The Journey through Guatemala

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My journey through Guatemala

I am back from my trip to Guatemala and it took me a while to write down my experiences, gather all the information, links, videos and photos that will appear in this post. I know – this is going to be a blogpost that’s a little longer than the usual ones I post, but I think it’s worth reading and if you have any questions at the end – feel free to leave me comment down below and I will be happy to answer your questions if I can.

However – before going into details, I wanted to express some thoughts. I’m still very emotional when I speak about my trip to my friends and family – simply because it was one of the most amazing and stunning experiences I have ever been able to make. Five weeks of intense traveling leave marks and I came back with so many impressions, that it might take some time to fully understand it. I have met amazing people whom I have to thank for making this trip even more special. The weather was great, I only had a few rainy days. The timings for whatever activity I did were perfect – mostly for the photos I shot. And diving into the local culture by trying local food, taking public transportation and talking to many locals about their country and the history of it, was simply inspiring. I know I won’t be able to fully put everything into words but maybe – in conjunction with the photos – you’ll get a slight feeling of what I was able to see and live.

And now enjoy a trip through Guatemala.

Guatemala City

Given the fact that I’ve been in South America more than once, coming into Guatemala City airport wasn’t a very different or “new” experience. It’s not the biggest airport and you get around easily – even going through customs and immigration. People are friendly and the real thrill was waiting out front – Kevin Rossatty. Now – you know that I’ve been going on about this for a while but I’ll just say it one more time: I think Kevin is an amazing photographer and turns out – a lovely person, too. After having known each other for quite a while now (online that is), it was such a great experience to finally meet him in person and to even be his guest while in Guatemala City.

What can I say about the city itself? Well – I guess it’s another one of these big, loud, chaotic and kind of dirty cities like Lima, Mexico City or Bogota. There are nice corners but you have to look for them and if you’re on your own, you’re kinda lost. I have to admit that I wasn’t too amazed by Guatemala City – the only bright side of things was my stay with Kevin and his family. What is nice though is the setting…surrounded by volcanoes and with many parks and lots of nature, it isn’t the ugliest city at all. I’ve seen worse.

After spending a couple of days in town, getting sick from either water or food (we still don’t know what exactly it was), spending a day in bed and then slowly recovering, the real adventure started and I took my first bus out of town…direction: Antigua.

Antigua Guatemala

I’m a fan of old little towns with a history and many interesting and beautiful sights as well as interesting people. That’s what Antigua is. Around the central park, there’s a ton of churches, ruins, old houses, nice little restaurants and coffee shops and of course hotels and hostels. It is surrounded by a couple of volcanoes and the weather is pretty amazing. It gets really fresh after sunset though – just remember to take a sweater or jacket in case you want to walk the streets. The nights are filled with music and parties – mostly by the numerous backpackers and travelers who come there. You can find cheap places to stay and the food is generally very good and reasonably priced. At the end of this article, I will mention a couple of hostels and restaurants I would recommend you to visit.

Kevin joined me in Antigua since it is really close to Guatemala City (1-1.5h by car) and we spend almost two days there. After 2 nights in town, I headed out to my next destination: San Pedro la Laguna.

San Pedro la Laguna

There’s many ways to travel in Guatemala. Private transportation organized by agencies being the most expensive one, Primera Classe Buses like Litegua or Fuente Del Norte which are cheaper and of course the widely known so called Chicken Buses which are definitely the cheapest option but not always recommendable. I took the first option because it was the most comfortable one. I got picked up from my hotel and after a 3 h drive, we got to Panahachel at Lago de Atitlán. From there you have to take a boat to get to one of the many towns around the lake. My choice was San Pedro la Laguna. After a short (20-25min) boat ride which was really amazing, we got to the little town. It is nothing less but a picture postcard motive getting in from the lake. The town is split into to parts – the part left of the pier and the one right of it. I was staying on the left side which is considerably quieter as there’s only small hotels facing the lake. All the backpacker hostels and dorms are on the right side and well – you can imagine that there’s always a party going on.

San Pedro is very laid back. There’s not too much to do in town…you can rent a Kayak, go for a swim in the lake and of course have all sorts of drinking entertainment if you’re up to it. Other than that you’d have to take a boat at the pier and go somewhere else if you plan on hiking up Volcano Atitlán or visit the other towns like San Marcos Laguna or San José Laguna.

