Guatemala is beautiful. When you visit, you’ll encounter dramatic landscapes, a rich and mysterious history and truly hospitable people. There is so much diversity (climate, geography and culture) that it’s hard to get an accurate picture of the country’s dynamic beauty in a few weeks. This may be one of the reasons why you will meet so many travellers-turned-temporary residents all over Guatemala. There’s just so much to see.Most people don’t have a lifetime to see it all, so it’s great to have a few shortlists of “don’t miss” places. So here’s one of mine:
1. Maya Moon Lodge at Tzununá on Lake Atitlán
Aldous Huxley, the English writer and philosopher, famously called Lake Atitlán the most beautiful lake in the world. The views from here are incredible. Every room at the lodge (including the dormitories) has a balcony with a wide-open – you won’t believe it until you see it – view of the lake and the surrounding volcanoes (yes, plural). The property on which the lodge is built ends at the water’s edge, with a large patio extending out onto a stone embankment rising from the lake. A restaurant serves three meals a day and drinks late into the evening.
2. Earth Lodge in Antigua
Earth Lodge is a beautifully run eco-lodge in El Hato, a small community just a few minutes drive from Antigua. It offers affordable dormitories, private rooms (including a treehouse!), a traditional-style sauna and views that could steal your day.
3. Hacienda Mil Amores in Acul, El Quiché
Welcome to the western highlands of Guatemala. Cool, crisp weather, misty, dramatic mountain ranges and lush cattle pastures are the norm. Hacienda Mil Amores is well off the beaten track. You won’t find memorable T-shirts, trendy bars or businesses catering to tourists.
What you will find are stylish, self-contained cabins with fireplaces, wonderful hot, full-pressure showers and comfortable beds, all set in a picturesque, European-style dairy farm. Hiking trails criss-cross the surrounding mountains where locals tend small fields, collect firewood and herd livestock. You’re likely to wake to the sound of cowbells in the morning and forget you’re in Guatemala as you wander through lush green fields cut by fresh, cold streams and rugged rock formations.
If you’re looking for a quiet or romantic getaway and have the time to get there, Hacienda Mil Amores is the place to be. Cheese platters with wine, delicious typical food, beautiful walks and a super quiet, relaxing atmosphere will make your stay unforgettable. Remember, you’re in the middle of nowhere.
To get there you can take a camioneta (chicken bus) to Nebaj in the department of El Quiché, then a microbus to Acul. Hacienda Mil Amores is located on the road from Nebaj to Acul, about three minutes from the centre of Acul.