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Getting around in Guatemala

It’s located just south of Mexico, but the consistently mild weather that graces Guatemala year-round has earned the Central American nation the nickname “the country of eternal spring.”

It’s located just south of Mexico, but the consistently mild weather that graces Guatemala year-round has earned the Central American nation the nickname “the country of eternal spring.” From its stunning mountains and volcanoes to majestic lakes and rustic streets — not to mention the mystical Mayan ruins that dot its landscape — Guatemala contains an enormous amount of beauty to explore and take in.

Enjoy the view: Surrounded on all sides by mountains and three different volcanoes, Lake Atitlan is at the center of a variety of exciting locales — from luxury hotels to quaint Mayan towns. No matter where your vantage point (zip-lining at Reserva Natural de Atitlan is a breathtaking way to see it all), the view is awe-inspiring.

Blast from the past: Iximche, an archaeological site in Guatemala’s western highlands, was the capital of the Mayan world in the late 15th century. What’s left of the former capital is fascinating: five plazas contain remnants of palaces, pyramids, temples and even ball courts where Mayans played a form of soccer. Visit Iximche at the right time, and you might even be able to observe a modern-day Mayan ritual. These days, candles, incense and alcohol are the preferred offerings to the gods — thankfully, animal (and human!) sacrifices are passe.

Take a hike: Pacaya is an active volcano about an hour’s drive outside of the tourist-friendly city of Antigua. As recently as May 2010, Pacaya erupted, leaving craters of ash to stain the lush green of its terrain. Helpful guides will lead you on a not-too-intense 2-hour hike up the volcano right alongside lava flows, with plenty of stops for photo ops along the way. When you’ve reached the top, you'll have the opportunity to roast marshmallows in the hot spots just beneath the volcano’s surface.

 
 
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