We already have known tha transportation in Guatemala may be hard, so we decided to take direct bus to Antigua Guatemala. It took about 12 hours to get there, even if it is not too far away. Antigua its former capitol of the state; it used to be the most powerful city in the region, but now, when the Guatemala City (placed maybe 40 km further) is capitol, Antigua is quiet, touristic city, full of old churches, squares, colourful streets and cafes. Somehow it similar to San Cristobal – it is all very magic and beautiful but also a bit crowded and hip, with a lot of vege bar, fansy pubs from gringos. We stay there for one night and going further – to the Lake Atitlan, big lake surrounded by volcanos, with amazing landscapes around, also a lot of parties and stuff. It is very nice, chilly atmosphere there so we stayed day for a few days and slowly preparing for leaving the Guatemala. We also visit the market in Chichicastenango, which is located close to Lake Atitlan. It is considered to be the biggest market with handmade stuff in while Central America. I bought one handmade shirt from the local people ;). After our stay at the Lake Atitlan we going directly to San Salvador border. This is how it ends the first part of our trip.
Sunday, 17 January 2016
1 We left our backpacks on the camping site and just after walked to Semuc Park and we found it extraordinary, but a bit too crowded. It was a lot of small waterfalls, cascades full of water in planty shades of green. We could swim on it, jump, etc. We also hiked a bit, and could see all the cascades from few hundreds metres. It looked amazing, waterfalls surrounded bu an jungle. We had to leave the Park pretty early and we couldn’t stay longer, even though there is just a some reservation in the mountains. Actually we don’t like this policy, and its pretty common in Central America – guardians like to control who is in, and don’t allow you to stay longer, even if there are only waterfalls, mountains, etc – nothing to steal or break. It is different than in Europe and surprised us a bit, cause we were always told, that in Latin America or Asia lot of things are bad organized, nobody controls it well, etc...But we realized a lot of times, that even if some stuff, infrastructure, etc are not perfect the whole system to control your visit in some places, taking money from you, doesn’t allow you to see anything more than they want you to see – this is organized way better than in Europe. But w don’t wanna complain – it was still worth to visit it, even if some elements of organization were annoing.
1 Our next destination was town Lanquin and attraction, which is situated pretty close to Lanquin – Semuc Chapmey waterfalls. To get there we need to go to the central part of the state. We looked and the map, and thought that it will last 2-3 hours. We didn’t know yet that Guataleman transportation and roads are way worse than Mexican. Firstly we tried to hitchhike, but than we realized, that id doesn’t work well in Guatemale – also maybe because there were almost no cars on the road in that part of country. Finally it lasted maybe 8 hours untril we reach Coban – which was still 2or 3 hours from Lanquin. We stayed in funny hotel called California (costed abous 6 euro for 2 beds room ;) ) and next day took a bus to Lanquin. We tried to hitchhike and ahain we didn’t have any lucky. The last part of road to Lanquin was crazy – unpaved road going down and down to the bottom of the valley...I wouldn’t go there in the rainy season, it must be terrible. Anyway – we went to Lanquin, than find some transportation to hostel which was placed maybe 30min of walk from Semuc. We decided to visit the Semuc, than spend there and coming back to Coban and then further, to the Antigua Guatemala.
1 Flores is capitol and probably the biggest town of Peten – jungle and mysterious region in the north of Guatemala. It doesn’t mean it’s big – the city itself has less than 14,000 of inhabitants. It wide known touristically, because of its location but also of the town itself, cause its very picturesque. It is situated in a small islands, lying in the big lake surrounded by evergreen forest. Town is full of colourfull old fishermans house, tiny curt streets, you can also find few old churches there. You can walk around the island in maybe 20 minutes. It used to be typical fisherman’ town, now its probably half-fisherman and half-touristis, as you can see quite a lot of gringos there. To get the city you can walk or ride by a bridge joining the mainland and the island – in the past boat was necessary. We spent 2 nights there, mostly enjoying kayaking in the beautiful lake. Islands in which town is situated it’s not the only one one the lake, so you have opprotnity to visiting other island if you have boats or kayak. Flores is also popular place, for visiting Tikal – one of the most popular attraction of Guatemala, which are Mayan ruins situated in the jungle, maybe 60 km from Flores. But we just few days ago have seen Palenque ruins, we also found it a bit too expensive and – probably – crowdy (we’ve seen tens of bus yelling every morning for tourists going to Tikal) so we decided not to go there. After 2-3 days in Flores we moved in the southern directions.
1 When we cross Guate borded we realized that we came back to former Spanish colony. We saw, that the buildings, cars, houses, markets, shops are quite similar to these which we saw in Mexico. Especially Chiapas. It is known, that Chiapas used to be part of Guatemala so we wasn’t so suprised of this. This which we was a bit surprised was the prizes. In the first convienient store we saw 2 litres bottle of mineral water costing about 1,2 euro...We thought its not a normal prize, cause it was small shop situated on the border crossing. That we realized, that it was quite normal prize. Obviously in the bigger market we could have bought water almost twice cheaper, but it was still the biggest price of water we’ve ever seen, including expensive countries of western Europe. Anyway, we tried to hitchhike, unfortunately, we weren’t lucky so we bought one papaya (also bit more expensive than Mexico – I write bout this, cause in plenty places in the Internet it is written that Guatemala is sooo cheap – a lot of stuff is cheap there, but not all of them, and some of them are even incredibly expensive) and took a bus to our destination – Flores. We rode for maybe 1 hour through hilly evergreen forests and we reached beautiful town of Flores.