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Travel Guide to Guatemala

Travel Guatemala - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Map of the Area

Travel Guatemala - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery
  • Guatemala City
  • 108,889 km2 (42,042 sq mi)
  • 21°C (70°F) and the coldest is January at 17°C (63°F)
  • UTC (GMT) -6 hrs
  • Guatemalan Quetzal at Q7.16 Quetzal = $1 USD.
  • Spanish
  • (2014) 16,176,133
  • 14°38′N 90°30′W

Welcome to Guatemala

Words cannot describe this land of breathtaking natural beauty, Mayan heritage and colonial history. Imagine an amazing Guatemala vacation, where you will experience 33 volcanoes, 19 different ecosystems, picturesque Spanish colonial villages, mystical Mayan archaeology, magical lakes, rivers, mountains and tropical rainforests, the turquoise Caribbean sea and deep blue Pacific... and all this in an area the size of Tennessee. This is Guatemala, the heart of the Mayan world - a country that receives more than 800,000 visitors a year, and regarded as one of the most beautiful places in the world. We at Tropical Discovery Services agree and would be delighted to share this extraordinary country with you.
Guatemala tourism - Beauty of Guatemala Tour - Tropical Discovery

The best of Guatemala

Culture, Adventure, Tropical rainforests, Caribbean magic

Guatemala is a small country of contrast, variety and tradition, whose magic, color and spirit of adventure are not only seen but also felt deep inside those who visit. This is the land of the Maya people, of noble and warm hearts, and proud of their ancestral heritage. Learning more about its land, Mayan culture and colonial history will amaze you. Come and visit this magical country, the Heart of the Maya World!

A Maya Adventure

The Maya chose the sub-tropical jungles of El Peten to be their homeland. This region, witnessed the civilization's rise and fall in cities such as Mirador, Tikal and Aguateca. Thousands of years later, these cities still protect many of the mysteries of the Maya civilization.

The Living Highlands

After the Maya abandoned the larger cities in El Peten, they migrated south to the more temperate climate of the highlands. These mountains and valleys with their fertile soil and magnificent beauty became their new home. Ethnic groups such as the Cack'chiquel, Quek'chi, Mam and Tzutuil co-exist in this region today. Their traditions, handicrafts and stories are the Maya's legacy to the rest of us...

A Natural Paradise

This area has been known as The Verapaces from the time of the Spanish conquistadors. The region's cloud forests are home to the Quetzal, the country's colorful national bird, whose feathers were sacred and used as ornaments by Maya Royalty and Priests. The Verapaces are "green, green, green..." as described by Miguel Angel Asturias, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. We are sure you will agree that the wild, unspoiled beauty of its landscape has no rival.

A Different Caribbean

The Izabal territory is home to beautiful Lake Izabal, the famous Rio Dulce and the Caribbean coasts in Guatemala. Pirates and Galleons fought for the supremacy of the Caribbean in this area during colonial times. Today the area is home to countless species of flora and fauna such as the dolphin and manatee, and to the amazing Garifuna people of African descent that came to the region from St. Vincentover 200 years ago.

The Pacific Coast

Over 30 volcanoes in Guatemala contributed to the formation of these majestic black sand beaches located on the Pacific Ocean. The weather is hot and humid, perfect for sunbathing and water sports. This coast has gained worldwide recognition lately for its superb sports fishing and natural attractions such as the Marine turtles that visit every year to lay their eggs.

Guatemala, Modern & Colonial

This country offers the best of both worlds. The quaint old capital Antigua, reflects an era long past, that of the Spanish conquistadors. In stark contrast, the new capital of Guatemala Cityis one of the largest and most advanced metropolitan area in Central America. Both cities have much to offer, from museums, art galleries and shopping centers to nightlife and extreme adventure and sports. Visit La Antigua Guatemala and Guatemala City for a unique experience in the heartland of the Maya.

The Undiscovered Guatemala

This area is better known for its agricultural products than its tourist attractions, which appeals more to those wishing to travel off the beaten track. Some of its attractions are a Paleontology Museum and the Basilica de Esquipulas, best known for its statue of a Black Christ, drawing thousands of faithful believers throughout Latin America. Perhaps you have heard or even tasted the Zacapa Centenario XO rum, the best in the world for 5 years in a row according to the Caribbean Rum Fest (Gold Award Winners 98-02). This is only the beginning. There's so much more!
Travel Guatemala - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery


Guatemala is a country of great natural beauty and cultural heritage. You will find black beaches, exotic animals, volcanoes, rainforests, rivers and Maya ruins all united in this comparably small country. But Guatemala's richness also lies on the cultural diversity of its people and its culture is in many ways a reflection of this racial diversity, the Mayas and the Colonial times. To learn more about Guatemala, its history and its people please read the general information below.


