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Johnny's Travel Guide to Guatemala

If you were to ask me what my favorite country was that I've traveled to, I'd have a tough time narrowing it down.  But the top three choices would be easy.

  • Thailand
  • Malaysian Borneo 
  • Guatemala 

I wouldn't exactly know how to arrange the three but I definitely spend the most amount of time in Thailand, mainly because it has the best mix of islands, scuba diving, cheap lifestyle, beautiful nature, muay thai and a really good environment for starting internet businesses.

But one of the best trips I've had was actually to Guatemala and this little short film really highlights all of the cool things I did myself and you can do too, for surprisingly cheap:

Updated for 2017!





I ended up in Guatemala after getting my PADI Scuba Diving Instructor's certification on Utila, which was one of the islands in the Caribbean sea that was technically part of Honduras.  Even though Utila itself sucked and I wouldn't recomend it to anyone, especially not Utila Dive Center as I had a terrible experience with them and they're still hounding me till this day to take down my negative review of their shitty dive center.

But aside from that, I'm glad I went to Honduras as it introduced me to the magical world of Guatemala. During my 3 months there I met a ton of travelers who have come through central america and traveled through Guatemala, Nicaragua, Belize, Costa Rica and Honduras.   

Every single person I met said the same thing, Guatemala was amazing!  Belize and Costa Rica were nice but overpriced and a bit touristy.  So when I got bored of Utila (which was quite fast) I decided to take a trip out to Guatemala and ended up spending over a month there and loving it.



Overlooking Lago Atitlan which is by far the most beautiful lake I've ever seen.


Where to go in Guatemala


Guatemala City?


I highly suggest to completely skip Guatemala city at all costs. If you have to fly into there, take a taxi or shuttle straight from the airport to Antigua, as it's a million times nicer and safer than the capital.


Antigua


I loved Antigua which I spent a week at and loved it, there. I did a homestay. My favorite things about Antigua included living with a local Spanish speaking family and eating 3 meals with them a day in Antigua.  I had private Spanish classes and actually got pretty decent after a few weeks of immersion.  Total cost was around $200 a week for a room, food and classes, a fantastic deal.

Antigua was also a beautiful little city which reminds me a lot of Chiang Mai in Thailand. It is surrounded by walls and has a park in the middle with tons of coffee shops.  Lots of artists, teachers, and students there as well.  I didn't explore their internet speeds or find out if they have any coworking spaces, but as a city to relax in and base out of, I love it.  If you're thinking about learning Spanish, by far the best way to do it to sign up for a Spanish Immersion course and live with locals.  

I ended up going around to compare schools but the first one I found online was Ixcel Spanish School www.ixchelschool.com  But do your own research as there are dozens of places you can go.

Updated for 2017: It looks like there are currently four coworking spaces in Antigua with Impact Hub being the most popular. That was the only thing that was missing when I was there back in 2013, now that there is reliable internet and a small community of digital nomads, I can see Antigua being the Chiang Mai of Central America there.

It's a pity that it's a bit hard to get to for Europeans so it'll never be as popular as Thailand, but, it's an amazing place that I'd love to go back to again.



At Semuc Champey - Cascading Waterfall filled Lagoons.


Semuc Champey



It was beautiful, and amazing. I highly recomend going there, and staying for a bit. I traveled through quite quickly but could have easily spent more time than just seeing it for 2 days and 1 night. 



At Tikal, Myan Pyramids.


Tikal


You have to go see the ancient mayan ruins of Tikal while you're in town. It was once the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. Also it's the location for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, where Luke, Hans Solo and crew land the Millennium Falcon on Yavin 4, in a jungle-y, rainforest-y moon. It’s from here that the heroes launch their attack on the Death Star.

Either way even if you've never watched Star Wars, it's a gorgeous place to visit and well worth the many, many steps it takes to get to the top.


Flores


Tikal is in the city of Flores which was actually really cool, it kind of reminded me of Pai in northern Thailand, a hippie, chilled out place to hang out. I could have easily stayed there for a few more days.


El Mirador


The once place in Guatemala I really wished I could have went to but didn't was El Mirador. It's an ancient Mayan ruin that has no road access to it. Which means, you need to hike for 5 days through the jungle to get there. Yup, you heard me right, it's a 5 day jungle trek to get there!

It's also kind of cool that you need to bring a mule or jackass with you to carry your stuff, and/or bring you out of the jungle if you get hurt or sick.



That's it for now! I hope you enjoyed this post post. Make sure you share if it you go!


Check it out and have fun if you end up going down to Guatemala!  



-Johnny FD


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  1. Hey Johnny! I just started following your blog and joined Anton's course a couple days ago. I just wanted to pop in and thank you for the podcast episodes as that really helped me make the decision to join and I'm very happy I did! I actually lived in Guatemala for four months back in 2005 and one of my goals is to build my business so I can go back again! Thanks again!

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