by Mayra Benitez on 03/08/08 at 3:44 am
Guatemala is full of beauty and nature, but above all you must visit at least these five places and enjoy yourself.
Whenever you have the chance to visit this gorgeous country, you should visit these five places, but I tell you, these are not the only ones, there are a lot of things to do in Guatemala.
Tikal: The Most Famous of All
Located in Petén, Guatemala, one of the ancient cities of Maya culture, Tikal is a National Park, where you can have a great experience with nature. Walking through the jungle, you find many temples, and you can climb them, to admire Maya architecture in harmony with the nature around it. In your way, you can also find Guatemalan fauna, like monkeys, peacocks, snakes, pizotes (coatamundi), toucans, and many kinds of birds.
You can find a hotel within the park, so you can really live the experience of Tikal. The park also has a museum, where you can see many things archaeologists have found and you can see a map of the city, its structure, and there are some people who will gladly help you with any questions you have.
Semuc Champey is located in Alta Verapaz. Semuc Champey is a Q`eqchi name which means “Where the river that hides under the ground”. It is a valley surrounded by a forest, and has steep walls. There’s a bridge, on top of which there are some natural different sized “pools”, filled with fresh and crystalline water. Underneath the bridge is the Cahabón River. At the end of the bridge, the water from the pools falls rejoining the river, forming a waterfall.
There are a lot of activities to do, including swimming, hiking, there’s also canopy, and bird watching. The color of the water changes depending on the season, sunlight, and other conditions, so, you have to take the opportunity to shot as many pictures as you can.
Located in Sacatepequez, Antigua Guatemala is a colonial city. It has a lot of buildings that once were public buildings, for example there was a city jail, a university, monasteries, and old churches that now are tourist places. This city is all surrounded by history, and embraces you with its beauty. Most of the architecture found in Antigua, is Baroque. UNESCO designated Antigua as World Heritage site.
The official story of Antigua is that it was the third official capital of Guatemala, founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1543. It remained that way, until in 1776, the Spanish Crown ordered the removal of the capital to a safer location, after it was practically destroyed by a series of earthquakes in 1773. Not all people left the city, so now it’s called Antigua Guatemala (Old Guatemala).
Located near Guatemala City, Pacaya Volcano is one of the most climbed volcanoes in the country. Is has been active constantly since 1965. Eruptive activity ranges from minor gaseous emissions and quiet steam eruptions, to explosions powerful enough to hurl bombs up to 12 kilometers and necessitate the evacuation of numerous villages on the flanks of the volcano.
The National Park of Pacaya Volcano has a very well maintained trail, where you can hike up to the crater of the volcano (when it is not erupting). The view is amazing, because you can see other near volcanoes from there, and you can take very good pictures. When you are in the top of the volcano, you can admire the power of nature, and feel wrapped by it.
Last, but not least, Lake Atitlán, located in Sololá. This is a beautiful lake, surrounded by 12 colorful towns and three volcanoes (San Pedro, Atitlán and Tolimán). There are also some Mayan archaeological sites, like Sambaj and Chiutinamit, which are underwater cities. Historically, the origins of the lake are volcanic, because it fills a caldera that erupted 84,000 years ago, and that’s why it is the deepest lake in Central America. All these together make a visit to Lake Atitlán a very exciting experience.
The most visited town of all is Panajachel that has many attractions, from its people and culture to bars and a great night life. It is a tourist oriented village, with the main street, Santander, full of souvenir shops, hotels and small restaurants. Panajachel has become a centre for the tourist trade of the area as it provides a base for visitors crossing the lake to go to other towns and villages around the lake.
These places are just an example of the beauty that Guatemala has to offer. There are lots of things to do, not only within the City, but all around the country, where you can find only the best of the world! If you ever have the chance to travel to Guatemala, enjoy your stay, and don’t forget to learn from its culture.