One of the weekend outings offered by my Spanish school was a zipline adventure high above the Guatemalan jungle down the side of a mountain. The view was stunning and coupled with the high speed created an exhilarating adrenaline rush! This was, without a doubt, one of my favorite activities.
During one of my Saturdays in Guatemala we had the opportunity to travel to a historic Mayan site where we received a tour of the ruins there. Our guide explained the significance of all the different structures and stone carvings and led us on a very detailed tour of the grounds there. The tour was given in Spanish and we took turns translating for the group which was an excellent learning opportunity as it really challenged my Spanish skills. Below is a picture of one of the Mayan “sewers.” In essence it was a pipe made with stone. I was surprised how well it was preserved after so many years.
Included with the ruins was a small zoo with animals typical to the area. My favorite animal was a baby monkey that clung to it’s mother as she clambered rapidly around the cage. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a photo of it but here are some pictures of the other animals that we saw.
One Sunday morning at 5:00 a.m. a few of us got a local guide to take us up a volcano to view a sacred lake that is located in its crater. The volcano lake is called Laguna Chicabal. The hike up the slippery mountainside was strenuous, but the view at the end was totally worth it! We walked around the perimeter of the lake and visited shrines of Mayan deities located around the lake. Our guide explained the significance of the shrines and was very friendly and helped us with our Spanish while we hiked.
Above is a picture of the lake viewed from the rim of the volcano and to the right of it are some of the 600+ stairs we had to climb down to get to the water.
Here are a couple pictures of the lush jungle plants that surround the lake. It was a dreary day, but the scenery was still spectacular. I even had the opportunity to climb out over the water on a tree branch! (pictured below)
The next Sunday I hiked up the big volcano Santa Maria which is located right next to Xela. The hike up was the most arduous climb I have ever experienced, and the 360 degree view on the top was probably the greatest view I have ever seen!
On several occasions I visited Lake Atitlan. Atitlan is an enormous lake surrounded by numerous large volcanoes. My visits there were always blissful and we enjoyed site-seeing, kayaking, hiking, shopping, and many more fun activities. It is really hard to sum up the awesomeness of Lake Atitlan as one really needs to go there to experience it! Here are a few pictures of my time there.
Semuc Champey! I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a long weekend at Semuc Champey in the Northern part of Guatemala during my time there. Semuc is a natural monument. It consists of a 300 foot limestone bridge with a large river rushing underneath. The structure of the bridge causes gorgeous pools to form above and the water trickles from one pool to the next. It was awesome to swim in the pools, jump off cliffs into the water, climb down a ladder and see where the water rushes out, explore a cave with a river flowing through it by candlelight, tube down the river, share dinner and drinks with friends and soak in the beauty of the jungle! I highly recommend this location to everyone!