Are you an Enlightened Holiday Traveler?

One of the blessings of traveling is the opportunity to gain some fresh perspectives, especially during the holidays. When we visit another culture we expand our own perspectives and gain valuable insights. Guatemala travel experiences stimulate a greater appreciation for the magnificence of life and a greater appreciation for ourselves. Touching exotic and ancient cultures activates our awareness that there […]

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Q & A with Dr. Marion Popenoe Hatch

Parque Nacional Tak’alik Ab’aj by Tomas Cernikovsky Parque Nacional Tak’alik Ab’aj (TA), a Mayan site on the South Coast of Guatemala, is unusual in two ways. It is the only site in the Mayan world that displays both Olmec and Mayan monuments concurrently and it has been continuously under exploration by Guatemalan archaeologists. At a well-reported press conference in October, […]

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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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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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Equal Day Equal Night

From “Maya Roads: One Woman’s Journey Among  the People of the Rainforest” by Mary Jo McConahay

Written By. Mary Jo McConohay IN THE BEGINNING, THE EARTH WE KNOW slept under watery darkness, like the view before dawn from the island of Flores. Standing on the balcony of my hotel, I saw the Petén sky rippling down to the horizon on all sides. The lake slept, however, unmoving as the firmament. Still lake, rippling sky. This brought […]

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Lakeside San Marcos

Lakeside San Marcos, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

A simple yet captivating place overlooking Lake Atitlán, San Marcos attracts travelers from around the world to enjoy its tranquility and laid-back attitude. Visitors to this idyllic spot can spend time with the indigenous people of Guatemala, partake in craft making and traditional Mayan ceremonies and hone their Spanish skills, all while enjoying the lake’s grandeur. Every town on the […]

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Where Quetzaltrekkers Dare

Text and photos by Robin Canfield

Written By. Robin Canfield I’d like to blame the altitude; I don’t think I’ve ever wheezed so much in my life as I did on my recent trek in the Western Guatemalan mountains. It’s not as if I was trailing behind the group —I usually kept up quite well. And when I was trailing, it was because my film-crew partner […]

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El Remate, Guatemala

A hidden gem just minutes from Tikal El Remate is a little slice of paradise along the shore of lago Petén Itzá, only a few minutes by car from Tikal. The pueblo is home to woodcarvers who display their work—beautiful bowls, statues, jewelry and more—in small, open-air stalls along the street. Located within walking distance from El Remate is the […]

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Yaxhá Lagoon and the Crocs

Croc and dragonfly (photo by Thor Janson)

There are two main gateways leading to the Mayan rainforest in the department of Petén, which forms Guatemala’s northern frontier. The main route takes you through the humid lowlands of the Motagua Valley and then north passing the magnificent Sweet River (Río Dulce), the jungle outpost of Poptún, and finally to the departmental island capital of Flores. The other, less-traveled […]

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The Uaxactún Equinox

The Uaxactún Equinox (photo by Thor Janson)

The next major event in the Maya sacred calendar The kickoff for the 2012 cosmic events was the solstice party at the ancient ruins of Tikal. In attendance were dozens of Maya shaman dressed in ceremonial attire soberly attending to their prayer offerings of copal incense, sacred incantations and song, and the sacrifice of doves. The next major event in […]

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Guatemala’s Exotic Pacific Coast

Lovely mirador to rest and catch the sights by Tara Tiedemann

Everyone has heard of Guatemala’s beautiful Lake Atitlán, the mysterious ruins of Tikal and colorful Lívingston, but can you imagine a Guatemalan destination overlooked enough to offer a tranquil getaway yet offering something for everyone? Welcome to the laid-back, friendly Pacific Coast of Retalhuleu, a destination that caters to everyone from beach bums and nature enthusiasts to budding historians and […]

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Hiking Laguna Chicabal

View of the lagoon from the top of the ridge

In the Newberry Award-winning book (and Disney movie) Holes, the hero Stanley Yelnats and his friend Zero survive in a barren desert after discovering a hidden lake tucked on top of a mountain. Though Guatemala´s Western Highlands are far from barren, scaling the breathtaking Laguna Chicabal makes you wonder if the author of Holes drew any inspiration from this local […]

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Quetzaltenango’s Mount Olympus

View of Quetzaltenango from the summit of Volcán Santa María (photo by Kristen Moser)

From many viewpoints in Guatemala’s western Highlands, the Volcán Santa María stands like a sentinel overlooking its kingdom. Wrapped in a vortex of clouds, the volcano is a constant reminder to the population of Quetzaltenango and environs of its eruption a century ago that almost completely destroyed Guatemala’s second largest city. Yet today, Santa María stands as one of the […]

