For many travellers, a visit to Guatemala means checking out Antigua, staying at a hotel next to Atitlan Lake and looking at some Mayan ruins.
While I’m not against doing any of those things, each of those destinations offers a lot more adventurous things to do that showcase Guatemala’s beauty.
Keep reading to find my recommendations on things to do when you visit Guatemala.
1. Mayan Ruins of Tikal: Full-Day Tour from Guatemala City. As I said before. You could just visit this amazing archaeological site and get tons of Instagram-worthy photos. But to get the true idea of what the place is all about and to explore its secrets you need a guide.
A guide is great not only for explaining Tikal’s history, but also for finding animals to observe. They’ll also be able to show you the secret entrance to the underground passages that ancient Mayas once used. Tikal is a great place to observe spider and howler monkeys. The latter of which you may hear before you see – if they’re not sleeping! Unsurprisingly, observing the monkeys was one of the highlights for Laurel.
2. Guatemala Volcano Trilogy – If you like volcanoes, hiking and challenges this is the adventure for you. This is a guided tour that takes you to the top of three of the most iconic volcanoes of Guatemala, Agua, Fuego (active) and Acatenango, in 35 hours or less. These are the three volcanoes that you see surrounding Antigua Guatemala.
You will start this adventure by ascending Agua Volcano with nothing more than a day pack that way you can make it to the top by sunrise. Then the long 6 hour descent through the other face of the volcano starts. Once you are done with it you get some rest and lunch at Alotenango town. Then it is time for the hard part. You pick up your large, camping backpack and start the ascent to Fuego Volcano to reach the camping area at around 9pm. On the last day the hike starts at 5am to reach Fuego’s summit, go down to the point where it meets Acatenango Volcano and do the last ascent towards its crater.
3. Lake Atitlán 5-Hour Kayaking & Trekking from Panajachel – This is an great option for those looking for something fun to do at the lake. It provides a much more immersive experience than just walking around and buying handcrafts. It will also give you a different perspective than the one most tourists see.
During this tour you will do a two-hour easy downhill walk with spectacular views of Lake Atitlan. Then go kayaking on the deepest lake in Central America. You’ve no doubt worked up an appetite by now, so it’s time for a traditional Guatemalan lunch with a Mayan family. This is the highlight of the tour for many travellers.
4. Guatemala Zip-Line Half-Day Tour of the Natural Reserve – This is a great option for adventure seekers who want a birds-eye view over the forest.
The adventure starts when you enter the nature reserve. You will be fit with equipment and given instructions so that you feel safe. It’s actually easier than it looks. The trickiest part, which isn’t that tricky is arriving at each platform. Then it’s time for the time for the exciting part – descending down the mountain from suspended steel cables!
5. Panajachel: Families and Beginners 3-Hour Rock Climb – Many travellers may be surprised to learn that Lake Atitlan is famous for its rock climbing. There are some natural walls that offer great opportunities for adventurers of all skill levels. In this particular tour you will be taught how to climb, so no experience is necessary.
For three hours you will learn and practice climbing a 50 meter natural rock wall as many times as you want. Adventure seekers can rappel down for additional excitement!
6. Kanba Cave & Semuc Champey Park Tour – Guatemala is home to many caves and cave rivers. The most popular one being Lanquin. However there are some others with less touristic infrastructure, but that will still have you exploring a river cave. Kanba is one of those.
You’ll wade through a river cave, then emerge for some tubing on the Kahabon river. Then it’s off to check out the gorgeous turquoise pools of Semuc Champey.
7. Indian Nose Hiking Adventure – If you are a nature lover, this tour around Lake Atitlan is a must. Looking down over the lake and and surrounding volcanoes from the top of the Indian Nose Mountain is an amazing experience.
The hike to the top takes from 1.5 to 2 hours starting from San Juan la Laguna.
8. Fishing in the Pacific from Guatemala City – Not a lot of travellers know this, but the Pacific coast of Guatemala is filled with healthy fish populations. You’ll have a chance to try to catch species such as sailfish, mahi mahi and tuna.
This tour lasts 8 hours. If you do it between November and February you might even get to see dolphins and humpback whales swimming along your boat.
Which of these adventures in Guatemala would you like to try?
Let me know in the comments below.
Lourdes is a soon to be lawyer from Guatemala with the mission to explore each corner of the country. Her favourite activity is hiking along with exploring all mountains, forests, caves, volcanoes and all that the region has to offer. Her goal is to reach as many summits around the world as she can. You can also find her on facebook, twitter and instagram.