more evidence of the ancient Mayans day by day.
Tikal means “the city of the voices” its located in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve and it has a Plaza Mayor, Central Acropolis, many temples, palaces, administrative centers, markets, steam baths, ball games, rooms, water reservoirs, etc. and mostly its covered by the dense jungle.
Outstanding out for your visit (although we could spend days and days exploring the site), the Great Jaguar Temple an icon for the country and for the world, Temple II or the Masks, III or the Great Priest, IV or the double-headed snake, the Lost World, Palace of the Windows, and Complex Q.
A magnificent city of the Mayan elite compared in beauty and magnitude with Tikal plus the magic of being in the surroundings of the Laguna de Yaxha (blue water or green water), where there’s a small island with another Mayan sacred site called Topoxté.
Definitely part of the itinerary of travelers with knowledge of the Mayan culture and a refined taste in sacred sites, because around here you can have the best panoramic views of the Mayan Biosphere plus the lagoon from the top of Temple 216 and be surrounded by many howler monkeys typical of the Mayan jungle.
Aguateca, or “K’inich Pa’Wits” is a Mayan sacred site located in the upper slope of the Petexbatun lagoon, on a strategic point protected by massive cliffs, making its access very hard and defended it against invasions.
Because of its location, it also was on a very strategic point to oversee and control the traffic of merchandise that went through La Pasion river. When visiting this site, you can observe a human-made bridge of stone that goes through the grudge, dividing the area. It has remained in a solid state since the city’s original occupation, showing how skilled the Mayans were when creating structures.
This site is genuinely different from the rest, starting with the fact you can only get there by boat. Very few people, if none, come here. So get ready to have the whole park for yourself and your beloved ones!
One of the most powerful places on planet earth and home of the biggest pyramid (in volume) in the world.
Located into the deepest parts of the heart of the Mayan Biosphere Reserve, this sacred site is only accessible by helicopter or by trekking for around five days, and the place where you can find the ancient Mayan headquarters and one of the best kept secrets of humanity.
Its construction is due to the Kan Kingdom or the Serpent Kingdom, and the site is considered to be a Mayan Mega Acropolis, where the civilization had its origins.
Its most recent studies and researches had radically changed our ancestral civilization’s history, because this city dates from the pre-classical period, where it was thought that the buildings were much smaller, but the site has shown totally the opposite.
An authentic Mayan hidden jewel is waiting for you to be re-discovered!
A UNESCO World Heritage and the Mayan sacred site where you find the biggest, tallest and best preserved zoomorphic altars and Mayan stelae (books written in stone that tell us the history and most important events of the site) of the Mayan world.
Along with the city of Copán (in Honduras), both are located in the southeastern border of the Maya lowlands and in the west bank of the Motagua River or Rio Grande, which was an important communication route for the ancient Maya and the place where the largest number of mines and births of the “jade” stone are found, considered the most important stones in the region.
The 34-hectare Archaeological Park covers an important remnant of tropical rainforest, and in the Great Plaza of the site, is where you can appreciate the exceptional collection of sculptural monuments of the park, sticking out the “stelae E” (of 10.5 meters high, and 55 tons of weight) constituting the largest sculpture of all, and our favorite one, the Monument 16 (Zoomorph P). Probably the finest monument in all of Mesoamerica, providing a surface area of around 402 metres and every square-centimetre is engraved with information.
The favorite sectors for the practice of ecotourism, adventure, and the real home of the Kakaw or Cacao and the Quetzal (Quetzalcoatl, Kukulkan), our national bird and patriotic symbol. Sectors dominated by mountain cloud forests and navigable rivers for rafting, crystal clear waterfalls and several, unique and endless cave systems. That for our ancient Mayans represented the Underworld or Xibalba’s entrance, highlighting the Caves of Lanquin and The Candelaria Caves.
Indeed one of our favorite sectors in the whole country where we have spent many years planting lots but lots of seeds germinating and growing. We mean our social outreach to their different indigenous communities, initiatives, and community/social projects.
Hidden deep in the Mayans jungle is a turquoise paradise of natural pools, caves, and waterfalls.
Etymologically means, “where the river hides in the mountain” and this natural wonder shows us six one-of-a-kind turquoise and emerald green pools (resting on top of a natural limestone bridge that covers a part of the Cahabon River). Plus underground waterfalls, breathtaking views, an extensive cave network, lush nature and mountains.
This amazing natural attraction is extremely unique, off the beaten path and unlike anything you have ever seen before. So, you should come around!
Cataloged as the cradle of sport fishing for sailfish and an extension of 250 km (covering the whole country). It has beautiful beaches of black sand, volcanic origin, and territory where we will find extensive agriculture. It stands out the immense plantations of sugarcane and an ideal place to have the opportunity to practice different water sports, exploration of mangroves, etc.
Also known as “the Torch of the Americas” for its constant and great activity.
Pacaya is a complex volcano, consisting of an older stratovolcano, domes, flows, tephra, and the modern basaltic stratovolcano. Most of the complex has formed in the last 23,000 years.
An active volcano cataloged as one of the world’s most visited, where you can see ancient lava flows, igneous rocks, magma stones, steaming steam boilers (scorching), etc. Typical activity in recent years includes strombolian activity, lava flow emission and intermittent strong phases of lava fountaining.
It has interpretative trails surrounded by pure nature with mixed topography and magnificent panoramas of lakes, crops, and other volcanoes around it. Can you believe it?
This one is the least challenging hike around here, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy , ok !!
The best things to experience in the Pacific of the country
Monterrico, a natural reserve created to conserve and protect the Pacific coast’s rich flora and fauna, and probably the place with the most beautiful beaches in the country.
El Paredon, a small, laidback fishing village known for being an up-and-coming destination popular with surfers and sun seekers, is situated along a river filled with mangroves, which empties out into the ocean.
Both of them are really suitable for relaxation and adventures, where you can see turtles feeding year-round, and depending on the season, you might even be able to watch them hatch.
So take a look at our travel proposals and selected activities, and get ready to live the best vacation holiday travel packages in Guatemala. The heart of the Mayan world.