I decided to go to Guatemala 3 days before my trip! It was Memorial Day weekend in 2016. Much to my surprise, I found out on Monday that I could take the weekend off. That same night, I found a flight deal and was jet setting to Latin America by Thursday. Why Guatemala? Well, I noticed that a few members from an online travel group I’m a part of were headed there for the weekend and rented out a dope compound for a very affordable price. As fate would have it, someone had to drop out and an extra space opened up in one of the apartments. They also had a few group activities planned, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to hop on a trip that I didn’t have to plan from scratch. The ultimate deciding factor was the flight, however. Once I grabbed a deal for $250, I realized it was my destiny to go on that trip. Everything just fell together: flight, accommodation, activities, and travel companions! It was spontaneous, and I had a glorious weekend exploring as much as I could about a country I honestly never even considered visiting before that Monday. So here are my top recommendations for a fun filled yet adventurous long weekend trip to Guatemala. Be careful, its a whirlwind!
1. Walk the streets of Antigua
I flew into Guatemala City and took about an hour long ride to the nearby town of Antigua, which is where we were staying. The first day was filled with simply taking in the town, walking along the cobblestone streets, appreciating the colorful architecture, and admiring the beauty of the traditional clothes. I literally stepped into a different world and considering the fact that I didn’t have the opportunity to thoroughly research my destination, it was even more fascinating to be exposed to new sights and smells. One of my favorite things to do is to get lost walking through a new place because I always end up stumbling across something amazing. Those type of experiences can’t be found in a guide book or city review. If you tire of walking, you can take a tuk tuk, which is a small vehicle that doesn’t have doors. You negotiate a price BEFORE getting in because it is not a taxi with a meter.
2. Mayan ruins at Tikal
This is where things before more adventurous. Tikal is a spectacular archaeological site that was a significant place for Mayans from 6th century B.C. to 10th century A.D. It’s quite a journey from Antigua, but worth the process to get there. My day started early around 3:40 am because I had to travel back to Guatemala City to catch a small plane to the town of Flores. The plane ride was only about an hour, but I still had to go through the process of check in and security at the airport, so that added on to the time. Upon arrival in Flores, it took another additional hour to reach the ruins of Tikal. I am a HUGE fan of ruins, so even though most people would skip such a long and exhausting journey for only a 4 day trip, I couldn’t let this opportunity pass. I also booked this entirely on my own because no one else was crazy enough to do it lol. I ended up meeting a fun couple though who were also traveling from the states. The trip was booked through Viator and cost about $400, which included hotel pick up and drop off from Antigua, airfare, English speaking guide, shuttle from Flores to Tikal and back, admission fees, and lunch.
3. Cook and eat at La Tortilla Cooking School
Who doesn’t love to eat?! I sure do, especially when its an entirely new cuisine that I haven’t been exposed to before. One of my favorite ways to explore food is to go through the process of cooking it and learning about the ingredients. It never fails, the best food I consume whenever I travel, is the food I receive from a cooking school. Plus, it’s fun to learn new techniques and be involved in the process. This was one of the activities that the group decided to do together and we booked the market tour as an add on. The market was extremely colorful and lively, and I appreciated having a glimpse of daily life in Antigua.
4. Sail across Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan is extremely beautiful and calming. You can take a ferry from Antigua and stop at one or multiple towns across the lake. I honestly can’t remember which town we stopped at, but I do remember having the best seafood lunch there. It was so fresh, and I’m sure all the towns across the lake would offer the same delectable experience. It’s worth just getting out on the boat and watching the scenery pass by.
My trip to Guatemala was unexpected, jam packed, and memorable! I definitely made the most out of my last minute decision and am so glad I didn’t hesitate to jump on a new experience. Have you ever made a last minute decision to travel out of the country? If so, how did it turn out? If not, would you?
xoxo, Global Midwife