5 Must Visit Destinations in Guatemala

Guatemala is brimming with historical sites, culture, and natural wonders, so it can be difficult to know where to start when planning a trip. Antigua is where most people start their time in the country, so I’m going to assume it was already on your travel itinerary (though if it wasn’t then it should be), and here’s five other places you need to visit during your time in Guatemala.

 

Tikal

Tikal is the ruins of an ancient Mayan city found in the rainforest of Northern Guatemala. The archaeological sites are part of Tikal National Park, and the ruins were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Tikal is also the largest excavated site in the Americas

 

Tikal National Park consists of the rainforest and ruins, a parking lot, three hotels, a museum and visitors’ center, guide service, post office, campground, souvenir shops, and four local eating places. There is NOT an ATM in the park, so you’ll want to bring cash with you.

Tikal National Forest photo by Lucy Maynard

Tikal National Forest photo by Lucy Maynard

If you don’t want to stay in the park, there’s lodging in Flores and El Remate, but the park opens at 6:00 am and closes at 6:00 pm, so if you don’t stay in the park you can’t do the two best excursions Tikal has to offer (more on that below).

 Maps are available outside the Visitor’s Center, and walking trails wind through the jungle and temple complexes. You can do self-guided hikes, but I’d recommend doing the following two guided tours, which can only be done if you’re lodging is inside the park:

 Sunset tour where you’ll hike into the jungle when it’s daylight, explore some of the ruins, climb up a temple to watch the sunset, and hike back in the dark.

 Sunrise tour where you’ll hike into the jungle when it’s still dark, climb up a different temple where you’re actually above the forest canopy, watch the sunrise, then hike back once it’s daylight. The morning hike does involve getting up around 3:00 am, which I know can be a tough “sell,” but it was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had (in eight years of traveling through three continents and 12 countries). Plus, after the sunrise hike, I just went back to my hotel and took a nap during the hottest part of the day!

 Trip Advisor has an abundance of tour options from birdwatching to sunsets and sunrises to multi-day trips paired with other Mayan ruins. The guide and visitor center on-site in the park can also help you book guided tours.

 Fun Fact: the Jaguar Temple in Tikal was a filming site for Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope (1977). The temple can be seen near the end of the movie as a lookout station for the rebel base.

Pacaya Volcano by Lucy Maynard

Pacaya Volcano by Lucy Maynard

Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Central America, and it's also one of the most accessible, making it a perfect day trip from Antigua or Guatemala City.

 Guides are required for hiking Pacaya. If you're driving to Pacaya National Park on your own, you can hire a guide at the visitor's center at the entrance to the park. If you don't have a car, I recommend going with a tour group where transportation will be provided. It can take up to four different buses and half a day to get to Pacaya via public transportation from Antigua or Guatemala City (as opposed to an hour and a half by car or coach).

 Most tours are either a morning or sunset hike as half-day trips from Antigua or Guatemala City, but you can also do a trip that lasts all day or camp overnight on the volcano. Viator and Get Your Guide have multiple tour options for visiting Pacaya.

 You should expect the hike up Pacaya to take around 4 hours, depending on your pace. The first part of the trail takes you through farmland and forest, so there's great views no matter how frequently you take breaks.

 The second part of the hike is through the lower caldera of the volcanic crater.

 Pacaya is monitored for geological activity and safety, park rangers patrol the area, and all trails are well marked and maintained. You'll also be sharing the trail with lots of other people, and there are food stands, restrooms, trash cans, and rest stops along the trail.

Semuc Champey at El Mirador Viewpoint by Lucy Maynard

Semuc Champey at El Mirador Viewpoint by Lucy Maynard

Semuc Champey

Found in the lush jungle mountains in the department of Alta Verapaz, Semuc Champey is a remote tropical paradise.

 Semuc Champey is an almost 1000 feet (300 meters) long limestone bridge made of six turquoise pools. Semuc Champey means “where the river hides under the stones” because the Cahabon River runs under Semuc Champey, disappearing under the first pool and reappearing downriver of the sixth one.

