Panic on Pacaya

Pacaya looked like an immense Roman candle as the lava shot more than one kilometer into the firmament and a deep, ultra-low frequency roar emanated from the trembling ground below our feet.

Guatemala is particularly blessed by these immense conical peaks and dozens of them line up along the eastern edge of the Pacific coastal plain. Three of these cones are considered active: Santiaguito, Fuego and Pacaya, while others, like Atitlán, are considered semi-active due to the presence of steam-emitting fumaroles.

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Flying at the top of a mountain

Canopy photo

What is the best place for a bird’s eye view of La Antigua Guatemala? Many people think it’s from the Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross), situated on a mountain north of the city. Even higher than the Cerro de la Cruz is the Santo Domingo del Cerro. Add an incredible zipline adventure (Circo del Aire) and there […]

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It Really is Worth it

The amazing view from El Mirador

Turquoise pools and mysterious caves are just two reasons why Semuc Champey is a must-visit destination. When traveling, you often find yourself evaluating the many destinations, and here in Guatemala the variety is astounding. One of the must-visit attractions is Semuc Champey. You may have seen pictures of the shimmering turquoise pools, cascading through the jungle. The water is so […]

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Mmm… Macadamia Pancakes

Macadamia pancakes with macadamia butter and fresh blueberry jam

A trip to the Valhalla Macadamia Farm Just minutes from La Antigua Guatemala is an amazing agricultural project, quietly doing a load of good for the planet and indigenous communities in Guatemala. Situated just outside of San Miguel Dueñas, is the Valhalla Macadamia Farm. The farm produces wonderful organic macadamia nuts, makes/produces an exceptional line of skin care products, serves […]

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Tour guide Gloria shows how it’s done

Stop and smell the coffee… and the cardamom Cobán, the capital of the department of Alta Verapaz and seat of some of the best coffee-growing terrain in Guatemala, often gets overlooked as visitors buzz right through on their way to Semuc Champey or in search of the quetzal in the nearby cloud forests. However, the city is worth a closer […]

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Working Together

TziminChac now operating at Lago Petén Itzá, Flores, Petén

TziminChac now operating at Lago Petén Itzá, Flores, Petén The management had a dilemma when it came time to decide where Tzimin Chac, a new tourist raft, could best operate. The raft, built on two 27-foot floats, much like a catamaran, needs calm waters in order to provide a smooth ride for its passengers. Due to strong winds, the waters […]

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The Cloud Forest Biological Corridor

Old travel mates Brenda and Brian were flying in from Vancouver for a three-day weekend and asked me to show their young daughter, Sophia, some tropical wildlife. Sophia, age nine, was already an avid naturalist and bird-watcher. She made it clear via our Skype chitchatting, that she was dying to see what the cloud forest was really like. Her curiosity had […]

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10 Tips for Learning Spanish

Learning Spanish can be a great asset for traveling in Latin America. Studying in Guatemala can open a door to the incredible cultural richness of Guatemala and to new Spanish-speaking friends. At the same time, learning Spanish can be daunting, especially in the beginning when you don’t know what to expect. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

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Ecosystems of the Mayan Rain Forest

An incredible diversity of life exists in the Mayan Rain Forest, the biological crossroads of the Americas For centuries the land of the Mayan rain forest has been of particular interest to biologists because of its unique location. It is at the crossroads of two of Earth’s major life zones: the Nearctic Realm (North America) and the Neotropical Realm (South […]

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Time Capsule: 2013 – 2065

A sealed container to be opened in 52 years A time capsule that was inspired by the ancient Maya has been installed by cultural officials in Guatemala City to show the country’s future generations what life was like in 2013. Messages, cards, articles from the present day and predictions for tomorrow were deposited into the container, which will be opened […]

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Getting to Roatan

Bay Islands, Honduras by Monish Welcome Thousands of tourists from around the world travel to Roatan each year to enjoy the island’s relaxed lifestyle, beautiful sea, spectacular diving and snorkeling, mild climate and friendly people. As the largest of the Bay Islands in Honduras, Roatan is quickly becoming one of the Caribbean’s fastest-developing destinations. Surrounded by a coral reef brimming […]

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Botanics Gardens

Discover an oasis of tranquillity at El Jardín Botánico Hidden alongside one of the busiest roads in Guatemala City lies El Jardín Botánico—an oasis of tranquillity on the chaotic Avenida de la Reforma in zone 10. Ever since it opened in 1922, the site has been a protected landmark displaying over 650 species of both native and exotic flora. The […]

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Canopy Circo del Aire abre Santo Domingo del Cerro

El Canopy Canopy Circo del Aire en Santo Domingo del Cerro es una atracción de tirolesas primera en su tipo y escala en la ciudad de La Antigua Guatemala. Permite que clientes de todas las edades se desplacen por cables sintiendo como que se deslizan por el aire de árbol en árbol en una red de plataformas de acero inoxidable. […]

