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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.

Our holidays to Guatemala

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tikal

Treasures of Central America: Heritage of the Aztec and Mayan Empires

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18 days from £4,408pp

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Family Guatemala and Belize: Ancient temples and Caribbean isles

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Value Central America: Costa Rica, Guatemala and Belize

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Easter in Guatemala: Semana Santa

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8 days from £1,733pp

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97% of our clients rated their experience with us as Excellent or Good.

Our insider tips for Guatemala

Nicola Gude

Nicola Gude

The Mayan highland town of Chichicastenango hosts twice weekly the biggest and most colourful of Guatemala’s traditional indigenous markets. Spilling out of the main plaza, it is a fantastic place to shop for high quality traditional crafts and textiles. Flower sellers transform the steps up to the colonial whitewash church into a riot of colour. If you can time your visit to a Sunday they will be joined by the town’s religious brotherhood wearing their bright traditional dress to perform ancient ceremonies at the entrance.
Antonio Vaquero

Antonio Vaquero

As well as visiting the magnificent main plazas and towering temples in the ancient Mayan city of Tikal, make time to explore a little deeper into the surrounding rainforest. Trails lead off to half-hidden unexcavated temples and other than intrigued spider monkeys, chattering parakeets and squawking toucans, you'll most likely have these places to yourself. Go early, when the wildlife is most active.
Rafe Stone

Rafe Stone

Book your accommodation well in advance to partake in the world-famous Easter celebrations in beautiful colonial Antigua during ‘Semana Santa’ (or ‘Holy Week’). Huge processions wind their way through the city's cobblestone streets carrying giant floats. Traditionally, men dressed in purple robes carry a float bearing a statue of Christ, followed by women dressed in black carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary. The whole city takes part in creating beautiful floral carpets along the full length of the parade route.

Ed

Edward Welham

The ethereal waters of Lake Atitlán, overlooked by three perfectly formed conical volcanoes cloaked in deep green forests, are the centrepiece of an incredibly scenic area abounding in nature, rural charm and deeply traditional Mayan communities. There are few better ways to immerse yourself in this tranquil natural environment than by kayaking on the lake, exploring at your own pace. In Santiago de Atitlan, be sure to visit Maximon, the effigy of a Mayan deity who enjoys smoking and copious drinking!

What our clients say

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97% of our clients rated their experience with us as Excellent or Good.

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What our experts say

Guatemala is one of those countries which really surprise even those of us who consider ourselves Latin American experts.  Lake Atitlan, Mayan Tikal and colonial Antigua are popular tourist magnets, but for me the backroads I explored on a mountain biking trip a few years ago opened my eyes to its hidden delights. The turquoise sunlit pools of Semuc Champey, the kaleidoscopic market at Zunil literally bursting with fruit and flowers, the traditional towns eking out their survival in the frost bitten highlands, dense tropical forests fringing the Caribbean flavoured Rio Dulce: any one of these was worth a visit in itself...

Claire Milner

Claire Milner

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