If you like taking some days off and relax, this is the right destination for you. During the day it gets really hot and people are walking around in their shorts and tank tops. There’s a couple of shops which sell jewelry made from stone and leather, a couple of restaurants, coffee shops, juice bars and a street food market that starts barbecuing all sorts of nice stuff in the evening. I really enjoyed myself a lot during the 3 days I stayed there and the sights of the lake and the volcano are simply breathtaking.

From there I wanted to get up north and visit Quetzaltenango (or Xela how the locals call it). The simplest and cheapest way to get there from San Pedro is…by chicken bus. Take one in the morning at the little park right up the street from the dock and it will cost you 35Q (Quetzales) and take you around 2.5h to get to Xela. Believe me – that is going to be a ride to remember!

Xela (Quetzaltenango)

The chicken bus drops you off at the Minerva Bus Terminal in Xela – a dirty and chaotic strip where tens of chicken buses wait for people to get in. It is loud, it is dusty and it is annoying because many people will approach you and try to get you on their buses. The street market next door doesn’t really make things better. My suggestion is: grab one of the taxis along the street and let them drive you to el parque central in zona 1 – the central park in Xela. It’s 30Q which is not cheap but I was happy to get out of there as soon as possible. Around the central park things get quieter and much nicer.

After finding my hotel and checking in, I went for lunch and a walk around the area. If you expect Xela to be as appealing as Antigua or San Pedro La Laguna – forget it. It’s a big city and it doesn’t have the charm of the latter. I didn’t like it too much to be honest. It’s busy and not very interesting from the architectural point of view. And it gets cold in the evening and during the nights – REALLY cold.

I checked on my options and found out that there are nice hot volcanic springs half an hour out of town – perfect getaway. So I booked a tour for the next day and had a wonderful time at Las Fuentes Georginas. You should definitely go there in the morning – it gets crowded by locals with their children in the afternoon and you will not be able to fully enjoy it. On the way back I had a great view of the Volcano Santa Maria which had just spit out a cloud of steam.

Back in town, I spent the day reading, visiting the street market La Democracia and a mall in the same area. For the next day I had planned to leave and visit Chichicastenango which is famous for its market and handicrafts.

Chichicastenango

Since I booked a private transport to Chichi, it was a fairly comfortable ride. The last stretch down the mountains is quite intimidating since the road is narrow, crowded and very steep with many turns. Once in town, you could feel the hustle and bustle of market day and I got off one block off the market. After a couple of detours, I found my hotel – a very basic refugio down the road to the cemetery. I only wanted to stay for the night, so I chose the cheapest option available. The room was dark, almost no light came in and it was cold…but well at around 7 euros a night you can’t expect much.

After dropping my stuff I headed out to the rumbling parque central and the market. I have literally never seen something crowded, busy and colorful like it. Everyone calls you “amigo” and wants you to take a look at their stuff. They offer handicrafts, there’s food stalls, clothing, jewelry, fruit, sweets, flowers….whatever you can imagine. In the background at the church people are burning incense, music is playing from the opposite church…it is a spectacle you will hardly see anywhere else. I suggest to go to market after lunchtime. It gets much more relaxed and less busy. Close to the market, there is a nice restaurant on the second floor called Don Pascual. They offer great drinks and food, you can get free wifi and sit on one of the two balconies looking down onto the street. It’s a real treat to get out of it and see it from above.

In the early afternoon I went to visit the shrine Pascual Abaj up a little hill south of town. The short walk and hike up there were nice as you pass a pine forest which smells really nice. Up on top, you see a couple of flat sacrifice stones people use to burn stuff like flowers, incense, cigarettes, eggs and more. I was lucky because when I got there, a man was preparing his sacrifice by neatly spreading out incense, flowers, some white powder, cigarettes, eggs and sprinkling over some whiskey – probably used as fuel to get the fire going. He then put on a traditional headscarf and started the fire as well as his prayers. It was nice to see such a ceremony.

In the evening I went to a restaurant that was recommended by Tripadvisor. It was hard to find at first but well worth it. It’s called San Juan and is part of a hotel right next to the main church. The food was excellent and the prices more than reasonable.