 The first thing you’ll want to do when you get here is swim in the crystal clear pools. After you’ve slid down some waterfalls and floated in the pools, hike to the El Mirador viewpoint for the iconic shot of the limestone bridge and pools from above.

 Other activities you can do are tubing down the calm part of the Cahabon River and the Ba Cave tour where you’ll hike and swim through a cave using only candlelight.

 To get to Semuc Champey, you have to get to Lanquin first. Lanquin can be reached from Antigua by shuttle, Guatemala City by shuttle or bus, and Coban by bus. GuateGo is a great resource for comparing and booking your transportation.

 Once you get to Lanquin, you can do a two and a half hour hike through the jungle to Semuc Champey, or you can take a 30 minute pickup truck (local taxi) ride. Lanquin is where most visitors stay (plenty of hotels and restaurants), but there are some more luxurious lodges and resorts in the jungle closer to Semuc Champey such as the Utopia Eco Hotel and Greengos Hostel.

Lake Atitlán   by Lucy Maynard

Lake Atitlán by Lucy Maynard

Lake Atitlán

Located in a massive volcanic crater in Guatemala’s southwestern highlands, Lake Atitlán is ringed by volcanoes with those iconic pointed cones.

 If you’re spending the night, I recommend staying in the town of Panajachel, one of the larger hillside villages known for its textiles. But Lake Atitlán can also be seen as a day trip from Antigua or Guatemala City. Trip Advisor has lots of tour options.

 A boat tour around the lake is an (obvious) must-do excursion, but there are many other activities in the area. One option is the Atitlán nature reserve, located on a former coffee plantation, that has a butterfly garden and several hiking trails.

 You can also visit one of the active coffee and avocado orchards, “soak in” the Mayan culture in any of the lakeside towns, take a cooking class, or (if you’re feeling more adventurous) take a motorcycle ride around the lake for higher-up panoramic views.

 Fun Fact: In 1938, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of the famous children’s book, The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince), crashed his plane near Lake Atitlán. Legends say that during his recovery at Lake Atitlán, he saw the Cerro de Oro, “hill of gold,” that inspired a drawing and scene in The Little Prince.

 Cerro de Oro does (sort of) resemble an elephant with a boa trailing off at its head and tail as if it were being consumed, so when you’re here you can decide for yourself if you think this mountain inspired the book, or just the legend about the book.

 

Sunset in Monterrico by Lucy Maynard

Sunset in Monterrico by Lucy Maynard

Monterrico

Monterrico is a picturesque town along Guatemala’s Pacific coast. While Monterrico is known for its volcanic black sand beaches and nesting sea turtles, it’s also part of a nature reserve that stretches inland to preserve the town’s mangrove swamp.

 When you’re here, you must visit the Tortugario Monterrico, a wildlife reserve that raises endangered species of sea turtles, caimans (a cross between crocodiles and alligators), and iguanas. The staff offer lagoon trips and night walks from August to December to look for turtle eggs to rescue. And at sunset from September to January, you can help workers release baby turtles into the ocean.

 The Monterrico beach is narrow and the waves break close to the sand, so if you’re wanting a full swim-in-the-ocean day you should probably visit the nearby beaches of Iztapa or Tilapa. But what Monterrico beach does give you is some of the most extraordinary sunset views.

 Another activity I’d highly recommend is taking a boat tour of the mangrove canals. Tours usually take about one and a half to two hours. It’s worth getting up early to take a boat tour at sunrise when you’ve got the best chance of seeing the most wildlife (you can always take a nap on the beach later!)

