Alta Vista Golf and Tennis Club offers one of Guatemala's most challenging courses. Photo © Al Argueta.

Guatemala City Golfing

Fans of golf will find some excellent golf courses in and around the city; those within private country clubs are usually still open to visitors. You can enjoy a round of golf surrounded by the country’s spectacular mountain scenery as you play on narrow, sloping fairways lined with pine trees and a variety of other obstacles. Several of sportfishing outfitters have also combined fishing and golf packages.

Guatemala's impressive Maya Biosphere Reserve. Photo © Al Argueta.

Guatemala’s Biosphere Reserves

Guatemala has more than 90 protected areas encompassing about 28 percent of the country’s total land area. Among the different types of protected areas are biosphere reserves, national parks, biotopes, natural monuments, wildlife refuges, and private nature reserves. Several of these are encompassed within larger areas, as is the case with the national parks and biotopes making up the larger Maya Biosphere Reserve.

The carved and painted front of San Andrés Xecul's Technicolor church.

The Many Sights Near Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

The towns and villages surrounding Quetzaltenango make for some interesting day trips. Found nearby are the Santa María and Santiaguito Volcanoes, hot springs, Indian markets, colorful churches, and an exquisite crater lake.

Los Amigos Youth Hostel in Flores. Photo © John Barrie, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Tips on Staying in Guatemala on a Budget

Guatemala is a major stop along the Central American backpacking circuit, so it’s no surprise that there are a plethora of low-budget hotels to choose from, and most national parks allow camping. Expert author Al Argueta gives an overview on what sorts of rooms you’ll find and to look for to ensure your stay is comfortable.

Aerial view of Lake Amatitlán, on the fringes of Guatemala City. Photo © Al Argueta.

Things to Do at Lake Amatitlán

Lake Amatitlán is in the process of being rescued from what would have been certain ecological death caused by wastewater from nearby industry and uncontrolled urban growth. Though it’s still not possible to swim in the lake’s waters, the area around it is home to very affordable hot springs and spas, and a park with full facilities and picnic areas offering several outdoor activities.

Flowers on display in the Chichicastenango market. Photo © Al Argueta.

Exploring Chichicastenango in Guatemala’s Western Highlands

Chichicastenango (Chichi, for short) will provide you with an opportunity to take in a unique highland market experience. Today, Chichi is still very much a K’iche’ town with strong adherence to the old ways, and there are plenty of sights to take in outside the bustling market. Learn about this Mayan village’s history, its sights, and how to handle yourself in the marketplace.

Hikers running along the crater of Acatenango Volcano. Photo © Al Argueta.

Hiking and Biking Antigua’s Volcanoes

Antigua’s setting is spectacular, flanked on its southern extreme by the towering 3,750-meter (12,325-foot) Agua Volcano. The colossal 4,235-meter (13,044-foot) Acatenango and active Fuego Volcanoes lie to the west. The surrounding hillsides provide wonderful views of the valley and the volcanoes, and are excellent terrain hiking and mountain biking.

Mayan glyphs. Photo © Al Argueta.

Guatemala’s Pre-Colonial Mayan Inhabitants

Guatemala’s history is complicated and fascinating, though it often reads like a tragic novel. A basic understanding of its history is a crucial element for the well-informed traveler hoping to get the most out of a visit to this mystifying land of culture and contrasts.

Atop Tikal's Temple IV. Photo © Al Argueta.

Petén and the Maya Biosphere Reserve

Petén is without a doubt the cradle of Mayan civilization, as it lays claim to some of the oldest known Mayan sites along with the earliest evidence of the writing and royal dynastic rule characterizing the civilization that flourished here. The massive Maya Biosphere Reserve, established to protect the forests, ruins, and unexcavated sites, could keep you busy for weeks. However long your have for your visit, our expect author is here to help you effectively plan your time.

A Mayan woman and child from the Huehuetenango highlands. Photo © Al Argueta.

Etiquette and Customs in Guatemala

You’ll find most Guatemalans are warm and friendly, and Guatemalans from all walks of life value politeness and good manners. Getting to know social etiquette, common customs, and general expectations in appearance and conduct–especially the courtesy you should show when seeking photographs–will go far in making your travels easier and much more genuine.