If you are a big fan of nature, Guatemala which means “land of many trees,” offers plenty choices of nature wander. Guatemala, is around 42,042 sq mi and has more than 30 volcanoes. Here are some nature hot spots that you shouldn’t miss when you visit Guatemala.
– The National Park Tikal
Tikal National Park is famous for the archaeological remains from the ancient Maya Civilization. There are several temples that you can visit. Watch out for the very steep steps. Restoration in Tikal National Park continues to this day.
You should dedicate a quite reasonable amount of time to explore Tikal National Park. There are a lot interesting spots to see and discover. In my opinion the best place to get a great view is Temple IV. Go there around sunrise or sunset and climb up. Be extra careful when you climb up and down.
– Lake Atitlán
It reminds me of Lake Batur in Bali, Indonesia, but is a world away. In fact Lake Atitlán, that is located around 2.5 hours from Antigua, is beyond pretty. You can wander around the shores of the lake or rent a boat/water taxi to explore the lake and 3-4 villages around the lake. You can also rent a kayak or canoe and do some fun water sport. The water is clear and great for a swim. Hiking around the lake is also possible and even paragliding over the lake.
Surrounded by Tolimán, Atitlán and San Pedro volcanoes make the lake one of the spots that I love in Guatemala. A place where I could easily spend a week. It is very calm, beautiful and peaceful. It is a great place to do some yoga too!
– Volcan Pacaya
If you want to get the idea of what a vocano looks like close up (something you should do at least once in your life), then Pacaya volcano, located 1.5 hours drive from Antigua, is the one that you should visit. Bright lava flows are the big attraction on Volcan Pacaya. It’s an unbeatable feeling walking through the lava fields.
Word of advise, bring a trekking pole, make sure you wear proper shoes, get a good guide and better hike in the morning (though some prefer sunset hike). It took around 1-1.5 hours to reach (almost) the summit and is considered an easy hike if you are in shape.
– Semuc Champey
Prepare for a long walk if you really want to discover Semuc Champey. Though I was not a big fan of the road to get there, but this place is totally worth a visit. A happy place to visit. There are beautiful natural pools with clear water. As always, the earlier you go the higher the chance of having the place to yourself.
In addition to the beautiful nature you need to experience the daily life and culture of the country. There are some interesting markets in Guatemala, but Chichi market is the most famous.
– Chichi Market
Chichicastenango market is one of the busiest and the most colorful markets that I ever saw. If you love to shop, enjoy people watching and are a big fan of traditional market then Chichi market needs to be on your itinerary. On the other hand, if you are not a big fan of hectic, chaotic and perhaps local people hustle to buy some of their handmade products then skip this market. This market very busy on Thursday and Sunday! The market reminds me of the Night market in Luang Prabang-Laos, with the very low sheeting roof.