Destinations

GUATEMALA

The name Guatemala comes from the náhuatl Quauhtemallan, a place with many trees. Its official name being Republic of Guatemala. It is a country located in far northwest of Central America, with a native culture resulting from Mayan heritage and Spanish influence during Colonial times. It is a country of great natural beauty. Despite its relatively small territory, Guatemala counts with a great biological and weather variety product of its mountainous geography, which ranges from 0 to 4,220 meters above sea level. This is why the country has very different ecosystems, from the mangrove swamps in the Pacific to the foggy forests in the highlands. It is bordered by Mexico to the west and north, by Belize and the Gulf of Honduras to the east, and by Honduras and El Salvador to the south east and by the Pacific Ocean to the south. Its area is 109,889 km2. Its capital is Guatemala City. Its population is composed of about one third of indigenous peoples and two thirds of non-indigenous population. Languages spoken in Guatemala are Spanish (the official language), 22 Mayan languages, Xinka and Garífuna, which is a language spoken by the people of the same name, of African-Caribbean descent, making a total of 25 languages spoken in the country. The historical, natural and cultural heritage of Guatemala can be seen all around its territory. We invite you to know and enjoy the richness, diversity and authenticity of this wonderful country located in the middle of the Americas, visiting the seven tourist regions that offer unique attractions and features.

ANTIGUA GUATEMALA

The city of Antigua Guatemala is the main city of the department of Sacatepéquez. It is renowned for its baroque architecture with some Spanish influence, as well as a great number of church ruins. It was appointed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Harmonically intertwined with the urban landscape are small cafes and cozy restaurants where the visitor can feel at home and try a rich Guatemalan and international gastronomy. With a life of its own, Antigua Guatemala is a haven to learn Spanish, lodge in family homes or splendid hotels or apartments; it is the ideal place to host events, conferences and exhibits, plus it is an open-air museum, with its colonial cobbled streets. This beautiful city is located in a valley surrounded by majestic volcanoes, and has wonderful weather all year round.

ATITLÁN

Lake Atitlan is located in the department of Sololá in the highlands of Guatemala, some 80 km from Antigua, and 115 km from Guatemala City. It is one of the main economic sources of the Department through tourism and commerce. Some of its main attractions are the surrounding volcanoes: Atitlán, at 3,537 meters above sea level, Toliman, at 3158 m.s.l., and San Pedro, at 3020 m.s.l. The lake is located at 1560 m.s.l. and is 18 km long. Recent archaeological research has discovered that in the center of the lake there used to be an island whose remains are now at the bottom. One of the hypotheses tells us that it may have been a Mayan center from the Preclassic period (600 B.C. – 250 B.C.). There are several towns located around the lake: Santa Catarina Palopó, San Antonio Palopo, San Lucas Toliman, Santiago Atitlan, San Pedro La Laguna, San Juan La Laguna, San Pablo La Laguna, San Marcos La Laguna, Santa Cruz La Laguna, and Panajachel, among others. It is possible to travel to these towns by many of the motor boats that are waiting on the shore, and the fare can cost between Q. 10 and Q. 15 (US$ 2.00, approximately). One of the main characteristics of Lake Atitlan is the strong wind known as Xocomil. It usually increases strength at noon, when the warm south winds clash with the colder western winds, forming the typical whirlwinds that shake up the waters. Lake Atitlán and Panajachel are the most important tourist destinations in the highlands of Guatemala.

TIKAL

Immersed in the exuberant jungle in the department of Petén, in the north of Guatemala. Tikal shelters numerous Mayan buildings dispersed in several squares and courts, as well as thousands of mounds of many sizes, domestic constructions that were also part of the city. In Maya-Itzá, Tikal means "a place where voices can be heard". Tikal is astonishing not only because of its architectural and sculptural richness, but also because of its natural beauty, including trees, 50 meters tall, like ceibas (sacred trees to the Maya). Because of its natural and cultural value, Tikal was declared Human Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. Since 1990 it is part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, within the Maya Biosphere Reserve. The archaeological site Tikal covers 1,600 hectares right in the heart of the National Park. It is the biggest of the Mayan ancient cities of the classic period. The park rests on limestone, so superficial water is scarce. Its climate is humid and tropical. The year is divided into a dry and a rainy season. Rains vary between 1000 and 2400 mm. Maximum temperatures are between 28 and 35ºC, and minimum temperatures between 15 and 22ºC. You can get to Tikal by land or by airplane. The highway is in excellent conditions. We recommend you to take insect repellant, enough drinking water and comfortable shoes to walk through paths from one temple to the other in the park. The most famous temple is Gran Jaguar, or Great Jaguar." Taken from: Fuente: Tikal el gran Jaguar, Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional.

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