Explore Guatemala: Lake Atitlán

where to stay:

Posada los Encuentros: A quaint bed and breakfast, off the beaten path from the city of Panajachel.  A relaxing atmosphere and adorable decor make this the perfect place for travelers looking to unwind with some peace and quiet to take in the gorgeous sights of Lake Atitlán.  The well-kempt, gorgeous gardens are sure to bring a smile to your face as well! A volcanically heated hot tub, comfortable rooms, and hammocks galore to relax in.  Room prices being at $36 USD/night.   http://www.losencuentros.com/Welcome_Posada_Los_Encuentros,%20Atitlan,%20Hotel,%20Tours.html

Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort & Nature Reserve: A tranquil, romantic place to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Lake Atitlán.   Enjoy a bottle of wine while watching the sunset on your private, lakeside patio- a truly unique experience.  Small and quiet with only 8 rooms, the city must be accessed by boat- which you can set up with the front desk staff.  Hike the unique nature reserve path (only accessible to guests) through the mountains and with overlooks of the lake.  This is an eco-resort and the electricity is powered by solar, so expect dim lighting and limited electricity.  Gorgeous, spacious rooms with luxurious beds will make this a perfect getaway.  Room prices being at $230 USD/night.  http://telagunalodge.com/

where to eat:

Las Lagartijas Restaurante y Tienda: Somewhat of a “hole in the wall” restaurant, but do not be deceived by the outside of this place.  A complex menu with vegan options and the owners are beyond friendly and welcoming.  Located in the Santiago area of Lake Atitlán, this small and informal space is one you’ll be coming back to during your stay on the lake.  Choose from burritos to delicious quesadillas, all topped with homemade salsas.  

Cafe Sabor Cruceno: Probably some of the most delicious food you will come across while trekking through Guatemala.  This restaurant in Santa Cruz La Laguna is part of a culinary school that teaches locals to make traditional dishes with flair.  Not only does the restaurant serve up gorgeous dishes made of fresh foods, but the culinary school gives vocational training and practical skills to the local people.  We recommend trying out everything you possibly can on the menu. Delicious!

who to tour with:

Atitlan Sustainable Travel: Visit multiple Mayan villages around different parts of the lake by boat while learning about culture and everyday life with a bilingual tour guide.  You will visit the villages of Panajachel and San Juan la Laguna/  During your tour you’ll also visit an organic coffee farm-  after all Guatemala is known for its coffee.   Tour prices begin at $65 USD/person. http://www.atitlan.com/san-juan-eco-tour.php

 

Posted on May 18, 2015 .

Explore Guatemala: Tikal and Flores

Where to stay:

Private Beach House: Stay on the beach on the shores of Lake Petén Itzá, about a 30 minute car ride or hour-long bus ride to Flores or Tikal.  A perfect place for a group of friends or families looking to take a day trip to Tikal but would like a place to stay with all of home’s amenities.  A truly gorgeous property, this Air Bnb© private beach house has three bedrooms that are immaculately decorated with stonewalls and wood.  Relax on the beach of the lake for a few days, with the option to retreat back into your private home at the end of the day.  Amenities include A/C, a kitchen, and WiFi.  You can cook from home or pay the property owners $4 USD for breakfast or $10 USD for dinner.  They recommend renting your own vehicle.  Pricing begins at $128 USD/night.  Check them out at http://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1428837?checkin=05%2F21%2F2015&checkout=05%2F22%2F2015&s=8X14

 

Hotel Isla de Flores: A charming, little boutique hotel on the island of Flores, this hotel is a favorite of those looking for a base while visiting Tikal park.  Simple and basic rooms, but clean and perfectly comfortable for those returning from a day of exploring the ruins in Tikal.  Air conditioning in all the rooms for those who aren’t a fan of the humid weather in Flores.  A small restaurant and pool on the property are also worth checking out! We recommend asking for a room with a view of the lake when booking.  Pricing begins at $60 USD/night.

