Vistas of Guatemala
The natural beauty of Guatemala is unsurpassed. From high mountains to white beaches, Guatemala has it all. Here are some of my favorites:
Lake Atitlan & Panajachel
Lake Atitlan is absolutely gorgeous. It's a huge volcanic lake in the highlands of Guatemala. The lake itself as well as the surrounding scenery is break taking.
The actual depth of the lake is unknown with some estimates putting it at 4,000 feet. Three volcanoes surround the lake in addition to numerous Mayan villages.
Of these Mayan villages, Panajachel is by far the most visited by tourists. Not only is it one of my favorites, but Panajachel receives visitors from all over the world; in fact, the economy is based on tourism. Everything in the town is catered to the tourist. Beautiful hotels, pools, and colorful markets not to mention the glorious view of Lake Atitlan.
Tikal National Park
The most famous wonder in Guatemala is Tikal. If you've ever seen Star Wars Episode IV, you'll notice Tikal is the backdrop for the rebel base. Tikal was a busy center of activity for the Maya from 200 AD to 900 AD after which it was abandoned for no apparent reason.
The park is extremely impressive with six large temples (the largest at 230 feet tall) and dozens of other buildings covering over 23 square miles in the northern jungles of Guatemala.
Taca and other airlines have daily flights from Guatemala City to Santa Elena which is about a 30 minute drive to Tikal.
While visiting Tikal, I highly recommend staying on the lake-island city of Flores. Flores is a gorgeous city tightly fit on a small island in the middle of Lake Itza. Flores was the last independent Maya state that was not conquered by Spanish conquerors until 1697 AD.
If you don't do anything else in Guatemala, you have to a least visit Tikal. It's the experience of a lifetime to hike through those jungles viewing the ruins and the surrounding wildlife.
Antigua was founded in 1543 as the colonial capital of Guatemala as was so for more than 200 years. After several large earthquakes in the latter half of the eighteenth century destroyed most of the city, the government relocated the capital to present day Guatemala City.
Boasting dozens of cathedrals from centuries ago, Baroque-styled architecture, and three volcanoes, Antigua is quite the tourist destination.
My favorite thing about Antigua is how easy it is to walk around. The streets are all cobble-stone with the beautiful colonial buildings dotting each city block. You feel as though you've stepped back in time several hundred years.
Although I have many other travel destinations in Guatemala that I love to visit, these three are my favorites and the most impressive. Other sites I like to visit include the Rio Dulce, the Caribbean Cost town of Santo Tomas de Castilla, Solola, Xela, and the Pacific side.
Guatemala is a country where you have to keep coming back to visit--there is simply too much to see for one trip. I've been a total of 7 times and I still haven't seen 80 percent of the country. It's a tourist paradise.
From the coasts to the mountains to the jungles, Guatemala has it all!