Since there’s not much more to do in Chichi, I got up early and caught a chicken bus to Guatemala City…THE ride of my life. When I entered the bus, it was already almost full so I had to squeeze in with some locals. The exciting thing was that it got even fuller along the way and in the end I ended up in the middle of a bench with my knees poking through the front backrest (I’m tall and these busses are definitely not made for tall people like me), a kid next to me on one side, a sleeping young man on the other, people standing in the aisle, vendors coming through the front and the back of the bus and the Latin music playing so loud, that the people who were sitting next to the subwoofer must have experienced heart palpitations. It was just crazy. BUT – it was cheap. Only 30Q for a 3 hour ride.

Puerto Barrios

After a quick stop in Guatemala City to have lunch with my friend Kevin, I got on a first class bus by the company Litegua to go on a 6h trip to Puerto Barrios at the Caribbean coast. The ride was comfortable, we even had in seat entertainment and there was a 20 min break to use a restroom or get some drinks and food at a gas station on the Interamericana. After some delays I got to Puerto Barrios at 10.30 pm and it was pouring down! First rain I had seen in a while.

The hotel I stayed at was cheap and comfortable – except that there was no power/light and water due to the heavy rain. But that night also passed and I wanted to go to Livingston anyway the next day. After a good rest and a short cleanup with rain water, I went down to the Muelle Principal and took a boat to Livingston.

Lívingston

You instantly know that you’re in the Caribbean as soon as you step on that boat in Puerto Barrios. The waters are clear and the breeze warm – even at 9.30 in the morning. Half an hour later – I had passed palm trees, lush vegetation, nice little piers of hotels right on the beach – I reached Livingston. The mixed crowd is what you noticed first. The Garifuna – people who centuries ago have come to Guatemala from Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador fleeing from the colonialization by the Spanish and French, found a new place to live in Livingston and so over the years, a whole new culture arose.

Livingston is small. With only around 7000 inhabitants, it doesn’t take long to get you out of the frenzy of the main roads and into the lush, green, tropical surroundings. Unfortunately the first two days weren’t what I had expected the weather to be. It was cold and overcast with some rain showers on the second day. On the third day though, I could watch the town awake to its beautiful splendor: pecans cruising above fisherboats, the heat kicking in as soon as the sun rose above the horizon and the fog clearing over the rainforest.

There’s only little to do in Livingston – but what you can do is spend some time at Los Siete Altares – a beautiful collection of natural pools fed by waterfalls. I was a bit unlucky as it hadn’t been raining much lately and the waterfalls were not running. The basins were filled though and you could take a refreshing bath in one of them. The setting is spectacular….in the middle of intense jungle these basins look like they have been carved out.

Another thing you obviously can do: hang out at the beach and enjoy the wonderful sea. Now – to be honest…it is kind of tricky to find a clean spot of beach as there is literally tons of trash (mostly plastic) at the shore. People say that it comes from Belize and gets even worse during storms. But when you do find a clean spot, it is heaven. The waters are clear and warm and there are often palm trees at the beach to sit on and look out at the sea.

So my third day in Livingston was pretty much a beach day…walking for miles and miles, visiting the seven altars, taking swims, having a nice meal on the beach and watching the birds.

Two recommendations here: For great meals and a good cause, visit the restaurant Buga Mama right on the corner of the first street left when you come up from the pier. It’s a great place with seaview and great service. The waiters working there are young people who learn about service and sustainable tourism. And the food is simply amazing! If you continue down the road a little further, you’ll see a hotel on the left with many wooden signs at the front gate. This is Casa Nostra and it is the perfect place for a breakfast with the perfect view of fishing boats, palm trees and their beautiful plants they grow in their garden. The food is SO good, prices are really reasonable and the owner – Stuart – is always happy to give advice or information about the area and trips or tours. Great guy, great place!

Rio Dulce

Rio Dulce means sweet river and that’s because – you guessed it – it’s a sweet water river. And it connects the town Rio Dulce with the Caribbean Sea. From Livingston I took a lancha towards Rio Dulce and the almost 2.5 h trip was absolutely stunning. The canyon, the swimming gardens full of water roses, the birds in the area and the little island with cormorants make for a beautiful journey.

