Guatemala – All about Mayan Culture and Natural Beauty
Guatemala, a Central American republic has some of the best tropical rainforests, beaches and mountains of the world. This, combined with its fun-loving people and culture, makes it a popular tourist destination.
The Guatemalan history goes back to the 5th century Mayans. It became a Spanish colony after the Europeans arrived here in the 15th century. It became a part of Mexico when Mexico gained independence from the Spanish in 1822, only to be dissolved after two years. Later, it joined the Central American Federation until its dissolution in the 1840 civil war. Following this, Guatemala has witnessed a lot of civil and military struggles during the late 19th century. It also suffered considerably during the Cold war years between the 1950s and 1990s. It was a period of ruthless genocides and bloody civil war. The war ended in 1996 and Guatemala finally found its way back to democracy.
Popular Places and Attractions
Tikal is definitely the most popular attraction in Guatemala. This national park is very rich in wildlife and consists of many temples and buildings depicting Mayan architecture. The park museums showcase a number of historical findings discovered by archaeologists about the Maya era. It is the only place in the world to be declared as a UNESCO Natural as well as Cultural heritage site.
The town of Chichicastenango still seems to follow pre-Hispanic rituals and beliefs. The town also has the oldest and the biggest Central American market. The rituals are a combination of Catholicism as well as traditional Mayan rites. The ruins of La Capuchinas, located in Antigua, are one of the most remarkable city’s convents. It was founded by Spanish nuns in 1736 and today houses a museum depicting colonial religious life. Beautiful fountains, courtyards and gardens flank this place on its outside.
Coastal towns such as Livingston and Monterrico are blessed with varied fauna and interesting aquatic activities. Valley of Samuc Champey, Lake Atitlan and heritage buildings of Antigua are some other Guatemalan attractions.
Buses, minibuses (also called as chicken buses), trams and pickup trucks are the major modes of getting around Guatemala. Certain cities can be reached only through boats. Cars, motorbikes and bicycles can also be rented for transportation purposes, a good guide is to have some small notes handy to pay for the journey.
Places for Entertainment
Most of the major hotels have great restaurants, cafes and bars. Along with this, nightclubs with dance and Guatemala’s marimba music can be found at several places too. Theatres, concerts and cinemas dealing with Spanish and English performances are also very popular places for entertainment. Few campsites are also present, especially around the volcanic regions such as the active volcano Pacaya. The Chichicastenango market offers outstanding handicrafts of impressive colours, workmanship and design.
Luxurious hotels, resorts, budget hotels, bed & breakfast, youth hostels, guesthouses, bungalow houses, country inns and lodges are available for tourist accommodation. If visitors enrol for voluntary work or Spanish language courses, they would be entitled for home stay accommodation as well.
The Quetzal (GTQ) is the official Guatemalan currency, check the internet and news for the latest exchange rates. The U.S Dollar is also widely accepted. Credit cards and traveller’s cheques are also accepted at most places but it is suggested that traveller’s cheques be taken in U.S Dollars. Visa and American Express ATM cards are more accepted than others.
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