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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)
  • Quiriguá
  • Rio Dulce
  • Petenchel
  • Panajachel

Guatemala’s Biodiversity

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.

Contact us and ask about our all inclusive Guatemala Tikal Tour, a 10-day tour of Guatemala’s ancient civilizations and Colonial cities including Tikal and Antigua.

Visit Caravan’s Guatemala Tour Reviews page to read what others have said about this all inclusive tour of Guatemala.

Call 1-800-227-2826 to check tour availability or book your spot today!

In this post, Caravan Tours offers some helpful Guatemala facts and information about our all inclusive tours.

Guatemala, the land of eternal spring and heart of the ancient Mayan world, is a Central American country rich in heritage. You can spend days exploring everything from ancient Mayan ruins and archaeological sites like Tikal (which doubled as the rebel base in the 1977 Star Wars movie), to Colonial towns like Antigua, or volcanic lakes like Lake Atitlan.

Explore Guatemala facts and information abou tthe Mayan culture, which is over 4,000 years old. Guatemala’s Colonial heritage dates back to as early as the 16th century. Guatemala’s Colonial and cultural heritage evolved from a combination of Spanish and native Mayan peoples, ensuring that you will be captivated by the locals you meet during your Guatemalan tour.

In recent years, many eco adventure tour companies like Caravan Tours have begun offering guided vacation package tours through Guatemala. Guided by experienced tour guides familiar with Guatemala and its people, guests of Caravan Tours enjoy Guatemala facts and information firsthand.

These are very safe, all-inclusive Guatemala vacations, which are a great alternative to visiting Guatemala on your own.

Guatemala & Tourism

Even though Guatemala is smaller than the US State of Louisiana (108,890 sq km), this tiny country attracts hundreds of thousands of American tourists each year. Tourism is important to Guatemala and each day of Caravan’s Guatemala tour brings you to brand new surroundings with delightful surprises.

Guatemala is known as the “Land of the Eternal Spring” with coastal lowlands that are tropical and more temperate highlands where most Guatemalans live.

Bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador and the Caribbean Sea, Guatemala is a preferred destination for many cruise lines. From beautiful sandy beaches one can enjoy an amazing country that boasts heavily forested lowlands and the volcanic Sierra Madre Mountains.

Guatemala is also classified as a biodiversity hotspot thanks to diverse and unique ecosystems and rainforests, much of which engulfed the ancient Mayan ruins over the centuries. In fact, most of Guatemala’s Mayan ruins have yet to be excavated.

With economic growth and recent democratic elections, Guatemala is a maturing and growing tourism destination in Central America.

In fact, Guatemala boasts over 700 bird species and some of the world’s best sailfish fishing areas, attracting tourists from around the globe to this little Central American country.

Caravan Guatemala Tour Highlights

Guatemala City, the capital of Guatemala, is considered the hub of the country and where Caravan Guatemala tours begin and end.

Upon landing at the International airport, Caravan Tour guests spend two nights in Guatemala City while becoming acquainted with the new culture. Here guests have the opportunity to visit the National Museum of Archaeology and take a sightseeing drive of the historic center.

From Guatemala City, travellers get to explore the best of this tiny country, visiting the Mayan city of Quirigua, then Rio Dulce, Tikal National Park, and the colonial city of Antiqua. Other Caravan tour highlights include a visit to a Guatemalan coffee plantation and a boat cruise on Lake Atitlan, a spectacular volcanic lake, before returning to Guatemala City.

Caravan’s fully escorted Guatemala tour is virtually a treasure trove of Guatemala facts and information about this beautiful country and its people!

Visit Caravan’s Guatemala Tour Reviews page to hear what others are saying about this popular Central American tour.

Call Carava Tours at 1-800-227-2826 to book your spot today or check on availability!

Visit the Quirigua Mayan ruins when you travel Guatemala all-inclusive with Caravan Tours!

Thes ancient Mayan ruins should be among your top three ancient ruins sites to visit while in Guatemala; Antigua ruins and Tikal Ruins being the other two.

Situated about 120 miles northeast of Guatemala City in Guatemala’s Caribbean region, the Quirigua Mayan ruins site contains remarkable Mayan monuments dating back to the 8th century and features some of the largest monolithic stone monuments (stele or stelae) from the ancient Mayan world.

