Guatemala

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Introduction

Our tours will take you to Guatemala, a small Central American nation. Its 42,000 square miles comprise a rich and varied topography.


The high Sierra Madre mountains are the backbone of the country, interspersed with temperate high plateaus filled with lakes, rivers and 33 volcanoes. From the Sierra Madre other mountain ranges reach towards the national borders and meet the tropical plains. These, in turn, stretch towards the sea and join the mangrove forests on the Pacific and the Caribbean Coasts to the south and the east, while the lowland jungles of the Peten -which contain the second largest continuous stretch of forest in the American Continent- lie to the north. Its neighbors are: Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the south, El Salvador and Honduras to the southeast and Belize and the Caribbean Ocean to the northeast.


Guatemala has 14 different ecosystems and a rich biodiversity. Among a list of 25 countries with the most plant species in the world, Guatemala rates only second to Panama.


Guatemala's lifeforms are the result of a merger between the Neartic and the Neotropic plant and animal species. Temperatures may vary from one region to another. However, the Guatemalan highlands have gained the country the reputation of being bestowed with one of the best climates on Earth, with an average high temperature of 77ºF and an average low of about 55º.


Guatemala is a hybrid of ancient traditions and a religion and culture introduced by the Spanish Conquistadors around the year 1500 A.D...


...both of which -combined- give Guatemala its unique personality. Guatemala boasts some of the most impressive Maya archaeological sites in the Maya World, such as Tikal. Although the official language is Spanish, Guatemala is mostly composed of an indigenous rural population dedicated to agriculture and other traditional occupations such as weaving, carpentry and handicrafts. Twenty different ethnic groups make up Guatemala’s cultural and ethnic weave, of a strong Mayan heritage, alongside a powerful white minority of European descent. Two other ethnic groups may be added to the not modest list of residents: the Garifuna, who live in Livingston, a mix between Arawak Indians from South America and black slaves brought from West Africa to the Americas by colonials and the "Ladinos", a widespread urban centered ethnic group- mostly characterized by Latin machismo- which appeared after the Conquest, a mix between Spaniards and Indians.


Guatemala has some of the most colorful and impressive holidays among which we may mention November 1st, or All Saints Day, celebrated with huge kites in the villages of Sumpango and Santiago Sacatepequez or with a horse race in Todos Santos Cuchumatan. The Chichicastenango Fair, celebrated between December 14th and 21st, is one of the few occasions in which visitors may appreciate the Palo Volador, where locals dressed in monkey attire will soar through the town's plaza tied to a rope...


All in all, each town has its own fiesta and special celebrations. However, week after week, each village -however small- holds its market day..