dreamland guatemala

Are you longing for breathtaking landscapes, warm people and mysterious cultural treasures? Then you should definitely visit Guatemala. The landscape is characterized by volcanoes, lakes, coffee plantations and endless jungle. Many indigenous peoples - the descendants of the Mayas - still live here today and demonstrate ancient traditions and craftsmanship. Guatemala is extraordinary - probably hardly any of your friends have been here before. The small country has lots of surprises in store for you. From fascinating nature and unique wildlife to colorful cities where you can experience the culture and the special feeling of life, Guatemala offers everything your traveler's heart desires. But see for yourself - our capital Antigua is perfect for a stay in the volunteer project of your choice, with exciting projects and a variety of hostels just waiting to welcome you.



Antigua is our personal favorite city in Guatemala and is very special in many ways.

Young people from all over the world stroll through the cobbled streets and there is so much to discover. Between the colorful houses you will find many small stores and hip cafés. The restaurants offer creative dishes that are just as varied as the rest of the city. Bands from all over the world play in the bars in the evening, and backpackers swap travel stories at the tables.

Until a devastating earthquake in 1773, Antigua was the capital of Guatemala. Due to the great destruction, the seat of government was moved to Guatemala City. However, some old buildings have been preserved to this day and are still a feature of the cityscape as magnificent ruins. It goes without saying that the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its uniqueness.

Don't miss the short climb to the Cerro de la Cruz viewpoint. From here you have a breathtaking view over Antigua and the surrounding three volcanoes. From the famous Santa Catalina archway, you can see the El Agua volcano, probably the city's most famous postcard motif. A tour up one of these volcanoes is another highlight of your visit to Guatemala. You can climb to the summit of Acatenango on a two-day tour. You spend the night in tents below the crater and have a fascinating view of the lava of the neighboring, active volcano El Fuego at night. Climb to the summit before sunrise and experience one of the most impressive sunrises of your life.

There are many coffee farms around Antigua that offer guided tours of the plantations and production. Many are still owned by German families who emigrated to Guatemala in the 17th century and specialized in coffee cultivation. It is also worth paying a visit to the small organic farms in the area, especially to enjoy the fantastic food in the restaurants.

The city is around an hour away from the international airport in Guatemala City and is easy to reach by shuttle or chicken bus.

To and from Antigua

  • one hour by shuttle or chicken bus from the airport in Guatemala City.
  • In Antigua, local travel agencies offer excursions and bus trips throughout the country.
  • There is a shuttle bus to Flores, the journey takes about 12 hours overnight and costs about 30 euros.
  • A shuttle or chicken bus will take you to the famous Lago Atitlán in around 3 hours.
  • You can reach Río Dulce via Guatemala City in around 5 hours.
  • You can get to the surfing village of El Paredon in around 2 hours for 15 euros by shuttle.


One of the most beautiful lakes in the world is nestled in an enchanting landscape, surrounded by three mighty volcanoes in the heart of Guatemala. Lago Atitlán was formed by the explosion of a huge volcano many millions of years ago and is a natural wonder of a very special kind. From the top of the volcanoes, you have a breathtaking view of the lake and the surrounding nature. Although a tour like this is very strenuous, it is definitely recommended. The view at sunrise is particularly fascinating, when the clouds give way to the sun's rays and the lake begins to shimmer pink. You will never forget this magical moment. During the day, the lake is perfect for a swim or a boat trip. A canoe is a wonderful way to enjoy nature. Or you can hop on a scheduled boat and explore the surrounding villages. Around the lake you will find many small villages full of tradition and joie de vivre. The alternative San Marcus attracts many backpackers with its great yoga offers and vegan restaurants. The accommodation is located directly on the lake and many even have their own jetty. The lively San Pedro is home to the international backpacker scene and there are parties almost every day until the early hours of the morning. If you are interested in traditional handicrafts, you can buy wonderful weavings directly from the local cooperatives in San Juan, attend a course and watch the women at work. From the towns around Lago Atitlán, many tour companies offer a day trip to Chichicastenango. One of Guatemala's largest markets is held there twice a week, where you can find everything from food and clothing to souvenirs. Many things are cheaper at this market than in the rest of the country and the sellers even insist that you negotiate the price.

From and to Lago Atitlán

  • 3 hours by shuttle or chicken bus from Antigua, depending on the type of transportation, the trip costs between 10 and 30 euros.
  • You can reach the lake from Guatemala City by chicken bus for around 5 euros in around 2.5 hours.
  • There are also shuttles from the lake to the surfing village of El Paredon. The trip takes about 4 hours and costs around 30 euros.


