My first stop in Guatamala was Antigua, a beautiful colonial town, but my main reason for visiting was the close proximity to Volcan Pacaya, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, with a regular lava flow which you can get as close to as you want to, if you can take the heat that is! The volcano is about an hours drive away from Antigua, and then it takes another 1.5hr hike to get to the actual lava flow, but it's well worth it! I got up to about a meter from the lava, but then the heat got the better of me and I had to turn back! Walking on the cooled lava, every now and again we could also see pockets of lava in holes, and as you can see from one of the photo's, after I stuck my walking stick in one of the holes it instantly burned! Visiting Volcan Pacaya has definitely been one of my highlights!
After Antigua I took a bus to Semuc Champey, where there are caves to explore (with many bats), rivers to swim in and beatiful stepped pools. There is also a part where the main river flows underground
for 300m, and it's quite a sight to see it disappear, and then reappear downstream.
My last stop in Gutamala was Tikal, the ruined ancient Mayan city in the middle of the rain forest. Tikal (the city of echoes), was the largest of the ancient Mayan cities, but was abandoned in the 10th century, and reclaimed by the forest. Now, only some of the big temples are uncovered. We arrived in Tikal at 5am, just in time to climb one on the temples, and listen to the forest animals wake up at sunrise. Most impressive of these sounds where the growls of howler monkeys, echoing through the forest. We went on to see various different temples, palaces, howler and spider monkeys, and many birds.
All in all, my stay in Guatamala was short, but with really varied experiences and I enjoyed my stay.
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