Central America

5 Sites to See While Visiting Guatemala

I recently spent about six weeks in Guatemala, so I was able to slow travel through the country learning its customs and traditions. I wasn't sure what to expect when visiting, but I quickly found that it was beautiful and rich in culture and history. While there are more, here are five sites you MUST see in Guatemala when you're there.

1. Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan is perhaps one of the most gorgeous bodies of water I've ever seen. It was truly breathtaking. When visiting the Lake, you should also tour the surrounding villages to see how locals truly live. 

2. Antigua

About 45 minutes from Guatemala City (depending on traffic), Antigua is one of Guatemala's brightest shining stars. Tourists flock to Antigua because its quaint small-town feel, its selection of bars, restaurants, and clubs, and its historic value. It was once the capital of Guatemala, so there are historic churches and ruins on every corner.

3. Tikal

Many visitors to Guatemala don't put Tikal on their to-do list and this is a big mistake. Tikal was one of the most powerful kingdoms in ancient Maya. It's a city full of beautiful ruins and definitely worth a visit. The quickest way there would be to take an hour-long flight from Guatemala City, so it's definitely possible to do it in a day. Want to spend more time there? You can stay on nearby 'island', Flores.

4. Pacaya Volcano

About an hour outside of Guatemala City is one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes. Despite its very steep hills, its worth the climb to the top to see. If you aren't able to climb, locals are there with horses to rent and trust me, it's worth the 100 Quetzales (about $13).

5. Semuc Champey

I didn't get a chance to visit Semuc Champey, but I wish I did! It's a collection of tiered pools in Guatemala's jungles. It's about a 5-hour drive from Guatemala City or 4-hour drive from Antigua. Looks beautiful, doesn't it?

As you can see, Guatemala is full of culture, history and gorgeous landscapes. It's worth a visit!

Where Am I Headed in 2017?

As you know from last year, I believe in at least thinking about where you'd like to visit in the upcoming year and mapping out strategies to get there. I also believe in writing things down to accomplish them and guess what? 2 out of 4 places on my 2016 travel wish list came to fruition this year! So I am giving it another shot for next year (while praying for a fare glitch!). Here's what I've got for 2017:

Confirmed Travel

Chilé

I bought a fare sale to Chilé in April. Since I've only been to Colombia in South America, I'm looking forward to exploring more of the region. Santiago and Valparaiso are in my sights during my week in country. Chilé is also known for their wine, so I can't lose! 

 Photo Credit: CNN

Photo Credit: CNN

Guatemala

I think work may take me to Guatemala, which will be awesome because I have never been to Central America. 

Texas

For our third annual girls road trip, we are thinking about road tripping through Texas. We've done the West Coast twice so we thought we'd give the south some love. 

(I realize my confirmed travel plans look a little bleak this year. I did so much in 2016, that I'm kind of reveling in being home for a bit. But I am sure something will come up!)

Wish List

Ghana (or anywhere in West Africa)

I spent so much time in Zambia and South Africa this year, but have never been to West Africa. I hear it's lit over there and I've loved everywhere I've been on the continent so far, so I'm sure I'll be able to add Ghana to that list.

 Photo Credit: National Geographic Kids

Photo Credit: National Geographic Kids

Miami

I know what you're thinking. Miami? Miami is so basic and doesn't need to be on anyone's travel wish list. But I haven't been to Miami in years and have always enjoyed my time there. South Beach is cool, but there's so much more to the city than nightclubs and bars. Miami offers great beaches, restaurants, shopping and relaxation.

 Photo Credit: Vanity Fair

Photo Credit: Vanity Fair

Canada

I don't know why Canada has been on my mind lately but I'm thinking either Toronto or Vancouver. And if I can travel across the world, I think I should make time to see a neighboring North American country.

Cuba

Of course Cuba is on my wish list! I need to take advantage of relations between Cuba and the U.S. opening up a little, especially since the new President-elect threatens to close them up again.

 Photo Credit: Huffington Post

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

So where are you headed in 2017? Be sure to put your vacation days and flexible work schedules to good use!