Once I got to Rio Dulce town, I didn’t have to wait long until a private boat from the hotel I wanted to stay at, picked me up. Far away from the noise and traffic of Rio Dulce, hotel Kangaroo is like an oasis in the middle of the mangroves and the jungle. Built on wooden beams, it floats above the waters of Rio Dulce and the main building and the cabins are connected by wooden pathways all surrounded by jungle. I good lucky and had a nice private cabin all to myself. The interior was really nicely decorated and the nice bathroom made this even a better deal. From the front deck you could dive into the river or just have dinner with a spectacular view.

The day after I visited the hot waterfalls at Finca Paraìso which was quite an experience. Being the only hot waterfalls on this planet, this was quite surreal. When you jump into the natural pool, the water is fresh but as you move towards the falls, it gets really warm and if you touch the rocks, where the water runs down from top, it’s almost too hot to touch – nature is truly fascinating.

After an hour of enjoying the bath, I changed and got back to town to catch my ride to the island Flores.

Flores

I’ve heard that Flores is a beautiful little town/island right next to Santa Elena and connected by a bridge. They said it almost has a Mediterranean feel to it and once I got there I completely agreed. It’s just a picture postcard motive: this little town surrounded by jungle and a beautiful clear lake. You can walk around the island in less than 30 minutes – that’s how small it is.

After a bad night in a really bad hotel that I had checked myself into the night before because of the late arrival, I moved to a different amazing place called Posada La Jungla and booked a tour to Yaxhá the same day. I hadn’t heard of this Mayan site, but I looked it up and liked it and so I went on the tour the same afternoon.

Yaxhá

Being a bit smaller than Tikal, the tour was only three hours long. I didn’t have any expectations at that point but the guide – Saúl – blew my mind. It was so inspiring to watch him talk about the jungle and the history of the buildings and the old Mayan culture, the animals, plants and trees…the afternoon turned out to be really amazing. In the beginning it was raining and I thought that the sunset wouldn’t be much of a spectacle. I was so wrong. Later that evening – before sunset – the skies cleared and we watched an amazing sunset at the highest point in the city. Now I was even more hyped about Tikal.

I spent the next days in Flores just hanging out by the lake, enjoying myself, watching the locals jump into the lake and taking afternoon strolls at the lakefront. I spent my evenings around the many restaurants and bars close to the water.

Tikal

On Saturday the day had come: I had booked a transport to Tikal where I wanted to spend the night. We got there with a group of 11 people and I approached Nelsson – the guide (a friend of Saúl) – and asked him if I could join the group for a guided sunset tour that night. He agreed and so we started exploring Tikal after making sure I got an extended ticket for the next day (which wasn’t that easy). Again – he did it with so much passion and knowledge, that it was a real treat. For sunset we ended up the tour on Templo IV – the highest structure in Tikal and watched the sun go down…which honestly was a bit disappointing just because the sunset wasn’t the most beautiful one. But no one controls nature, so I hoped for sunrise the next day. But before that, I had something else planned.

I wanted to spend the night IN Tikal – not the hotels or campsites right next to the city but IN the city itself. You must know that this is illegal – so it was quite an act to talk to the right people. I don’t want to cause anyone trouble, so let’s make it short: I actually ended up spending the night in Tikal – in the jungle, on a Mayan bed under the stars (and an almost full moon). It was surreal. I wandered around the gran plaza, sat on top of Templo II looking down onto Templo I and the Acropolis…I have no words to describe the feeling I had sitting up there. It was simply magical. After shooting some photos, I went to “bed” and hoped for the morning to come quickly.

Who ever spend the night in the jungle, knows how intimidating it can be. The noises from the animals – birds, howler monkeys, insects – the shadows from the trees, the fear that a jaguar would come by and say “hi – I’m gonna eat you…” – all that made for a very short night. I think I only got like 4h of sleep. But – it was totally worth it. At 4am the night was over for me and I started packing my stuff and enjoying a jungle morning toilet (toothbrush, soap and a bottle of water). At 5 I was ready to join the two groups of tourists who had made their way through the gran plaza at 4.30. I wasn’t supposed to show up before 5 (security reasons and so that no one would ask the wrong questions) and shortly after 5, I started to walk towards Templo IV (the highest one on the city) but – I got lost in the jungle. I almost freaked out a bit but then I saw some lights in the distance and recognized a group headed towards the same temple. So I quickly followed them in the distance and finally found the right way.

