Read more about the article Panajachel and Lake Atitlan – Guatemala
Panajachel and Lake Atitlan - Guatemala

Panajachel and Lake Atitlan – Guatemala

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The Deepest Lake in Central America

Our last day in Guatemala would also be a very busy one. Visiting this beautiful region of Lake Atitlan and Panajachel, west of Guatemala City and Antigua, not only for the landscapes, countless volcanoes and jungle vegetation all around, but for what has been described as the most beautiful lake in the world. It is already an astonishing sight is to see a huge volcano; but having the chance to see three at once at the same time and the crystalline waters of the lake on the foreground and reflection is quite unique.

Surprisingly the whole area around the lake is very popular with hippy and backpacker tourism in search of tranquility and meditation. We did not expect this at all; this is not a cheap place if compared to elsewhere in Guatemala, but yes, after visiting few villages we came to the same conclusion, this is not the sort of place we would consider at all to stay longer than for a day visit.

Prices and quality of everything is nonsense, quite a rip off. Unfortunately the majority of tourists were Americans and they tend not to bargain at all and pay for the prices they get quoted at first, spoiling the right way of doing things hence locals expect from every tourist the same. Well not with us, believe me; fortunately me, speaking Spanish, could solve this by lowering to more acceptable prices, and even better quality. Speaking Spanish is always a great plus anywhere in Latin America. (more…)

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Read more about the article Antigua – Guatemala
Antigua - Guatemala

Antigua – Guatemala

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The Old Capital of Guatemala

Stunning Antigua, one of the major tourist attractions in Guatemala together with the ancient city of Tikal, one of the former Maya capital cities far in the north of the country.  A must visit for anyone’s trip through Central America and Guatemala itself. This is the former capital of the country; one of the best preserved colonial cities in Latin America, all “thanks” to it’s sad past. Twice destroyed by earthquakes and abandoned after the most devastating one in 1776 on behalf of a new capital city being built at a safer location, named at the time, Nueva Guatemala de la Asuncion. While nowadays we know it as Antigua, or Antigua Guatemala, its original colonial name was Santiago de los Caballeros.

Since the last century it has experienced again a regrowth and transformation with the reconstruction and restoring of almost every old house and church. Nowadays it rather looks a city where no destruction ever happened. So much history and fine architecture no wonder it is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site.

For me as Spanish, being here was like being anywhere in the south of Spain or the Canary Islands, where the old towns look almost identical in architecture, urbanism and colours to Antigua and of course elsewhere in colonial Latin America. (more…)

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Read more about the article Guatemala City – Guatemala
Guatemala City - Guatemala

Guatemala City – Guatemala

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La Nueva Guatemala de la Asuncion

Heading south to the capital of Guatemala, just one hour flight from Flores where we got to enjoy the roots of the Maya civilization at the most powerful of their capital cities, Tikal; this would be our next base along our Central America trip. Yes, we decided to rather be based in the capital in order to make day trips the following days to the major tourist spots the country has to offer around rather than having to sleep each night at a different place and having to pull the luggage on and on.

A key point before I continue, is that you should not be scared of being in Guatemala City. It is sad to read such articles and comments over the internet, questioning the safety as it would be the worst place on earth. Let me tell you it is not as you think after what you have read around. During the day time it is perfectly fine to be in the centre doing your sightseeing, camera in hand. Chances of bag snatching and pick-pocketing are the same as in any European city. Other than that, there is nothing you should fear about. People is nice and very helpful, they will not hesitate in helping you with anything.

On the other hand is the night time. This is when you should take precaution and not being in the street. As you will notice, after 19.00pm there is almost no one in the streets. Policeman and guards with guns are at the doors of restaurants, even at the fast food chains, banks and so on. Insecurity feeling is in the air, but as said, there is no reason for you to be walking the streets at night. (more…)

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Read more about the article Tikal – Guatemala
Tikal - Guatemala

Tikal – Guatemala

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The Most Powerful of the Maya Kingdoms

At the very heart of the Maya civilization we reach Tikal, the most important of the ancient capitals they had (there were 4 of them). The most powerful of all the kingdoms the Maya world was structured of. Remotely located in the middle of the pristine jungle of northern Guatemala, around one hour bus drive from Flores, means the hordes of tourists you see in Chichen Itza are not even a tenth in here. We were extremely lucky to enjoy the site almost to ourselves alone and have most of the pictures with no one else around.