Quirigua ruins Guatemala is an official UNESCO World Heritage site located in the southeastern part of this Central American country and covers approximately 1.2 square miles along the lower Motagua River. With its unique set of preserved stele and sculpted Mayan monuments showcasing the Mayan calendar, the ruins help archaeologists and tourists alike to appreciate historical Mayan society, politics, and economics.

Quirigua Archaeological Park

It is believed that Quirigua Guatemala was inhabited by early Mayan civilizations as early as the 2nd century AD.

Because the Motagua River flowed near the Quirigua’s Great Plaza during this time, this Mayan site’s elaborate monuments and stele stone carvings stood proud and served the purpose of announcing Quirigua’s power to all travelers passing by along the water.

Today, the Motagua River has shifted and now flows just over half a mile south of these Guatemala Mayan ruins.

When visiting this UNESCO heritage site you will learn how its history is closely intertwined with Copán (an ancient Mayan city located in modern-day Honduras).

Quirigua’s civilization was much more rural with its population spread throughout the area. This is evident in the fact that archaeologists have found an average of 338 stone monuments per mile in Quirigua compared to Copán, which has nearly ten times as many structures.

Interestingly, in 738 AD, Quirigua held a successful uprising against Copán, and the King of Copán was sacrificed in the Central Plaza.

Unfortunately, these ancient Guatemala ruins are now threatened by their geographical positioning; Quirigua is situated in both a high seismic risk location and in a flood plain. Together with the tropical climate, Quirigua Mayan ruins are exposed to natural deterioration despite the best intentions for preservation.

Monuments at Guatemala Mayan Ruins

Today Quirigua is a UNESCO heritage site, which hopes to preserve the Mayan ruins for all visitors to enjoy. The three main points of interest at the Quirigua Mayan ruins in Guatemala include the:

  1. STELE
  2. ZOOMORPHS
  3. ANCIENT ALTARS

1. Stele – Monolithic Stone Monuments

These ruins are most commonly known for the stele monolithic stone monuments that appear to document the lost Mayan civilization’s history.

The steles are tall pieces of sandstone decorated with elaborate carvings. It is thought that Mayans gathered the sandstone at quarries more than 3 miles away and brought them back to the Great Plaza.

The carvings on these sandstone steles are truly unique as they feature three-dimensional sculptures compared to the two-dimensional carvings found in other regions of Guatemala. The long panels feature some of the most complex and beautiful glyphic text from any ancient Mayan ruins.

The primary purpose of the stele was to record historical events and track the passage of time using the advanced Mayan calendar system. In Quirigus, a new stele was raised at the end of each five-year period – making it one of only two ancient Mayan cities to do this.

2. Zoomorphs – Stone Sculptures

Over time Quirigua’s carving styles took on their own advanced unique style, very different from other Mayan sculptures. Known for some of the most attractive and amazing pre-Columbian works, this ancient city began carving boulders and large rocks into elaborate mythological creatures such as jaguars, crocodiles, and toads. These stone sculptures are known as Zoomorphs.

3. Quirigua Altars

Quirigua also features grand altars at the front of its buildings. When visiting Quirigua ruins in Guatemala, it is obvious that these ancient Mayan altars were designed to decorate as well as give a sense of a formal entrance to monuments.

When compared to the graceful art at other Mayan ruins sites such as Tikal or Antigua, the Mayan altars here appear very rigid and stiff. Along with their stiff appearance, the altars were also painted red using red pigment.

Today, archaeologists can find traces of red pigment on many of the monuments at Quirigua, which symbolized birth, sacrifice, and renewal in ancient culture.

All of the ancient Mayan carvings and monuments are amazing, especially when you consider that they were all hand made using stone chisels and wooden or stone mallets.

Caravan’s Guatemala Mayan Ruins Tour

A morning visit to Quirigu Mayan ruins in Guatemala is included as part of Caravan Tour’s all-inclusive Guatemala Tours.

Caravan’s fully guided Guatemala vacation packages are affordably priced and include all meals, tour activities, and accommodations, plus top Guatemala hotels like the Barcelo, Villa Maya, Porta Hotel Antigua, and Hotel Atitlan.

Visit Caravan’s Guatemala tour reviews page to read what other travelers have said about this all-inclusive tour of Guatemala.

Call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) today to book this unique Central America vacation.