Monday, November 21, 2005

Guatemala was great

November 11-19, 2005

Press Trip Itinerary

Friday- November 11
Arrival and transfer to Guatemala City
Dinner and overnight stay in Hotel Quinta Real ph: 502-2-420-7720

Saturday- November 12
6:00 AM Breakfast in hotel
7:00 AM Bus ride to Quiriguá
11:00 AM Tour Quiriguá archaeological site
2:00 PM Lunch – Hotel Green Bay
3:00 PM Tour of Cerro San Gil
5:00 PM Dinner and overnight stay in Amatique Bay Marina and Resort

Sunday- November 13
7:00 AM Boat ride to Livingston for breakfast
10:00 AM Boat ride to Biotopo Chocón Machacas, cañón del Río and Isla de Pájaros
1:30 PM Lunch at Río Dulce in Hotel Catamarán
4:30 PM Boat ride to the San Felipe Castle and Lake Izabal
5:00 PM Visit Paraíso estate
6:00 PM Dinner and overnight stay in Río Dulce’s Hotel Banana Palms

Monday- November 14
6:00 AM Transfer to Flores, Petén
7:00 AM Breakfast
9:00 AM Transfer to Tikal National Park
10:00 AM Arrive in Tikal
1:00 PM Lunch in Hotel Jungle Lodge
2:00 PM Continue tour of park
5:00 PM Dinner and overnight stay in Camino Real Tikal’s Hotel La Lancha
ph: 501-824-4912

Tuesday- November 15
7:00 AM Transfer to Mundo Maya International Airport for flight to Guatemala City
8:15 AM Departure to Guatemala City
9:05 AM Arrival in La Aurora International Airport and transfer to Antigua
10:30 AM Tour of Antigua
1:00 PM Lunch in Mesón Pansa Verde
2:00 PM Continue tour of Antigua
5:00 PM Dinner and overnight stay in Antigua’s Hotel Casa Santo Domingo
ph: 502-782-0-1220

Wednesday- November 16
7:00 AM Breakfast – Porta Hotel Antigua
9:30 AM Transfer to Guatemala City
11:00 AM Tour of Guatemala City
1:00 PM Lunch – Restaurant Kakao
2:00 PM Continue tour of Guatemala City
5:00 PM Dinner and overnight stay in Hotel Westin Camino Real
ph: 502-233-3-3000

Thursday- November 17 -SaturdaY Nov 19
INtercontinental Guatemala City

Three hours prior to departure, transfer to La Aurora International Airport

Guatemala Quick Facts

Location: Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea) between Honduras and Belize.

Map References: Central America and the Caribbean.

Area: Total -- 108,890 sq km; water -- 460 sq km; land -- 108,430 sq km.

U.S. Area: In comparison to a U.S. state, slightly smaller than Tennessee.

Land Boundaries Total: 1,687 km; Border countries include Belize 266 km, El Salvador 203 km, Honduras 256 km and Mexico 962 km.

Coastline: 400 km.

Maritime Claims: Territorial sea -- 12 nm; exclusive economic zone -- 200 nm; continental shelf – 200m depth.

Climate: Tropical -- hot, humid in lowlands and cooler in highlands.
Temperature predictions during your stay will range from the highs 75˚ F/ and lows 58˚ F.

Attire: Casual.
Note: It tends to get chilly in the evenings.

Seasons: Rainy season varies from May to October. Dry season varies from November to April.

Currency: Quetzal.

Exchange rate (Est.): 1 USD = 7.57 Guatemala Quetzales.

Note: Bargaining throughout various marketplaces in Guatemala can be
done either in U.S. or local Guatemala currency the Quetzal.

General Fact Sheet

What makes Guatemala different from many other countries is it’s variety of environments, you can be enjoying the calm of lake Atitlán and a couple of hours later you can be discovering the history of an ancient city like Antigua, climbing the Agua Volcano or going to a shopping mall in Guatemala city.

