(Editor’s Note – This original post from January 2012 has been updated to reflect current Guatemala vacation details.)
The growth in Guatemala tourism, which now makes up 25% of the country’s GDP, has been essential to the success of their economy as nearly two million travelers from around the globe descend upon this tiny Central American country annually.
Curious tourists come here to explore a mixture of ancient Mayan treasures and archaeological sites like Quirigua and Tikal, along with unique Colonial cities and culture found in places like Guatemala City and Antigua.
Guatemalans have embraced Guatemala tourism by establishing world-class hotel accommodations and professionally guided tours, as well as selling authentic Guatemalan foods, handicrafts and other indigenous artwork.
Mayan Tourism Guatemala
Mayan culture and the Mayan influence can be found throughout Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and almost all of Guatemala. Ancient Mayan people built giant plazas, temples and pyramids, with ancient carvings recording their unique history and culture.
Quirigua Tourism – Quirigua Archaeological Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Izabel region of Guatemala and features the ruins and monuments of an ancient royal Mayan city that dates back to between 400 and 800 AD. Quirigua’s huge stone monuments called Stelae, feature fascinating hieroglyphic text chronicling the historical record of the city’s ancient Mayan mythology, calendars, and events. Quirigua’s archaeological ruins also include amazing pyramidal structures like the Great Plaza, Plaza of the Temple, and the Ceremonial Plaza.
Tikal Tourism – Perhaps the greatest architectural feat of the Mayan people can be found in the remote ancient Maya ruins of Tikal Guatemala, in the Northern part of this Central American country. Despite its greatness and its unique place in our world history, the cause of the collapse of the Mayan civilization in Tikal remains a mystery to this day. Perhaps the mysterious or unknown is what makes exploring the Tikal ruins so intriguing.
Tikal (also known as Place of Tongues or Place of Voices) is now a national park and UNESCO world heritage site. At its peak, Tikal was home to nearly 100,000 people complete with palaces, terraces, causeways, aqueducts and even ball courts. Why a city so large was completely abandoned by 900AD and then consumed by the rainforest jungle remains a mystery. Tourists that visit Tikal are discovering an ancient Mayan city that is still pretty much as it always was 1200 years ago.
Guatemala City Tourism
As the capital of Guatemala since 1773, and the country’s largest city, Guatemala City is a mix of old Colonial heritage and contemporary modern culture, and home to the Metropolitan Cathedral plus the country’s largest, and best archaeological museum, the National Archaeology and Ethnology Museum. All Caravan Guatemala tours begin and end in Guatemala City.
Antigua Tourism Guatemala
Surrounded by volcanoes, the Spanish influenced city of Antiqua is considered to be home to Central America’s oldest and best-preserved Colonial heritage, complete with cobblestone streets and beautiful Colonial architecture. Antiqua was the capital of Guatemala for 200 years but an earthquake in 1773 prompted government officials to move the capital to Guatemala city. Today, tourists flock to Antiqua to visit such architectural landmarks as the city’s Cathedral, the Main Plaza, and the Fountain of the Sirens.
Guatemala in the 21st Century
Today over half of Guatemala’s population is considered to be descendants of the old Maya and are commonly referred to as the Indigenous peoples by the locals.
Many woman and children still wear traditional clothing that highlight the Mayan ability to create colorful and vibrant weaving. Many locals create weave baskets, make pottery and carve wooden animals and toys and sell the items at local Mayan markets. Guatemala tourism continues to help support the local economy as tourist purchase these colorful souvenirs to bring home.
With over 12.7 million people living in Guatemala nearly 60% speak Spanish while the remaining percentage of the population speaks one of 23 officially recognized Amerindian languages such as Guiche, Mam and Xinca.
Top Guatemala Tourism Destinations
Regardless of the language that you speak, Guatemala tourist guides are ready to interpret and take you through some of the most popular tourist destinations in Guatemala, including:
- Guatemala City
- Lake Atitlán
- Antigua (a UNESCO World Heritage site)
- Lake Peten Itza
- Tikal Ruins (a UNESCO World Heritage site)
- Rio Dulce
In addition to its cultural and historical significance, Guatemala is a beautiful country to explore in terms of its biodiversity. With nearly one third of Guatemala covered in forests, the country is home to:
- 14 different eco-regions
- 28 volcanoes – active, dormant and extinct
- 7 wetlands
- Over 1,245 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles
- 123 protected areas
Guatemala Climate and Temperature
Guatemala has a tropical climate favorable for tourism; for those who enjoy warmer weather the lowlands can be quite warm and humid and or those who enjoy cooler weather the highlands offers a much more cooler climate.
The coastal and northeast regions of Guatemala maintain a warm temperature year round, averaging around 68°F with occasional spikes up to 99°F. Clear nights are a common occurrence in Guatemala especially during the rainy season from May to September, after the typical afternoon/ evening rainfall.
Guatemala Tours by Caravan
Caravan Tours all inclusive and fully guided Guatemala tours take tourists on a captivating Central American vacation into a country rich in culture and Spanish heritage, highlighting the ancient civilizations at Tikal, Antigua and Atitlán.
Visit Caravan’s Guatemala Tour Reviews page to read what others have said about this all inclusive tour of Guatemala.
Call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to check tour availability or book your spot today!