Now that I have been around the touristic industry in Guatemala I noticed that most travelers seem to think that the country is all about Antigua, Tikal, Atitlan, and Pacaya Volcano, some also go to Lanquin and Semuc Champey which is great. Even the kid of travelers looking for something more adventurous tend to stick to three volcanoes: Pacaya, Acatenango and San Pedro.
I can definitely see why. After hiking them I learned that they are gorgeous in their own way and have returned to Acatenango over 10 times because it is lovely. But there is so much more to see and do!
So let me tell you a little about places that I have been to that are my favorite and not a lot of foreigners seem to know of and can provide an amazing experience. I’m usually not a fan of lists because they can be quite generic, but I guarantee that you haven’t heard of at least most of these.
5 Unusual Places to Visit in Guatemala
1. Caxlampon Cave
When you say Guatemala and caves chances are you will be thinking about Lanquin. It is a beautiful cave that loads of people visit. The area where tours happen is dry, and some parts even have built in light and paths. No, forget all about that, in fact, start thinking of a cave that it 100% the opposite.
Caxlampon is an active cave that still is being shaped by a river (making it only a place that can be visited from December to half May, the dry season). In it, you will swim, jump from underwater waterfalls, walk on black sand and even do some rappelling. It is crazy! Depending on the size of the group the tour can take anything from 8 to 12 hours.
Being on the dark for so long, wet, going through exciting parts and through some extremely scary parts of the cave will make you go through all sorts of emotions. I’m sure all adventurers will love it.
2. Tacana Volcano
This might be the one that some of you probably heard of. It is known for being the second highest in Guatemala. The place is gorgeous with small prairies and stunning views of the surrounding mountains and volcanoes. The camping area is a place called laguna seca (dry lagoon) surrounded by walls of rock, but if you go around them you get amazing views of Mexico. Along the way, you also see tons of huge and stunning rock formations.
People tend to think that Acatenango is the best in the country, personally I consider this one much better.
If you are up for a challenge don’t start from the little store where everyone starts, instead, start from the small Sinibal town. You will have to go through a zigzag that will have your legs trembling even before the actual ascent.
3. Los Amates Waterfalls
This is a large waterfall in southern Guatemala. You can only get through it by crossing a river on board a 4×4 vehicle. So you can only take 3 of your friends on a trip, which is half of the fun. Once there put on your harness and your helmet because it is time for some rappelling right on the waterfall.
This is one of the most exciting rappelling experiences that I have had in Guatemala. But the best part is that it is never crowded.
4. Cuchumatanes Mountain Range Trek
In this one you won’t be able to have the stunning views that you would expect from hiking a volcano, even when you reach the highest point of the mountain range. Instead, you will walk along some of the most amazing prairies as you pass by stunning rock formations, tiny lagoons and tons of sheep. I loved it so much that I will be returning soon.
Depending on what you are looking for you can take up to five days to complete the hike. You can also shorten it to two.
I haven’t heard of this tour to happen often. To my knowledge, less than a handful of mountaineering groups in Guatemala offer it once a year. But if you are good at your research you might find one that can organize a private one for you.
This one and Caxlampon are the least common. Not even local travelers get the chance to goo too often.
5. Trifinio / Montecristo Park
If you want to see the cloud forest in its purest state this is the place to visit. Forget about the regions near Semuc Champey and Lanquin, they are gorgeous, but they are nowhere are pure and untouched as the Trifinio conservation area.
Plus if you find the right kind of tour guides, they won’t just take you for a hike and camp, they will also show you some hidden waterfalls where you get to do some rappelling. This is a true gem!
This is only a quick list of five of the laces that I have been to in Guatemala that most people don’t know about and provide amazing adventures. There are tons more out there that I’m looking forward to visiting and report back to you. But first I’m going back to Cuchumatanes this long weekend.