 You can arrange boat tours through most of Monterrico’s hotels, but I’d recommend booking a tour directly through Tortugario Monterrico because it has the most knowledgeable guides and you’re supporting a good cause. Most tours are on a motorboat, but if you’ve got more time, you can arrange a paddled tour.

written by Lucy

About the author: “I’m a travel blogger and photographer who’s traveled across parts of Central America, Asia, and Europe. Some of my favorite things are: tiramisu, my selfie stick (gotta take pictures of yourself if you want to be an influencer), white wine, and just barely getting my camera out in time to capture a moment I want to remember forever. My goal is for my photographs, insights, and stories to inspire you to travel to places - old and new - that could be halfway around the world or just a walk away.” -Lucy Maynard

 My blog: https://www.lucyonlocale.com/blog

My Instagram handle: @lucyonlocale

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Wellness in Sedona, Arizona

What’s the point of a vacation if you gain 15 pounds and come home feeling like crap? I think it’s time for you to consider a Sedona wellness travel trip. All the perks of vacation without the sluggishness and lack of sleep. At Wellness Everywhere, we are focused on creating a wellness travel experience for you will have you coming home ready to plan the next. Let’s go!

If you haven’t been to Sedona, why wait any longer? This spot is one of the most unique locations in the nation and it’s tucked away outside of Phoenix. This makes it easy to fly into Phoenix, rent a car and make the 2 hour drive for your Sedona wellness travel trip!


From hiking to juice bars to burger joints, they have it all. Make sure you book your tickets between March and May so you can avoid the sweltering heat waves that come through. Here’s your weekend guide to Sedona, Arizona.

Food

First, you will not have a complete Sedona wellness travel trip without stopping at ChocolaTree. This quaint restaurant places you somewhere like Costa Rica or Kauai. You will have your farm-to-table meals in the backyard garden. Whatever you decide to try, you will be pleased. I went with the 2020 Enchilada, Pachamama Latte and the International Dipper. Remember, the plates are huge so, you’ll want to split them! Oh and it’s 100% gluten and soy free.


Next, The Local Juicery, where all your smoothie dreams are made. This local organic juice bar is the perfect refresher on a warm Sedona day. Whether you are in the mood for an acai bowl, a butter coffee or food food, they’ve got it for you. They source from local farmers and use the highest quality ingredients you can find. My favorite is the Classic Acai bowl with added protein. Grab a Chocolate Mylk on your way out and you’re set!

Hike

I mean, who books a Sedona wellness travel trip without a daily hike? It’s super simple to find hikes in this area, it’s peppered with them. Grab a local area map, hop in your car and head out for the day. You can go to the more populated spots like Cathedral Rock or Soldier Pass trail. I prefer to find the narrow paths and look for my own trails. We drove down some random neighborhood streets and 10/10 times found a trail that led to either a spring or an overlook. Here are a few favorites:

  • Devil’s Bridge (moderate)

  • Huckaby Trail (moderate)

  • Bear Mountain Trail (hard)

There are over 176 trails in Sedona, have at it! Bring your reusable water bottle, some healthy snacks and your camera, you will want to take photos. 

Sleeping

Since we live in our van full-time, we hang out most of the time in National Forests. Sedona is in the Coconino National Forest so, we drove about 5 miles out of town, turned onto a service road and found a spot for the night. I encourage you to do this with our without a van. Bring your tent and enjoy the complete silence of nature for the weekend.

So, what do you say, are you ready to take on your first healthy vacation? Is a Sedona wellness travel trip on your radar now!

Come visit www.mywellnesseverywhere.com and shoot us a hello if you’d like us to visit a healthy restaurant, non-toxic hotel or wellness center in your area! Our goal is to make healthy travel accessible for everyone and to highlight the businesses going the extra mile. We’re on IG @wellnesseverywhere

Written by Ashlee

Ashlee is from Alaska and is a sustainability and wellness travel blogger. She is a Holistic Nutritionist and dedicates her time to simplifying wellness, even on the go. You’ll find her traveling the world in her sprinter van with her husband and rescue pup, Gilligan! Say hello — @simplholistic

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5 Benefits of Traveling in the Off-Season

Have you ever visited another country in the off-season? We are always drawn to travel in the summer, when sweat adheres our shorts to our legs and the streets are filled with crowds.