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The Road To Nakum

The plan was to rendezvous with friends at Yaxhá Lagoon then drive north to the remote site of Nakum. I met up with Belizean Alfonso Galvez and American biologist Harry Drexler for breakfast by the shore of magnificent Yaxhá. A bit of camp-stove magic, and I was serving up steaming plates of black beans, fried mol a’catch (turkey eggs) and […]

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Pueblo Hopping

Planning an overnight in Santa Cruz La Laguna, Lake Atitlán If you were hoping to go by car to Santa Cruz La Laguna, you will be disappointed. This quaint pueblo, separated into the lakeshore property and the Mayan village on higher ground, can only be accessed by boat. But don’t fret. This is what gives Santa Cruz its relatively untouched […]

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Yellow Beard and other slithering surprises!

On a recent expedition to the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, one of the region’s premier protected areas, located just over the border in Chiapas, Mexico, I was walking up a remote river valley when I saw a slight movement on the path. As I approached I made out the form of a large serpent lying, perhaps sunning, squarely in my […]

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The Roatan Reef

by Monish Welcome A glistening island treasure of the Caribbean, Roatan offers numerous activities such as boating, fishing and undersea exploration of the Mesoamerican Reef. The reef, a main attraction for divers and snorkelers, is divided into a north side and south side in Roatan, as well as its island neighbors, Utila and Guanaja. In the north side of Roatan, […]

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Islands in the Sky

Lake Tziscao and the Islands in the Sky The most endangered of Earth’s forests are without question tropical cloud forests, which make up little more than one percent of the planet’s arboreal habitats. Visionary conservationists like Guatemala’s Professor Mario Dary Rivera and Miguel Álvarez del Toro of Chiapas had the foresight to secure some of these pristine environments before chainsaws […]

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Finca el Zapote

You are invited to the annual charity picnic by Maya Fledderjohn Mark your calendar! On Sunday March 3 (8 a.m.-5 p.m.), visitors will again have the rare opportunity to visit Finca El Zapote. Those familiar with the extraordinary book Maya de Guatemala will recall that El Zapote was where Carmen Pettersen, at age 70 and blind in one eye, undertook […]

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Motorcycle Diary

There is something undeniably cool about motorbikes, cobbled streets and rock and roll. Combine all three and you have one of the most exhilarating ways to explore La Antigua Guatemala: driving through the pueblos of Sacatepéquez, on the back of a trike, with the Rolling Stones blaring from the speakers. CATours has been specializing in creating tailor-made motorbike tours of […]

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Quetzals and Trogons of the World

The Most Elegant of Avian Tribes If I were to conduct an informal survey on the streets of any town and asked 100 or 1,000 people a few questions about the national bird of Guatemala, it would become immediately evident the extent and the depth of ignorance of the population concerning perhaps the most beautiful winged creature on Earth. How […]

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Rab’inal Achí

Cosmic Dance of the Ancient Maya The Rab’inal Achí dance-drama traces its roots to pre-Columbian times and is probably the best-preserved, authentic Mayan cultural event in Mesoamerica. The choreographed dance/play depicts creation myths, dynastic political rivalries and even predicted the Spanish conquest of the land of the Maya centuries before it occurred. Since remote times the Maya used musical theater […]

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Yaxhá and Topoxte

Land of the Blue Green Water and Ramon Seed in El Petén Here we are, December 2012, the end of the great Mayan calendar cycle, known as 13 Baktun. Many people will be visiting Guatemala this month to make the pilgrimage to Tikal in El Petén to celebrate the actual day on Dec. 21, the winter solstice. However, I would […]

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Small Is Huge

Miature Oxyopidae spider

We often overlook the fact that our planet’s ecology is totally dependent upon the health of these teeming hosts of creatures numbering in the billions. I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words on behalf of all the “little guys”—all the little creatures that make up the vast majority of the Earth’s animal life. If we […]

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Coconut Bread Dreams and Caribbean Wishes

text/photos by Tara Tiedemann

Do you ever notice that traveling throughout Guatemala feels as if you are visiting a variety of different countries? The terrain, the language, the climate and the culture can change so rapidly that it’s incredible to believe that all of these micro-communities and regions make up the one beautiful country we know as Guatemala. Let me introduce you to another […]

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Termales De Santa Teresa

text/photos by Lena Johannessen

EL SALVADOR GETAWAY Just minutes from Ahuachapan in western El Salvador, right across the border from Guatemala, lie the amazing thermal waters and spa of Santa Teresa. Named after the farm of the same name, the hotel and soon-to-be restaurant are clustered around a series of thermal pools with temperatures ranging from lukewarm to tingling hot. Several cabins are located […]

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