Beautiful Guatemala

Welcome to Guatemala, Mexico’s friendly neighbor to the south. If you don’t mind uncomfortable buses, lots of transfers, and a few hassles, then getting across the border is easy.

To finally arrive at Lake Atitlan at sundown for the boat ride across to the little town of San Pedro is a wonderful thing.

The chicken bus, the staple of Guatemalan public transportation:

Between the Mexican border and Lake Atitlan is Quetzaltenango (aka Xela), Guatemala’s second largest city.

Xela is the center of the Guatemalan highlands: volcanoes, mountains, and valleys in the southern center of the country.

It’s nice to walk up into the hills above Xela. This hike leads you to a sauna called Los Vahos built over cracks in the mountain that release steam from the volcano.

Views of the city:

This is a milpa, a Mayan style farm. They rotate corn, beans, and squash – among other crops.

Back into the city.

Looming over Xela is the extinct Santa Maria Volcano.

It’s a long, tough hike to the top and you have to leave really early in the morning before the clouds roll in. I went last year and saw only clouds.

Right below the peak, on the other side of the volcano from the city, is an active volcano called Santiaguito.

After hanging out on top for about a half hour I was surprised by the first eruption. The gas burst right out of the rock with a boom that reached me a few seconds late, like thunder. I saw five in total.

Beyond Santiaguito is the Pacific coast, and to the left and right continue the range of volcanoes. These are the ones that surround Lake Atitlan:

The Mayan people don’t like to be photographed, and I didn’t bring my camera out partying with me, so this collection is just scenery shots. The people are beautiful as well. I have some shots of them in my other posts on Guatemala. Plus, these pics are from only two places! There’s a lot more to Guatemala than the highlands, such as Rio Dulce:

This guy is selling paterna (aka cushin, aka burbury), one of my favorite fruits:

And of course Tikal:

About Ted Campbell

U.S./Canadian writer, translator and professor in Mexico. Travel stories and practical tips on my blog No Hay Bronca: // Twitter: @NoHayBroncaBlog // Contact: nohaybroncablog (at)

Posted on July 23, 2012, in Guatemala, Travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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