You either do or you don’t believe the idea that the Mayans have predicted the end of the world for 2012. Either way, 2012 is the year of the Mayan influence and Guatemala is no exception. While Mayan ruins may dot other countries Guatemala still has a strong population of Maya people living among the mountaintops. You can explore ruins, marketplaces, volcanoes, or even volunteer here in 2012.
5 Things to Do
- Shop at a market
- Volunteer and work with animals
- Explore ancient ruins
- Hang out with howler monkeys
- Climb volcanoes
5 Places to See
Chichicastenango More than 95% of the people living here are indigenous, providing a glimpse at Guatemala’s historic culture. Known as Chichi, this region is also one of the largest markets in all of Central America. Here you can find traditional native costumes, handmade blankets, flowers, foods, jewelry, and pottery.
Lake Atitlán If you want to see volcanoes, make sure to head to Lake Atitlán in the afternoon. The towns around the lake are perfect for backpackers, especially in Panajachel. The lake itself is the deepest in Central America but the real reason to visit here is for the volcanoes. There are three volcanoes surrounding the lake, Volcán Atitlán, Volcán San Pedro, and Volcán Tolimán. Make sure you’re in the area at dusk to see a magnificent sunset.
Antigua One of the most popular tourist destinations in Guatemala, Antigua was the colonial Spanish capitol of the country. The remaining Plaza Mayor (Central Park) has gardens, a palace, and a cathedral. The town grows even more popular during Lent and Holy Week, with the city’s churches and cathedrals having ceremonies every week. The skyline of the city is also dominated by three volcanoes, Volcán de Agua, Acatenango, and Volcán de Fuego.
Tikal National Park The land at Tikal National Park is one of the largest excavated sites. Much of the ancient architecture remains making this a popular tourist site. If you are coming to Guatemala to see Mayan ruins, this is the premiere spot to see some amazing history.
Flores Located in the middle of Lago (Lake) Petén Itzá, Flores is popular because of its close proximity to Tikal National Park. ARCAS is an animal rescue and wildlife protection spot where you can volunteer. You can find macaws, parrots, guans, spider monkeys, kinkajous, coatimundis and margays.