Guatemala's history is divided into four periods. The first being the Pre Hispanic period dates from 4,000 BC until the arrival of the Conquistadors in 1524. During this period the Maya became a mighty civilization. The second period starts with the arrival of the Conquistadors up until Guatemala's Independence from Spain in 1821. It is from this period that sprung a unique belief system currently prevalent in Guatemala, which is a mixture of the Maya's polytheistic religion along with Catholicism. The third period starts with the Independence and ends in 1944. During parts of this period Guatemala was annexed into México and Central America, until the creation of the Republic of Guatemala in 1847. Finally came the development of the coffee industry as the main source of income for the country and ends with the Revolution of October 20, 1944. This is when the country started its industrial development and involvement in international commerce and capitalism. This fourth period of fast growth and development, globalization and social unrest during the civil war, led to the signing of the Peace Agreements in 1996. It also marked the beginning of a new era for Guatemala, one of peace and tourism development.

The Maya

Guatemala is home to one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known, the Maya. The country is not only the birthplace of the Mayan culture, but also is the geographic center their empire. This is why Guatemala is known as the Heart of the Mayan World. The Maya achieved great success in mathematics, astronomy, architecture and arts among others. All aspects of that great civilization are deeply embedded in the hearts of the Guatemalan people and the thousands of Maya descendants that still live here today. It was the Mayas who first used the concept of "zero", which later on led to the development of basic mathematics and all its derivatives. The Maya were a polytheistic civilization, meaning they worshiped many gods and deities, most of which were associated with aspects of their daily life. There was a god of rain, another for fertility, for the sun, for war, and of course a mighty Zeus.Chaa. They believed in life after death and that their ruling cast was of royal blood originating from the gods themselves. Religion played the most important role in their daily life and dictated everything from their clothing to the architectonic design of their pyramids, temples and plazas. Society and Politics were both a reflection of their religious beliefs. The Maya inhabited the area known as the Maya World, which today includes 5 southern states in Mexico (Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Campeche, Tabasco and Chiapas), all of Guatemala and Belize and parts of Honduras and El Salvador. Of these areas, Guatemala is the only country which borders all of the other countries, making it an ideal hub for travel within the region. Today, 21 ethnic groups, all direct descendants from the Maya, inhabit Guatemala's territory. Each of these ethnic groups differs from one another by wearing hand-woven textiles with different patterns and colors, and by speaking their unique tongues. Their colorful traditions, costumes and gastronomy add to the beauty of a land which is truly Maya in spirit.

Geographic Location

Guatemala is the northernmost country in Central America bordering to the North with México, to the East with Belize, the Caribbean Sea, Honduras and El Salvador, to the South with the Pacific Ocean and to the West with Mexico.


Guatemala is divided into 22 geographic divisions called Departments, which at the same time are divided into 331 Municipalities, and these are composed of countless towns and villages. Each Department has a Cabecera or capital city, where its government is established, headed by a governor; a mayor administrates each Municipality. The Department Governments report directly to the country's Central Government, which is democratically elected every 4 years. Each Department offers different attractions for the visitor given the territory's topographic diversity, so one can enjoy the cool mountains in the highlands as well as the warm Pacific Coast. These departments have also been classified into Tourist Regions, which give you a better insight on what to find in each one.

Safety Tips

In order to make your stay as pleasant as possible, we recommend you take certain precautions. As in most countries and large cities, people can be exposed to insecure situations that undermine the hospitality and attributes that Guatemala has to offer our welcomed visitors. To enjoy your visit in Guatemala safely, please follow this advice:
  • Purchase your taxicab tickets at the counter found inside the airport.
  • Taxi drivers must be visibly identified and have the obligation to use the taximeter for services shorter than 12 km. (7.46 miles); if the distance is longer, the fare can be negotiated.
  • Do not leave your luggage unattended nor ask a stranger to watch it for you.
  • Always carry a copy of your passport with you, showing your picture and date of entrance; keep the original in a safety deposit box or a safe place in your hotel.
  • Keep your airline ticket, money, important documents and traveler's checks in a safe place. Also write down the traveler's checks numbers.
  • Exchange your money in banks or at your hotel, never on the street.
  • Do not use valuable jewelry. Only carry the amount of money you need for each day.
  • Watch over your important objects like photographic or video cameras. Keep your wallet or purse in a secure place.
  • When driving through downtown or crowded areas, lock your doors and roll up the windows of the vehicle.
  • For your safety inside archeological sites or at the beach, follow the pre determined trails in these parks to guarantee a more pleasant and safer experience.
  • It is important to form groups of two or more people during these visits; please avoid getting lost.
  • At the beach, consult with the hotel staff or local people which areas could be dangerous.
  • If you wish to extend your permit to remain in the country, consult immigration authorities.
  • If you wish to file a report, do so at any Police Station around the country, where you will receive a legal copy.
Lake Atitlan and Highland Region - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