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Santa Cruz La Laguna

Santa Cruz La Laguna

text/photos by Carla Berryhill I have been to Lake Atitlán several times since moving to Guatemala. For me, there really is no one town or village on the lake that stands out more than the other because I think they are all interesting, beautiful and unique—but, my personal favorite is Santa Cruz La Laguna. There are no roads to Santa […]

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Private Nature Preserve: Cascadas de Tatasirire

Private Nature Preserve: Cascadas de Tatasirire

If Sacatepequez boasts La Antigua Guatemala, Alta Verapaz offers Semuc Champey and within Peten’s jungles lie the impressive ruins of Tikal, El Mirador and other ancient cities, what exactly is there to see and do in the department of Jalapa? Answer: extreme adventure combined with biodiversity! Just over two hours outside of Guatemala City, hidden in the subtropical mountains of […]

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Getting High in Ixchiguán

Like Shangri-La, the name beckons from the maps–enticing, mysterious and alluring: Ixchiguan! I had noticed the place many years ago, and I was always looking for someone who could tell me more about this far-flung outpost. Ask anyone on the street in La Antigua Guatemala if they know anything about Ixchiguan and 99-to-1 they will say that they’ve never heard […]

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San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta

Located 13 kilometers southwest of the city of San Marcos in Guatemala’s Western Highlands, San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta sits amid forested mountains, coffee farms, rivers and waterfalls. A community of 27,000 residents, San Rafael is especially thriving this month with its annual fair Oct. 13-24. The festivities—music, processions, dance, food and more—peak on Oct. 24, the feast day […]

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Santiaguito

Santiaguito consists of four domes (from left to right): El Caliente (erupts 10-20 times daily), La Mitad, El Monje, El Brujo (photo: R.W. Sanderson)

    Volcanic offshoot beckons trekkers to the Highlands A mere infant in geologic time, the Santiaguito lava dome is a steam- spewing, smoke-belching spectacle just outside Quetzaltenango in Guatemala’s Western Highlands. Rising more than 8,000 feet above sea level, Santiaguito (Little St. James) is one of the world’s most active lava-dome com- plexes, consisting of several jagged peaks that […]

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The Gallon Jug Rainforest

The ornate hawk-eagle, the most beautiful eagle on Earth

After an expedition to the Sierra Madre of Chiapas, I was returning to Guatemala recently only to be greeted at the border by a glitch in the system and a real-life Catch-22. A new regulation says foreign-plated vehicles have to stay out of Guatemala for 90 days while the driver is welcome to return. So, having some time on my […]

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Big Birds and Fast Slides

Plenty of entertainment at IRTRA, Xetulul and Xocomil The first thing you’ll notice at the resort are the peacocks. Male and female, big and small, it’s like Noah’s Ark hit ground in the Highlands and covered the place with more birds than Ireland has sheep, strutting around like Freddie Mercury at Wembley. A short bus ride out of Quetzaltenango takes […]

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Chance Reunion

Eric (l) and Matt (r) meet up after 35 years (photo: Shaun Paul Griffiths)

by Eric Mencher Years ago in the infancy of my photojournalism career, after I complained yet one more time about a dropped credit line under one of my artful, award-winning photos (or so I had naively thought), an editor once told me that only mothers and other journalists read credit lines and mastheads. I can’t vouch for the mother part, […]

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Guatemala in scale

Relief Map is a 3-D wonder in the capital Once upon a time a man made a map. Accompanied by a donkey, he traveled around Guatemala, took measurements of the country and then returned to the capital to scale up. That man was engineer Francisco Vela, and with the help of his assistant, Claudio Urrutia, in 1905 he designed a […]

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Ex-Guerilla Entrepreneurship

The calm (and coffee) after the storm: Santa Anita La Unión Rebels are on the move in Libya, Egyptians are overhauling their constitution and Tunisians unseated a multi-decade dictator, but reading about it in Guatemala’s relative tranquility makes it easy to forget that the same turmoil engulfed Guatemala not long ago. A history of the 36-year civil war and what […]

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All Aboard the Xela Express

Train-like tour hits Highland highlights With so many cultural, culinary and spiritual destinations in and around Quetzaltenango, visitors can enjoy a leisurely sampling of the area’s most interesting attractions simply by boarding a street-wise locomotive. Suited to travelers’ time-challenged schedules, Tranvia de los Altos shuttles visitors to significant sites in Guatemala’s second-largest city (commonly known as Xela, from the Mayan […]

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Crisscross the U.S. — Without Ever Leaving Guatemala

La República de Guatemala

Homesick U.S. natives living down here can visit Hawaii, Alaska, San Francisco, San Antonio, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago and maybe Philadelphia all in one day without ever leaving Guatemala. And you may do so without a passport or a Star Trek transporter room. I will prove it to you. To get started you need a recent map of la […]

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