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Simply Again: Guatemala | Luxurious Journey Advisor

Hope Smith, founding father of Born to Journey, frolicked in Guatemala with Maya Trails in December 2020, visiting well-known places akin to Antigua, Lake Atitlan and Tikal, in addition to exploring far off-the-beaten-path sights akin to Semuc Champey and Rio Dulce. Right here she shares among the highlights from her journey.

It had been practically 30 years since I final visited Guatemala and I used to be excited to get again. Would the sights be as fantastic as I remembered them? The tradition as colourful? Would the ‘Land of Everlasting Spring’ delight me as soon as once more? Would I really feel comfy with the COVID protocols within the nation? All had been answered with a joyful sure! 

On arrival, I used to be met by my Maya Trails information, Juan Carlos. I do know Jimmy Rogers, the proprietor of Maya Trails, from the posh journey reveals “Feelings” and “Distant Latin America.” Our long-standing relationship meant I knew I’d be working with top-of-the-line operators within the nation and that I might anticipate unbelievable service earlier than and through what would undoubtedly be a memorable journey.

Assembly the locals in Guatemala

I felt extremely protected throughout my travels. From the second I landed, protocols had been enforced all through the nation, each by Maya Trails and each institution, market, and sight that I visited. Even once we stopped to purchase contemporary tortillas on the facet of the street, distributors had been masked, and hand sanitizer was accessible. Masks carrying was obligatory, and these procedures fade into the background as they develop into routine. It was good to really feel that the journey was protected, each for me and the folks of Guatemala.

I selected Guatemala as a result of I assumed it will be uncrowded on the time, and I used to be proper. Many of the locations I visited, I used to be the one vacationer. This gave me an extremely unique expertise. Luxurious to me isn’t nearly thread rely and facilities, it’s additionally the bliss of exclusivity. There has by no means been a time like now for journey.

The view from the terrace of Casa Palopo over Lake Atitlan.

In Lake Atitlan, I stayed on the Relais & Châteaux property Casa Palopo. The boutique lodge is perched above the lake and has completely breathtaking views and unbelievable delicacies. The quiet moments I spent taking within the volcanic views from the terrace with my morning espresso will stick with me eternally. The boutique, 16-room lodge was the proper, luxurious base to discover the realm, recognized for its charming villages, galleries, textiles and cooperatives. This space presents community-based tourism at its greatest.

Antigua was lovely as ever with its attractive structure, gorgeous setting and vibrant streets. I selected one other intimate spot as my base — Posada del Angel. There’s lots to maintain vacationers engaged in Antigua, and it’s price taking the time to decelerate and discover. Maya Trails has some enjoyable adventures within the space for his or her vacationers. I like to hike, so Maya Trails urged I climb close by Volcan Pacaya, one in every of three energetic volcanoes in Guatemala. It was undoubtedly a spotlight. My information and I had the path to ourselves — besides the companionship of a candy native canine. You may also do a night hike with Maya Trails the place you may cook dinner pizza or roast marshmallows over the lava!

Road scene in Antigua, Guatemala.

The traditional Mayan metropolis of Tikal was one other spotlight of my journey. We had been early birds visiting the ruins, and as I entered the Nice Plaza, I spotted that but once more, we had been the one ones there. Within the quiet, I gazed upon the pyramids and felt as if I might need been the primary particular person ever to see them. It was nearly a religious expertise. 

I like to recommend staying exterior of the park at both La Lancha or Las Lagunas. Simply plan for an early departure to get to Tikal when it opens. Should you keep at The Jungle Lodge, situated on the gate of the Nationwide Park, be aware that it doesn’t provide in-room Wi-Fi (although it’s accessible within the restaurant) and it shuts energy down round 9 p.m. It does, nevertheless, provide you with unique entry to a dawn or sundown tour of Tikal.

A room inside La Lancha, a Francis Ford Coppola lodge.

Journey throughout COVID could sometimes take a bit extra persistence, however the rewards are greater than price it. Having these unbelievable pure and historic sights to myself was a privilege I by no means imagined. Whereas I traveled solo, I used to be by no means alone. I used to be at all times accompanied by my information, and I at all times had the prospect to attach with Guatemala’s heat and fantastic folks. Touring solo additionally let me set the tempo — to decelerate, take time to breathe, to take a seat and to actually get pleasure from my environment.

The dock at La Lancha, a Francis Ford Coppola lodge.

I’ve to say a particular gracias to the folks of Guatemala for reminding me how a lot it’s important to provide. Additionally, to each one in every of my Maya Trails guides and drivers who stored me protected and laughing on daily basis on the street. Each protocol and past is taken in Guatemala — kudos to them for a job properly achieved!

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