I have traveled to over 50 countries on seven continents, more than half of which were visited solo. I love traveling, being outdoors, and hiking. I hope to inspire others to travel and explore further, even if that means going alone.
Hey, I'm Ashley!
Get ready for your Central American adventure! Guatemala is an amazing country with a vibrant culture, spectacular architecture and landscapes guaranteed to take your breath away. From ancient ruins to incredible hiking trails, this 14-day itinerary promises the perfect way to experience all this gorgeous country has to offer.
But before you start packing, keep in mind the dry season runs from November – April. This season offers mild temperatures ideal for those seeking outdoor exploration opportunities.
Jet-set to Guatemala City – the perfect starting point for this exciting trip! When you arrive, grab an Uber or hop on a pre-arranged shuttle bus off to Antigua.
I used Gekko Trails Explorer for one of my shuttles I booked in advance in Guatemala. They don’t have the best reviews on Google, but I had no issues with them. Guatemalan drivers drive fast, no matter what company you use. Good thing the journey from Guatemala City to Antigua is a very well-traveled, flatter (for Guatemala) route.
Get ready to explore Antigua, Guatemala – a picturesque town with centuries-old architecture and cobblestone streets. To get your feet wet when you arrive (and acclimate to the high altitude if you’re planning any hikes!), start by strolling around the city. Don’t miss seeing:
Get here bright and early to avoid becoming part of the tourist herd! You’ll want to arrive before 8am so you don’t miss out on the perfect picture of this archway, with Volcán Acatenango in the distance.
This breathtaking church may be off limits for pictures. However, it’s definitely one of the more impressive religious sites in Antigua. It’s also right down the road from the Santa Catalina Arch.
Escape the hustle and bustle of sightseeing in Antigua’s Central Park. Relax with an ice cream under some shade while people-watching. There are also plenty of eateries and shops nearby to explore!
While its interior might not be jaw-droppingly impressive, explore the Antigua Guatemala Cathedral – located just steps away from Central Park.
Convento Santa Clara was the ultimate highlight of my time in Antigua! The archways are so majestic and there’s plenty to explore – it’ll feel like you’re discovering new treasures at every turn. Just keep one thing in mind: no tripods allowed within these walls.
From the grand Convento Santa Clara to the smaller charms of Iglesia Católica San Francisco el Grande, both offer up magnificent, ancient ruins. Iglesia Católica San Francisco el Grande even offers a museum full of fascinating displays.
Guatemala is known for its natural beauty. One of the most awe-inspiring experiences you can have here is hiking Volcán de Acatenango and Volcán de Fuego. This challenging but rewarding hike takes you up one of the most active volcanoes in Central America, Volcán de Fuego. Here you’ll have breathtaking views and a chance to camp overnight right beneath the Acatenango summit.
With OX Expeditions, I set out on the Double Whammy Volcano Tour with an amazing team of guides! This 11.3 mile total hike takes you through one of Guatemala’s most stunning landscapes.
Before you embark on this epic journey, be sure to attend the pre-meeting for information about what items best suit this adventure. Don’t forget sturdy hiking boots to give you a good grip in volcanic sand and plenty of water. Hydration is key when scaling 13k feet high. Prepare yourself so nothing stands in your way of summiting both volcanoes.
After trekking 6-8 hours to the campsite below the summit of Acatenango, drop your bags and head onward another 1.4 miles for a truly spectacular sight – Volcán de Fuego! Feel the ground shake as you get close enough to watch lava spewing from its peak. If that’s too much excitement or you’re just too worn out, chill out by the fire back at the campsite.
You’ll be extremely tired after this long day, but there is truly nothing like spending a night under the stars with Fuego eruptions as your backdrop! Only downside, you and your crew will be tucked in the cabins like sardines! I certainly felt cramped next to strangers who had just become my hiking crew earlier that day.
Wake up in the early morning hours (4am) and join the group on a summit to Acatenango. Climb your way towards an incredible view of sunrise, while standing atop one of Guatemala’s highest peaks.
If you’re tired of hiking, hit the snooze button and instead wake up at 6am to enjoy sunrise from the campsite. When the group summiting Acatenango returns to camp, take the slippery descent back down to La Soledad.
For more epic hiking destinations, check out these recent posts.
Explore an incredible destination full of adventure! Take a shuttle from Antigua to the breathtaking Lake Atitlán, surrounded by gorgeous volcanoes and Mayan villages. Get ready for days of boating, hiking or taking in the local culture. You’ll love every moment spent at this stunning lake paradise!
Lake Atitlán is located in the Sololá department of Guatemala, and is accessible by car or by shuttle. The lake is surrounded by a number of small towns, each with its own unique character and charm. You can easily transport between towns by local boat.
There are plenty of options for accommodations in the area. I stayed at the Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort and Nature Reserve near Santa Cruz La Laguna. When you arrive in Panajachel, you will be greeted by the resort’s boat captain. Your captain will take you on a 30 minute ride to your little slice of paradise.
Lake Atitlán calls out to all types of adventure lovers! Whether you want a peaceful walk along its lake shore or an intense trek up one of its majestic volcanoes, there’s something for everyone.
At the Laguna Lodge, take in a breathtaking view with a sunrise hike to a palapa on the nature reserve. Sit and watch as dawn brings life to the lodge’s sprawling reserve.
