If Central America has one pièce de résistance on land, it would have to be the Mayan city of Tikal. To watch the sunrise from atop Tikal is to be transported to a magical place. It’s well worth the trip to Guatemala to experience it. Beyond Tikkal, Guatemala is still a destination off-the-beaten track. While the capital, Guatemala City, is worth visiting for the museums, the true adventure is elsewhere, like in colonial Antigua.

With its numerous sites, Guatemala is the center of Mayan culture in Central America, with Tikal as the most prominent site. The local market of Chichicastenango is a must for shoppers and admirers of local handicrafts and textiles. the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Guatemala City, makes a visit to the capital worthwhile. There's the turquoise limestone pools and waterfalls of Semuc Champey for those adventurous to get to them. For those wanting to "give back" and volunteer their time, the nonprofits in Quetzaltenango will set you up with a project.
When to Visit
Guatemala has a warm climate year around, ranging from the low 70’s to 90 degrees. The best time to visit is November to April in the dry season. The rainy season is May through October.
Cuisine of Guatemala
You are certain to enjoy Guatemala's gastronomical selections. Here's a taste: Pupusas  are small disks of corn mixture stuffed with cheese or beans. Meat stews ( caldos ) and soups ( sopas ) are popular dishes among locals.  Pepian  is a thick stew of beef, chicken, or pork and rice in a tomato-based sauce and roasted spices, with fruits and vegetables.  Kak’ik  is a dish with turkey and garlic, onions, meat and coriander.  Pollo en crema  is chicken breasts made with  loroco  (a green flower), chayote or zucchini, yellow potatoes, green chile peppers and onions, in a creamy sauce.  Tapado  is a seafood stew made with coconut milk.  Jocón de pollo  is chicken with pumpkin and sesame seeds, tomatillos, cilantro, onions, chili peppers, and corn tortillas.  A popular street food, Elote loco is grilled corn with ketchup, mayonnaise and cheese.  Ellenitos are cooked plaintains with refried beans, sugar and cinnamon, while Platanos en Tentacion are plantains glazed with caramel.
Suggested Reading
Men of Maize and Mr. President (M. Á. Asturias), Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (S. Schlesinger & S. Kinzer), I, Rigoberta Menchú (R. Menchú), Scandals in the House of Birds (N. Tarn), Red Midnight (B. Mikaelsen).
Suggested Viewing
Guatemala: Heart of the Mayan World, 500 Years, Mayan Renaissance, When the Mountains Tremble, Donde acaban los caminos, La casa de enfrente, Ixcanul .

Unique Experiences
In Guatemala

Did you know?

The longest civil war raged in Guatemala, Central America's largest country, from 1960 to 1996.

The Maya people used jade for ideological rituals. Guatemala is among the biggest producers of these rare stones in the world.

Old American yellow school buses are auctioned off and driven to Guatemala, colorfully painted and used for local transport.

The All Saints Day Kite Festival (Nov 1) is a 3000-year-old ritual that honors the dead by flying large colorful kites high up in the sky.

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Things to See and Do

Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología has the most extensive collection of Mayan artifacts in the world. The Museo Popol Vuh is dedicated to Guatemala’s cultural heritage. The Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena has a fascinating collection of wonderful textiles.
To some, Lake Atitlan is the most beautiful lake, and it’s worth exploring the towns on its edge.
Semuc Champey serves up caves, pristine pools, waterfalls, jungles, and more adventure.

With its cobbled streets and painted buildings and Volcan de Agua serving as a backdrop, colonial Antigua, once the wealthiest cities in the world, is a highlight. The vast open-air indigenous market of Chichicastenango is another popular highlight.

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