Must Sees in Guatemala
There are three must sees in my book:
- Lake Atitlan
- Antigua (Volcan Pacaya)
One other popular spot is the Chichicastenango market, which runs on Thursday or Sunday. It is located close to Lake Atitlan.
The other popular spot is Semuc Champney, which is a beautiful little “oasis” in the middle of the jungle. If you don’t want to fly to Tikal, this is the ideal location about half way to Tikal. I would recommend spending at least a day in the area.
Antigua was the original capital of Guatemala set-up by the Spaniards.
It was only due to several earthquakes that they moved the capital to Guatemala City.
The hike up Volcan Pacaya begins in the morning (6:00 am) and in the afternoon (2:00 p.m.). It is a 6 hour tour.
http://cometoguatemala.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66&Itemid=240 (Leave at 1:00 pm)
http://www.adrenalinatours.com/hikes-treks/features/pacaya-volcano-vip.html (Leave at 2:00 pm – VIP tour is possible)
The main other activity in Antigua is hiking around the city.
Transportation to Antigua from Guatemala Airport
When you get to airport, there are supposedly people at airport holding signs for shuttles to Antigua that costs about $10. You do need to wait until they fill up. These are known as chicken buses (converted school buses)
If you don’t want to wait, you can take a private taxi that will cost $25 to $30 dollars.
You can probably ask your hotel to set-up transportation for you.
Hotels in Antigua
There are three cities that I would think of staying at:
- San Pedro (Established Backpacker Reputation) – Kayaking; Hike up San Pedro (Start at 6:00 am and end at 1:30 pm)
- San Marcos (Known for Yoga, Mediation)
- Panajachel (Most People Start Here; Most Urban)
Great article talking about the different towns on the Lake:
The primary activities involving kayaking, horseback riding, hiking, biking, and boating around the lake.
You can also go parasailing for $90 for a 20 to 45 minute trip depending on weather.
Los Elementos Adventure Center
A lot of people mentioned positive things about this place with booking activities in Lake Atitlan
Transportation to Lake Atitlan from Antigua
The drive is anywhere from 1 hour and 15 minutes to 2 hours from Antigua
Transportation to Lake Atitlan from Guatemala City.
The drive is supposedly 3.5 to 4 hours long, but Google Maps only indicates 1.5 hours for 109 km trip.
The cost is $120
Good Overview of Town
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g292008-d302594-Reviews-Hotel_Atitlan-Panajachel_Lake_Atitlan_Solola_Department_Western_Highlands.html ($145) – Punch
http://www.portahotels.com/hotel-del-lago/default-en.html ($108) – second night would save $20
http://www.lacasadelmundo.com/web/index.php/en ($75) – Jaibalito – secluded no other activity outside of hotel
SAN PEDRO – DIDN’T LIKE THAT DON’T HAVE GREAT VIEW (BUT IS CHEAP)
http://www.atitlan.com/mikaso.htm ($35) – MikasoHotel
http://www.casalobo.org/ (<$50 for room)
Hotel Aaculaax -$65 but unclear if are on water
HOtel Jinava – $25.00
Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centres of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization.
You can actually do a day trip to Tikal from Guatemala City and/or Antigua.
http://www.guatemalanadventure.com ($350 trip with flight)
http://www.enjoyguatemala.com/tours/splendidtikal.htm ($350 trip with flight)
http://www.mayan-traveler.com/tikal-tour.php ($89 tour – 1 day tour)
Itinerary #1 including just Lake Atitlan and Antigua
Leave on Friday: Arrive in Guatemala City around 11:00; Head to Antigua and Hike up Volcan Pacaya
Saturday: Morning in Antigua; Head to Lake Atitlan; Paraglide and then head to San Pedro
Sunday: San Pedro (Bike Around Lake)
Monday: Head back to Guatemala City and fly home
Itinerary #2 including Lake Atitlan, Antigua, and Tikal
Leave on Friday: Arrive in Guatemala City around 11:00; Head to Lake Atitlan
Saturday: Arrive back in Antigua prior to 12; Hike up Volcan Pacaya
Monday: Fly Home
Sunrise: 5:30 and Sunset: 6:30
Reserve your transport. Several tour and bus companies provide service from Guatemala City to Copan, including the well-known Hedman Alas, which provides executive class buses from Antigua and Guatemala City, and Trifinio Tours, which offers chartered minibus service as well as charter flights into Copan
www.enjoyguatemala.com (Trip to Copan via Bus; 2 hours there)
http://www.turansa.com/paginas/tours/archeologicalcopan.htm?m=1 – $220 for one person