Highlands, Jungle and Maya Culture

This small Central American country is located on the Pacific Ocean. With an area of 110,000 km², it is roughly the size of Portugal and “hangs” on the southernmost tip of Mexico. Guatemala borders Belize to the east and also has a narrow access to the Caribbean Sea. In the south, Guatemala's neighboring countries are Honduras and El Salvador. The country is home to around 17 million people, 3.5 million of whom live in the capital, Cuidad de Guatemala.

The name Guatemala comes from the language of the Toltecs, origin is the word "Cuauhtēmallān", which means "land of trees". The country is characterized by having a diverse landscape for its small area: in the west the Pacific beaches, in the center the highlands with volcanoes and lakes and in the east the rainforest.

In the northern part of the country, in the Petén region, you find tropical rainforest with an incredible biodiversity. It is the habitat of deers, monkeys and tapirs, as well as ocelots, jaguars and peccaries. Among the reptiles of the rainforest, numerous snake species as well as crocodiles and iguanas are the highlights. You will also encounter many different, mostly very colourful, bird species and parrots, such as the national symbol, the "Quetzal".

The central region of Guatemala with the capital, is one of the most densely populated areas in the country. The central highlands are dominated by volcanoes up to 4,220 meters high. Many of them have snow-capped peaks all year round and are perfectly shaped, just like how you would imagine it! In the highlands, the temperatures are pleasant all year round between 18 and 28 degrees Celsius. The coastal region on the Pacific has a continuously humid tropical climate and delights its visitors with beautiful sandy beaches.

Here are the tourist highlights of Guatemala, as we don't want you to miss any:

  • The ancient Maya city of Tikal: Gaze at the ancient temple pyramids in the middle of the jungle! The architecture of the Maya and the flair of this place still can give you goose bumps today!
  • Discover the (smaller) highland towns, such as San Andres Xecul or Quetzaltenango. Here you will find authentic Guatemalan life.

  • The Pacific beaches can be easily described in one word: fantastic!
  • Lago Atitlán, a volcanic lake, is not only located in a huge old crater, but is also surrounded by three volcanoes! Around the lake, there are nice little towns such as San Juan La Laguna, where the descendants of the Maya introduce their culture to visitors with workshops or tours.

The majority of Guatemala's population is of Mayan descent. The interesting history of the country is testified by countless Mayan ruins, some of which are still well preserved and are spread all over the country. People have preserved a good part of their old culture and traditional customs and partially mixed them with Christianity. In that way, a very interesting mix of cultures has emerged. Even the younger generation sticks to the traditions of their ancestors. Many dresses in colorful garbs and maintain their religious and cultural celebrations.

Spanish is the official language, but especially among the indigenous people, many Mayan languages are still spoken. There are people in the highlands, who speak Spanish only as a second language and in some cases, not very well.

No matter, whether you prefer to stroll around the hectic streets of Ciudad de Guatemala or explore one of the many Mayan temples, the country really has a lot of hidden treasures! Eat watermelons or fresh mangos, swim in the Pacific Ocean, climb volcanoes or dig through the jungle and get to know a new (ancient) culture - Guatemala means pure pleasure for traveling!

The Guatemalans are very friendly, generous and light-hearted people and look forward to welcoming foreign tourists to their beautiful country.