At 5.30 I went up the wooden ladder to the top of Templo IV and there I was: ready for sunrise with 20 people who had also come here for that. It was absolutely quiet – nobody said a word. You could hear a pin drop. At around six you could slowly notice the horizon getting lighter – and the jungle awake. It was awe-inspiring. Howler monkeys were screaming, the birds were waking up and talking to each other – I have never heard something like it before. In the video below, you can probably hear it. As the sun crawled out of bed too, the sky got lighter and lighter and it looked really nice…but not really special. We sat there for almost 45 minutes hoping for something more dramatic to happen…but well – it seemed to me I just chose the wrong day. One group of the two packed their stuff and left…the rest of us decided to stay a little longer and just inhale the moment. And then boom: there it was! The sun. It glanced through a thick layer of fog and clouds and the rays and warmth hitting the canopy of the jungle, made the humidity raise. It was mesmerizing and one of the most beautiful moments I have ever witnessed in my life. The jungle below, the temples poking though the jungle canopy in the distance, the sun hitting them, the fog making the light rays visible…it was absolute perfection. I hope the photos can show a fraction of what it was like being there.

After the sun was up high and light changed from spectacular to standard, I went down and back to the plaza. I shot some more pictures around the city – including my little sleeping room and slowly headed towards the entrance of the park. On my way out I met two lovely elderly Guatemalan ladies who asked if I had spent the night in the park. I had to lie to them and told them that I had gone in for sunrise. After they saw the pictures on my camera screen, they took a photo of it with their iPhone and thanked me. Really sweet.

After I got back to Flores, I arranged for some transportation to my next destination and fell into a deep and refreshing sleep in a real bed with no animal noises. It had truly been an experience I will never forget.

Semuc Champey

The natural pools are located on the bottom of a valley which is only accessible via one “road” or more so a muddy and rocky path that only pickup trucks and motorcycles can drive on. It took the bus 9 hours to get from Flores to Lanquín – the village closest to Semuc. There we had to change vehicle and ended up standing on the back of a pickup truck riding down into the jungle even deeper for another 9km or 6 miles. Then around 7.30 pm we finally got to our hotel for the night – a little lodge with simple cabins and dorms in the middle of nowhere. “We” is the guys that were riding on the bus with me from Flores and during a short stop in Cobán we had booked the hotel from a travel agency nearby. The lodge turned out to be absolutely lovely. The people there were super friendly and after settling down in our rooms and dorms, we met in the open terrace/restaurant/bar/lobby to hang out and have a couple of drinks. At that point it was a guy from Mexico (Daniel), two Germany guys (Fabi and Binz), two Spanish girls (Miriam and Rocio) and myself. The evening started with a couple of beers and later in we joined a couple of musicians sitting on a couch next to us and it evolved into a jamming/drinking/chatting session that had its peak at midnight when Fabi turned 22. So we celebrated his birthday with more drinks, more music and more laughter. It was a magnificent night and we really enjoyed ourselves.

The next morning – we were all a bit hungover – we had breakfast together and left for Semuc Champey. After a 3km walk, we reached the entrance of the park and first thing we did was climb up to the mirado – a platform high up the mountain from which you could see the natural pools in all their splendor. The ascend was steep and slippery but the view totally worth it. Back down, we finally jumped in the pools that were crystal clear and had the perfect temperature. We walked and swam down the terraces, jumped from cliffs into the deep pools, sled down natural stone slides, walked through a small cave with beautiful stalactites and had literally the time of our lifes. The setting of this wonderful spot is absolutely unique and you should definitely go there if you ever visit Guatemala!

The same day I had a transport arranged to get to Cobán where I wanted to visit the Biotopo Quetzal an hour south of the city. Unfortunately that evening it began to rain so hard, that I decided to skip the Biotopo and directly return to Antigua the next day.

Antigua Guatemala

It took me almost all day to get from Cobán to Antigua. The first part of the trip – Cobán to Guatemala City – was quite comfortable in a nice bus with good seats. The downside of it was that in Guatemala I had to wait for 3 hours until I could take the next bus to Antigua. But at 6 pm we finally left the city and drove towards Antigua. After an excruciating drive through Guatemala’s rush hour, we got to Antigua after 8pm and I reached my new home for the next two days – Posada Juma Ocag – tired and glad to be there.