Most backpackers use Flores as a starting point for a trip to the legendary Mayan ruins of Tikal, but this pretty little town has much more to offer. Situated on a small island in Lake Petén-Itzá, it will delight you with its narrow cobbled streets and brightly colored houses with red tiled roofs. Good restaurants and cool cafés can be found on every corner and there is a super relaxed atmosphere everywhere. The magical sunsets over the lake, surrounded by rainforest, are something you won't soon forget.

In the middle of the dense jungle of the northernmost state of Petén, the enigmatic Mayan city of Tikal was investigated by researchers for the first time in 1957. It is considered to be the best-researched Mayan city and its more than 3,000 buildings are among the most important of the Mayan culture. The most imposing building is Temple 4, which rises 64 meters into the air. It looks particularly mystical at sunrise when it flashes out of the jungle shrouded in mist.

You can reach Tikal by bus from Flores in an hour. Organized tours are offered daily by the hostels.

From and to Flores

  • You can fly to Flores from the airport in Guatemala City. The direct flight with a local airline takes around 2 hours and costs between 80 and 150 euros, depending on the travel time.
  • In Antigua, you can book a shuttle to Flores with a local travel agency. The 12-hour trip will cost you around 30 euros.
  • There are shuttles from Flores to Río Dulce for 20 euros. The journey takes about 6 hours.
  • From Flores, you can also travel on to the country of Belize. It takes 5 hours to Belize City and a shuttle will cost you between 20 and 30 euros.


A very special tour is the boat trip across the Río Dulce to Lívingston.

The bright green river flows calmly through eastern Guatemala, surrounded by a hilly landscape covered in palm forests. The nature is unpopulated and pristine, with all kinds of exotic bird species in addition to the few inhabitants who have settled on the banks of the river. On the way, you will pass the Castillo San Felipe de Lara, one of the main sights along the river. The fortress was built in the 17th century to protect against pirate attacks, which had dominated the region for a long time. You should also make a stop at the hot springs and the hot waterfall.

After a few hours by boat, you reach the town of Lívingston at the mouth of the river. This place has nothing in common with the rest of Guatemala. It has a flair that is probably more comparable to Jamaica. It is home to the descendants of the Garifuna, an ethnic group from Africa who settled here several centuries ago to escape slavery. As the place can only be reached by boat, life there is very secluded and the old cultures and traditions have been preserved. Due to its location by the sea, you can eat excellent fish here or enjoy the magical sea on Guatemala's only Caribbean beach.

To and from Río Dulce and Lívingston

  • There are shuttles from Flores to Río Dulce for 20 euros. The journey takes about 6 hours.
  • You can reach Río Dulce from Antigua via Guatemala City in around 5 hours.
  • From Río Dulce you can reach Lívingston by boat in about 5 hours, the price is between 5 and 20 euros.
  • From Lívingston you can take a boat to one of the islands off Belize or directly to Belize City for around 50 euros.


For many, Semuc Champey is the scenic highlight of their visit to Guatemala, as it is a natural wonder in a class of its own. Semuc Champey means "where the river disappears into the earth" in the Mayan language. Deep in the jungle, there are limestone pools arranged like steps that will amaze you. Here you can splash around in the water or climb up to the viewpoint from where you can observe the phenomenon. There are also countless fascinating waterfalls in the area.

The city of Copan, where there are many cool hostels and where the international backpacker scene meets, is a good starting point for travelers.

From and to Semuc Champey

  • From Antigua you can get to Copan in around 6 hours by shuttle or chicken bus.
  • From Copan, you can take a day trip to Semuc Champey. Here you have the choice of setting off on your own or booking the excursion with a tour.
  • Alternatively, you can take a night bus from Antigua directly to Semuc Champey. The journey takes 13 hours and costs around 25 euros.
  • With a shuttle from Copan for 30 euros, you can reach Río Dulce in around 4 hours.

do you want to experience a special adventure in guatemala?

We offer a variety of exciting projects in Guatemala. Whether a Work & Travel Program or Volunteer projectThere are countless ways to make your stay in Guatemala unforgettable. We have programs in different areas to get involved in the country and give something back.


