Guatemala

Published on March 20th, 2012 | by Mark Chesnut

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Guatemala

BY MARINA K. VILLATORO

Guatemala, located in Central America, may be small but it has tons of beautiful destinations and attractions to keep you here for weeks on end without getting bored. With a rich culture, Maya Indians and ruins, three UNESCO sites and active volcanoes, lakes and colonial cities, you’d think it would be on the top of everyone’s must-visit list. But unfortunately, Guatemala doesn’t get the credit it should. Hopefully, this post will inspire people to visit.

Here are the five top reasons why you should visit Guatemala:
 

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.  



2. Antigua
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.

4. Food
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.

5. Culture
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:

    —Day of the Dead on November first – During this day Sumpango is the place to visit. Here you will find colorful, giant kites and if it’s windy enough you see how they take off. Locals believe that by sending these huge kites with messages and artwork they are communicating with their dead loved ones.
     —Semana Santa – In Guatemala City and Antigua Guatemala you will find huge processions decorated with beautiful artwork and messages. As the processions are taken through the streets the go over beautiful carpets made of flowers or saw dust painted in bright colors.

There are many more reasons to come to this great country — how about finding out for yourself?

ABOUT MARINA
Marina K. Villatoro is an expat who has been living and traveling in Central America with her family for over 10 years. She blogs all about her family’s adventures and life ay TravelExperta.com. With all those miles under their belts, she’s written a useful family guide book for traveling to Guatemala with kids tested and approved by her family. Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more fun Central and Latin American fun!





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Family Fun in Los Cabos, Mexico (Mark Chesnut’s article in the Visit Cabo 2012 Guide)
The Best Hotels in Los Cabos, Mexico (also from the Visit Cabo 2012 Guide)
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About the Author

The founder and editor of LatinFlyer.com, Mark has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and manager. He's worked with some of the biggest consumer, in-flight and travel trade publishers that cover Latin America.


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