Guatemala luxury travel means journeying to the heart and soul of Mayan civilization. Every year, countless visitors venture to jungle shrouded ruins of Guatemala’s once great Maya cities, of which Yaxhá, El Mirador, and the behemoth of Tikal take top prize. Yet what most visitors are surprised to learn is that Maya civilization didn’t simply die with its cities; it is actually still alive and thriving here. More than half of Guatemalans are descendants of the indigenous Maya peoples and continue to carry out the traditions of their ancestors to this day in the country’s Western Highlands. Perhaps the most evident example of this is the lively market of Chichicastenango, or “Chichi,” when thousands of Quiche Mayans make the pilgrimage to buy and sell their handicrafts, flowers, poetry, and textiles, thus creating the most colorful native market in the Americas.

The warm faces, colorful regional costumes, and the kindness of the Guatemalan people is a fused influence of their Spanish colonial and indigenous Maya past—a diverse history that parallels the natural beauty of the landscape. Meaning “land of trees,” Guatemala might be the size of Ohio, but it remains Central America’s most diverse country with 14 recognized eco-regions ranging from mangrove forests to ocean littorals. Pacific Coast lowlands in the south rise to the volcanic Sierra Madre and the heavily-forested and mountainous highlands, only to descend to the narrow Caribbean coastline. It is Central America’s most populous state, but only two-percent of its landmass remains urbanized, leaving plenty of room for some superb trek-able natural scenery. The national parks of Petén, the lush canyons of the Río Dulce, and the volcano-ringed beauty of Lake Atitlán are just a few of Guatemala luxury travel’s finest postcard-worthy spots that have captivated travelers for centuries.

Guatemala luxury travel is saturated with dozens of historical and natural landmarks to explore, but there is no overlooking the colonial charms and progressive fusion found here. The Spanish left behind a wealth of stunning architecture, spanning from Antigua’s time capsuled cobblestone streets to Guatemala City’s romantic central plaza. Even the smallest towns maintain vestiges of their glory days, and their colonization has left behind a country with a fusion of Mayan-meets-contemporary flavors and a distinctly Guatemalan culinary identity. Indeed, many of our favorite foods—think: guacamole, tamales, and chocolate—were discovered, developed, and refined centuries ago by Guatemala’s ancient Maya world.

Discover these culinary traditions and the fascinating timeless history of this beautiful country by contacting Ker & Downey to incorporate Guatemala luxury travel into your next Central America journey.