The best of Guatemala

Culture, Adventure, Tropical rainforests, Caribbean magic

Please, visit each region to find Day Tours offered by Tropical Discovery:

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Visit Guatemala - Nature and Adventure Tours by Tropical Discovery
  • 2 nights in Antigua (Guatemala)
  • 2 nights in Atitlan
  • 1 night in Antigua (Guatemala)
  • 2 nights in Coban-Veraparces (Semuc Champey)
  • 2 nights in Peten (Tikal)
  • 1 night in Guatemala City (Departure)
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Hotel del Patio

Hotel del Patio Tikal & Peten Guatemala

Located on Santa Elena Petén, the Del Patio provides guests with a colonial atmosphere which blends itself perfectly with the convenience and comfort of the XXI century.

avg/night$60.00 SELECT
Casa Duranta

Casa Duranta Verapaces Region Guatemala

The hotel represents the comfort and peace that every traveler needs.

avg/night$70.00 SELECT
Hacienda Tijax

Hacienda Tijax Rio Dulce, Lake Izabal & Caribbean Coast Guatemala

A place where you can get in touch with nature and enjoy the peacefulness of the Rio Dulce and the tropical jungle while staying at our cozy and environment responsible ecolodge.

avg/night$73.00 SELECT

D’Leyenda Hotel La Antigua Valley Guatemala

D' Leyenda Hotel is located in the center of town, a few steps away from the Main Plaza of La Antigua, Guatemala. It was designed using details taken from Antigua’'s colonial architecture.

avg/night$80.00 SELECT

Hotel Convento Santa Catalina La Antigua Valley Guatemala

Hotel Convento Santa Catalina is perfectly located in the heart of Antigua at the base one of the most famous historic monuments of Antigua Guatemala, the Arch. The Hotel was an old convent build in the early 1600’s, whose legacy is visible thought the Hotel.

avg/night$85.00 SELECT

Hotel Casa Encantada La Antigua Valley Guatemala

Located in the ancient city of Antigua this elegant little hotel features nine individually decorated guest rooms and a magnificent rooftop suite.

avg/night$85.00 SELECT

Meson Panza Verde La Antigua Valley Guatemala

People often ask about our name. Panza Verde (green belly) is what generations of Antigüeños have called themselves. No one is quite certain of the true story, but it is said the people who remained here after the Capital was moved to Guatemala City were so poor they had to subsist on avocados. Being a Panza Verde is mentioned with great pride.

avg/night$85.00 SELECT
Meson de Maria

El Mesón de María La Antigua Valley Guatemala

El Mesón de María” provides a relaxed and refined atmosphere; located in the heart of la Antigua Guatemala.

avg/night$85.00 SELECT
Hotel Villa Caribe

Hotel Villa Caribe Rio Dulce, Lake Izabal & Caribbean Coast Guatemala

Hotel Villa Caribe is located in Livingston, a colorful and relaxed fishermen village, where Rio Dulce and the Caribbean Sea merge.

avg/night$90.00 SELECT

Posada de Don Rodrigo La Antigua Valley Guatemala

Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo is a place where beauty encounters elegance, service, and great taste, right in the heart of beautiful Antigua Guatemala.

avg/night$90.00 SELECT

Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo – Atitlan Lake Atitlan & Villages Guatemala

Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo is a place where beauty encounters elegance, service, and great taste, right in at the shores of the Lake Atitlan.

avg/night$90.00 SELECT
Hotel Dos Mundos

Hotel Dos Mundos Pacific Coast Guatemala

The hotel, surrounded by gardens of cactus and palm trees, is the perfect place to rest by the sea, both as a couple, as a family or with friends

avg/night$90.00 SELECT
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