Guatemala travel with Ker & Downey is an adventure in discovering the hidden treasure of Central America. Ker & Downey’s Bekah McNeel recently visited and fills us in on some of her Guatemala travel adventures.
Paddling my kayak along the shoreline of Lake Atitán, I marveled at the serenity of the tiny villages dotting the hills above. Colorful and industrious, they looked out over the water like a pura vida version of the Amalfi Coast. How was it that my tiny flotilla of friends and I had this picturesque coastline to ourselves?
Where were the speed boats? Where we the throngs of tourists?
I would find myself asking that repeatedly throughout the journey. Granted, it was the shoulder season, but these days it is rare to find oneself alone with the vistas.
A long history of civil war has, in many ways, created a veil of mystery for the verdant, tropical country. Headlines overshadowed its mountains and lakes, and tales of conflict drowned out the cheerful hospitality of the Guatemalan people.
Now, as peace takes root, more visitors are discovering what some have known for decades: Guatemala is the hidden treasure of Central America.
A new day is dawning in Guatemala. As the people peacefully demand democratic reforms and transparency from their government, a cloud is lifting from the country’s green hills and ancient history.
From the quaint colonial streets of Antigua to the glory of Tikal’s Mayan marvels, Guatemala travel packs some of the most striking visual moments into a fairly tiny package. The country is just over 42,000 square miles, but its well preserved ancient and colonial history and traditions give it depth that belies its size. Religious and cultural traditions are still woven into every day life, and active geothermal sites connect present day luxuries to millennia of land formation.
Richness of land and culture are intimately connected, and nowhere is that more evident than in the coffee and chocolate of Guatemala. These agricultural products have generated a high-taste foodie scene for chefs, connoisseurs, and markets around the world. Through tourism and activism, the benefits of these burgeoning industries have increasingly extended to the hands that harvest the beans and balance the flavors by hand.
For me, the real luxury was in the hiking, swimming, and outdoor adventure available year round. Thanks to a tropical mountain climate there are very few days when you wouldn’t want to be out in nature. Even during the waning rainy season, we enjoyed sunny mornings and breezy evenings.
This morning in particular had started a bit chilly, but by the time our launch point at Isla Verde, a delightfully bohemian slow food restaurant and eco lodge, had disappeared behind us, we were warmed up nicely. The water was looking more and more inviting.
We scrambled to the top of some boulders for a mini-cliff dive. Our kayaks drifted lazily beneath us. Only calm water and sleepy volcanoes occupied the horizon. Had I wanted to, I could have spent the day in a hammock, enjoying the view, but adventures were calling.
Our local guide was the first to leap. He swam a parameter to show us where to aim our splashdown, and assured us that our bravery would pay off.
That’s the difference between adventure and recklessness. With local guides and accessible contingency plans, Ker & Downey makes it possible to strike out in search of authentic experiences. You don’t have to hold back, hedging your bets on a Plan B or “what if?” They have you covered.
“One… two… three!”
Every millisecond of my jump was a thrill. The cool water was refreshing, and I resurfaced grinning up to the volcanoes. I’m a firm believer that fortune rewards the bold, and that the only way to have a treasure trove of memories is to place your bets on well-advised adventure.
Unforgettable Guatemala Travel
Guatemala truly is a hidden gem for luxury travelers in Central America. To book your Guatemala travel experience, contact your Ker & Downey Travel Professional. To stay up to date on all of our online content, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.