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From Vojta: Since I explored Guatemala in 2017, I always dreamt of organizing a retreat at the Atitlan lake. The combination of numerous active volcanoes, tropical nature and mountainous landscape gives this place a truly unique feeling. This video is partially shot in Guatemala and Costa Rica (majority of beach shots are from Costa Rica and all the volcano shots, waterfalls, and Mayan ruins are from Guatemala)
I’m happy to share my experience from this beautiful country – from the volcanoes of Atitlan to the beautiful colonial architecture of Antigua, millenniums-old Mayan ruins or incredible waterfalls and cascades of Semuc Champey.
is the deepest lake in Central America, with water that is clean and perfectly suitable for swimming. The culture of the towns and villages surrounding Lake Atitlán is influenced by the Maya people. Lake Atitlán is renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, and is one of Guatemala’s most important national and international tourist attractions. In literature, it is often called “the most beautiful lake in the world”. It won’t look so far-fetched once you see it! The area around San Marcos (where the retreat takes place) has particularly tall cliffs abutting the lake and in recent years has become renowned for cliff diving. Despite that, there are many small beaches offering comfortable access to the water.
Surrounding the lake caldera, there are three volcanoes. Volcán Atitlán lies on the southern rim of the caldera, while Volcán San Pedro and Volcán Tolimán lie within the caldera. San Pedro is the oldest of the three and seems to have stopped erupting about 40,000 years ago. Tolimán began growing after San Pedro stopped erupting and probably remains active, although it has not erupted in historic times. Atitlán has developed almost entirely in the last 10,000 years and remains active, its most recent eruption having occurred in 1853.
If you wish to observe an active volcano doing its things, then we recommend visiting volcan Fuego or Pacaya, that are nearby.
Pacaya is an active volcano, which rises to an elevation of 2,552 meters (8,373 ft). After being dormant for over 70 years, it began erupting vigorously in 1961 and has been erupting frequently since then. Much of its activity is Strombolian – which is a rare type of frequent activity, perhaps the most interesting one, as it almost guarantees you to see lava. It’s not a coincidence that we organize a retreat in Stromboli and Guatemala 😉
Have you ever seen lava? If not, you might be really interested to see it. If you have seen it, you are probably interested even more.
Antigua is an ancient city (originating in 1524) in the central highlands of Guatemala known for its preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture as well as a number of ruins of colonial churches. It served as the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is surrounded by three majestic volcanoes – Volcan de Agua, Volcan de Acatenango, and the most impressive one, Volcan de Fuego.
A volcano worth seeing – even from a distance – that is Volcan de Fuego. As the name tells, this is a furious one – it is famous for being almost constantly active, with small gas and ash eruptions occur every 15 to 20 minutes.
The best view is available from Volcan de Acatenang – a neighboring volcano with a similar height to that of Fuego. If you are into volcanoes and hikes, this is the right choice for you. However, this quite a challenging one, requiring certain equipment, and time to hike.
If you are interested, let us know, as we are probably going to climb this volcano before or after the retreat too 😉
Tikal, perhaps the most amazing Mayan ruins
A bit further from the Atitlan lake, there lays the ancient Mayan city of Tikal. It can be easily reached by an overnight bus to “Flores” – a city on a little island on a beautiful lake, which is the starting point of all Tikal expeditions. This Mayan city is definitely worth visiting. I’ve been to many Mayan sights in Guatemala and Mexico, but this is perhaps the most amazing one. I recommend going there early and spending a whole day. It’s not a bad idea to pay for a tour guide (which isn’t expensive) as the stories that come with each of the numerous pyramids or ruin in the city add another dimension to your experience.
The Cascades of Semuc Champey
Located in the middle of a tropical national park, surrounded by traditional villages and steep mountains of mid-land Guatemala, Semuc Champey offers perhaps to most tropical experience I can imagine in this country.
It’s not only this tropical paradise by a wild river but also the whole experience of getting there and seeing the local life. I remember walking in a random village near this place, observing some local religious ceremonies, eating in a small restaurant that perhaps wasn’t even a restaurant and staying in a little cabin just next to the river with a lot of fireflies all around!
It does take some time to get there, but it is worth it! It’s good to combine this trip with visiting Tikal – perhaps on your way back from Tikal to Guatemala city.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little story about all the amazing spots to visit in Guatemala. I look forward meeting you soon, so we can climb a volcano together!