I know I say this a lot on my blog, but this really was one of my favourite trips of all time. A lot of it was down to the friends I travelled with to make the experience and memories that little bit more special. But of course Guatemala itself is a beautiful country! After reading and seeing this post, I’m sure I’ve made a pretty convincing case for you to add it on your wish list too.
Continuing from Belize (blog here), we border crossed into Guatemala – we caught a bus to Flores, which is approx 4 hrs and will set you back around US$25. After getting the ferry from Caye Caulker, you can buy your bus ticket at the Belize ferry terminal, there are many different bus offices for you to book tickets to your next destination – you might want to plan this a few days beforehand in case it’s sold out.
Also, note that while you’re crossing borders into Guatemala you will need to pay an exit fee for Belize, I think it was approx. BZ$40?
Once we got to Flores, we checked in our hostel Los Amigos which is a beautiful, fun, trendy, hostel with a great happy hour! Highly recommend it!
Flores is quite small, and we predominantly stayed on the tiny island the majority of the time – mainly because we only had 2 full days there. Our two days consisted of seeing two major ruins, Yaxha and Tikal. We booked through GEM for a private tour, our guide Josue was incredibly knowledgeable and gave us lots of insights into the Mayan history of the two archaeological sites.
We did Yaxha for Sunset.
Unfortunately it was overcast that day and we couldn’t see the sun set, but the view from the temple was just as spectacular! Plus we were lucky enough to spot these toucans!
After going back to our hostel, we had dinner and went straight to bed as we had Tikal booked the following day for Sunrise – with a wake up call of 3am!
Completely worth it! Make sure you’re wearing warm clothes for the sunrise!
Followed by roaming around the beautiful UNESCO site and taking silly photos.
After our two days in Flores, we decided to fly to Guatemala City to get to Antigua faster. You can opt for a cheaper alternative by busing it there, but it would set you back a day of travelling on the road, and with our limited time in Guatemala and my motion sickness, we thought flying was a better option!
We had a driver picked us up at the airport and drove us straight to our next accommodation. Up in the mountains, 50mins away from Guatemala City lies an eco lodge called Earth Lodge. Advance booking is a must!
Not only was it on an Avocado farm, where you can get fresh avo on every meal you order, but you get to wake up to this view everyday! You can see the three major volcanoes, Agua, Pacaya, and Acatenango. You can even hear the active volcano erupting every 20mins (or so).
We chilled out at the lodge for 2 days straight as it was a little private oasis with sunshine, great food, friendly dogs, yoga, and board games – what more can you want?
Our double treehouse.
Every night ended with this stunning sunset. I could easily live there. There are communal dinners on every night with the rest of the guests staying at the lodge, and wifi is turned off every night at 7pm.
After two days we set off to the city of Antigua, 30mins drive from Earth Lodge. We stayed in an Airbnb house big enough to accommodate 6 of us.
Exploring the sites of Antigua.
Plenty of ruins for you to explore and take photos.
The city of Antigua is UNESCO listed, it was hit by strong earthquakes in the 1770s where it damaged a lot of the cathedrals in the city. They started to rebuild them back, only to be hit by another big earthquake years later and now they stand as sacred ruins. Antigua still to this day experience earthquakes, there was a small one just 2 days before we arrived. Being near an active volcano would have that affect!
If you have time, go visit Caoba Farm, you will need to get a taxis up there, but the lunch is worth it! Fresh vegetables on the menu, gluten friendly too, and overall really tasty!
The iconic Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua.
And finally, the day arrived what I have been eagerly anticipating for on this trip. Our hike up Acatenango Volcano!
If you are in Antigua – you must do a volcano hike! It’s not even a question – it’s a must do! It was one of the best experiences of my life! As mentioned, there are three volcanoes to hike up. Agua isn’t recommended as it’s unsafe if you’re not a local, there have been cases of robbery on the hike. Pacaya is an active volcano, you can do this as a day hike and roast marshmallows. Or you can be brave and do an overnight hike up Acatenango, the highest out of the three and with the most amazing views! We chose to do the hike with Gilmer Soy, he was slightly cheaper, guided by locals, the money goes back to the community, and they have the best location for their campsite!
I am not a fit person, and I managed to complete the hike – so you have zero excuse to not do it!
You can hire walking sticks (I definitely recommend it!) for US$1!
Acatenango is 13,000ft, we were literally above the clouds!
The best campsite, right next to the active volcano. You will start hiking around 10:30am and will reach to camp about 3pm. Where you get to watch the sunset, star gazing and watch the eruption of red magma at night.
Temperatures can drop down to zero or even -5 degrees, make sure you pack warm clothes! The next morning you will get a wake up call at 4am where the group will start hiking up to the summit for the sunrise.
Completely in awe!
At the summit and feeling on top of the world!
Unfortunately that marked the last day of my trip, as my friends continued their trip to Lake Atitlan, and I returned home to London.
Until we meet again Central America, hopefully by then my Spanish will improve!
This post is dedicated to my friends who I travelled with on this trip, even though we all live in different countries and moving on with our lives – when we’re all together it feels like nothing has changed and the laughter is still the same. Those are the kind of people you want to cherish in your life.