GUATEMALA CITY -- The combination of a stable government and major
improvements to tourism infrastructure are among the leading
factors that have positioned Guatemala for a big comeback in
Just as important, of course, are Guatemala's visitor
attractions, ranging from major Mayan archaeological sites, from
Tikal in the north to central Quirigua near the Honduras border;
spectacular scenery; colonial towns, and highlands full of
traditional Indian villages.
"In the last 10 years, there have certainly been ups and downs
in Guatemala's tourism fortunes, but travel from the American
market has taken a healthy upward swing, and we are all going to
enjoy a good year," said Mark Rogers, president of Clark Tours
Rogers pointed out that today's visitors are going to find "an
enormous improvement in overland travel [because] new roads now
link major tourist areas and make it easier to offer programs to
all corners of the country."
The major connections are a new highway between Guatemala City
and the Caribbean port town of Livingston, a two-and-a-half-hour
drive, and between Guatemala City and Flores, gateway to the Mayan
ruins of Tikal, a three-hour ride.
Before the road improvements, Rogers said, no one traveled
overland on this whole route because the trip took 18 hours.
New on the travel scene is an expansion of one of Guatemala's
most famous travel products: visits to the colorful highland
villages as part of a circuit from Guatemala City to colonial
Antigua Guatemala, Lake Atitlan and Chichicastenango.
Other market towns now being featured include Zunil, one of the
few places where the pagan deity Maximon is honored with pomp and
ceremony; Momostenango, a center for blanket weaving, and San
Cristobal Totonicapan, a textile and ceramics center with a
Highland villages also are known for fiestas, Rogers said, and
"one of our favorite places is Todos Santos Cuchumatan, best known
for its annual folkloric festival (All Souls Day, held between Oct.
21 and Nov. 1), but [is also] wonderfully colorful and interesting
year-round during its weekly Saturday market."
Some of Guatemala's best weaving is done here, he said, and the
village is one of a handful of places where men have retained the
traditional dress of red and white striped trousers and a
multicolored shirt with a broad, embroidered collar.
Todos Santos is located high in the Cuchumatan Mountains, along
a road that winds up from the town of Huehuetenango.
Clark Tours features this western Guatemala region on its
five-night Guatemala Markets tour, with weekly departures starting
from Guatemala City on Tuesdays; the program spends one night each
in Antigua Guatemala, Panajachel on Lake Atitlan, Quezaltenango,
Huehuetenango and Chichicastenango.
Prices start at $450 per person, double, depending on hotel
selected. The itinerary includes visits to the lakeside village of
Santiago Atitlan, the open-air animal market of San Francisco El
Alto, the church of San Andres Xecul, the Almolonga valley and
Todos Santos Cuchumatan.
The operator also offers multiple daily tours, as well as
customized itineraries, to other corners of the country, including
Mayan ceremonial cities, nature reserves around Rio Dulce and Lake
Izabal, in addition to Copan in neighboring Honduras.
Phone: (800) 223-6764
E-mail: [email protected]