Guatemala is a traveller’s dream with plenty to do and where each journey can be an adventure in itself. Commonly frequented places such as Semuc Champey, Tikal or Antigua are a must; however there is so much more the country has to offer. Here are my favourite places that are off the beaten track:
1. Laguna Lachuá
After a 4km walk deep in lush rainforest you will find a lake that no words or pictures can truly justify. You are completely disconnected from the rest of the word where you can soak up the tranquility of nature. Swimming is permitted in certain parts; although I wouldn’t advice you to go too far out as crocodiles also reside there! The lake itself is crystal clear and you can either watch all the marine life doing their thing or sit and relax by the side listening to nature sing it’s song.
2. San Francisco el Alto market
The Chichicastenango market is great for tourists who want to bring a lovely souvenir back home. However, if you want more of a local flavour then you should visit the market in San Francisco el Alto that takes place every Friday. Live stock, clothes, food, furniture are few of the many things you can see the locals trading. The hustle and bustle and authencity of the market makes it an experience you should not miss.
Situated between two lakes and surrounded by a dense jungle are the Mayan ruins of Yaxhá. The temples are steeped in Mayan history, which is fascinating in it self. The wildlife adds to the whole experience where big cats and crocodiles have been spotted. Walking around the site you will see many different types of reptiles and colourful birds and listening to the howler monkeys especially early in the morning will put a shiver down your spine.
4. Tríangulo Ixil
Close to the Cuchumatanes Mountains is an area known as the Triángulo Ixil that consists of many small villages and the towns Santa María Nebaj, San Juan Cotzal and San Gaspar Chajul. This area was greatly affected during the civil war with approximately 25,000 people being killed or displaced between 1978 and 1983.
Walking around these towns will show you another side of Guatemala that you will not see elsewhere. From observing the local Ixil Mayan people in their traditional clothing to great hikes in the mountains to visiting beautiful waterfalls, the Triángulo Ixil area has plenty to offer.
If you are looking for a quiet and secluded beach then Tilapita is the one for you. Situated on the pacific side of Guatemala this small fishing village only has one hotel and a few houses, which you can rent. You can spot wildlife here (which may include turtles if you go at the right time of the year). However, you can also just relax on the black sand beach, watching the sunrise or sunset whilst enjoying fresh sea food – with scenery like Tilapita, what more would you want to do?