If you ask yourself today where the Mayas have gone, you can say quite clearly: to Guatemala. And everywhere. Because the direct descendants of the former advanced civilization still live here today. When the Spaniards came to Guatemala in 1524, the ancient Mayan traditions were mixed with those of the Europeans. To this day, the country is still strongly influenced by the ancient Mayan culture, whose impressive history and traditions can be seen everywhere. The people are hospitable and are always happy to share their culture with visitors.
Even though the Spanish wreaked havoc in Latin America, they left behind admirable architecture that is still reminiscent of the colonial era and will amaze you. Many pretty city centers and imposing churches await your visit. The colorful markets also attract many travelers. Guatemalans love the colorfulness that is present throughout the country. Ancient handicrafts are still produced everywhere by the Maya and combined with modern patterns. It is therefore worth bringing a few treasures of this kind home with you.
Guatemala has also been blessed with breathtaking nature. Lakes lie magically between fiery volcanoes and deep rainforest. Since only 2 % of the country is populated, there is room for several national parks. The biodiversity is remarkable; Guatemala is home to countless exotic animals such as monkeys, jaguars, snakes, crocodiles and parrots.



Guatemalan cuisine is influenced by the ancient Mayan culture and is strongly based on that of its neighbor Mexico. Accordingly, you will also find tortillas, enchiladas and tacos here. Some dishes you should definitely try are chiles rellenos (chili peppers stuffed with rice, vegetables, cheese and meat and served with tomato sauce), kak'ik (traditional Mayan turkey soup) and chicken pepian (chicken in a spicy pumpkin and sesame sauce), the national dish of the Guatemalans. Other typical dishes of Guatemalan cuisine are hilachas (spicy meat stew from the highlands) or tapado (seafood soup from the Caribbean coast), accras (small deep-fried balls of cod), boudin (spicy pork sausages), frijoles (black beans) and caldo de res (beef soup). These are served with tortillas, which are much thicker than Mexican tortillas.

Excellent coffee has been produced in Guatemala for centuries, so you will find great cafés in every town where you can sample the local products. But Guatemala is not only famous for its coffee; the cocoa is also particularly tasty here. If you have the chance, you should definitely try one of the traditional cocoa drinks, often refined with cinnamon, cloves or chili.


Best time to travel

Guatemala is a wonderful place to travel all year round. In the rainy season from May to October, it only rains for a few hours a day at most and usually at night.

There are three different climate zones. The "must-see" Antigua and Lake Atitlán are located in the central highlands, which extend 1500 - 4200 meters above sea level. The climate here is pleasantly mild all year round, although it can get chilly at night. The average temperature is between 22 and 28 degrees.

The coasts of Guatemala, on the other hand, are characterized by a tropical climate, where it is very hot all year round. The rainy season here is also between May and October.

In the lowlands in the north of the country, it is tropically warm all year round and it rains between May and October. The humidity is high and the climate is therefore humid.

However, the rainy season should not have a major impact on your decision, as it never rains for long at a time here. The country shows different sides depending on the climate and you will learn to love every side.

means of transportation

You can reach Guatemala by plane via the international airport in Guatemala City from all neighboring countries and also from some European cities or the USA. From Germany, you can get there with just one stopover. There are cheap daily direct flights from San José, Mexico City and Cancún. You can travel overland to Flores via Belize or take a shuttle from San Cristobal in Mexico to Antigua in around 8 hours. From Costa Rica overland it takes 2 days, but there are also shuttle buses that will take you directly to Antigua.

The so-called "chicken buses" run throughout Guatemala, making it easy to reach most places. The buses owe their nickname to the locals' habit of using them to transport really anything - sometimes even chickens. Another reason could be that they make you feel like a chicken in a cage. These are discarded school buses from the USA, which are brought to Guatemala after their time and refurbished in every imaginable color. A flat-screen TV and a decent music system are of course a must. Buses are the most popular means of public transport for the population. A ride on the chicken bus is part of the typical Guatemalan experience and is an adventure not to be missed. There are no timetables, but there is never a long wait for departure. The destination is shouted out of the window by the drivers.

Private transfers are a more comfortable way to travel, but not nearly as exciting. You can book a transfer to the most popular attractions at any hostel or travel agency. A transfer from San Pedro to Antigua, for example, costs around 10 euros and takes 3 hours. You will receive more detailed information about local transportation in your preparation seminar after your arrival.


With a tourist visa, you can stay in Guatemala for up to three months. If you want to stay in Guatemala for a longer period of time, you can extend the visa locally for up to 180 days. It is also easy to leave and re-enter the neighboring countries of Belize or Mexico, after which you can stay for another three months. After your registration, we will discuss all visa matters with you personally. When entering the country (especially overland), it is essential to ensure that you receive an entry stamp to avoid any difficulties when leaving the country.