The next day was an unexciting one – I slept in, had breakfast, did some laundry, booked the tour to the volcano Pacaya, found a post office to send out picture postcards and basically just chilled – after trying to find a hotel for the upcoming two nights. Hostal Burkhard was finally the one with nice enough rooms, an adequate price and capacity to welcome me. Antigua gets really crowded during weekends and it can be hard to find a place to crash if your standard is a bit higher than a dorm or a dark room with no daylight.

Volcano Pacaya

The next day – after a great coffee or two at The Refuge which had become my favorite coffee place in Antigua, I moved to my new hotel, had breakfast and got picked up at two pm for the tour to volcano Pacaya I have been so excited about.

The bus was a little late – nothing new in Guatemala, and we drove towards Pacaya passing the three big volcanoes close to Antigua – Acatenango, Agua and Fuego. Just seeing them from below was aweinspiring. “How much better this must be, looking at them from high up…” I thought. We got to Pacaya, our guide Carina welcomed us and the hike started. It didn’t take long to find out that we were not going to climb up to the crater because Pacaya was in a phase where gas levels rise and the pressure gets higher, fogging up the crater with toxic fumes. So probably it wasn’t the best idea to get too close to the crater anyways. What we did do though is, that we hiked up a slope that brought us to the side of the volcano that had been affected by the previous eruption and was covered in black, sharp lava. It was the highest point we were allowed to get to. Up there we had the most stunning views of Fuego, Agua and Acatenango and it wasn’t even sunset. After a steep descent down to the petrified lava river, we visited this beautiful little lava store that sold all sorts of jewelry and art made from and with lava. The next short little walk brought us to hot holes in the ground where we could roast marshmallows and I had my very first (lava roasted) marshmallow in my life! It was so cool. Back up the slope and at the highest point of the tour, we waited for the sun to set. I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t seen any red flowing lava but the sunset made up for it – big time! The sunset was just perfect: the clouds made for a very dramatic setting while the sun sank behind them and the three volcanoes were like huge silhouettes against the sun – Fuego being the most impressive one because it spew out clouds of fumes and ash. What a magical moment this was! We didn’t even mind that we had to descent all the way on the dark – this view stuck in our memory for a long time, and will probably for ever. Not to mention that one of the girls of the group I was in, celebrated her 22nd birthday that day – she absolutely loved it! Even more when we got down the volcano, the group sang happy birthday to her and I gave her my little cinnamon roll I had brought with me for the hike.

Back in Antigua, I had a lovely dinner at bistro Matiz, went to bed, had a little discussion about loud phone calls in the hotel’s hallway at 11pm with my neighbor, and decided to cut my stay at this shabby hotel by one day and go to Monterrico the day after.

Monterrico

After a short and not really good night, I spent the morning gathering information about how to get to Monterrico, had breakfast, walked up to El Cerro de la Cruz where you have a wonderful view of Antigua and the volcanoes surrounding it, went back to my hotel, packed my stuff, checked out, went to my coffee place The Refuge for the second coffee, walked to the bus terminal/meeting place and asked my way around the several chickenbus drivers until I found the right one that would get me closer to Monterrico. Almost 4 hours and 3 bus changes later, I walked on the first black beach I had ever seen in my life. It was breathtaking!

A quick walk to my new hotel, room check, check in, shower and change of outfit later, I was back at the beach. The black sand is hot – very hot. But the water is so warm – I didn’t expect that from the pacific. I’m used to water temperatures like the ones in Los Angeles or San Francisco (which are much colder). After a nice lunch at John’s Place, I was back at my hotel for a swim in the pool (oh yes – you get a pool, a private room with bathroom and hot water for only 9€ a night) and got ready for sunset at the beach. After wandering around for a while (and shooting pictures of course), I decided to have a drink at this hotel by the beach which has beautiful lounge chairs on the beach, a nice bar and…happy hour. With my two Coronas in one hand, my bag and the camera in the other, I placed myself strategically at a spot from where I could see the sun set. And what a beautiful one it was – almost too kitschy to be true. It didn’t take long until a lady from Arizona came up to me and started a conversation. This lead to meeting two other guys that were there too – Dave from Bamberg/Germany and Luis from Madrid/Spain – and the four of us spent the night talking about many things…it was great!

