Published on March 20th, 2012 | by Mark Chesnut
Top 5 Reasons to Visit Guatemala
BY MARINA K. VILLATORO
1. Maya Ruins
Central America was home to the ancient Mayan civilization over 1000 years ago in it’s heyday. This means that you will come across Mayan Archaeological sites all over Guatemala. But the best are up north, in the Petén Department the well preserved and over 3000 ruin compound of Tikal. A little bit closer to the Mexican border is El Mirador, the biggest newly found ruin city where it is now said you can find the largest Mayan Pyramid of all and among the largest pyramids of the world.
Antigua Guatemala is the last true colonial city of Central America. The local government is working hard to preserve it. And you sense this everywhere you turn at the UNESCO site.
As soon as you enter it you feel as if time stopped, the buildings still look like they did in the colonial times. Plus it is filled with great hotels, restaurants, bars, handcraft markets, basically anything you might need for an awesome stay.
3. Lake Atitlán
Lake Atitlán, an ancient volcano crater, is located in the middle of three volcanoes and is surrounded by many Mayan indigenous towns. It is also known as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.
It became one of the best places in Guatemala for travelers to learn Spanish, enjoy naturally heated hot springs that come from the volcano and for its crazy night life. This also means that there are plenty of good hotels with amazing lake views. Plus, some of the best shopping of the country.
Guatemala’s traditional dishes are quite varied. Many of them are spicy stews like jocon, hilachas and pulique. There are also tamales which can be found all over Central America, but each country has a unique way of preparing them. They also have their own version of chicha (an indigenous, fermented drink).
A couple of Guatemala’s most iconic dishes are Pepian, a spicy stew that was declared THE national dish. It can be made with pork, poultry or beef, some use all three of them. And Fiambre a salad like, slightly fermented dish, that is prepared only for the Day of the Dead Celebrations, with lots of vegetables, pork, beef, poultry and cheese.
The culture of the Guatemalan people is rich in history and modern day traditions. To commemorate the different stories and struggles tons ofcelebrations during the year are inspired by the old Mayans, by Christianity and sometimes they melt together. For me the best two seasons:
There are many more reasons to come to this great country — how about finding out for yourself?
MORE TRAVEL NEWS & TIPS
• The Best Hotels in Los Cabos, Mexico (also from the Visit Cabo 2012 Guide)
• Eco-friendly: These Hotels Make Going Green a Pleasure (Orbitz Business Travel Blog)