 

Where to eat:

Restaurant La Villa del Chef: Lakeside, this restaurant provides fabulous views and the friendliest service from the owner Nick.  Choose from a variety of organic International and Central American cuisine.  A perfect place to unwind and enjoy the sunset on the lake after trekking around Tikal all day.  A wide variety of dishes from the falafel sandwich to spaghetti Bolognese to local fish.  Locals will tell you to taste the “Blanco Fish”, locally caught…delicious!  You will probably be back more than once while staying on the island of Flores. 

 

Caffee Ital: A godsend for the Tikal National Park- and coffee-lovers alike that are touring the park.  Maybe the last thing you’d expect to see amongst the ruins in Tikal, but we won’t complain about enjoying a cappuccino (especially since Guatemala produces some of the world’s finest coffee beans!).  They also offer lunch items for those looking to refuel after climbing the ancient Mayan ruins.  Located right outside the entrance to the park, grab a cup of joe before you begin your adventure. 

 

Who to tour with:

Tikal Roxy’s Tours: Receive a one-of-a-kind, customized tour from Roxy, an experienced archeologist specialized in Mayan ruins and culture.  She is truly an expert on the topic of ancient Mayan civilization and not only provides detailed explanation, but makes it quite exciting.  She’ll take you through the jungle to see the sunset above the treetops and have you following a troops of monkeys.  Email her to set up a tour at tikal_roxy@yahoo.com

Posted on May 10, 2015 .

Explore Guatemala: Antigua

where to stay:

Yellow House Hostel: This stay is sure to be your favorite in all of Latin America! Chill out and relax in one of the hammocks on the rooftop or make new friends with other backpackers at this quaint hostel.  Guests all comment on how extremely clean this place is, which can be a nice change from constantly being on the road while backpacking. A delicious, huge breakfast (price included in your room fee) will fill you up til dinner and give you the energy need to explore Antigua.   Also a travel agency within the hostel, so book excursions or bus tickets won’t be a problem at all! Dorm rooms start at $10 USD/night and private rooms with shared bath at $30 USD/night.  Email reservations only.  http://guatetravel.com/

El Convento Boutique Hotel: Experience the colonial history of Antigua with the “old world” feel of this luxury boutique hotel.  Relax and enjoy all the amenities of home after a long day of walking around on the cobblestone streets of the city. The excellent, friendly staff at El Convento is there to help you with any and every need.  Choose from a variety of unique, colonial suites with private jacuzzis, gardens, and gorgeous spiraling staircases.  Prices for a room begin at $120 USD/night.  http://www.elconventoantigua.com/default-en.html

where to eat:

El Fogon de la Abuela: A recently opened, family-owned restaurant serving up delicious Guatemalan comida. Fresh food with organic veggies and free range meat will nourish your body after a long day of traveling.  A small, quaint space will make you feel like a part of the family as you enjoy delicious food.  We recommend trying the anafre, a dish with chorizo, refried beans, mozzarella, and chips- YUM! Dishes range from $3-10 USD.  

Shtilero: Antigua’s first food truck! A  sandwich truck serving up delicious meatball subs from an old VW van started by a French expat.  A little different from the traditional street food in Antigua, this shop is constantly on the move throughout the city. You can find the truck on 3a avenida sura and 7a calle poniente Mon-Fri.

who to tour with:

Antigua Tours by Elizabeth Bell: Customized tours within and outside of Antigua by a U.S.-born, Guatemalan-raised woman with a mission to educate and increase tourism in the city of Antigua.  Walk into the Antigua Tours offices to book a private trip up the Pacaya volcano, a walking tour through the city, or simply a hotel that suits your needs.  Elizabeth offers a lot historical, yet contemporary information on the city that will give you an entirely new look at Antigua.  Book ahead here at http://antiguatours.net/

 

Posted on May 3, 2015 .