1. The Mayan World Adventure
2. Living Indigenous Highlands
3. Different Caribbean

4. The Pacific Coast

5. Modern and Colonial Guatemala

6. Discovering Guatemala

7. Natural Paradise

To promote the most visited tourist destinations within Guatemala, seven areas were designated as part of an aggressive tourism campaign. The areas selected include the most visited destinations as well as new areas proposed for development:

A Different Caribbean
v Includes the Province of Izabal.
v It’s name says it all, Izabal is part of the Caribbean but unique in its nature. It was the stage for Pirates and Galleons during the conquest, and it is presently the home of the Garífuna culture, which arrived on the coasts over 200 years ago.

v Río Dulce (Sweet River) and Lake Izabal are truly a paradise for nature lovers and water sports aficionados.

Living Indigenous Highland
v Located in the western part of the country, this sector includes the provinces of Huehuetenango, Quiché, Totonicapán, Sololá, Chimaltenango, San Marcos and Quetzaltenango.
v After the Mayan cities in Petén where abandoned, the highland rejoiced with the arrival of its descendents who, surrounded by cold weather and fertile lands, called the mountains and valleys home.
v Over 20 Mayan ethnic groups occupy the indigenous highlands including the: Cack’chiquel, Quek’chi, Mam and Tzutuil.
v Their traditions, languages and crafts are a legacy of today’s Mayan World
v It is characterized by its beautiful landscapes of mountains and volcanoes, which frame the pictorial indigenous villages and sowing fields.
v Some of the destinations most widely visited in Guatemala are located in this area: Lake Atitlán and Chichicatenango.

The Mayan World Adventure

v Includes the province of Petén, the largest province in the country.
v The Mayan Civilization made the dense tropical jungle of El Petén, its home.
v The region is the cradle of the Maya: it watched the Maya civilization flourish and reach great astronomical, mathematical, architectural and artistic achievements such as Mirador, Tical and Aguateca.
v Thousands of years later, these cities still hold many of the mysteries of Mayan civilization.

The Pacific Coast

v Includes the southern provinces of Retalhuleu, Suchitepequez and Escuintla.
v Over thirty volcanoes contribute to the formation of the volcanic sand beaches on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala.
v In the warm and humid environment, these beaches, canals and wetlands serve as a refuge to a large variety of wildlife.
v Among its frequent visitors is the marine turtle, which prefers these beaches to nest their eggs.

Modern and Colonial Guatemala

v Includes the provinces of Guatemala and Sacatepéquez.
v This region holds two of Guatemala’s capital cities: one, which is a silent witness of our colonial past and the other, the largest and most modern metropolis in Central America.
v Since the arrival of the Spaniards, this area was recognized as the settlement of great cities, which is to date the pride and heart of this Mayan land.

Discovering Guatemala

v Includes the eastern provinces of Zacapa, El Progreso, Chiquimula, Jalapa, Jutiapa and Santa Rosa.

v Largely, tourists have not frequented the provinces that make up this region.
v This provides a great advantage to those who wish to venture into a world of tradition and culture that, until now, has hardly been explored. Among its main attractions are: the Basilica of Esquipulas, the only basilica of Central America and home of the Black Christ of Esquipulas.

Natural Paradise

v Includes the provinces of Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz.
v This area is commonly known as “Las Verapaces”, since the conquest period.
v It holds the largest and most important habitat of the majestic Quetzal, which feathers once adorned the heads of the Mayan kings and princes. It is “green, green, green” as once described by the Guatemalan Nobel Literary Prize Winner, Miguel Ángel Asturias.

Guatemalan Provinces

Guatemala, a country of contrasts and mosaics that enrich us with their natural vibrant colors that grow from our soil’s unique characteristics; warm and friendly, just as our weather, our people and our traditions.

So strong and playful, it’s beauty is reflected in it’s wide mountains and vast lands with a naturally enriched soil that gives life to a huge diversity of flora and fauna like no other in the world, towering pyramids rise above the jungle’s green canopy and howler monkeys share the tops of trees with colorful birds, this is Guatemala. Many places where to stay, and many moods to share.

