Guatemala has many natural and ecological areas that are offering unique opportunities to enjoy beautiful pristine landscapes, abundant tropical and semi-tropical forests, and to observe a variety of birds and other animals common in this area. Discover some of the most popular places. Lake Atitlan, Semuc Champey, Rio Dulce.
One of the jewels of Guatemala. Alexander von Humboldt describes it as "the most beautiful lake of the world" and the writer Aldous Huxley wrote "any person was contaminated and was delirious with this landscape so precious". Here the locals modestly describe it as one of the works of the supreme teacher. This highland lake is surrounded by three towering volcanoes, the volcano San Pedro, the volcano Atitlan, and the volcano Tolimán.
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Currently populated by the Q’eqchi, Pocomchi and Achi Maya, this area has been inhabited for more than 3,000 years. After the Spanish conquistadores defeated the Quiche, Kaqchiquel, Tz’utujil and Mam Maya of the highlands, they failed to conquer this north-eastern area of Guatemala. Finally Fray San Bartolome de las Casa succeeded to peacefully convert the indigenous to Christianity combining many of the traditional Maya and Christian beliefs. This has led to a unique syncretism between pre-Colombian and Christian religious practices which are still in place. This mountainous area is characterized by semi-tropical cloud forests where many different kinds of orchids and bromeliads grow.
The Candelaria Caves, now a National Park, are actually a system of caves between Chisec and Raxruhá, where the Candelaria River passes through seven big caves, and are famous both for their beauty and archaeological significance. These caves were a major ritual center associated with the Great Western Trade Route, which followed up the Usumacinta and Pasión rivers. A large amount of ceramics from throughout the Classic period were found here. Rituals seem to have been undertaken and amid the ash, incense burners, smashed and burnt pots, hundreds of obsidian blades were found, along with shell "tinklers" and other evidence of ceremonial regalia.
Coffee is an important element in the economy and ecology of Guatemala due to the fact that 98% of the coffee grown in Guatemala is hard bean Arabica coffee which is grown under a canopy of shade trees, which can be Inga, Gravilea, Banana, or Avocado trees. Some plantation can be accessed and offer tours to the plantation area, where you can see how coffee is grown and learn about the ecology and sustainability of the coffee production.
This mountain range of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes has its highest point at 3800 m and offers an amazing landscape. It is located in western Guatemala in the departments of Huehuetenango and Quiche. The name "Cuchumatán" is derived from the Mam words "Cuchuj" (to join or unite) and "matán" (with superior force) and means "that which was brought together by superior force". We organize horseback riding tours where you will cross part of the area to go to Todos Santos.
The Fuentes Georginas are natural thermal hot springs where you can enjoy a relaxing bath in idyllic semi-tropical setting.
Another cave, not far from Semuc Champey. The Lanquin Cave is an enormous and beautiful complex containing countless chambers and beautiful limestone formations. The complex is huge and has never been fully explored. Stone altars located inside the cave have been used by local Maya for centuries in sacred ceremonial rites. The first 400m are lit to give you an idea of the place. At sunset it's possible to go watch the thousands of bats coming out of the cave for their nocturnal hunt.
The Quetzal Biotope is a natural reserve protecting the Resplendent Quetzal bird in its dense cloud forest habitat. The Quetzal was considered a holy bird by the classical Maya, and its feathers were used to decorate the headdress of the Maya kings. There are two paths, one on the walk through this unique ecosystem you can enjoy tropical trees covered by moss, ferns, orchids, and bromeliads.
Quiet River connecting Lake Izabal and the Caribbean Sea. This is a protected area. The river has to be crossed slowly, like the rhythm of the place. You'll discover many marinas with wonderful sailing boats, the bird island with numerous species of seabirds. Take a swim in the sulfurous water of the impressive canyon of Rio Dulce and enjoy the peacefulness of this magic place before heading for Livingston, a small Garifuna town, which you can only access by boat. Enjoy the Caribbean flair of this river on a 2h30 hour boat tour.
A beauty of nature! A succession of natural pools with crystalline water "supplied" by different springs, underneath is Rio Cahabon. Semuc Champey consists of a 500 m limestone bridge, under which passes the Cahabon River. Atop the bridge is a series of stepped, turquoise pools which invite you to a refreshing dip into the cool water. A steep path leads to a lookout point which offers you stunning views of the whole area.