Travel Inspiration – Guatemala

     As I’m preparing to jet off on another holiday soon, I thought I’d take back at another country from my big Central America trip last year. Guatemala was the third country I visited then, and the one I spent the longest in, staying for around a week. I remember it as a place full of so much history, culture and character. Fro historic ruins that have stood for hundreds and hundreds of years, to stunning natural scenery, to beautifully crafted colonial architecture, to colourful, bustling market places and winding alleys of shops. There was so much about the country to explore, and so many different kinds of experiences to have there. Even though it was all the same country, each day had something new to discover. And while I’m glad I have photos to remember it all by, I think some of these images would stay in my mind forever, regardless.
Natural hot springs waterfall near Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Lake view on the road to Tikal, Guatemala

Pier by a lake on the road to Tikal, Guatemala

The ruins of Tikal, Guatemala

View from temple 4 looking over Tikal, Guatemala (the Star Wars scene)

Temple in the jungle at Tikal, Guatemala

Temples of Tikal, Guatemala

Colourful bird - Ocellated turkey - roaming around Tikal, Guatemala

Wild coati in Tikal, Guatemala

     Tikal will stand out as a highlight of the entire Central America trip. It’s staggering to think that these structures are the remains of a civilisation, not hundreds, but thousands of years old. And although thousands of other tourists have walked these paths before you, being surrounded by jungle forestry, with wild animals including coatis and a lot of howler monkeys roaming around you, you’ll feel like a real explorer amongst these ruins. The howler monkey calls can be heard miles away, so to give you an idea of what it’s like I’ve uploaded this video (above) with audio I captured there, while waiting for sunrise on top of one of the temples.

Evening view over Lake Izabal, Guatemala

Local fishing from his boat on Lake Izabal, Guatemala

Playa Blanca, Lake Izabal, Guatemala

Playa Blanca, Lake Izabal, Guatemala

Local stilt houses on Lake Izabal, Guatemala

Colourful market stalls at Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Foods for sale at the Chichicastenango market, Guatemala

     Guatemala has a few famous lakes worth exploring. One such is Lake Izabal, where I stayed near the town of Rio Dulce. A day’s boat trip reveals many sights on and around the lake, my favourites being the local homes perched on stilts along the banks, and the people taking their boats out to fish in the waters. Further towards the coast, we discovered the stunning Playa Blanca, inaccessible by land, and we had the place almost entirely to ourselves for a few hours.

Town square of San Jorge la Laguna, by Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Inside the kitchen of our homestay family in San Jorge la Laguna, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

View from the homestay bedroom window, looking over San Jorge La Laguna and Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Wine bottle artwork on the streets of San Pedro, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Pedro, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Pedro, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Sunset over the volcanoes of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

    Lake Atitlán is famous for the three staggering volcanos surrounding its banks. I will always remember this place for the homestay experience I had there, staying with a family in their home. It was a very small, simple place, in a village lacking so many of the modern amenities we are used to, but the people there manage just fine, and were so friendly and welcoming. And waking up to that view over the lake in the morning? Breathtaking. We also explored another village, San Pedro, which was too backpacker-y for my liking, but was probably one of the most colourful places I’ve seen, quite a feat in Guatemala, which I remember as being so colourful everywhere!

Dawn over Antigua, Guatemala

Early morning in Antigua, Guatemala, with the volcano in the background

The crater of Pacaya volcano, near Antigua, Guatemala

Market outside a crumbling church in Antigua, Guatemala

Archways of the colonial architecture of Antigua, Guatemala

Cobbled streets of Antigua, Guatemala

Decorative church facade in Antigua, Guatemala

Arches by the central park in Antigua, Guatemala

Busy streets of Antigua, Guatemala

Simple house and wagon in Antigua, Guatemala
Artisans market in Antigua, Guatemala

     And finally, Antigua, the last stop in Guatemala for me. The preservation of the colonial architecture in the town is just beautiful, with all its cobbled streets, colourful facades, and ornate detailing. It’s well worth just taking a few hours to roam around the streets, and see what you encounter, be it a market place, a church, or simply the people here. I also tried activities ranging from chocolate making to volcano hiking here, so there’s definitely something for everyone.