The next days were pretty much lazy days at the beach. Sometimes you don’t need much more to be happy. It usually worked like this: I woke up, had breakfast at El Delfino (strangely enough, everyone of the staff knew my name by the second day and I walked in an out like I was a regular guest), took a swim in the amazing ocean, bathed in the sun, had lunch, sunbathing again, another swim, an afternoon nap, happy hour at the bar, talks, walks, dinner at one of the street food stands and a last drink before going to bed. It was heaven on earth. On the third day, we took a mangrove boat tour to watch the sunrise and the wild animals in the area and it was just beautiful. I couldn’t have done it better in any way – ending the trip in Monterrico was the best decision I had made. Day four was departure day and after the usual morning routine, I took a boat to Avellana, and a chicken bus to Taxisco from where I would take the direct bus to Guatemala City.

Back in Guatemala City

The last days in Guatemala City were pretty chilled. I caught up with Kevin and his family, slept in and basically just let the impressions sink (besides organizing the 3000+ photos I had shot during the journey through the country).

I’m truly thankful for everything that I have been able to experience. From the amazing beauty of nature, the stunning locations at the beaches or in the jungle, the Mayan culture which can be found everywhere and the impressive cities of Tikal and Yaxhá. I have met amazing people and I hope we can stay in touch and maybe even meet again somewhere else on this planet.

It has an inspiring experience, I’ve learned, grown, faced some of my fears and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it!

Come to Guatemala and be inspired!

Humberto & Umberto

  • My journey through Guatemala
  • My journey through Guatemala
  • My journey through Guatemala
  • My journey through Guatemala
  • My journey through Guatemala
  • My journey through Guatemala
  • My journey through Guatemala
  • My journey through Guatemala
  • My journey through Guatemala
  • My journey through Guatemala
  • My journey through Guatemala
  • My journey through Guatemala
  • My journey through Guatemala
  • My journey through Guatemala
  • My journey through Guatemala

Travel Route

Munich – Atlanta – Guatemala City – Antigua Guatemala – Panajachel – San Pedro La Laguna – Xela – Chichicastenango – Guatemala City – Puerto Barrios – Lívingston – Rio Dulce Town – Flores – Yaxhá – Tikal – Cobán – Lanquin – Semuc Champey – Cobán – Guatemala City – Antigua Guatemala – Escuintla – Monterrico – Avellana – Taxisco – Guatemala City – Atlanta – Munich

Photo Books

Guatemala Instagram Edition

Guatemala Instagram Edition
You can now order this photo book with 96 pages and all the Instagram photos I shot during my trip through Guatemala. I added the original captions to make it fun to look at.

Guatemala: Eine Reise voller Emotionen

Guatemala: An emotional journey (German)
You can now order this stunning big photo book with around 45 high-end photographs with captions containing my thoughts while shooting them. 

Trip Facts

Duration:
5 weeks
Cities visited:
18
Flights:
19.504 km
Streets:
2.455 km
Rivers:
71 km
Photos shot:
4500+
Videos shot:
131

Travel Info

Transportation:
– Chickenbus
– Buses Priméra Clase (Litegua/Fuente Del Norte)
– Private Shuttles
– Pickup Trucks
– Tuktuk

Currency: 
Quetzal (1 € = 8 Q)

Languages spoken: 
– Spanish
– English (rarely outside of the city)
– Kich-é (traditional Mayan language)

Immigration:
No visa required (Europeans)

Possible health threats:
– Dengue Fever/Malaria

Price Level:
Guatemala isn’t the cheapest country in Latin America but it’s relatively cheap compared to Europe or North America

Hotel List

Guatemala City
– Private

Antigua
– Posada Juma Ocag
– Hotel Santa Lucia
– Hotel Burkhard

San Pedro La Laguna
– Hotel Nahual Maya

Xela
– Hotel Kiktem-Ja

Chichicastenango
– Hostal El Mashito

Puerto Barrios
– Hotel Europa

Lívingston
– Hotel Rios Tropicales

Rio Dulce
– Hotel Kangaroo

Flores
– Hotel Posada La Jungla

Cobán
– Hostal Casa Luna

Monterrico
– Hotel El Delfin
– Hotel Brisas del Mar

Safety and Security

Common sense applies – I never had any issues but I try to blend in with the crowd and not to show of valuables – especially in Guatemala City. The rest of the country is pretty safe to Latin American standards.


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