View of Lake Izabal from Castillo de San Felipe de Lara. Photo © Stuart Gray/123rf.

Planning Your Time in El Oriente and Izabal

The Izabal region features a unique kind of Caribbean experience not at all like Cancún or the West Indies but nonetheless beautiful. Meanwhile in El Oriente, Copán showcases some of the Mayan world’s finest ruins and the surrounding mountainous countryside is becoming increasingly popular with travelers exploring coffee farms, a jungle bird park, and hot springs.

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 main square in La Antigua, Guatemala.

Where to Go in Guatemala

From cosmopolitan Guatemala City and dining beneath Spanish colonial arches set beside a gurgling fountain to finding treasures in highland markets full of Mayan crafts to exploring active volcanoes and sweltering jungles full of half-excavated Mayan pyramids, here’s where to go in Guatemala to experience its culture, peoples, and lands.

Moon Guatemala, 5th ed.

Moon Guatemala

This full-color guide includes vibrant photos and detailed maps to help with trip planning. Part-time Guatemala resident Al Argueta provides travelers with an insider’s view of Guatemala’s best, from idyllic surf spots to popular volcanoes. Argueta offers in-depth coverage of Lake Atitlan and La Antigua, as well as Guatemala City’s diverse selection of museums. With […]

An Oceania cruise ship docked at Santo Tomás de Castilla. Photo © Victoria Herring, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Exploring Puerto Santo Tomás de Castilla

Cruise ships dock in Santo Tomás de Castilla, just across the bay from Puerto Barrios, where those wishing to go ashore will find some of the country’s best bird-watching, lush tropical rainforests, and refreshing jungle rivers.

Another adorable West Indian manatee at a Florida sanctuary.

Guatemala’s Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge

Now is a great time to explore this area, as it’s clear tourism is still in its infancy. Activities include visits to the mangrove-lined canals of Bahía La Graciosa, Laguna Santa Isabel, and adjacent Canal Inglés for bird-watching and manatee-spotting.