Spotlight: Guatemala January 14 2015
Optimal Trip Time: 10 days
If you are arriving by plane, the cheapest and most convenient way to get into the country is through Guatemala City. We had heard mixed reviews about safety and things to do, so we opted out of spending time in the capital, and headed straight to Flores, the closest airport to Tikal. A bus ride from Guatemala City to Tikal is about 8 hours, so it seemed worth the $100 for a quick flight.
Fly into Flores Airport and arrange transport to Tikal in advance, it is about a two hour drive. You may stay in Flores, but the true majesty within Tikal happens during sunrise when you hear the howler monkeys come out to claim their territory. If you were to stay in Flores, you would be up very early in order to make this.
Suggested Stay: Hotel Tikal Inn. Not for the frills, but Hotel Tikal provides comfortable lodging, and hearty food. Also, there is a small pool, perfect for an afternoon nap after exploring the ancient civilization.
Our favorite off the beaten path activity in Antigua is actually outside of the city center. Grab a tuktuk and ask them to take you to Pastores, a 15-20 minute ride away. Be sure to rearrange transportation back to Antigua, as tuktuks are hard to come by in Pastores. Or, if you are up for an adventure, hop a chicken bus back for a really cheap ride. Pastores is pretty much a one street town, lined with small shops filled with stunning, well made, leather boots.
To travel to the magical Lake Atitlan, you must take a two hour bus ride from Antigua, to Panajachel. From Panajachel, transport changes to boat, and the adventure begins. The boat goes from town to town, docking for just a few minutes to drop off and pick up passengers. Here are a few our favorite towns we visited.
San Marcos: San Marcos is one of the most peaceful places we had ever stayed. Head to Il Giardin for green juice, gluten free pizza, and fresh salads. Because they wash all of there vegetables with filtered water, it is safe to eat raw vegetables here! After lunch, head up to the Yoga Forest for an afternoon session of Areal Yoga. About a 30 minute hike from the center of town, Yoga Forest is well worth the trip. Offering stunning views of the lake, it is a great place to have a meal and reflect on the beauty within Guatemala.
San Pedro: A bit more of a party vibe. Stay here if you are looking for hostel accommodations and cheap cerveza.
San Juan La Laguna: This is one of the smaller towns, and is perfect for a short afternoon trip. The town is where we sourced most of our textiles from, as there are several women weaving cooperatives that work together in this community. You will find textiles here that you don't see in other parts of the country.
Santiago: On the larger side, Santiago offers a broad mix of products for those on the hunt! A bit more traditional then the textiles in San Juan, you will find products here that you will also see in Antigua, but for better prices. Happy shopping!