Loaded with nature’s abundance, Guatemala is a humble country in Central America. The sheer variety of landscapes and attractions that Guatemala presents for exploration make it one of the best places to visit in the 21st century. Known world-over as the birthplace of the ancient Maya civilisation, Guatemala is steeped in cultures and traditions, some of which have been given a twist by the Spanish rule in the country.
Without further ado, we give you five reasons for which you must visit this awe-inspiring country that is also a geological treasure:
For Ancient Mayan Ruins
The world has always looked at the Maya civilisation and its contributions with a keen interest, be it its traditions and culture or its ancient ruins. It is believed that in addition to more than 1500 known ruins, there are many that still lay uncovered for lack of infrastructure and finance to discover them. If you are a first-time visitor to Guatemala, you must visit Tikal and El Mirador ruins. The former were erected around 700 A.D and remains the most popular ruins in Guatemala whereas the latter are popular for their looming pyramid. The more frequent visitors can explore the Zaculeu ruins, made of rare white-stone; Qirigua containing a large collection of carved stones as well as Yaxha, ruins that featured in the popular reality show – Survivor.
For Its Black and White Sand Beaches
Guatemala has a stunning variety of beaches. From its Pacific Coast, which boast black, volcanic sand beaches to its Caribbean coast that is lined up by white powdery sand beaches; there’s enough to keep you curious for your days in Guatemala. Monterrico and Puerto San Jose are two of the best beaches on the Pacific coast whereas Livingston and Puerto Barrios attract tourists to the Caribbean coast. Besides, Guatemala also has some rocky lake beaches offering the mesmerising views of Lake Atitlan, believed to be the most beautiful lake in the world, as well as Lake Izabal which is visible from the Denny’s Beach.
For Its Open Volcanoes
For a small country, Guatemala has plenty of dormant volcanoes, and a few active ones, including Pacaya and Fuego. These volcanoes add a dramatic appearance to the diverse horizons of Guatemala. It is mesmerising to watch the sun set as the two volcanic cones continue to emit lava, and it is even more adventurous when you trek to these volcanic peaks in Guatemala or even better is paragliding to the volcanic craters. Some of the popular ones with tourists are Volcán Tajumulco, the highest point in Central America; Volcán Santa María & Santiaguito to the south of Santa Maria as well as Volcán San Pedro, declared as a municipal ecological park.
For Its Mouth-Watering Food
Most of the modern dishes in the Guatemalan cuisine are influenced from its Mayan roots and Spanish rule. Centring on corn, chillies and beans, Guatemalan tamales are the one of the most popular food items in the country. Tamales colorados, Chuchitos, Tamalitos de masa as well as Paches are some of the varieties that you can try. Courtesy Guatemala’s proximity to Mexico, you can also find sumptuous quesadillas and burritos here. Pepián, a part stew, part curry dish, is considered to be the national dish. Kakik, a turkey stew as well as Chiles Rellenos meat-stuffed rolls are not be missed. Some of the popular restaurants where you can savour these dishes are Tamarindos, Jean Francois, Kacao as well as Hacienda Real.
For Carefully Produced Coffee
Guatemala’s economy relies heavily on coffee cultivation, and the country is one of the world-leaders in the production of high-grade coffee. The nutrient-rich volcanic soil of the country, coupled with its favourable altitude and climate makes it a fertile ground for the coffee beans to be grown and nurtured. Make way to The Refuge Coffee bar, Café Bourbon, Cafe Condesa Express or Bagel Barn in Antigua Guatemala for your cup of freshly-produced and brewed coffee. You are sure to find yourself on one of the popular coffee tours here, where you can learn about the lifecycle of coffee – from a plant to a ready-to-use bean.