Visiting Guatemala: How this Central American country defied all my expectations [Part One]

When my dad called me last fall and asked if I wanted to take a trip with him, I didn’t even considering turning him down. I love to travel and my dad is a great person to go on adventures with.

But when he told me he was planning a trip to Guatemala, my enthusiasm dwindled. This was around the same time the immigrant caravan was making headlines around the world. I’d always been told Central America was dangerous. I’d surely be kidnapped by drug cartels and sold into sex slavery. I’d definitely get Malaria. Maybe even diarrhea.

But travel is travel, and like in most cases, the stereotypes are usually wrong. So I pushed these things out of my mind and focused on the simple fact that I’d be crossing another country off my list. The last time my dad and I took a trip together we went to Arizona and Utah and we were well overdue for another, more exotic expedition.

My dad booked our vacation though Gate 1, an escorted tour company. Knowing we’d have a knowledgable, local guide with us throughout the trip helped assuage my anxiety. I can’t say enough good things about Gate 1, especially our guide, Tony, and I’ll be talking more about the services they provide in a later post, but for now let me just say I LOVED our trip. Gate 1 promises “more of the world for less,” and I know we got to see more of Guatemala than mosts tourists can hope to on one trip.

We spent two nights in Guatemala City, two nights in Panajachel at Lake Atitlan, two nights in Antigua, one night in Copán (Honduras), one night in Rio Dulce, and two nights in Tikal.

Our trip began on Friday, March 1. We drove from Washington, D.C. to Norfolk to catch our early afternoon flight to Atlanta. From there we flew to Guatemala City to join the rest of the tour group, including my dad’s neighbor and travel partner, Jan.

When we landed in Guatemala City it was already almost 9 p.m. and we were worn out, so it was straight to bed after checking in at the hotel and briefly meeting our tour guide, Tony. The next morning we met the rest of our group and our 11-day exploration of Guatemala began.

Can’t wait to read about the rest of the trip? Here’s a link to each of the posts!

  1. Panajachel & Lake Atitlan
  2. Chichicastenango
  3. Santiago Atitlan & Antigua
  4. Antigua
  5. Copan, Quirigua & Rio Dulce
  6. Rio Dulce & Yaxha


Compulsive snacker. Bleeding heart. Unhealthy obsession with Tom Hanks and cats. Florida State and Syracuse University alum.

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