Lago Atilán, Guatemala. Couple hugging on the dock in golden hour light.

Best of Guatemala for cyclists and travellers

Guatemala is definitely our most favourite of all Central American countries we visited. Why? We want to show you in this video!

We spent 5 weeks and few days in Guatemala, when we cycled from northeast to southwest, from Tikal to Antigua, from 100 masl. to 3900 masl. (we hiked there), from sweaty and hot to freezing.

To give you more info than just few hints in the video I’ve decided to write down some tips in the form of notes to specify the most important/striking/helpful points about every bit mentioned in the video.

First, watch the video to give you an idea why we are so excited about Guatemala.

1. Tikal

If you happen to be around Petén department, definitely pay a visit to Tikal. It’s really impressive ruins to see.

  • accommodation in Flores/El Remate or inside the national park Tikal where you can camp too (not possible with dogs who are prohibited)
  • we were happy in Hotel El Peregrino in Flores – basic but clean and cheap
  • good quality Tikal tour : Hostel Los Amigos – we took Early Bird tour for 85Q + entrance fee of 150Q
  • restaurants: Hostel Los Amigos, Restaurante San Telmo
  • food stalls at the bridge from the island to the main part of the city

Tikal, Guatemala.
View from Temple IV.

2. Sierra de Los Cuchumatanes

Highest non-volcanic mountain range is not routinely visited when coming to Guatemala. And that’s a shame!

You will be able to meet and talk to local people who live their everyday life, full of hardship in these conditions. The plateau is incredible and you can spend there quite some time exploring.

We highly suggest to the cyclists to include this in their route through Guatemala. It will be hard, we can guarantee that but you will never forget it. Type 2 of fun, you know what I mean.

  • we started the climb in Aguacatán (where we camped at transport police station) and went over the plateau towards Todos Santos and then went through Huehuetenango and Momostenango to Xela
  • our inspiration came from here but we highly suggest you check out the blog of the authors of this route Mark and Hana where you can find much more information

Riding on the plateau of Sierra de los Cuchumatanes

3. Colourful little towns and markets of Guatemala

This is something that is slowly disappearing more south you travel in Central America. But Guatemala kept it as much as possible.

Market in San Francisco el Alto
  • each region has its own typical clothes for men and women
  • typical colours and patterns
  • if you want to see most of them in one place, visit a place that is together a souvenir shop and a gallery. You can find it in Antigua, just past El Arco de Santa Catalina on the right towards Parque La Merced
  • Todos Santos Cuchumatán is really a spectactular little town. Men wear typical striped pants and you can see hundreds of them
  • recommended accommodation in Todos Santos: Hotel y Restaurante Casa Familiar
  • in almost every little town there’s a typical market on given days of the week
  • we visited the one in San Francisco el Alto but its animal part (where they sell live animals from cows to cats and dogs) is only for strong stomachs
  • they don’t treat animals very well there and we had to swallow tears many times when a man was walking by with a basket full of chicken and turkeys under a netting, packed tight and then put on top of the chicken bus for a crazy ride to his home
  • the food, spices and fabric part of the market is very crowded but interesting experience

4. Lago Atitlán

Lake Atitlán is located in the southwest of Guatemala. It’s surrounded by three volcanoes – Atitlán, San Pedro, Tolimán. It’s filling a kaldera that was formed by an erruption 84000 years ago.

Phoebe and Tom chilling in a hammock at Pasajcap campground
  • there are several good places to stay around the lake but we were very happy at Pierre’s campground in San Marcos la Laguna
  • you can find him on iOverlander or on google maps as Pasajcap campground
  • San Marcos la Laguna is a heaven for vegans or if you want to eat something special, not only rice and beans all the time
  • top place to eat lunch or dinner Samsara’s garden, ice – cream Dolce Gelato, sourdough bread Circles Cafe and Hostel
  • transportation around the lake is easy with the lanchas that go very frequently, just wait at the port/deck at your accommodation and wave on them
  • Atitlán is very windy, preferably take boat rides in the morning as there are big waves in the afternoon
  • Panajachel is a “gringo” place which gives you an opportunity to buy specialty imported items at Sandra’s Health Food Store (in our case it was sauerkraut and dried mushrooms for Christmas soup ;))
  • if you travel with your dog or want to bring a special souvenir for your dog featuring Guatemalan traditional weaving, contact our friends Jess and Greg at Ruff on the Road who make beautiful dog collars in cooperation with Guatemalan artisans and they live in Panajachel

5. Hiking volcano Acatenango and seeing Fuego erupting

We have separate article on this, so I’m not going to repeat myself. Instead, see our guide how to get best experience from hiking the third highest mountain of Central America as well as how to take best pictures of the eruptions at night.

Climbing up volcano Acantenango in Guatemala.
Climbing up Acatenango while Fuego is smoking

So why do we like Guatemala so much?

It has got high mountains, beautiful lakes, active volcanoes, it’s Central America but you can be cold there!!, kind hospitable people, best handmade tortillas, it’s colourful and maintans traditions. And around touristy areas it’s easy to eat well as vegan (they’ve even got tempeh!!).

Until next time, friends!

Follow Luba Lapsanska:

Older woman, 33 years old, experienced. She stopped being a doctor and started being a traveller. She likes animals more than people because they don't lie. She also likes looking at the the world through the viewfinder of her camera.

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