Things to do
If you’d like to camp on a dead volcano while having a view of an erupting one, sleep in a hammock in the middle of the jungle, or just enjoy cute markets and cities, you should definitely spare some time to visit Guatemala.
Volcan Acatenango If you only have a few days in Guatemala, I would highly recommend the hike with an overnight stay at this volcano. This is the best thing I've seen and accomplished during my whole travels. You will hike the inactive Acatenango volcano, see different zones of vegetation and arrive at the basecamp after +- 6 hours. Over there, you'll see and hear the amazing Volcan de Fuego violently spitting lava, which he will show you as well if you're lucky.
Tips: Make sure to check out the forecasts, because you need clear skies to be able to see the volcano 'Fuego' when standing on top of Acatenango. I also recommend to ask around about the activity of the volcanoes. This will increase your chances on actually seeing the volcano spitting lava. Also, make sure to bring enough warm clothes with you because it's freeeeezing up there!
Negotiating – Chichicastenango market In the traveling guides they highly recommend to visit the Chichicastenango market, but I don't think it's any more special than the ones they have in Antigua. Yes it is 10 times bigger, which is crazy to see, but that also makes it harder to shop for nice souvenirs as they have sooooo many! For people like me who can't make decisions, I won't recommend this place, haha. I also figured out that the sellers are used to a lot of tourists, which makes it harder to negotiate. My 'walk away' technique didn't quite work over there.
Even though I slept pretty well in a hammock, I think I have never been this scared before. After we arrived, we explored a bit and heard some stories from the guards about wild animals awaking after sunset. With warm clothes, a hired blanket, and a mosquito net around us it felt like sleeping in a cocoon. Our instinct was extra sensitive that night, so every tiny sound woke us up. However, it was super fun to do, gave a massive adrenaline rush, and it was an amazing way to start a new day!
Tips for traveling
Experiences My sister and I mostly travelled through Guatemala by shuttle. This isn't the cheapest way but still affordable and it saves you time, which you can spend at other places. If you have plenty of time and want to do it the low budget way, you can get anywhere by Chicken bus.
Compared to El Salvador, Guatemala is a big country, making it a place with many hidden treasures. Thanks to the modern shuttles it’s very easy to travel around and they will save you a lot of time compared to the busses. In this trip, my sister and I basically done the most popular and challenging things to do. We've spent 1,5 weeks in Guatemala, which was just enough time for doing the activities you can read on the left. Semuc Chempey seems to be pretty awesome as well, but for us it was too expensive at the moment we were there.
One and a half weeks in this big country is too short to explore everything. If I’ll ever come back, I will definitely try to spend more time at each place and talk with the local people to find the real gems. Guatemala also is a perfect country for learning the Spanish language.
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