Guatemala — Things to Do
Guatemala is a great destination to discover more about the ancient Mayan empire that once ruled most of Central America. The country has over 1,500 Mayan sites, many of them easily accessible if you are willing to make the trek. Not to be forgotten is the cultural wealth in the cities, where simply walking around, people watching and eating are good ways to get insight into the daily life in Latin America.
Nature lovers will not be disappointed as organized hikes, climbs, kayaking and boating trips on the lakes and rivers are plentiful. It is also possible to go mountain biking on the many designated trails. On each coast, the Pacific and Caribbean, there are popular water sports on the beaches, or you could join a fishing excursion.
To take in the many key Mayan sites around Guatemala, Turismo Aventura TA provides a range of single and multi-day tours around the ruins. Select from one of their set itineraries or, if you prefer, arrange a tailor-made package to suit your travel needs.
The Mayan Adventure, based in Flores, offers three-day jungle hikes to Tikal, the largest Mayan city in Guatemala. Not for the faint of heart, the trek walks for up to six hours a day with the total journey covering a distance of 32 miles before being transported back to Flores by minibus. You will be shown a variety of wildlife along the way, including the El Zotz Cave, where you will witness thousands of bats exiting at sunset. During the trip, you will camp at designated sites with all equipment and food provided.
Most people use the town of Flores as a jumping-off point to visit to Tikal or one of the other Mayan sites in the area. Some like to relax and take in the culture while preparing for your excursion, but there is also a fun-filled zip-line canopy tour you can do at Ixpanpajul Nature Park, which also offers horseback riding, cycling, and night safaris through the rainforest.
Being the most important city in the Spanish colonial period, Antigua Guatemala offers wonderful insight into the past. You can organize a sightseeing tour through City Discovery to make the most of your visit. On these daytrips, guides will show you significant architecture and explain the history behind its inception until the end of colonial rule. Trips include lunch and pick-ups from nearby Guatemala City.
For a visit to Lake Atitlan, you can arrange a tour with Tours Atitlan, which offers set itineraries, or you can request a tailor-made trip to suit your travel plans. Packages include cultural visits to the local Mayan heritage villages, which can be combined with mountain biking, hiking or horseback riding. Another way to experience the beauty of the area is by taking a kayak trip or a specialized birding excursion, where a local guide can help point out native species.
If you feel a little daring, you can ascend an active volcano. Viareal offers climbing trips up Pacaya in the morning and afternoon, as well as tours of the other volcanoes in Guatemala. You don’t need any experience and the company will ensure your safety.