In recent years, Guatemala has become increasingly popular with graduates and travelers looking to explore countries off the beaten track, and those which are unlike many of the other well-known, developing travel destinations across Asia and Europe. Although we might know it as one of the best known coffee-growing countries, and the birth place of guacamole (definitely worth a mention!), Guatemala has far more going for it than just its famous exports…


On the surface, Guatemala can be best described as a country of mountains, beaches and volcanoes (and there are a few!) but its location is just as interesting as its diverse landscape: Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salavador are all border countries, as well as the Pacific Ocean to the south-west. Its central location makes it a great access point to the surrounding countries within the region and for those of you looking to tick off some famous “must-see” tourist spots across the region, Guatemala is a good place to start given its central position.

The country itself has a rich history, which is still present in the landscape and culture today. The people of Guatemala have carefully preserved their links to the Mayan civilization the country was once a part of in the 9th century – before collapsing in the 10th century. Today, Guatemala is home to some famous World Hertiage Sites sights where the ruins and remains of the old Mayan civilization can still be seen. Maya women continue to weave clothes in the style and fashion of their ancestors. The bright clothes and distinct style is popular amongst the indigenous people within the region who keep to the traditions of the Mayans – it is thought that approximately one-third of the population still live in the cool, highland villages of the mountains.

Many people believe that the name Guatemala comes from the Mayan word, “Guhatezmalh”, meaning the Mountain That Vomits Water, which denotes the name of a volcano located in the capital city of Antigua. Today it is known simply as “The Volcano of Water” – an easier name on the ear by far so we approve of this rewording!


The official language in Guatemala is Spanish – although the old Mayan language is still prevalent in certain parts of the country, amongst indigenous people in particular. Like the language, the culture is a blend of new and old, progression and tradition, which gives it its charm and character.

There are various modes of transport open to you for getting around Guatemala – walking (there are also lots of hikes you can do!), cycling, motorbike, tuk tuk or “chicken bus” – a colloquial name given to the brightly coloured buses used to get around town (don’t worry, it’s not a name to be taken literally!).

There are also plenty of markets and food is cheap (approximately 2 or 3 dollars a plate). The food you’ll encounter here, and what most Guatemalans eat, is mainly comprised of corn, rice, beans and tortillas. There are also a lot of similarities between Guatemalan and Mexican cuisine in general: meals like nachos and enchiladas are eaten regularly here so it’s unsurprising that so many tourists and travellers rave about the food in this region!


There are two seasons that you’ll need to know about in Guatemala: the low season, when there is typically more rain than usual and cooler, falls between the months of April and September. This is when there are less tourists and prices drop.

By October, the rain starts to decrease, making it a good time to travel about and hike some of the mountains and valleys in the area! Between December and May is high season, when more tourists start to arrive and the weather is clear and dry!