Overview

Exotic Guatemala lies at the heart of the Mayan world. It’s a country steeped in history, proud of its traditions and culture, with breath-taking scenery. There are vivacious markets and volcanic landscapes, mystical lakes, and tropical jungle embracing ruined pre-Conquest Mayan settlements.

The old Spanish capital of Antigua has shady plazas, and colonial houses and courtyards bursting with bougainvillea. A few hours’ drive up into the highlands is exquisite Lake Atitlán, surrounded by forest-cloaked volcanoes. Concealed in the jungle of the far north are the Mayan ruins of Tikal – a magnificent abandoned city where temples tower high above the forest canopy, rich in wildlife.

Many villagers live a traditional life little changed since those pre-Columbian times. From choice – not to please tourists - they still wear richly-woven costumes, the vivid hues and intricate designs varying from place to place. The authentic markets in highland villages are a hive of activity and a kaleidoscope of colour, while the gentle tones of marimba music are all-pervasive in the flowery courtyards. The frequent indigenous festivals are characterised by Catholic and evangelical motifs intertwined with the mysticism of the old beliefs.

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Lake Atitlan

The weather in Guatemala is wide and varied

Perfect for combining with a holiday to Mexico or Belize, Guatemala is a compact and safe destination to visit and is steeped in history, tradition and culture. Lying at the heart of the Mayan world you can expect to find vivacious markets and volcanic landscapes, mystical lakes, and tropical jungle embracing ruined Mayan settlements. The climate here is pleasant meaning it’s perfect for year-round visits. The dry season runs from November to April, but even in the wet season the rainfall is generally only for a couple of hours a day. The highlands are known for their beautiful warm days but cool nights, whilst the lowlands around Tikal are hot all year round, with humidity increasing from May onwards.
If you love a good fiesta then head to Antigua for Easter for Semana Santa where religious processions pass through the streets which are paved with colourful flowers. Day of the Dead is celebrated with gusto on 1-2 November throughout the country and the festival of Santo Santo Tomás in Chichicastenango from 13 -22 Dec with processions, traditional dancing and marimba music. There is also a giant kite festival near Antigua as well as wild horse-racing in remote Todos Los Santos that are both worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.

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Real Latin american experts

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.

  • Mary Anne Nelson
    Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert

    Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.

  • CarrieGallagher2
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.

  • Charlotte Daubeney (2)
    Charlotte Daubeney - Travel Expert

    Charlotte's fascination with Latin America began with a family holiday to Belize. She went on to study Spanish in school and at university before spending a year living in Santiago, Chile.

  • Millie Davies Mono
    Millie Davies - Travel Expert

    Having caught the travel bug as a child, Millie has travelled all over Latin America before making her home in Buenos Aires for 3 years.

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Expert

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.

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