• Guatemala
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  • Guatemala
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Guatemala

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile
Dramatic, volcano-studded landscapes, lush freen forests and cities of cobblestoned streets, Guatemala is an awe-inspiring and fascinating country.

Our Editorial team's advice

During your visit to the Tikal district, do not stray from marked pedestrian trails, plan to bring a good pair of shoes with you and some binoculars to observe the fauna and arrive early to see the beautiful sunrise on the pyramids.

In Honduras, the archaeological site of Copan, 'The Athens of the New World', is only 9 miles from the Guatemalese border and you need at least a day to visit it.

Do not miss out on the markets, which although touristic, remain authentic and are a good opportunity to see Indian women wearing huipiles and other traditional dresses.

pros

  • +A large diversity of landscapes and a concentration of historical sites on a small territory.
  • +The human heritage: the feasts, folklore and rituals of Mayas descendants have incredible energy.

cons

  • -Journeys within the country are tiring.
  • -The ever increasing feeling of insecurity.
  • -If you are travelling on your own you must go with an adventurous spirit.

Traditions

Bargaining is normal, except for in restaurants. Prices are never marked and are always increased for tourists, therefore you must negotiate.

Residents do not really like to have their photo taken. If they do accept, they will ask for a couple of quetzals in exchange. If they refuse, do not insist.

Food

Relatively cheap, Guatemalese cuisine is similar to Mexican cuisine. Grain corn in the form of flat bread (tortillas or enchiladas with sauce) is the basis of local cuisine and accompanies every dish. Black beans and rice accompany chicken in the High-Plateaux region, fish and seafood on the coast and diverse grilled meats in Peten.

As for the sauces, there is guacamole and chirmol (a famous sauce made of tomatoes, hot peppers and onions). There is also plenty of fruit in Guatemala such as pineapples, bananas, papayas and melons.

Regarding beverages: there are a lot of local beers, corn alcohol called 'chicha' and sugar cane alcohols like 'levenado'.

Souvenirs

Mandatory tourist stops and local markets constitute some of the country's most beautiful artwork; Guatemalese people are very good craftsmen, thanks to their Mayan heritage! You will love the colourful pieces of cloth, such as the traditional huipiles (embroidered blouses), cintas (wide cloth belts), or mantas (blankets).

Other traditional souvenirs include bracelets and items made of jade, silver jewellery, sculpted wooden masks representing the country's emblematic animals, and ceramics by Indians whose savoir-faire is ancestral...