Our Guatemala Top 10

Volcanoes, Villages, Markets, and More

Our Guatemala Top 10

Volcanoes, Villages, Markets, and More

After spending 6-weeks in Guatemala, we wanted to share our top 10 suggested adventures with you.

# 1. Antigua

Antigua is one of our favorite cities in the world. Surrounded by volcanoes, one of which is active, it’s a great base camp for mountain biking and hiking adventures, including hikes up the Acatenango volcano and mountain biking. Antigua also has awesome markets and restaurants. It’s a beautiful city at any time of day, but especially during the “golden hour” before sunset when it’s colorful buildings and churches glow in the beautiful light of the Guatemala highlands.

Antigua

A River on Our Hike in the Ixil Region

# 2. Hiking in the Highlands

There are several good regions to hike in in Guatemala. We did a 3 day, 2 night hike in the Ixil Region. We’d also recommend doing a hike in the Todos Santos region (in fact it might be even better than hiking in the Ixil Region).

# 3. Indigenous Markets

The markets of Guatemala are fascinating, regardless of whether you are visiting them to buy gifts for your family and friends, to shop for indigenous weavings or to stock up on food and supplies for your overland adventure (or in our case all of the above). Chichicastenango (“Chichi”) is a great market but it’s a pain to get to. You can find most of the same stuff in the Antigua market at a slightly higher price. Guatemala is also a great place to buy weavings. My favorites include the weavings found in Quiche (in particular the Ixil Triangle). The best place to go to find a good selection of weavings is Nim-pot in Antigua. But it’s even better to get weavings in the regions where they are made.

Antique Masks at a Market in Antigua

An Indigenous Woman at the Market in Antigua

# 4. The Ixil Triangle

Several hours to the north of Chichicastenango, is a fascinating and off the beaten path indigenous region of Guatemala. It’s a great place for hikes through the Sierra de os Cuchumatanes mountains. Nebaj is the heart of the Ixil Region. We’d recommend going to Nebaj to stock up on food and supplies and to arrange tours at the El Descanso restaurant (which is also the location of an agency that runs tours). A better place to stay is Hacienda San Antonio on the outskirts of Acul which you can get to from Nebaj in a collectivo.

Local women making us lunch in their home in a small indigenous community in the Ixil Triangle.

# 5. Lago de Atlitan

After an annoying steep descent to San Pedro La Laguna, we were unable to find a good place to camp in the town that was big enough for our rig (although it looks like there is a good campsite in San Marcos La Laguna). If we were to do it again, we would just head to Pana, accept it for what it is (a town filled with 20/30 something backpackers on a beautiful lake) and spend a few days cruising around the lake.

# 6. Lago de Petzen Itza

This lake is a great place to stop on your way from Tikal to the highlands. We spent our time in El Remate while most spend their time in Flores, an island in the lake which is also a great choice.

Biking in El Zur

# 7. Mountain Biking

Good mountain biking is hard to come by in Central America. So I was psyched to get some great rides in Guatemala. While in Acul, I rode to numerous indigenous communities on dirt roads. Unless you are willing to wander around a bit looking for the trails, I’d recommend hiring Brendan, the gringo owner of Mountain Bike Guatemala, to ride with you. In addition to day tours, Brendan also runs multi day rides from Tecpan to Lago de Atlitan.

# 8. Scaling Volcanos

Guatemala is a great place to hike up volcanoes. We made the easy hike up the Pacaya volcano in Antigua. When we return, we will bring a longer telephoto lens on our trip and complete the harder ascent of Acatenangoo to get early morning photos of the Active Fuego volcano (yes, that’s our excuse for not hiking up Acatenango this time and we’re sticking with it).

Leah roasting a marshmallow on the active Pacaya Volcano. Yes, it’s touristy, but it’s still cool.

Our teacher, Doña Magdalena from Acul, El Quiché, Guatemala

# 9. Taking Spanish Lessons

Guatemala is a great place to learn Spanish. It’s cheap and there are numerous places to study it, including in Antigua. We took informal lessons from a woman in the Ixil Triangle but would have preferred to take classes in Antigua if we had been able to find a good campground there.

# 10. Tikal

Even if you have seen plenty of Maya ruins in Belize or Mexico (like we had), Tikal is still worth it. It’s a huge ruin in the jungle and there’s a lot to see, including wildlife. It’s also sparsely populated compared to more other more popular ruins like Palenque or the larger ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

Tikal

4 comments

  1. Comment by Christy

    Christy Reply March 20, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    I just love your posts…You write so well, I’m thinking there is a book being created…you inspire me in many ways; your constant awareness of the people around you and your depth and breath in really leaning into their lives, your positive attitude in the face of emotional and some physical challenges, and the time you are taking to digest all of it.
    Thank you for sharing so much of yourselves…
    Miss you three,
    Christy 😘

    • Comment by Guided by Wolves

      Guided by Wolves Reply March 20, 2019 at 5:01 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Christy! 😘

  2. Comment by Karl

    Karl Reply March 20, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    “dedicated to helping individuals improve their mental and physical happiness and health. ”

    If that were true, I’d have been invited on your trip. But, “no.” Leave me alone, abandoned and forelon. Hmmmm Dad

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