5 top attractions in Guatemala and festival tours

You must see Guatemala at least once: Guatemala is undoubtedly one of the outstanding countries for vacationing in Central America, a multicolored destination where living culture, Mayan history, nature, colonial cities, and its culinary syncretism position it as the best of the region.

Major Festivals in Guatemala : Jueves de la Ascencion at La Laguna de Chicabal in Quetzaltenango. La Laguna Chicabal is a lime-green lake, at 2712 m, in the crater of the extinct volcano of the same name. The Mayas believed the waters are sacred, and it is thought that if you swim in the lake, you will get ill. Ceremonies of Maya initiation are held at the lake in early May (40 days after Good Friday), known as Jueves de la AscensiĆ³n, and it’s celebrated with traditional music, flowers, and prayers at the Lake. Be respectful of the tradition, and you should not take pictures.

The Horse Race in Todos Santos Cuchumatanes Huehuetenango. The most popular event of the Todos Santos festival is the horse race. In the days previous the competition, the opponents celebrate, dancing, and ingest plenty of liquor. Additionally, they are attired with fancy clothes to make an impression of the spectator. The cause of the race dates back towards Spanish Conquest. The Spanish had not allowed the Mayas to ride horses. To show resistance to this particular rule, the people began this horse racing tradition. The community inside the Cuchumatanes Mountains is of Mam origins, and the natives commemorate this day by racehorses and feeding on the most traditional recipes peculiar to that day. The older Indians reveal that the traditional food of the day starts with a prayer, after which black tamale is consumed. Find even more information at Vacations in Guatemala.

Other Guatemala attractions: The Pacaya Volcano, rising to more than 2,550 meters, offers the chance to witness volcanic activity first hand. Located near Antigua, this volcano been continuously active since 1975, and lava explosions constantly change its appearance. Organized tours offer guided hikes on the volcano and an opportunity to roast marshmallows over the heat created by hot spots. It should be noted that, as an active volcano, hiking it does involve some risks. Livingston is the departure point for boat rides on the Rio Quehueche and Rio Cocoli or to the Cayos Sapodillas for snorkeling and fishing. The best beaches are just outside of town, easily reached by taxi.

Rio Dulce, or Sweet River, is known for many things. The river is popular with sailboaters who, hopefully, aren’t plundering other boaters like the pirates of yore did. The river flows out of Lake Izabal, site of the Castillo de San Felipe de Lara, an old Spanish colonial fort built to keep Caribbean pirates from the river. The river today boasts one of the largest bridges in Central America. On one side of the bridge is Frontera, known for a vegetable market where many shoppers arrive in dugout canoes. On its journey to the Caribbean, the river flows through a high-walled spectacular gorge. The river enters near Livingston, a Garifuna town which can only be reached by boat. See extra information at www.martsam.com.