Guatemala has the richest ethnic diversity of all the countries of Central America. Eighty percent of the population is indigenous. Most groups are descendants of the Mayans and have preserved their traditional clothing, folklore and language. Some places from the Mayan empire, like Tikal, are world famous, others still lay hidden in dense jungles waiting for explorers to discover their secrets.

Tikal. Adventuring at the ancient Mayan acropolis.

If you dream of visiting old Mayan temples hidden in lush jungle with giant Ceiba trees, colorful birds and howler monkeys, Tikal is the right place. The biggest acropolis discovered were the temples are magnificent, but what makes this park so unique is its setting. All groups of monuments are separated by thick rainforests with century old trees. The forest only is worthy of a visit even if the Mayan temples weren’t there. At least tropical birds think so. You can see more species there in a day than anywhere else, toucans, parakeets, colorful turkeys, and vultures. Spider monkeys jumps from tree to tree while howler monkeys can be heard from a distance. The trees are spectacular as much from the ground, where they offered valuable shade, as they were from the top of temples surrounding the monuments with an array of colors complementing the darker earth tones of the stones. If you want to feel the extremely experience of climbing a temple under the powerful heat, this is the right place for the challenge.

In the late afternoon the howler monkeys roared like an army of lions. Tikal is one of those places you just wished you had more time to visit longer. Your interest could be art, anthropology, archeology, history, ecology, bird watching or just to look for a peaceful place in a beautiful rainforest, whatever your purpose may be, Tikal will easily seduce you and remain etched in your memory.

Cobán. Where you find your extreme natural spirit.

You can find some other experiences in other places for all those who like extreme. Cobán is the right place where the warm weather, rainy and foggy forests tempts you to adventure. You can stay there enjoying the landscape and the sound of the river or if you like it rough you can take a rafting tour at the river Cahabón; but also you can set free your spirit exploring the underground caves feeling the mysticism and magic of the unknown.

Antigua. Surviving and conquering the colony.

If you are looking for a quiet and cultural experience, Antigua is a colonial town with a rich history and impressive architecture. It is certainly worth a visit. Not a large town, but is the most visited destination in the country. It was the most important city in New Spain until the capitol was moved to present day Guatemala City after the destructive earthquake of 1773. During the mid-1800’s, with the introduction of the coffee industry, a few of the colonial structures were restored. However, the city has remained isolated until recently.

Antigua is among the oldest and most beautiful cities in the Americas. Set amid three magnificent volcanoes - Agua, Fuego and Acatenango - its superb yet sturdy colonial buildings have weathered 16 earthquakes and numerous floods and fires. La Antigua was declared a National Monument and a Monumental City of the Americas. In 1979 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Today cultural activities take place inside magnificent monuments and houses. You can feel old Europe while walking among the cobblestone streets and colonial architecture. Tourists from around the world mix with Indigenous people in traditional clothing who have come in from surrounding villages. Antigua is a lovely place to relax, and a much better place to wait for a flight out of the country than the nearby capital.
Antigua is especially beautiful during Semana Santa or Holly Week, when the streets are carpeted with elaborate decorations of colored sawdust and flower petals. The city's churches have lost much of their Baroque splendor, the post-earthquake repair and restoration leaving them denuded of embellishment and elegance. However, many remain impressive, in particular La Merced, Iglesia de San Francisco and Las Capuchinas (now a museum). Casa K'ojom is a fascinating museum of Mayan music and ceremonies and related artifacts. On Sundays, visitors and locals alike gather to assess the goods for sale at the bustling market held in Parque Central.
Guatemala. The metropolitan age.
Guatemala City is the largest urban city in Central America. Like all Guatemalan towns, a logical grid system has been imposed on the city's layout: avenidas run north-south; calles run east-west. The huge city has been divided into 22 zones, each with its own version of this grid system.
Few colonial buildings grace the city, especially in the zone 1, where the Central Park (officially the Plaza de la Constitución) is a classic example of the standard Spanish colonial town. People who like to take walks or even sit on a bench to soak in the surroundings visit this Park every Sunday. In front of this park you can see the majestic National Palace of the Culture, a great museum of history. And in the other side of the park you can see Metropolitan Cathedral.
In zone 10 are several and important museums like the Museo Popol Vuh, which is a superb private collection of Mayan and Spanish colonial art, and the Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena, which displays the rich traditional arts and costumes of Guatemala's highland towns. Zona 13 houses the Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, with its prized collection of Mayan artifacts, and the Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno, which has a superb collection of 20th-century Guatemalan art the Museo Del Niño.
The most important hotels and conventions centers are placed on zone 10 of more common denominated, La Zona Viva.
The High Lands.


