Guatemala is a land of volcanoes, great coastlines and amazing lakes. Here are the best tours to get to know the Central American nation better.
A firm favorite on the tourist trail, this incredible spot is well worth a visit. It’s a long drive on bad roads into the middle of Guatemala, but you won’t regret it. Book a one-day tour from one of the hostels in Lanquin and head off in a truck to swim in the natural pools, hike to the viewpoint for the perfect photo, and then descend into the caves.
El Mirador trek
Head off deep into the Mayan Biosphere on a five-day trek to the lost city of El Mirador. It takes a bit of effort to get there – the trek doesn’t begin until you’ve completed a three-hour drive down a dirt road from Flores – but it’s worth every step. On arrival you’ll get to climb the biggest pyramid in the world by volume, and look out over a forest that stretches as far as the eye can see in every direction.
Starting from the Mayan mountain city of Nebaj, you will walk through the iconic Cuchumatanes mountain range to reach the town of Todos Santos. The scenery is spectacular, and you will spend time in traditional Mayan villages. You can go with a local guide from Nebaj or on a group tour with the Quetzaltenango-based NGO QuetzalTrekkers, who use guided trips to raise money for disadvantaged children.
Caving at Caxlampon
The town of Rio Dulce attracts its fair share of tourists, most of whom stay a day or two before heading off to Livingston. However if you drive around half an hour inland, you’ll reach the incredible caving complex at Caxlampon. Here you can clamber through the dark caverns and leap off waterfalls into dark pools on a guided trip. If you’re claustrophobic or scared of the dark it might be wise to stay away; once you’re inside there is no going back.
Guatemala © Fernando Reyes Palencia / Flickr
Antigua Guatemala is the perfect base for an ascent of the Acatenango volcano, just a half an hour drive away. Make sure you take decent cold weather gear for the overnight camping, as temperatures can drop to around freezing, and then wake up early for amazing sunrise views over the active Fuego volcano and a number of others that stretch away to the north.
Mountain biking at El Zur
On the side of a volcano outside Antigua Guatemala lies this purpose-built mountain bike park with more than 25 kilometers of trails. A 4×4 ferries you and your bike to the top of the trail, and you can drop in at your own pace. Book a tour with Old Town Outfitters in Antigua, the only company to have access.
ATV tour in the Panchoy Valley
This five-hour ATV tour takes you to seven different villages in the Panchoy Valley around Antigua Guatemala. It’s a great way to see how life changes just a short distance outside the tourist town, and ATVs are great fun to drive.