According from Lonely Planet, earlier estimates put humans in what is now Guatemala as far back as 11,000 BC. Historians believe that they got here by walking across an ice bridge from Siberia. These people became farmers and farmed corn, beans, tomatoes, chilies, turkeys, and dogs for the dinner table. Having enough food for the people has led to population growth. Guatemalans improved their agricultural techniques and developed a language that is distinguishable to what many Maya speak today.
There are a lot of beautiful and safe places to visit in Guatemala but I will mainly cover Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and Tikal.
Antigua is a very safe town to visit. This place has beauty of its own, a major historical significance, and vibrant culture, although I found it a bit too touristy. It has become a place for tourists where they increased fine dining, accommodations, and crazy nightlife.
Lago de Atitlan
If you are looking for traditional values and customs of Guatemala, come and visit Lago de Atitlan. Guatemala’s indigenous peoples are strongest in here. Lago de Atitlan has about 11 villages: Panajachel, Santa Cruz, San Marcos, San Pablo, Santa Clara, San Pedro, Santiago, Cerro de Oro, San Lucas, San Antonio, and Santa Catarina.
Lago de Atitlan is not only rich in traditional values but this place is indeed one of the loveliest lakes in the world. Ringed with active volcanoes and covered in clouds and mists, you will definitely feel like you stepped back in time.
(In 2010, Budget Travel ranked Lago de Atitlan as one of the World’s Most Beautiful Lake.)
Tikal is one of my favorite ruins and it is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centres of the pre-Columbian Maya Civilization and that is why in 1979 Tikal National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tikal ruins is located in the archaeological region of the Peten Basin which is in the northern part of Guatemala close to Mexico.
Tips: In order to avoid the crowd, get in there early. Most of Tikal tours offer different pick-up time so I highly suggest that you take the earliest one as possible. I booked my pick-up time at 4:30am, it was quite early but in the end it was worth it because I had the chance to take amazing pictures without people in it. I even had a solo picture of the famous Tikal temple.
Street crime, including armed robbery, has increased in recent years in Guatemala. Use normal common sense as you would do back home. For instance, don’t walk down the street with your wallet bulging out of your back pocket, and definitely avoid walking downtown alone late at night (especially for women). Also please be aware that women and children swell the ranks of thieves especially in Guatemala City.
Overall, I fell in love with Guatemala not just because of how beautiful the country is but how amazing the people are. The reason why I like going to different places is because I get to know people, learn about their lives, and most importantly learn so much about myself.