Central America

Guatemala

written by | Posted on July 25th, 2012

This article originally appeared in the Central & South America Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full guide, visit the digital edition.

Guatemala is a country of superlatives: its Mayan treasury of archaeological sites is the most extensive in Central America; its dramatic volcanoes are the region’s highest; its artistic heritage is the most vibrant. And Guatemala has an astonishing variety of landscapes for a country the size of Tennessee. They range from the northern rainforests of El Peten—where Flores is the air gateway to the mighty temple-pyramids of Tikal, perhaps the grandest of the Mayan cities—to rugged mountains in the central region and lowland coffee, banana and sugar plantations. Mixed into the attractions menu are wildly colorful markets—such as Chichicastenango and Solola on Lake Atitlan—and charming colonial towns, led by Antigua, which holds the UNESCO rank of a National Monument of the Americas. The front door to the country is Guatemala City, whose capital stay attractions include colonial churches and important museums. (visitguatemala.com)

What’s New in Guatemala

✘ Golf in Guatemala has gone world-class with the addition of La Reunion Antigua Golf Resort, located 11 miles from Antigua. Built on a historic plantation is the 18-hole Pete Dye-designed golf course (72 par, 7,289 yards); it includes a driving range, putting and chipping greens, practice bunker and golf academy. The property presently offers 26 suites—master and grand class, all with plunge pools, terraces and views of the golf course and volcanoes on the horizon. (lareunion.com.gt)

✘ The newest addition to the luxury boutique hotel scene in colonial Antigua is Casa Quinta, occupying a completely renovated mansion and redesigned with an eclectic mix of traditional and modern furnishings. The eight bedrooms have private terraces or balconies, and a patio on the third floor is open for sunset viewing. Rooms have free WiFi and breakfast is included in the room cost. (hotelcasaquinta.com)

✘ At the Tikal ruins in El Peten there will be various celebrations as the long count calendar of Mayan culture draws to an end. On Oct. 12, the annual Dia de la Raza, which honors the accomplishments of indigenous cultures, will be an extra colorful event focused on the Mayan heritage. Book now (and quickly) for the costumed ceremonies taking place on Dec. 21.

Up next: Honduras