Among dramatic landscape of volcanic peaks, tumbling rivers, and wild rainforest hiding Mayan ruins, Guatemala is overflowing with outdoor activities for adventurous travellers, from paragliding over Lake Atitlán to surfing off the black sand beach of Sipacate.
The colonial city of Antigua, set in a central highland valley surrounded by volcanic peaks, is one of the country’s most popular stop offs. While based in the city, joined a guided hike up 2,552m Pacaya volcano, an active peak where hikers can see volcanic lava flow. Alternatively, venture into the surrounding rainforest for a canopy tour and zip-lining, or try out surfing from the volcanic black sand beach of Sipacate.
Formed by volcanic eruption over 80,000 years ago, Lake Atitlán is surrounded by volcanos with slopes of forest and coffee plantations, making it ideal for hiking – including the challenging climb up the country’s highest volcano Tajumulco – horse-riding and mountain biking, as well as kayaking on the lake itself. Go scuba diving to explore the lake beneath the surface, and soar through the skies by paragliding over the lake.
Close to Cobán, caving is a popular activity, where as well as exploring the great caverns, you can go tubing down the underground rivers. Nearby, Cahabón river tumbles through the highland landscape, enabling travellers to go whitewater rafting while visiting lesser known Mayan sites. In the National Monument Park of Semuc Champney swim in the natural limestone pools and explore the Lanquin Caves.
The northern region of Petén boasts lakes and rivers that are ideal for fishing, with Lake Izabal as one of the most popular spots to head to. Not far from the city of Flores, the Rio Dulce’s gorges and jungle tributaries are best explored by kayak, while Ixpanpajul National Park is the setting for eco-adventures and ziplining through the forest. End your day with sunset drinks at the top of the Yaxha ruins, overlooking the nearby lake.
The Mayan archaeological complex of Tikal UNESCO National Park is situated amongst dense rainforest, adding to its appeal. While staying in an eco-lodge, set out on guided nature walks and wildlife tours, trek through the jungle and see the rainforest from a different perspective on canopy walkways. For a birds-eye view take a helicopter ride over the rainforest and ruins.