Category Archives: Guatemala
Tikal is magic! It was once one of the biggest Maya cities but is since approximately 1000 years back abandoned and overgrown by jungle. Of the around 3000 temples in the area some have been uncovered but many are still just “green hills” deep in the jungle. We arrived early in the morning at dawn and were completely enchanted from the first moment. The best time was before the sun rose and at sunset. We discovered that this is the time when the animals in the jungle are most present. Imagine walking through dense jungle, listening to hundreds of different birds singing and monkeys roaring in the far distance. This is a very strong memory that will last forever!
We walked and walked and in twelve hours we just sat down 45 minutes to eat. Some of the big temples can actually be climbed. The highest one has a staircase attached to help you up (this one I managed) but a few really tall temples just has a steep kind of ladder thing next to it. I tried to climb one but I got so scared that I had to go down again. It is nothing for those that have a fear for heights. But my friend Louis was brave and managed all the way up a few scary once.
The area of Tikal is huge and afterwards we did regret not staying one night in one of the camping sites just outside the park. That would have given us more time and more dawn strolls. But anyhow we were very satisfied with this day that gave us memories to live from for a long long time.
After one night in a luxurious bus sprayed with strong rose perfume (I am allergic to strong smells, but that is another story) we arrived in pretty Flores. A little half island in lake Petén in the northern area Petén in Guatemala. The reason for our visit there, as most other travelers, was to have a base for our visit to the famous Maya ruins of Tikal. The town is very quiet but very pleasant. We stayed in a nice little hotel with great beds and a roof terrace with a view over the lake.
You probably have once heard about beautiful Antigua in Guatemala – no wonder so many people choose to study Spanish there! To really understand how beautiful this place is you must go there and see for yourself. I was blown away! I love colors and this city is just long narrow cobblestone roads of colorful old colonial houses everywhere. As a frame to this beauty three big volcanos are raising to the sky. There are no restaurants and cafés on the streets but every building have a backyard. And in them you find trendy eateries, cafés, bars and shops and more. There are so many hidden gems to be discovered in this city.
Louise and I spent three nights in a great hostel. We walked around, visited the local market, ate well and I even took private lessons in Bachata. And then we went off with our cameras on a parking lot full of the traditional so called “Chicken buses”. If you never heard of them I can inform that those are old US school busses serving as public transport in Guatemala. They are re-painted (of course very colorful) and very personalized decorated.
One day we decided to take a daytrip from Lago de Atitlán to the famous market in Chichicastenango, also simply called “Chichi”. Every Thursday and Sunday Maya people from the surrounding villages are putting up their market stalls in this picturesque little village almost 2000 m above sea-level. Colors, colors and more colors! I enjoyed it very much to just walk around and watch the chaos and the people.
When we drove back again I amused myself by photographing out of the car window…
We got a short but wonderful introduction to Costa Rica. Rather than hopping around too much we choose four nights in Las Fortuna and four nights in Montezuma. We also had two nights in San Jose, upon arrival and departure. We flew from San Jose to Guatemala. The airline was kind enough to upgrade us to first class and even though the flight was short it was certainly appreciated. We transferred from the Guatemala city airport to Antigua, immediately purchased a bus ticket to Lago de Atitlán and hopped on a shuttle bus that took us to our pre-booked hotel Jinava. Lago de Atitlán is breathtaking. It is a lake in the highlands surrounded by several volcanos. Jinava was absolutely peace. The only sound was the many colourful exotic birds that sang for us. The view was just green flowery garden, lake and a 3000 meter high volcano. We paid around 10 Euro per nigh here for a room with two beds and a bathroom that, by the way, came with a house spider that refused to leave 🙂
A nice way to spend the day is to walk from town to town or to visit different villages by boat taxi. Different Maya groups live around the lakes and they dress in beautiful colorful clothing and live a very traditional life around the shore of Lago de Atitlán.
Louise and I hired a private guide one day that walked with us for about 4 hours from one town to another. A beautiful but rather tuff walk from San Marcos to Jaibalito with magic views. The guides dog Goldie followed us the whole way!
Depending on which village one stays in around the lake, the view is different. Another important thing to know before choosing your accommodation is a that each village around the lake has its own ambiance. Hotel Jinava is situated in San Marcos La Laguna, a small town that attracts spiritual souls. Jinava is a bit from the main area which we were thankful about once realizing there was a lot of chanting going on early in the mornings down in the village. We had a few amazing days in this region. From our hotel you had the best view one can ask for and a bunch of very service minded gentlemen’s made sure we felt taken care of.