Many times the question is asked why choose Guatemala over another Central American tourist destination. For me the answer is simple… Guatemala is the best! Although Columbus Luxury Travel does offer destination travel to locations in Mexico and Central and South America, the company’s main focus are the wonders of Guatemala. The country has so much to offer and it is unique to its neighboring countries and tourist laden sites in paces like, the now over visited, Costa Rica. Here are four reasons Guatemala tops my list:
Guatemala is the heart of the Mayan Civilization. For those interested in culture, you will not find this feeling of traditional lifestyle anywhere else in the world. Although culture is very prevalent throughout the country, it is fused into the more modern way of life within Guatemala’s cities, allowing travelers the comfort of first class amenities while experiencing deep-rooted traditions. With the ability to participate in spiritual ceremonies, traditional cooking, chocolate making, and market days gives each visitor a cultural immersion like no other.
Although the county boasts a population with 60% from Mayan descent, the Ladino influence is also prevalent aiding in a heavy influence of Catholic tradition. The strong influence from the Catholic Church keeps people flocking to such areas as Antigua, for the city’s famous sand carpets during Holy Week (Semana Santa), and Sumpango for their amazing kites during All Saints Day (Todos Santos).
Traveling to the Caribbean coast will also inspire the Bohemian attitude. The Department of Izabal hosts a unique cultural diversity that is surprisingly not a majority of Mayan decent. The department accommodates three other major ethnicities, these are Ladino, Garifuna, and Afro-Caribbean. The Garifuna people are of a mixed-African and Island Carib decent and speak their own Garifuna language. Livingston, a town on the mouth of the Río Dulce, is known for its uncommon mix of these and Mayan people.
Even the pickiest diner will find something to satiate their taste buds. Blocking GMO’s and the questionable Monsanto from entering their borders, Guatemala has an excellent presentation of fresh organic fares. From street food to culinary masterpieces, the most critical foodies will find happiness in the country’s offerings. Volcanic soil creates the perfect foundation for fresh vegetables, sustainable farming techniques provide superior animal products, and fresh caught seafood is a short drive away from either the Caribbean or the Pacific Coasts.
Not only healthy and organic, the food has a magnificent mixture of spices and a spectacular array of flavor. With a mix of Mayan tradition and Spanish influence, Guatemala will keep you craving its delicious culinary creations long after you leave.
During your stay you can participate in a gastronomy-inspired journey with local food connoisseurs, who will guide you through the discovery of these authentic and traditional flavors. When you’re ready to take the next step, take Guatemala’s traditional dishes home with you through a traditional cooking class and learn how to prepare and cook the country’s local cuisine.
Whether making a pilgrimage for a religious holiday or just looking for a party, Guatemala always has something to celebrate. From fireworks to processions, there is always some kind of event going on somewhere near by. These celebrations are not to be taken lightly, they are not some poorly planned tactic to bring additional tourist dollars… they are Extraordinary!
The entire city, town, or village will put months into preparations. To say Sumpango’s 100-foot kites are astonishing is a complete understatement. Chichicastenango’s bi-weekly market days are noteworthy during regular business days, however arrive on December 21, and you will think you have reached a different world. Enjoy a horse race like no other in Todos Santo Cuchumatán, with festivities taking place for several days, leading to a drunken race to the finish. Guatemala’s greatest celebration occurs during Easter week with pilgrimage from all over the world to experience the traditional Alfombra (sand carpets).
Whether your trip is stationed in Antigua or you’re traveling throughout the country, there is no lack of exciting activities for the whole family to enjoy. Zip-lining, diving, rappelling, camping, fishing, tubing, white-water rafting, workshops, exploring local markets, the jungle, volcanoes, caves, natural springs, and Mayan ruins are just to name a few; and the list goes on. With breathtaking landscapes, intriguing microclimates, and unique geography the activities in each location are incomparable to say the least. Although the country is not very big in size, it would take several months of activities to fit all in.
Not interested in an active vacation? Well, Guatemala has plenty of options for the leisure traveler as well. With perfect temperatures on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, as well as beautiful destinations like Lake Atitlán and the Rio Dulce, you can be whisked away in a tropical dreamland that you’ll never want to leave.
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