1. Semuc Champe
You might have to take a half-hour drive through a bumpy jungle to get here, but it’s certainly worth it. The Cahabon river runs so turquoise blue that you’d be forgiven for coming here again and again wanting dip your weary body into the enticing water. You can even swim underwater to reach some limestone caves.
2. Todos Santos Cuchumatan
The horse races you can see here celebrate All Saint’s Day, (Todos Santas means ‘all saints’ in Spanish). The city is full of musical celebrations and vivid color during that special time of year (November). But there is plenty to see here throughout the year. The people here still speak Mayan, and dress like their colorful ancestors were wont to. What an utterly fascinating place!
You’ll need to travel by boat along the Caribbean coast to reach this gem of a place. Even though it’s merely a simple little town, the evening atmosphere of dance and music is sure to grip your imagination and give you many exciting memories for the future.
Head to this city (the country’s second largest), which is perfectly located for hiking trips to Laguna Chicabal and Santa Maria, the former dormant and the latter an active volcano. The city is itself a coffee-mad cosmopolitan culture zone. It’s considered by its many visitors to be the perfect size - neither too big nor too small.
The amazing thing about the unique beaches here is that they are formed from hot volcanic ash. So you better bring a resilient pair of sandals for when you stroll along the jet black beach – it can be very hot.
Flores can only be accessed by the narrow causeway that connects it to the mainland. It’s a lovely little place, full of charming red-roofed colonial town houses. It’s also very close to the historic Tikal, which makes it a perfect stopping off point.
This town comes vividly alive every Thursday and Sunday when the colorful markets sell everything you could possibly want. Whether its food, clothing, lime stones or carved masks, this place has it all. What’s more, the population is virtually 100% Mayan. It’s so fascinating to see how this ancient people see life.
This market town is the best place to buy souvenirs, and the best to make your own. As you can see, it’s a photographer’s paradise here, thanks to both the deepest lake (Atitlan) in Central America and the Sierra Madre volcanoes in the distance. There are many native villages you can sail to by private boat from here too.
9. Antigua Guatemala
This place is one of the most notoriously gorgeous in the entire world. A former capital city, built by the Spanish conquerors of Guatemala, it’s full of Baroque architecture that excites the eyes. What’s more, the area is also a frequent victim of earthquakes, which means much of the town is in constant danger of being destroyed. You might want to come soon, then.
Tikal was thrust into the popular imagination thanks to Star Wars. However, the city and temples here date back through the centuries and remain today as a powerful testament to the splendor and power of the Mayan civilization. It’s that curious mix of American and European that makes Guatemala such a special place, and because of old sites like this, you can always see both in this country.