 We travel to enjoy ourselves, not be stressed out and uncomfortable.

 So why do we travel during peak season?

 If you have never gone on a shoulder season adventure, here are some reasons why you might want to try: 

Vacation Without an Excuse

Who says it needs to be summer to take some time off? Feed your soul with a trip to the mountains in the fall. If you don’t have that much vacation time, take a weekend trip with your best friend or significant other. If someone asks, “what’s the occasion?” tell them, “me!”

 

Save Money

Off-season travel is often much cheaper than peak season. This includes flights, hotels, Airbnbs, tours… some restaurants even increase their prices in the summer months! Treat yourself to an upgrade, a spa day, or an extra few days for the price you would have spent had you just gone in July. Who doesn’t want to spend more money on self care, rather than credit card bills?

Relax

You know the phrase, “I need a vacation from a vacation.” It stems from being exhausted after a trip. What is the point of a break from reality, if you come home from feeling worse than you did before? In the off-season, everything is less hectic. There are fewer people, which means less time spent in crowds, lines, and a much more pleasant experience.

 

Live Like a Local

Visiting a popular city in it’s quieter months gives you the experience of what everyday life is like for the locals. Instead of rushing to wait in line at a museum, spend your morning at a cafe. Enjoy a delicious pastry, a cappuccino and watch all the locals start their day. You may find a restaurant or activity you otherwise wouldn’t have thought to try.

A Unique Experience

Spending New Year’s Eve in London is going to be much different than your friend’s August trip. You will get a chance to bundle up and drink hot chocolate while watching the most incredible fireworks - seriously, this show puts Times Square to shame. Even if you still want to hit up all the tourist destinations, a different time of year will bring you a change in scenery, opening you up to new opportunities.

by Jesse Lucas

You can find more about the contributor of this post, Jesse, by following her on instagram @itsjesselucas or go check out her YouTube Channel

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Great Food in Florida - Cafe Evergreen in Nokomis, Florida

At Florida Fun Travel, we always are looking for restaurants that pay real attention to the food they serve and how it's served. This is not always easy, as most places cater to the Standard American diet. Imagine our surprise when we found this gem in Nokomis, Florida of all places.

As many of you who follow our blog know, Mrs Funmeister is a vegetarian. Naturally, this then figures in when we pick restaurants. On our first trip to Venice, we discovered The Cafe Evergreen. Based on rave reviews on TripAdvisor we decided to try it.


The restaurant actually is located in Nokomis, inside a former post office. With both indoor and outdoor seating, the floor plan works well. 

Cafe Evergreen

Cafe Evergreen

Both times we dined there, the place was packed. That being said the wait for a table was not very long. They also had a number of options including a lunch counter and outdoor seating for those more impatient.

Evergreen’s dining area has a lot of tables but is not cramped

Evergreen’s dining area has a lot of tables but is not cramped

The Food

The real attraction is the food. They use only the best ingredients to keep their food “clean.” By that, they mean house-made and no preservatives. Moreover, they look for no GMO foods, buy organic ingredients when possible and prefer to use local sources. 

Our dining experiences showed that to be the case. The first time around, I had the Buffalo Burger with superfood slaw, while Mrs Funmeister went with the Raw Avocado Sliders with sweet potato fries. 

combination – it tastes great and is simultaneously healthy

combination – it tastes great and is simultaneously healthy

Yes, the Buffalo Burger is real bison. It also is infused with Feta cheese, roasted red peppers and fresh herbs. Her sliders were served in taco-shaped dehydrated onion bread slices. The smashed avocado was infused with pico de gallo and micro greens. 

We were amazed and delighted at the diversity of the Cafe Evergreen menu, which included breakfast, lunch, dinner and even wine, beer and cider selections.

The Second Go ‘Round

Many times when you go to so-called "natural" or "vegetarian" restaurants, the portions are small and expensive. Not here, they are more than generous. In fact, we came back on a subsequent trip and were even more impressed.

