Blogs from Quetzaltenango, Western Highlands, Guatemala, Central America Caribbean


Distance driven today: 165 miles / 266 km Cumulative distance driven: 6,292 miles / 10,126 km Today’s trip: San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico to Huehuetenango, Guatemala Border crossings: 1 In the morning we left San Cristóbal, in Chiapas Mexico, and both of us felt that we could have easily spent at least three more days exploring the city, eating our way through various restaurants, coffee places, and generally walking around the pedestrian streets. However, it was time to move on south, and so we started riding towards the Guatemalan border. We drove through a multitude of indigenous villages, and descended close to 1,500m/5,000ft over the next hour. As the temperature rose significantly, we had to make several hydration and clothing “easing” stops. Just before 2pm we reached the Guatemalan border, in a rather small and ... read more
A quick hydration and rest stop on the road
The last Chiapas village in Mexico before the border
The Guatemala border

From Lanquin I took a shuttle to Antigua and stopped there for a night before heading to Xela, which I took a chicken bus. Xela is the second biggest city in Guatemala and is famed by tourists for its hiking and Spanish Schools. People usually come here longer term To do Spanish lessons and stay with host families. Xela had really good vibes and felt really safe. It is set in the middle of the western highlands and has the culture of Antigua but the more modern feeling of a Guatemalan city. In other ways, it's just seemed like a more mature, less touristy Antigua and doesn't have some of the colonial feel surrounding it. I stayed in the Black Cat hostel near to the Parque Central for 2 nights. This was a nice hostel which ... read more

For some reason, we thought doing a 3 day hike from Xela to Lago Atitlan sounded like a great idea. The hike turned out to be amazing but that didn't stop us from wondering what the heck we were doing the night before it started. We went with a company called Quetzaltrekkers which is a non-profit organization. The guides are all volunteers and the money goes straight to providing basic needs and education for the street kids of Xela. We started our first day having a big breakfast prepared at the the QT office. Since we had slept in the 'hotel' that shares a door to the street we just had to wake up, take our gear downstairs, and eat. Our group was lead by guides, Matt, Joshi, and Ben and we left QT at 0730hrs ... read more
The Temescal
The So Called "Cornfield of Death"
We Made It!

While in Quetzaltenango (Xela) we weren't really sure what to do. It seemed like a good place to cross the border to, but we hadn't really done any research; and neither had anyone we traveled with. It was a city: big and busy. We wandered on our first day, as we often do, looking for interesting things: markets, Spanish schools, a hat for Dan. We had good luck on the first two, not so good on the last one. Upon recommendation from another traveler we looked into Celas Maya Spanish school and it seemed really good. Lots of activities in the afternoon to practice Spanish and get a better feel for Xela. They went on excursions to textile cooperatives, coffee plantations, the Fuentes Georginas (more below), and many other things you might not be able to ... read more

After San Cristobal we headed for our first border crossing in Central America. We'd heard some daunting things about going through the Guatemalan border and opted to take the shuttle service for MXN350 for door to door service. The shuttle picked us up at 0630hrs from the Iguana Hostel and drove around town picking up others for at least an hour before we got on the road. Stopping for breakfast at 0930hrs. We'd been reading a lot about the Mexican Tourism Tax and spent a lot of time trying to figure out if we'd paid it, and how to avoid paying it again. When we reached the Mexican immigration office one official came to our bus and told us that since it was busy in there (many shuttles were out front) to give all our papers ... read more

As nice as the lake is we still decided that we were getting too settled in our Atitlan ways and felt the need to re-experience life at sea level. We hired Lee, our host, to run us over to the Pacific coast for a two night road trip. Lee is a certified guide and has lived here for the past nine years with his wife, Elaine. We boated over to Pana where Lee keeps his ride, filled the tank for $3 a gallon and vibrated westward over pot-hole riddled roads. We stopped just above the lake near San Lucas Atitlan to catch the spectacular view of the volcanoes and lake-shore. An old man, sitting on a shady bench, told us some local facts in exchange for a few coins. Two dogs dozed under a bush. It ... read more
Takalik Resort
Riding To Takalik
Our Guide Bernardo With KJ and Lee At Takalik

After leaving Antigua (and that wonderful coffee farm!) we spent a few days in Xela. Roger and I were pretty excited to show them life here. We celebrated my birthday at a restaurant that overlooks all of Xela and visited TRAMA for some souvenirs. We also went to the cemetery to share the legend of Vanushka (died from a broken heart), and ate out at all our favorite restaurants, bars, etc. It was fun sharing this part of life with friends from back home! We decided to spend our last weekend together at the ocean, so Saturday morning we started our last leg of the adventure. We started the day off with a trip to some volcanic hot springs about an hour away from Xela. SO RELAXING. We just layed around the hot springs, relaxing and ... read more
Start of the sunset
Group shot!

Wczoraj po całodziennej podróży z San Cristobal de las Casas dotarłem do miasta Quetzaltenango w Gwatemali. Jechałem autobusem turystycznym. Kwestia przejazdu pomiędzy oboma krajami wygląda tak, że w miejscowości granicznej Ciudad Cuauhtemoc wysiadamy z busa meksykańskiego, przechodzimy odprawę paszportową, przekraczamy granicę i ładujemy się do busa gwatemalskiego, który czeka już podstawiony po gwatemalskiej stronie. Nie ma czegoś takiego jest bezpośrednie przekroczenie granicy w jednym busie. Z daleka widać, że Gwatemala to kraj gór i wulkanów. Cały horyzont przed nami to góry i stożki wulkanów. Samo miasto graniczne to nic specjalnego. Dużo straganów i syfu. Najlepiej to od razu stamtą spadać. Później robi się już fajniej i droga wiedzie wzdłuż malowniczej górskiej rzeki. Dookoła wysokie zalesione góry. Trochę przypominało mi to ni... read more
Uliczka w Xela
Baseny termalne we Fuentes Georginas
W basenie

All I really managed to get through in that last blog post was their 1st/2nd day in Guatemala-- yikes!! We really packed a whole bunch into just 2 weeks, but hopefully I can get a bit further on sharing their trip with this blog post :) I left off with us leaving Tikal (after getting our plane tickets, passports, etc back). From the airport in Guatemala City we took a cab to Antigua and headed off to the hostel Roger and I stayed in previously. Because this was our travel day from Hell, our reservations got lost and we ended up roomless for the night. Luckily, the lady who owns Villa Esthela is really nice and flexible and found enough beds for us to stay the night (for free), and helped us out by calling some ... read more
View from the hike
View from the hike
View from the hike

February 5th, Rog and I woke up early to start our trek to Guatemala City so we could pick up his sister, her boyfriend, and our roommate at the intl airport. It's a good thing we decided on an hour earlier than normal because that was the day the chicken buses decided to protest the government and shut down all major highways. I wish I was joking, you guys. But nope. We get on our first chicken bus, and I pop a dremamine (super sleepy but no motion sickness) since it was supposed to be just a straight 4 hour ride there. Ha! After an hour the bus stops and no one has any idea whats going on. We finally get informed that the bus we're on is heading back to Xela and there's another bus ... read more
Trumpet Tree
Jason, Man of the Woods

Tot: 0.368s; Tpl: 0.013s; cc: 10; qc: 76; dbt: 0.2784s; 1; m:jupiter w:www (; sld: 2; ; mem: 1.6mb