Gorgeous Guatemala! Full of beautiful scenery and culture! Take a crazy chicken bus around the country or laze about in the breathtaking natural wonder of Semuc Champey. It’s all here in our top 5 reasons to backpack Guatemala!
Crazy Chicken Buses
No trip to Guatemala would be complete without a terrifying ride on one of Guatemala’s infamous chicken buses. Decked out in crazy custom paint jobs; fitted with blaring/crackling speakers; an assortment of Ben 10, Spiderman and bible quote stickers; packed to the rafters… and then a loco bus driver overtaking traffic around blind corners on a cliff side road. Despite their hazards they’re incredibly cheap and offer an authentic way to see Guatemala.
Cheap Spanish Schools
If you want to learn Spanish then Guatemala is the place to go. There are hundreds of options to choose from, whether you’re just starting out or si pueda hablar español perfectamente! Learn Spanish in the hustle and bustle of city life in Xela (Quetzaltenango) or Antigua, or settle for a quiet lakeside spot at Lago de Atitlan or Flores. Not only is Guatemala famous for its abundance of Spanish schools, but they’re also amongst some of the cheapest in all of Latin America. Vamos!
We fell in love with the lush rolling green hills and towering volcanoes of Guatemala. Everything is just so green! Of all the countrysides we visited, Guatemala stands out to us as purely amazing. If you find a minute to relax on the chicken buses, open your eyes look out the window to see what we mean.
Historical Mayan Culture
Everywhere you go in Guatemala you witness a country that is proud to hold onto its Mayan heritage. From the colorful attire of old folk and young, to the variety of different Mayan languages that change as you travel through the regions (all 21 of them). Although enduring a terrible series of events during the civil war, the local population are doing everything they can to make sure this once powerful empire doesn’t become another lost page within the history books.
The Amazing Semuc Champey
Hands down one of our favorite adventures along the journey. Apart from being extremely beautiful, it’s just a magical place to visit. It might get its fair share of tourism, but it doesn’t matter. Stunning limestone pools with refreshing turquoise water for swimming, exploring dark caves by candlelight and scenic hikes through the valley. Our tip, forget paying for a tour, they’ll rush you too much. Give yourself two days to do it properly and really soak in the atmosphere.
Been to Guatemala? What else can you add to the list?
24 thoughts on “Top 5 Reasons to Backpack Guatemala”
Some great reasons there! But I’d also add Tikal and the Rio Dulce to the list. Guatemala was our first ever big backpacking trip so will always be our first love, pretty scary at times with dodgy chicken buses and indecent proposals, but the scenery and the people are out of this world. Would love to go back now I’m more ‘seasoned’ to see what I make of it all. Great post!
Yep, Guatemala will always have a special place in my heart as well as it was one of the first countries I backpacked solo in. Pretty incredible place. Going back with Jules and more experience was awesome. Still such a special country!
I agree – except for the chicken buses as the first (and last) one that I got in Guatemala, my bag was cut open and my passport was stolen! I would add Guatemalan fried chicken – I was eating it on almost a daily basis! Also volcanoes 🙂
Oh no! That’s terrible! We didn’t have anything nearly that bad happen to us, I’m sorry to hear about that 🙁
The handicrafts! Their embroidery work is so beautiful. Any of the huiples, tapestries, belts, etc found in the ChiChi market are some of the best in all of Latin America I think 🙂
Although Chichi wasn’t our favorite market, we did pick up some gorgeous tapestries!
The Semuc Champey looks amazing!
So many fantastic reasons to visit! I would love to attend Spanish school there, see the beautiful scenery, those pools(!) and Mayan culture!!! I’ve been to Belize but not yet Guatemala and would love to go.
Guatemala is one of our favorite all-time countries. There’s lots of similarities to other Central American countries but its very special by itself. Check it out!
Wow! I would love to backpack here! I’d just have to avoid the spiders!!
Haha. They’re not too bad I promise!
Guatemala looks amazing. I lived in Panama when I was a girl, my father was stationed there while in the Army. I loved it and miss that part of the world.
That’s awesome! You should definitely go back and visit! We need to explore more of Panama!
Love this. I really want to hit Central and S. America up starting January 2015. (Re)Learning Spanish at cheap schools is a great idea!
Latin America is amazing! Let us know if you want any specific recommendations/ tips. Guatemala is the perfect place to take a Spanish course!
Love the photography! Guatemala is one of the few places in Latin America I haven’t visited. I’ll definitely go backpacking there when the time comes!
Yay, you should definitely go! Its a very special place, you’ll love it!
I really like your reasons! I feel like low budget backpacking is often the best idea to go. already because it forces your to travel slow and meet locals. Great Pictures!
Definitely! We always travel cheap and slow. Its the best way!
I haven’t made it to Guatemala yet, but you put forward a good case! 😉 Looks like the country has a really interesting culture and the landscape looks amazing.
Definitely! Its an awesome country with a ton to do and see! Don’t miss it!
I would definitely add Tikal to this list. Tikal was simply astonishing and one of the best ruins we have seen so far.
Yes definitely! It’s really hard to choose in Guatemala, we absolutely loved everything haha. Tikal was amazing!