Our Trip to Guatemala

We visited Guatemala on a 10-day tour with Caravan on February 20 - March 1 of 2015. It was our first trip with Caravan.
A special thank you to our Tour Director, Virginia De Fuentes, and our motorcoach driver, Hector, for making it a wonderful trip.
Thanks, also, to our fellow travelers for being a welcoming part of it all. We enjoyed meeting everyone.

(click on any of the images below to see our photos for those days.)

 


February 20-21 (Guatemala City)
Our flight from Atlanta arrived in Guatemala City in mid-afternoon on February 20th. We were met at the airport by a representative from the Barceló Hotel and were taken to the hotel. When we got there, we were met by our Caravan tour director, Virginia De Fuentes. We stayed at the hotel for two nights. The Barceló Hotel had fabulous buffets for meals. On the second day we toured the Popol Vuh archeology and neighboring textile museum. In the afternoon we had a driving tour around the city.
 
February 22 (Quiriguá Archeological Site)
We left Guatemala City on the tour bus heading to our next base at Hotel Maya in Petenchel. On the way we visited the Quiriguá Archeological Site. There were carved stone animal figures and massive stone monoliths inscribed with ancient writings recording Mayan history. We continued our drive, stopping for lunch overlooking the Rió Dulce.
February 22-23 (Villa Maya)
We arrived at the Villa Maya in the late afternoon. The villa is located on the shores of Petenchel Laguna and has 2 pools, a jacuzzi and beautiful nature trails.
February 23 (Tikal)
Tikal was settled in 700 B.C. It was the grandest of all Mayan cities. There are towering pyramids that rise above the rainforest canopy. The Mayan society seemed to disappear around 900 A.D. Of course the native people in Guatemala are Mayans. We had lunch at Tikal and then returned to Villa Maya. After dinner we saw a presentation of native dance by school children. Their outfits were so colorful. Unfortunately we didn't have our camera.
February 24-25 (Porta Hotel in Antigua)
We left Petenchel for Antigua and the Porta Hotel. This was the longest drive - 10 hours - with stops for lunch and potty breaks. It was a lovely hotel, built 6 years ago but in the old style. The lap pool was 15 feet from our room. The dining room was in the building across the street, but there was a tunnel we could take to reach it.
February 25 (Touring Antigua)
Antigua was destroyed 8 times by volcanos and earthquakes. The Spanish had made it the capitol until the devastating earthquake in 1773. After that they moved the capitol to Guatemala City. At it's height there were 38 churches, schools, hospitals, monestaries and convents, a university, and printing presses. When the coffee boom arrived early in the 1800s, people returned and the city started to grow again. There is ongoing restoration taking place. There was another major earthquake in 1976 that left thousands dead and undid much of the restoration work. It is one of the best preserved colonial cities in Latin America. The street vendors were rather aggressive here. We were on our own after touring Antigua and spent the afternoon here relaxing.
February 26 (La Azoteo Coffee Plantation)
We drove into the picturesque and world-famous coffee growing region of Guatemala. We toured the plantation and a museum highlighting Guatemala's musical instruments. After lunch we enjoyed a musical presentation. Then we continued on to the Hotel Atitlán in Panajachel.
February 26-27 (Hotel Atitlán)
The Hotel Atitlán overlooks Lake Atitlán, 5,000 feet above sea level. The hotel is stunningly beautiful with flower gardens everywhere. They also had a buffet for breakfasts and dinners with delicious food. On the morning of the 27th we were let loose for 3 hours in Panajachel to go shopping. There were more than 100 little outdoor shops lining the main street. Guatemalans are known for their colorful fabrics, their embroidery, and beadwork. We spent the afternoon relaxing at the hotel and touring their gardens.
February 28 (Boat Tour on Lake Atitlán)
We took a boat tour on Lake Atitlán after breakfast. Then we boarded the bus to return to Guatemala City. We stopped for lunch along the way at a restaurant that is known for their pork. There was a pig roasting on a spit in their open kitchen and we had the best pork we've eaten in years! It was juicy, tender, and flavorful. From there we returned to the Hotel Barceló and readied for the trip home.