To celebrate our 20 anniversary we packed our bags for an amazing vacation to Guatemala that our kids planned. We meet so many cool people and went on some really fun tours! Here’s our trip in more detail, including the places we stayed and the touristy things we did. If you’re planning an international use my packing guide to make sure you pack what you need!
Anniversary trip to Guatemala
We hired a driver to take us around Guatemala. It’s a big enough country that you will need transportation other than your two feet to get around reasonably. All the different fun things we did were spread out.
Day 1 Boat tour around Lake Atitlan
Upon arrival to Guatemala, we went to Lake Atitlan. We rode in a boat to get to some little towns around Lake Atitlan. Jase jumped off what they call a trampoline. After that, we visited other towns nearby. We watched how they make chocolate from the cocoa pods. (that was really cool) Then off to our house in the jungle.
Day 2 Historic Antigua
We met our driver in the town Panajachel, next to lake Atitlan and he drove us to Antigua. This used to be the capital for a long time. But was destroyed by an earthquake in 1773. The buildings that remain are a big tourist attraction in Guatemala. Antigua has the first colonial government offices in the country. We got to see many churches and other old cute buildings.
Day 3 Overnight on the Pacaya Volcano
We booked a volcano tour to hike and sleep overnight on the Pacaya volcano. We Drove to the entrance, hiked with our packs to base camp, a couple of hours away, and set up tents. Then we hiked further up the volcano. Fun fact about Pacaya volcano, it’s currently active! So that means you could potentially see the lava or at least a glow coming from the center of the volcano at night. We didn’t see any flowing lava on our trip. But we brought marshmallows and roasted them next to a heated vent from the volcano.
Pacaya is the largest post-caldera volcano and because there have been slow-flowing rivers of lava in recent years this volcano is more popular. After a nice hike up to the volcano, we hiked back to base camp. We woke the next day and then hiked down to the bottom of the Volcano.
Day 4 I’d Lanquin
We drove six hours to the next town called i’d Lanquin. This town is close to the River Semuc Champey. You can do tours of Semuc Champey. We stayed in luxury tents, with a bed! It was a cute place. We also found a guide to take us to the River Semuc Champey. We rode in the back of a truck through small towns and up the mountain to this gorgeous winding River. We hiked up to the lookout point on slippery muddy stairs, where women would sell their cut-up fruits and bottled water. We took pictures and hiked down to swim in the picturesque 7 tiered pools of Semuc Champey.
Day 5 The Rio Dulce River
We woke up early, and our driver took on us seven hours east to Rio Dulce. It is a gorgeous river that flows from Izabal a freshwater lake, to the Caribbean Sea. We first took a boat through the Rio Dulce national forest River. Then we visited a hot vent of water over the cold river water – Caliente waters. Then the boat continued to LIVINGSTON, a small town on the Caribbean coast. There were a lot of Cute shops, but not much else to do there. That night we stayed in a cute bungalow at Boutique hotel & marina. The Bungalows are on the water. We were awakened early in the morning by howling monkeys, which we tried to follow and get on video! It was cool and crazy.
Day 6 Visiting Tikal Guatemala
Our next stop was 5 hours north to Tikal. There we got to see the ancient ruins of the Mayan people. We hiked temples and wanted through the jungle exploring these ancient ruins from 600BC – 1200AD. You can tell by the ruins that this was a great civilization and was incredibly smart. We explored their city center and temples, pyramids, and more in the Tikal National park. There are six different temples to explore, it was definitely worth seeing! We stayed overnight at the nearby Tikal Jungle lodge in a beautiful location.
Early the next morning Jase got up at 4:45 am to do the sunrise hike. He didn’t see the sun, but he got incredible pictures of Toucans, howling, spider monkeys, and other beautiful birds. Once I was up and ready to go we explored more of the ancient city, then Jase took me on a helicopter tour to El Mirador, an even more ancient Mayan civilization.
This was an amazing anniversary trip we had such a great time! Guatemala is cool. People were awesome, friendly, and hard workers.