This is a guest post from Walter Steele of Atitlan Leather a wonderful organization helping Maya of Lake Atitlan.
I love traveling and working in Guatemala. My first visit was in 2004 for three months. I listened to the howling monkeys and saw the old ruins in Tikal; watched molten lava spew out of volcan pacaya while standing only meters away; jumped off a bridge in the beautiful waters of Semuc Shampey, and almost drowned in Monterrico (seriously, be careful). It was a breathtaking experience and I knew I would go back if I had the chance. Luckily, in 2012 I did. Recently graduating from college I got a job working six months for a nonprofit on Lake Atitlan. This time my experience in Guatemala was different. I spent the majority of my time working in the poorest areas witnessing first hand their daily struggles and living conditions. After my six month tenure I decided I still wanted to be part of that special place and started my first company.
Atitlan Leather was founded with the intention of helping isolated communities around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala find work. To this end we work with several Artisans around the lake whom make our beautiful handcrafted products. We assist in the development of the communities by donating to a local nonprofit, Guatemala Housing Alliance, doing great work in the region. Our goal is to raise a year’s education by August, 2013 with our Belts to Becas Program.
In Guatemala today, only 42% of rural children finish primary school, the average length of study being only 3.5 years. The indigenous, particularly girls, have the least access to education. Guatemala spends a smaller percentage of its GDP on education than does any other Latin American or Caribbean country, resulting in fewer literate people ages 15-24 than anywhere else in the region.
Central America is paradise for solo travelers and all sorts of adventurers. And with good reason, it is a place filled with natural beauties, and incredible bio diversity and a wide variety of cultures. But lately it has also become popular among families with small kids.
Here are 5 reasons why Central America is a great Place for Family Vacations:
1. Kid Friendly Locals – For some reason, people in these countries seem to love kids. 90% of the population gives kids an amazing treatment to them. Most of hotels and restaurants are very accommodating when they see that you or your little one need something special.
2. Hotels – In this part of the world you can find anything from all inclusive resorts, to small boutique hotels and even vacation rentals. And as I mentioned earlier staff in most hotels will help you with anything you might need to make your kids comfortable.
3. Attractions – Many of the main natural and cultural attractions in Central America accept kids. In the case of tour companies, they even have special equipment. There are also places dedicated to kids where they can learn about the country in a fun way.
4. Animals – Central America is a region known for being home to many exotic animals. So what could be better than taking the kids along to explore their habitats and seeing them in the wild?
5. Ancient Cultures – South of Mexico and the northern portion of Central America were once home to one of the most influential cultures in human history – The Mayas. Now you can still see the remains of their enormous cities and learn about the modern Maya that are still around. Visiting these sites is a fun way for families to spend a vacation while learning.
Have you visited Central America with your family? How was your experience?
Rio Dulce Guatemala is a national park that has a territory of 7,200 hectares. It was created in 1995 to protect local flora and wildlife, and can only be accessed by boat from the nearby towns. You can find it between Lake Izabal and Amatique Bay.
Did you Know?
* Rio Dulce National Park is Guatemala’s first nature reserve.
* The beautiful jungle canyon at the mouth of the river is famous for all the marine birds that live there and for its hundred-meter rock face known as La Cueva de la Vaca
* This is one of the last remaining habitats for the extremely endangered manatee.
Things To Do in Rio Dulce Guatemala
- Hiking in the middle of the forest
- Boat Tours
- Wildlife spotting
What To See in Rio Dulce Guatemala
- Mangrove estuaries
- Aquatic ecosystems
- Birds and wildlife
- Canyons full of Marine Birds and Reptiles
- Lots of spcecies of Marine Birds
- Endangered Manatee (if you’re lucky)
- Crocodiles, among others.
Going for a visit to the Caribbean coast of Guatemala isn’t a thing many travelers do, but it is definitely worth the trouble for nature lovers.
Rio Dulce Guatemala – Things to Do and See
When travellers consider various luxury holiday destination possibilities, the first locations that come to mind are often European or Middle Eastern: the French Riviera, Switzerland or Abu Dhabi, perhaps. The USA, however, is an oft-overlooked luxury destination and Trailfinders can get you there tout de suite to start enjoying your rarefied activities.
On closer inspection, you’ll find that there are plenty of luxury city breaks to be had in America: the country is simply too huge and culturally diverse to make generalisations about. This article has been written to educate you about the luxury USA holidays that you can embark on this year.
