When tourists book trips to warmer regions in Central and South America, they often look for more popular locales like Mexico and Peru. Tourists who visit Guatemala often stick to the resorts of Antigua and miss the opportunity to explore this incredible part of the world. Whether you are just passing through or staying longer to teach English in Guatemala, here are the wonders you won’t want to miss.
Las Fuentes Georginas
Las Fuentes Georginas is Guatemala’s version of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. These naturally heated, volcanic hot springs are surrounded by a lush forest reserve, where you can walk trails through the rainforest and visit nearby volcanoes.
You can stay at Las Fuentes Georginas in one of their ten bungalows. The bungalows are rudimentary, their main purpose being prolonged access to the springs. The site also holds a restaurant, which offers alcoholic drinks, national, and international cuisine.
While it might seem strange and unusual to visit a cemetery while on vacation, the Chichicastenango Cemetery is more akin to an art gallery than a place of mourning. This colorful graveyard represents Mayan traditions, using bold colors and pigments to highlight the memorials, rather than the stark, colorless tributes of North America.
This cemetery is especially frequented during Dia De Los Muertos, also known as the Day of the Dead, when locals honor their deceased ancestors through celebration. This area is often missed by tourists as it is not a typical tourist attraction.
When people think about the Mayan ruins, their mind often travels to Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Coba– the popular tourist destinations in Mexico. However, the Mayan ruins expand further south into Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize. In Guatemala, Tikal is the most well-known and renowned reminder of the ancient Mayans. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is substantial enough that you would be lucky to see everything in a day.
It is said that wherever you see a hill around Tikal, it means that there is a pyramid underneath that has yet to be excavated. There are lots of other ruins around Guatemala that are worth visiting as well, including Yaxha and Zaculeu.
Vivero Verapaz is a must-see for gardening enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. This orchid sanctuary is responsible for the care and protection of hundreds of species of orchids in addition to other plant life. The orchids in Vivero Verapaz bloom in various shapes, colors, and sizes, from huge to nearly invisible to the human eye.
The orchids bloom from the late fall to early spring, so plan on visiting between October and February. If you are in the area during December, stop by for the annual orchid show.
The Acatenango Volcano is the third highest volcano in the country, located near Antigua. It last erupted almost 100 years ago and is therefore safe to climb. Volcan de Fuego, on the other hand, is an active volcano that neighbors the Acatenango Volcano. The 4 km distance between the two puts you close enough to see and hear the continuous eruptions from this powerful force of nature while ensuring your safety.
The hike is not for the faint of heart. You can expect to spend an entire day working your way to the summit and back, or two days if you wish to sleep under the stars and take your time. The mountain boasts four separate “micro-climates” which will allow you to enjoy walking through flowery fields, lush rainforests, the cloud forest, and the sandy gravel you would expect to see on a volcano. This trek is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
There are plenty of other things to do and see in Guatemala to immerse yourself in the fascinating culture of its people. Semuc Champey and Lake Atitlan are also worth noting, as they offer beautiful scenery unique to this amazing, untapped, wanderlust fulfilling country.