Travel expenses

In Guatemala you pay in quetzales. As a backpacker, a travel budget of 30 - 40 euros a day is a great way to get by. Guatemala is significantly cheaper than Mexico and Costa Rica. A night in a hostel costs 5 - 8 euros, and street food is available for as little as one euro. The regional specialties are great to try on the street or at local markets. You can eat in a restaurant for 3 - 7 euros, in classic tourist restaurants it is a lot more expensive than in places where the locals go to eat. A cocktail is available for one euro during happy hour and a beer costs around 1.50 euros. A three-hour ride on the chicken bus costs around 2 euros, with a private transfer around 10 euros. For a 20-minute cab ride, you will pay around 4 euros, although we recommend taking Uber as it is cheaper and also very safe. You will receive comprehensive help with calculating the travel costs from us after your registration.

History and culture

The origin of the name Guatemala is thought to be in the Aztec words "Quauhtemallan", which means 'place of many flowers', or "Guauthemallan" - 'place of trees'. Guatemala is considered the heartland of the ancient Maya culture, which is probably one of the most famous pre-Columbian cultures. The earliest beginnings of Mayan culture and civilization date back to 2000 B.C. The most powerful Mayan cities included Tikal in northern Guatemala, which can be visited today. Archaeologists divide the Mayan civilization into three periods, primarily on the basis of ceramics. The first period is known as the Preclassic, which lasted until 250 AD. This was followed by the Classic period from 250 to 900 AD, which coincided with the collapse of the Roman Empire in Europe. The last period is known as the Postclassic and ends with the Spanish conquest of Guatemala in 1524.

Guatemala declared its independence from Spain in 1821, but only got its own currency 100 years later, the quetzal, named after the national bird of Guatemala. Even during the colonial period, products originating from the Mayan cultures were exported, such as cocoa. Coffee cultivation was only added in the 19th century and has been strongly promoted ever since. It is interesting to note that many Germans emigrated to Guatemala at this time and began producing and selling their own coffee. Even today, many coffee plantations are still owned by German immigrants.

As you can see, Guatemala has an incredibly interesting and varied history. Even today, the Mayan population is still 60 %, they practice centuries-old ceremonies and recipes for drinks and dishes are still spread throughout the country. Don't miss out on the chance to try them.


Every country in Latin America is fascinating in its own way. It goes without saying that it is difficult to choose a favorite country. Basti has already got to know many countries and also visited Guatemala on his trip to Latin America. He won't forget his experiences there in a hurry and the country will probably always have a place in his heart. He has summarized a few of his highlights for us.

  1. The small town Antigua is a beautiful colonial town and made my heart beat faster after just a few seconds. The cobbled streets and architecturally unique buildings give the town an unmistakable charm. You also have the opportunity to discover a lot and there are countless restaurants and cafés where I enjoyed spending time. The scenery is particularly breathtaking, as you have an excellent view of the surrounding volcanoes from there.
  2. Not far from Antigua lies the Acatenango volcanowhich is a very special highlight in this region. Anyone who doesn't want to miss out on a real adventure should try this experience. As part of a two-day tour, I hiked up the volcano with a group, from where I had a fantastic view. The special thing about it? Directly opposite is the still active Fuego volcano, whose activities I was able to enjoy while relaxing with a cup of warm Guatemalan coffee. After a comfortable overnight stay on the mountain, we set off for the summit early in the morning. A climb that is well worth it, as you are rewarded with a sunrise that is second to none.
  3. The idyllic Flores is located directly on the third largest lake in Guatemala, Lake Peten-Itzá. Flores is the perfect place to relax for a few days and combine this with great activities. Among other things, you can go on a discovery tour in the jungle in nearby Tikal and marvel at one of the UNESCO travel wonders of the world. If you fancy a little relaxation afterwards, you can take a boat trip in Flores and enjoy a dip in the cool water.
  4. Tikal was my absolute highlight of the Guatemala trip. The ancient Mayan site has important historical significance and was declared a cultural and natural heritage site by UNESCO in 1979. The large pyramids rise out of the dense jungle canopy and the ambience is magical. The subtropical forests are home to numerous animal species and, with a bit of luck, you can see the so-called spider monkeys up close. My tip: the sunset tour. The groups are often smaller here and the fiery red combined with the Mayan temples will transport you to another world.

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