This is the kind of scene you often drive by in Guatemala.
A man on a horse chasing a cow. Standard.
First things first, let’s talk Tikal.
After trekking through the Guatemalan jungle for what felt like an iron age (hot day), we arrived in the heart of Tikal National Park, one of the major sites of Mayan civilisation, inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D.
As ruins go (to someone who isn’t a history buff), these are pretty awesome.
Tikal is one of the main to dos Guatemala, so say the travel books… but the rest of the country is stunningly beautiful, featuring awe-inspiring diverse landscapes with every corner turned. We visited Flores, an island town in Guatemala’s northern Petén region. Here you can take a dip in Lake Petén Itzá…
If you pay Flores a visit, make sure you have plenty of cash. Not because it’s expensive… but because there are hardly any working ATMs.
Following Flores, we drive to another lakeside location, namely Río Dulce. Hop on a horse (no need to chase cows) and check out the relaxing scenery…
If you don’t speak any Spanish… well, good luck. Bilingual tour guides are far and few between, which is actually refreshing. I made friends with our horse-riding guide, thanks to a few phrases I repeated in an awkward “I’m trying” way.
This is the same town we found ourselves climbing from one section of forest to another. Take bug spray.
(The above shot should give you an idea of how beautiful it is… I pinched this from one of my travel buddies, thank you whoever took this!)
From here, we travelled onto Antigua for an orientation walk.
Next on the itinerary? Panajachel and Lake Atitlán. This is the place where I nearly had a coronary when my bestie Emma suggested zip-lining, claiming it’s “easy” and that it’s just zipping from one tree to another. Simples. What she didn’t mention is that these trees are a) a million metres high, b) a mile apart and b) on either side of a lake.
Check my face.
Check the zip-line:
I couldn’t even SEE the other tree I was zipping towards!! Anyway. We survived. Turns out it is easy – when you get used to throwing yourself off a cliff. Emma, however, managed to smash her foot on a rock. Eek.
After we were done trying to kill ourselves, we went off to meet our familia secondas for the Lake Atitlán homestay experience.
I think the above photo says it all.
Elsewhere in Lake Atitlán, there was a girl with a mountain for a face:
Nothing to see.
Back in Antigua, we attempted to catch a bus; a pretty bus…
And went nuts in a macadamia farm: