Travel on the Horizon – An Adventure Right Next Door

My desire to travel – wanderlust – has really kicked in recently.  Call it island fever…call it itchy feet but it’s time to plan a trip.  And I think I found the perfect time…

My very favorite thing in the world is travel…well…and dessert…but in second place is planning a trip.  And last year, my big trip was basically as far away from Belize as I could go.  An amazing, once in a lifetime, perspective changing, awe inducing, 10,000 mile trip to Kerala, India.  (Check out 12 Things I did not expect about Kerala, India)

toes-and-flowers

SO…some time has opened up in beginning of January – the planets have aligned – and while I am hardly FLUSH with cash…there is a bit extra AND a country that I’ve been planning to see for a while.  And it’s less than 200 miles away.

GUATEMALA…on our very border and yet…yet…I’ve only been to the very edge of it.  And there is SO MUCH.  Colonial cities, active volcanoes where I can toast marshmallows, deep volcanic lakes, rain forest, a Pacific coast called “The Billfish Capital of the World”, hot springs…

Time to get planning.  And I definitely need your help!

tikal

Some see Guatemala as scary and dangerous but I have only heard great things about the places, travelling and the people.  There is one exception and that’s Guatemala City.  I’m undecided whether I’ll visit or not.

There is research to do!

Here’s the plan:  12 days to travel to Guatemala solo, track my expenses (and keep it REASONABLE), see as much as possible and have fun.

antigua

And here’s what I’m hoping for – beautiful landscape, high mountains, indigenous markets, great weather (of course), cobblestoned streets, endless coffee fields. soaring Maya pyramids, slow travel and a bit of adventure.

Here are the stats on Guatemala:  It is 5x the size of Belize but the big difference?  Her population is 15.5 million compared to Belize’s 330,000.  Amazing.

Another big difference for me?  The language, like all the rest of Central America is Spanish.  Espanol?  Uhhhh…not really.

guatemala-viator

There is also the elevation issue.  The highest mountain at over 13,800 feet, Volcan Tajumulco, is a live volcano and the highest mountain in Central America.  SERIOUS ALTITUDE SICKNESS CAN OCCUR UP THERE!

Guatemala also has Central America’s deepest lake, Lake Atitlan, a spot on my list.

So here are my preliminary thoughts – I don’t want to move too quickly so I am sure some of these will have to be scraped (most likely the fishing and perhaps Rio Dulce should be saved for sailing)…

map-of-guatemala

The Maya City of Tikal – I visited about 6 years ago and now it’s time to visit again.

Semuc Champey – Natural Limestone pools and candlelit caving  (top travel blogger, Adventurous Kate, call it her Her Favorite Day in Central America)

My friends Kevin and Heather there this year.

semuc-champey

And the list goes on…but DEFINITELY includes beautiful Lake Atitlan and the UNESCO colonial city of Antigua.

Time to get excited.  SO PLEASE, if you have any suggestions LET ME KNOW!  I’d love to find some funky (reasonably priced) hotels…or exciting tours or great shops.  Any ideas would help.

And then, I shall drag you all along.  HURRAY!  I’M GOING TO GUATEMALA!

It should be very interesting.






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  • Sara Dalton

    I work in Guatemala at the archaeological site of El Mirador, and over the last couple of years have gotten to know the country a bit. Absolutely beautiful place!

    So, a little travel advice: if you’ve already seen Tikal, go to Yaxha instead – it is closer to Flores, less touristy, and really pretty. While in Flores, check out San Telmo on the northwest side of the island for frozen coffee with cardamom and great food. Sunset at the bar above is beautiful, and Hana Lucia may be there playing music – a real character and a great person.

    Skip Guate City and head straight for Antigua. Check out Cafe No Sé and Dislexia Libros – super cool bar with an adjacent bookstore, buy a book, get a free beer! You can catch a free ride from Antigua up to the coffee plantation of Finca Filadelfia for a tour and amazing views.

    At Lago Atitlán, stop in or stay at La Iguana Perdida in the village of Santa Cruz. Dave and Deetle are the owners, and it is a really fun place! Watch for their ginormous dog Balto – he often acts as a speed bump at the bar.

    Enjoy your time in Guatemala – it is not as sketchy as some people make it out to be. People are generally really nice and helpful. 😉

    • Hurray! I love some inside tips. Finca Filadelfia definitely on the list…i’m excited!

  • I agree that you should save Rio Dulce for sailing. It is best seen from the deck of a catamaran. We feel so very lucky that we were able to hop aboard with Simon, Clive, Chunky & Ruthie, and Bruce and see a little, stunningly beautiful slice of Guatemala. An unforgettable life experience!

  • Jim

    I visited Antigua a few years ago and had a great time. We stayed at Hotel la Catedral. There are 8 rooms at this hotel so service is personal and was excellent. They served a wonderful breakfast every morning which was included in the room price. There were about 10 different choices in the breakfast selection. The location was excellent and the city was so close. The manager arranged tours for us and that was a big help. He also arranged for our transportation to and from the airport in Guatemala City. His English was excellent which helped us some. I don’t recall the cost but it was modest.

    Pacaya Volcano had erupted a few days before we where there and that was an exciting visit. Being older than you I rented a horse to make the climb up the mountain and that worked out great and was not expensive. The guide brought us right up to the hot lava where he pushed some brush into it and it ignited immediately. I had visited several volcanos in my life and wasn’t very impressed but this one…..

    I took a 2 hr. walking tour in the city. Antigua Tours with Elizabeth Bell which was quite nice and she is very verse on the history. She is an American who has been in Guatemala since she was a young girl. I visited places that would have been very difficult to fine on my own.

    Restaurante Casa Santo Domingo Three of us ordered Filet Mignon and it was the best I ever remember. Everyone said the same. The prices where reasonable and dinner with wine was about $25 USD per person. My only mistake was not eating every meal there. If I visit Antigua again I will definitely spend more time in this restaurant.

    Filadelfia Coffee Resort had a great 1/2 day tour of the plantation. The tour guide explained the history and the workings of the plantation. A lot of effort goes into getting coffee beans to the customer.

    And best of all for you Rebecca was all the pastry shops around the square where I would go at night for a drink and a sweet. To kill for deserts.

    You can tell I really enjoyed my stay in Antigua but I didn’t see much else of the country. Being a sailor I read a lot about the Rio Dulce and regret not visiting……someday. Good luck I know you will enjoy it.