Photo By: Grufnik
New York City
New York City will always be the capital of Modernism, the city that gave birth to the 20th century. Though famous for its grit, NYC has always been equally known for lush luxury, too.
For some real old-school glamour and luxury in high gear, why not make reservations at the internationally feted Plaza on 5th Avenue or the majestic Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue. If you stay at the Gramercy Park Hotel, you’ll have access to the exclusive Gramercy Park itself, which will save you having to dodge joggers in Central Park.
The next stop on your luxury tour of New York should be the best urban day spa in the world, Bliss SoHo, where you can expect horizontal showers, steam baths and saunas.
After you’re done re-energising, reward yourself by hitting the best of of New York’s cocktail bars (and believe us, they are legion). Start with the new rooftop bars at the Pod 39 Hotel and the Refinery Hotel in the Garment District.
Named for the Italian city, Naples, Fl, is famed for its laid-back luxury and world-class golf courses. If you want to beat the crowds that throng Miami, this is definitely the place you should be. It’s extravagant without being gaudy and there is a plethora of high-end hotels and restaurants that mostly serve sumptuous and delicious quality seafood, locally sourced.
Despite being only 15 square miles in size, Naples still has two Ritz Carlton hotels situated there, if you’ve any doubts about its status as a luxury destination.
The second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui is no slouch in the luxury department, boasting as it does around fourteen luxury hotels. Apart from its obvious attractions – the beaches, weather, landscape, sunsets and various water activities – Maui is a beautiful place to go and relax in both style and luxury.
After you’ve zip-lined across the island to see some breathtaking vistas, why not go for a leisurely game of golf at The Challenge at Manele Bay. This exclusive golf course has hands-down the best backdrop ever: the Pacific Ocean. If golf isn’t really your thing though, perhaps consider renting out the Jayhawk Yacht – the Rolls Royce of ocean vehicles, for a little spin in the blue.
For a cruise destination with a difference, the South Americas hold a wealth of thrills that no other continent in the world can match. From the cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aries to the natural beauty of the Chilean fjords and glaciers, a cruise around South America offers everything you could wish for.
If you are considering a South American cruise, they don’t have to cost a fortune. With plenty of competitive cruise deals from major providers, you can often bag a bargain to enjoy some of the most memorable sights and experiences that the world can offer. Here are a few of the best routes and destinations to consider when planning your South American cruise.
1. Round the Horn – Rounding the world’s famous ‘Cape Horn’ is a trip that will take you to the southernmost tip of the world’s southernmost continent. Usually sailing between the vibrant city of Buenos Aries and Valparaiso, where you can catch an onward boat to the stunning island of Santiago, these cruises usually take around 12 days and will take you to within just 1,000 miles of Antarctica. The stunning fjords are certainly a highlight, as are the scenic ports en route.
2. Brazil – Taking part in an all-Brazilian cruise along the Brazilian Riviera will give you an insight into the colourful culture of this exotic location. Travelling the length of the Atlantic coast, these shorter, concentrated cruises offer stop-offs at some of the country’s most exciting locations, from the stunning beaches at Fortaleza, through to the historic colonial churches of Salvador de Bahia.
3. The Amazon – With a round trip that departs and returns to Manaus, the Amazon River is easier to discover than you think. Mainstream cruises often visit parts of the Amazon as part of a longer trip, or for a true taste of the jungle, you can opt for a cruise that will deliver you onto an expedition vessel, for a trip of a lifetime into the heart of this wild wilderness.
4. The Panama Canal – Adding on a Panama Canal jaunt can be a fantastic way of seeing a range of destinations in one visit. Often going from Florida, you can opt to stop off along the way at various Caribbean destinations to experience a taste of island life, docking finally in a colourful South American city, such as Rio or Buenos Aries.
5. Antarctica – It would be rude to talk about South American cruise destinations without mentioning the wonders that lie to the South of Cape Horn. Many cruises will add in a taste of Antarctica to their itinerary for another level of thrills and experience. Be careful of what you are booking though, as large cruise ships are not equipped to dock in the Antarctic, so the trip will be a sightseeing one rather than a hands-on experience.
To be assured you experience the full wonder of the southern tip of the globe, check that your cruise company is planning to decant you onto an expedition ship or a small ice breaker, allowing you to get right in there and experience the wonder of the polar lands.