Second Time Around at Cafe Evergreen

Second Time Around at Cafe Evergreen

On our second visit, I was captured by the Evergreen Club. This sandwich was voted “The Best Vegetarian Sandwich in the USA” by Restaurant Hospitality. How could you not try it? It is a compendium of grilled cheesy quinoa cakes, organic micro beans, pickled beets, carrots, tomato and pesto ranch.

 For a non-vegetabletarian, I will tell you this thing was delicious.

The Cafe Evergreen boasts four different varieties of Reuben sandwiches. She had the Roasted Beet Reuben. That’s made with the usual suspects – sauerkraut and thousand-island dressing – but with pickled beet instead of corned beef.

 Again, surprisingly good. The next time, we’ll try to have a breakfast, sit outside and try the ambience of the great outdoors.

Evergreen Outdoor Seating is just at the front door

Evergreen Outdoor Seating is just at the front door

Evergreen Outdoor Seating is just at the front door.

 Whether you are a vegan, a vegetarian or just a normal human diner, this place offers a great culinary experience. The portions are good, the service is fast and the price is reasonable. We gave them four stars on our TripAdvisor review.

Incidentally, it is just a hop, skip and a jump from Nokomis Beach – one of our better Gulfside experiences.If you want to find out more, come over to our web page at http://www.floridafuntravel.com or like us on any of our social media platforms.

It's always time to have fun in Florida

-by Florida Funmeister http://www.floridafuntravel.com

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Reiki for Easing Flying Nerves

Holistic Medicine and alternative wellness, has become a mainstream treatment for many ailments instead of harmful chemicals. This is especially true for those with anxieties.  If you are afraid of heights and taking your first flight, this article will help you to understand how reiki can tame your anxiety, while on the plane! 

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a gentle energy healing system.  It was first discovered by Dr.Mikao Usui in the 1920s.Reiki is where the universal life force energy found in every living  and non living being is channeled into the reiki master’s hand and then sent to the person, or the animal, or object, receiving the healing either through distance or hands on healing.

 

Reiki does not hurt, and it is not scary.  You may feel gentle tingling, warmth, or cold, or you may feel nothing.  No matter what you feel during your reiki session, it is important to allow yourself to flow with whatever you feel and not hold back any feelings you may experience.

Reiki For First Time Flyers

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, reiki will help calm first time flyers.  If you are going on a flight for the first time, you will want to google “reiki healer near me”.  I best recommend booking a reiki session with someone, if you are going to have an in person healing experience, three days prior to your flight date.  This is because it will give you an allotted time frame after your healing has been done to detox.  During this time you may experience cold like symptoms, you may not be hungry, or you may be more hungry.  You may feel like you are shaky, or light headed, these are only a few things you may experience during the detox.  It is important to also note here that you need to hydrate to continue to detox the stuck or stagnant energy that has been released.

 If you choose to do a distance healing, which simply means that a practitioner does a reiki session from afar, then I suggest that you book a session to begin at least 15 mins before take off occurs, if possible.  I also suggest booking a reiki session for the plane ride home as well so that when you get back you don’t experience heavy jet lag, which can be more severe especially if you have an anxiety/panic attack.

I also advise getting headphones and explaining to your practitioner that you are seated on the plane so he/she can begin your session.  It's important to have headphones, for one so you don't distract others, and for two, so they do not distract you.

Conclusion:

Reiki is a gentle energy healing therapy that will help you to relax and remain calm during your travels.  Drink plenty of water, relax, and have a safe trip!

written by, Manda Martinotti

About the Writer:

Manda Martinotti is a certified Usui and Animal reiki master who is also a passionate, and dedicated freelance writer.  In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her beloved pets and family. She also enjoys mediation and Yoga.

 You can find out more info or to book a reiki healing with Manda Martinotti, please visit her website: https://moonbeautysocial.wixsite.com/spiritualcoach or you can follower her on Instagram @goodvibesmanda

 

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