For adventurers looking to explore the area, Indian Nose and Volcán San Pedro are top-of-mind hikes. Both are pictured above with Volcán San Pedro being the large volcano on the left and Indian Nose being the smaller peak to the right of myself. Indian Nose is renowned for its magical sunrises. However, catching sunrise may require special planning. Transport before sunrise isn’t available by local boat from Santa Cruz La Laguna!
If a peaceful paddle is more your style, the Laguna Lodge offers free kayaks. Just make sure you’ve got the skills to navigate Lake Atitlán – there are some choppy waters on this lake.
Lake Atitlán is surrounded by a number of small towns, each with its own unique character and charm. Wave down the local boat from your resort’s boat dock to visit each village. Each local boat ride is 10-25Q and these are the most popular towns around the lake to visit.
If you’re looking for excitement, this little town probably isn’t the place to find it, unless you’re there to hike Volcán San Pedro. But don’t worry – just a few miles down the road lies a town more catered to tourists with plenty of shops.
San Juan La Laguna is a great town for those seeking creative inspiration, with plenty of local artisan studios. Don’t miss taking a journey down La Calle de las Sombrillas and snap some of your most memorable Instagram photos.
San Marcos La Laguna is known for its health and wellness culture. Eagle’s Nest is the most unique yoga studio, high up on the mountain, overlooking the lake. Take a TukTuk up here and relax with a fresh juice in hand.
Afterwards, explore shops along the town’s narrow alleyways or visit Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve (located to your right as you’re heading back to the boat dock on the lake). If you’re short on time though, it’s best to skip Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve.
With too little time to explore Lake Atitlán, I missed out on Santiago Atitlán which is known to be the most traditional Mayan town around the lake. I found this blog post that expands on this town as well as the next two towns.
This town is the place to be if you’re looking for a unique souvenir. San Antonio Palopó has handmade ceramics and artfully weaved goods.
This town looks to be more colorful and picturesque with unique hot springs that give it that additional edge.
Lake Atitlán is a peaceful and calming place, and there are plenty of opportunities to relax and recharge. On your final day, take some well-deserved rest at the resort. But if you can’t stop exploring just yet, venture to neighbouring towns nearby – perhaps ones that were missed in yesterday’s expedition! Catch a late boat back to Panajachel where Calle Santander awaits with all its shopping goodness.
Head out from Panajachel on a 10 hour shuttle through the mountains to San Agustín Lanquín. If you get car sick, you will want to bring medicine with you for this ride!
Located in the lush mountains of northeastern Guatemala, San Agustín Lanquín is a small town that is quickly becoming one of the country’s popular destinations for adventure and ecotourism. With its stunning scenery and friendly locals, San Agustín Lanquín and its surrounding areas are the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Be sure to book your accommodation within walking-distance of Semuc Champey. You’ll have a better chance of getting an early glimpse of this breathtaking landscape, without the swarm of tourists. Don’t forget to ask your hotel for transportation upon arrival, many offer it complementary.
If you’re looking for an awe-inspiring journey into nature, then Semuc Champey is the place to be! This unique destination features turquoise pools layered by towering limestone cliffs. Each pool is connected by a series of cascading waterfalls and fed by an underground river. It’s no wonder why many consider Semuc Champey one of Central America’s most beautiful outdoor experiences.
You can explore hiking trails that offer spectacular views or enjoy some restful relaxation poolside. Here are some of the top activities you can enjoy while visiting this natural wonder:
Make your way to the viewpoint, an idyllic spot that’s accessible after just a short hike. Once you enter the park, look out for the path leading off on your left. Prepare yourself for 30-45 minutes of moderate but uphill action. But don’t let the wet rocks catch you by surprise – no matter how resilient those shoes may seem!
If you’re looking to beat the heat, take a dip in Semuc Champey’s dazzling turquoise pools! These beautiful waters are sure to make all your worries vanish as soon as you jump right in. But don’t forget some bug spray – there are pesky flies abound by the waterfalls and their bites last for weeks!
Get ready for an epic underground journey. With a guide at your side, be prepared for adventure as you observe awe-inspiring stalactites and stalagmites by candlelight.
Say goodbye to your hotel near Semuc Champey and head out on a shuttle to Flores. This charming town is the perfect place to base yourself if you’re exploring the nearby ruins of Tikal National Park.
Flores is also easily accessible by plane from Guatemala City if you don’t visit Semuc Champey. There are several, daily flights to Flores from the capital.
Nearby Flores is Tikal National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to many ruins of an ancient Mayan city, and located in the heart of the Guatemalan jungle.
From Flores, you can hire a taxi, take a shuttle, or hire a guide to reach the park. This journey will be about a two-hour drive. Try visiting at sunrise when you can hear the jungle come to life with wildlife in the area. You can spend the day exploring the site and learning about the rich history of the Mayan civilization.
On this last day in Guatemala, explore Flores, a small but bustling island town situated on Lake Petén Itzá. Flores is full of charming, architectural gems and thriving street markets. Take a boat tour of Lake Petén Itzá, visit the local markets, walk the streets, and enjoy the nightlife.
Extend your adventure and take a shuttle to the paradise of Belize or soar back home via Guatemala City!
Looking for a shorter trip? Skip out on Semuc Champey and Tikal National Park! Instead, explore the incredible sights of Antigua and Lake Atitlán – they’re much closer to Guatemala City. If you need time to adjust to the elevation before tackling the Volcán de Fuego and Acatenango hikes, try visiting Antigua last. It’ll give your lungs just what they need!
February 17, 2023
Discovering Distance © 2023 | Site Design by Waterloo Street