Guatemala Vacations

For centuries, Guatemala was part of the center of the Mayan civilization. And it was the Mayan culture that created numerous temples, palaces and were also known for the knowledge of astronomy and mathematics. Today, over 60% of the Guatemalan population consists members of the original Mayan indigenous groups. During the 1500's when the Spaniards arrived the Mayans were defeated and the people came under the control of the Spanish. With the overthrow of the Spanish King by Napoleon in the 1800's, Guatemala took the opportunity to declare their independence in 1821. For many years the country was ravaged by civil war between the communist and military factions. Then finally in 1996 a peace treaty was signed between the government and the rebels. Guatemala is a popular tourist designation because of its numerous archaeological sites and pre-Hispanic cities.

Destinations for Guatemala Vacations

Ideas for Vacations to Guatemala

Visiting Guatemala is more than just visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Mayan ruins; even though most of the landmarks in Guatemala shared below may seem that it is like that. Guatemala is not only rich in heritage, it is full of natural wonders waiting to be explored and has a vibrant culture which visitors can enjoy. Guatemala has amazing language schools perfect for learning Spanish, features exquisite beaches for swimming and diving, has unique waterways for recreational fishing and rafting, has a great climate for golf, and has a huge niche for ecotourism as a country with 33 volcanoes, 19 climates, and 300 microclimates. A vacation to Guatemala is truly a one of a kind adventure!


GEOGRAPHY OF GUATEMALA VACATIONS

Guatemala has a unique geography, located in Central America and bordered by equally geographically-rich countries. Mexico is to the Northwest, the Pacific Ocean is in the South of the country, Honduras to the East, and Belize and the Caribbean to the Northeast. The rich geography of Guatemala played a huge role on why it is the most populated state in Central America, with an estimated population of 16.6 million at present time. The geography of Guatemala is covered in mountains and deserts with the majority of the population living in flat coastal areas or the highlands.

HISTORY OF GUATEMALA VACATIONS

The history of Guatemala stretches to as far back as 12,000 BC. It has been proven that humans have been living in the area that is now Guatemala during that time. Not much is known about the history of Guatemala until about the rise of the Mayas who made huge cities in Guatemala at the height of their power. The Maya civilization collapsed around 900 AD, bringing forth an era of small kingdoms in the history of Guatemala.

In 1519, the Spanish arrived in the new world and thus began the colonial era in the history of Guatemala. The Guatemalans declared their independence from Spanish rule on September 15, 1821 after which, it became a republic. This was followed by the second Carrera government in 1851, the Vicente Cerna y Cerna regime in 1865, a Liberal government in 1971, the Manuel Estrada Cabrera regime in 1898, the Jorge Ubico regime in 1931, the Guatemalan revolution in 1944, and a coup and civil war which gave rise to the Guatemala of today.

The culture in Guatemala is as rich as the people that made up its long history. Guatemalan culture is heavily influenced by Indian culture. The country features a strong Mayan subculture especially in the mountainous areas and the highlands. A strong Spanish presence is readily evident in the coastal areas although the main religions of ethnic Mayan, Catholic, and protestant suggest that the Spanish grip wasn’t as strong in Guatemala as compared to neighboring countries.

LANDMARKS OF GUATEMALA VACATIONS

The landmarks in Guatemala are amongst the most diverse in the entire American continent. Guatemala is a country that seems to have it all for people who love great food, fascinated by archaeology, in love with nature, smitten with recreational sports, or sophisticated and cultured. Take a look at the must-visit places and landmarks in Guatemala shared below!

Reserva Natural Atitlán
Reserva Natural Atitlán used to be a coffee plantation but is now being overtaken by natural vegetation, making it a must-visit place for picnics, trekking, or exploring with a bicycle. There are trails for walking around, a beautiful waterfall, and plenty of wildlife to enjoy. Camping and long-term stay is possible in Reserva Natural Atitlán too.

Templo I
Templo I was created as a burial monument for Ah Cacao, a King who built a thriving Mayan city during his time. Also known as the Grand Temple of the Jaguar or the Templo del Gran Jaguar, the place has been the subject for quite a number of historical documentaries. Ah Cacao was so rich and loved by his people that he was buried with pearls, 180 jade objects, and 90 pieces of bone that were carved with hieroglyphs. The tomb-temple is 44M high and stands majestically dwarfing everything in the surrounding area.

Casa MIMA
Casa MIMA is a wonderful cultural center and museum veiled as a house from the late 1800s. Although Casa MIMA looks like a functioning house, it is full of priceless artifacts from the owner’s indigenous art collection as well as Chinese and French neo-rococo objects. Visiting Casa MIMA is like walking through the history of Guatemala. It is fun seeing objects from various eras.

El Mirador
El Mirador is a huge Maya site and is home to the biggest pyramid ever built during the height of the Mayan civilization. The site is so big that it is speculated that only a fraction has been uncovered so far considering that the site is within the Petén jungle, about 7KM away from the Mexican border. Excavations are ongoing.

Yaxhá
Yaxhá is part of a huge Maya site together with Nakum and El Naranjo. Together, they form a national park encompassing more than 37,000 hectares right beside the equally mesmerizing Parque Nacional Tikal to the west. Yaxhá is more popular than Nakum and El Naranjo owing to its location on a hill in between lakes Lago Yaxha´ and Lago Sacnab.

Semuc Champey
Semuc Champey is world famous for its gargantuan natural limestone bridge which spans 300M long. Although Semuc Champey will require quite a bit of stamina and determination to enjoy, seeing the stepped series of flows on top of this landmark in Guatemala will erase all traces of fatigue once you get a sight of the flowing river and the beauty of its turquoise pools.

K'umarcaaj
K'umarcaaj is a sacred ancient Maya site that is part of K'iche' Maya. Although modern rituals are still being enacted in the area these days, the site has retained its tranquil ambiance. Only a portion of the site has been revealed and restored so far but is large enough for exploring, with 80 large structures that are grouped in 12 clusters. A flashlight is a must if you’re visiting K'umarcaaj!

Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas
Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas, located within the Parque Nacional Laguna del Tigre, is a scientific research center. Known in English as the Scarlet Macaw Biological Station, the place offers both archaeology and wildlife-watching tours. You’ll love the relaxed atmosphere at Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas and can stay there comfortably in several thatch-roofed houses that serve as visitor accommodations.

*Experience Tikal, an abandoned Mayan city located in the rainforest of Guatemala that is believed to have been built in 200-900 AD.

*Stroll through the beautiful city of Antigua, the capital of the Captaincy-General of Guatemala, which was founded in the early 16th century. Today it has numerous examples of Baroque style of architecture from the 18th century that has been carefully preserved.