If your spirit is much more quiet, you can also enjoy the beauty of lake Atitlan. Volcanoes surround the lake, and the town is the starting point for excursions to the smaller, more traditional indigenous villages on the western and southern shores of the lake. The most popular day-trip destination is Santiago Atitlán, with its colorfully dressed locals and a unique, cigar-smoking resident deity called Maximón. The market town of Sololá has been attracting traders for centuries, and the town's main plaza continues to throb with activity on market days. Village life can be sampled at Santa Catarina Palopó, while lakeside San Pedro La Laguna is fun for its population of bohemian travelers who liked it here so much they stayed.


At 2030m (6658ft), the magical and misty highlands town of Chichi is surrounded by valleys and overshadowed by looming mountains. Though isolated, it's always been an important market town. The Sunday market is the one to catch, as the cofradías (religious brotherhoods) often hold processions on that day. The locals have combined traditional Mayan religious rites with Catholicism; the best places to witness these old rites are around the church of Santo Tomás and the shrine of Pascual Abaj, which honors the Mayan earth god. Incense, food, drink and cigarettes are offered to ancestors and to ensure the continued fertility of the earth. The town's Museo Regional contains ancient clay pots and figurines, flint and obsidian spearheads, maize grindstones and an impressive jade collection.


The commercial center of southwestern Guatemala, Quetzaltenango, more commonly called Xela ('shay-lah'), is an excellent base for excursions to the many nearby villages, noted for their hot springs and handmade crafts. The city prospered during the 19th century as a coffee-broker and storage center until an earthquake and volcanic eruption ended the boom. In recent years, Xela has become well known for its Spanish-language schools. The town's major sights are the central square and the buildings which surround it, a couple of basic though useful markets and the ubiquitous Parque Minerva - many such monuments were built during the presidency of Manuel Estrada Cabrera (1898-1920), to honor the classical goddess of education in the hope of inspiring Guatemalan youth to new heights of learning. The beautiful volcanic countryside surrounding Xela features natural steam baths at Los Vahos and Fuentes Georginas. Also in the vicinity are the picture-postcard village of Zunil, the garment district of Guatemala, San Francisco El Alto and the centre for woolly woollens, the village of Momostenango.

Livingston. The sounds of the caribean.

The town of Lívingston is accessible from the Caribbean port of Puerto Barrios. The local people named the Garífunas lives on the island. The blend of Maya, African and European culture had created the unique language and traditions of this town. Tiny Lívingston with coconut groves, gaily painted wooden buildings and a fishing economy is the starting point for boat rides on the Río Quehueche and Río Cocolí, which take you through tropical jungle scenery for a swim or a picnic, or out to the Cayos for snorkeling and fishing.

Pacific Coast. Warm weather, warm people.

Situated on Guatemala's Pacific Slope, this is an important site for anyone interested in Mayan art and culture. The sugar cane fields are dotted with great stone heads and scenes carved in relief. The artifacts are the remnants of the Pipils. There are three main archaeological sites in the surrounding sugar cane fincas (ranches or plantations). Finca Bilbao consists of several ceremonial sites containing stone sculptures, many of which are hidden among the cane. Hilltop Finca El Baúl has the additional fascination of being a still-active place of worship, while Finca Las Ilusiones contains hundreds of objects, which have been collected from the fields over the centuries. Also in the pacific coast you can find beautiful black sand beaches like Monterrico, Las Lisas and Sipacate, where you can practice water sports and enjoy beautiful nature walks. Avid sports fishermen that frequent the area, internationally recognize the black sand beaches of Puerto Quetzal to participate in the sport.

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