Puerto Quetzal is a relatively recent addition to the Guatemalan coastline. Completed in 1984, the industrial port remains essentially a gateway for the very exciting lowlands. Wander through the craft market and don’t be afraid to snap up some beautifully made hand woven shawls and bags.
While Puerto Quetzal offers little in the way of excitement (although its long black beach is a lovely way to unwind), the real magic lies in nearby the Mayan ruins of Tika National Park. Tikal – not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also a 1.5 hour chartered flight away – encompasses 575 km2 of jungle, and is home to thousands of mysterious ruins, including the Pyramid of the Great Jaguar, the Central Plaza, the Palace of the Masks, the Lost World Complex, and Pyramid IV, the tallest of all pre-Columbian structures in the Western Hemisphere. Today the jungle is a protected bio-sphere (due to over-zealous felling) and is home to Toucans, Parrots, wild turkeys, howler monkeys and the occasional jaguar!
If getting lost in the misty, tropical jungle of yesteryear does not appeal, then perhaps the postcard prettiness of La Antigua will. Antigua, the old capital of the kingdom of Guatemala (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) is Instagram gold – cobbled streets, lined with brightly coloured colonial buildings, a leafy central square, 16th-century ruins and surrounded volcanoes surrounding it. The city was founded in 1543 and was the seat of economic and religious power in the region for over 200 years.