Merely 20% of the site has been excavated and exposed to the public, the other 80% lies beneath the thick and dense jungle. You can guess from the many tree-covered mounts that an structure is underneath. Infra-red studies made by NASA show over 4000 constructions! You can imagine the vast size of this place if everything would be uncovered.

Fortunately, what you see today is well enough to give you an idea of how powerful Tikal once was while the many ongoing works to discover, uncover and restore are slowly expanding the area to the visitors. (more…)

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Read more about the article Flores – Guatemala
Flores - Guatemala

Flores – Guatemala

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Nuestra Señora de los Remedios y San Pablo

Leaving behind the Caribbean short stop-over in Belize, we continue overland entering Guatemala. Starting at the very north is the Peten Itza Lake with the city of Flores, a little island connected to mainland to Santa Elena just across the causeway. But why to come here you may think? Flores is the gateway to the heart of the Maya Civilization, with Tikal, one of the ancient capitals of the Maya world just at little over an hour away.

This northern region of Guatemala is very peaceful and tranquil, almost fully covered in pristine jungle. Because of its remoteness you will be happy to know that it’s not very touristy and restaurants and bars are still so real and traditional without inflated prices nor tourist traps.

Flores and Santa Elena both have nothing else to offer than that, a beautiful spot in the middle of your trip. The point of arrival into the incredible Maya world of this region. Still, very charming streets, churches and its amazing people, a unique colonial flair everywhere. So colourful and so traditional, it seems time stood still in this region. Not to mention the gorgeous food anywhere. (more…)

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Read more about the article San Pedro Island – Belize
San Pedro Island - Belize

San Pedro Island – Belize

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La Isla Bonita

Travelling all the way here to beautiful San Pedro Island in the pristine of the Caribbean was quite an unique experience to say. Just merely a day and a half stop over in the country of Belize and for 2 equally important reasons. The first was the route. Back in Merida, Mexico, we started to travel overland and while some routes could have been done by plane, this would have set the costs really high. Also, between Cancun and Flores in Guatemala there is no airline connection, leaving the only possible option the bus. We were travelling from Mexico to Guatemala via Belize.

The second reason, getting on a flight over the UNESCO World Heritage Site listed second largest barrier reef in the world to Caye Ambergris and the famous San Pedro Town. The hundreds of paradise coral islands is what we have in mind when talking about Belize and we wanted to experience it first hand. And as an extra, a curious fact this time, who have never heard of Madonna’s song La Isla Bonita? Last night I dreamt of San Pedro… Well, this is said to be the island she might refer to.

Infrastructures are still old and poor and thankfully there are no big hotel properties. This is perhaps one of the reasons the place has retained its charm and laid back attitude. Unfortunately, I guess this is due to change with so many North Americans buying properties on mass and owning business as we experienced first hand, and the ever increasing number of tourists of course. Still, you can enjoy the quietness and tranquility here than if going instead to the over-touristy and also over rated, Caye Caulker. (more…)

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Read more about the article Belize City – Belize
Belize City - Belize

Belize City – Belize

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The Old Capital of British Honduras

After a long night bus ride from Cancun, we arrive 2 hours delayed to the former capital city of Belize. The bus was almost full, all of us tourists, therefore both border crossings took much longer than expected. Then, the heavy rain on the way did not help either forcing to reduce the speed. We wouldn’t have minded if Belize City was our final destination that day, but we were having an onward flight to catch to San Pedro right after the supposedly original bus arrival time.

Let’s be honest, Belize City has absolutely nothing to see or do tourist-wise speaking. No charm, almost none to zero sights, houses falling apart and pretty much filthy and dirty everywhere. This is not a place you come for holidays, this is a place you come as a bridge to the incredible beauty and nature of the hundreds of islands just minutes away on what will probably be the shortest flights you have ever taken in your life.

But what happened here for a beautiful English colonial capital city to become what is today? Flooding, hurricanes and fires. It is painful to see the old pictures from the beginning of the 19th century and compare these to the same locations today. Almost nothing stands any more. It is for this reason that the government decided to move the capital inland to Belmopan after Hurricane Hattie in 1961 almost flattened over 75% of Belize City. Long gone are such incredible wooden mansions and elegant streets and monuments.


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