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The Highlands Travel Guide

  • Photo: Ilya Frankazoid / Shutterstock
  • Photo: Peter Guttman/
  • Photo: Pelonmaker / Shutterstock

Plan Your Highlands Vacation

The region that locals call the Occidente (west) or the Altiplano (high plain) is the Guatemala that everyone comes to see. The highlands begin near the colonial capital of Antigua and run all the way to the border of Mexico, in a spectacular stretch of territory where grumbling volcanoes rise above broad alpine lakes, narrow river ravines, subtropical valleys, misty cloud forests,

and pastoral plains.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Blending the old and the new The highlands mix the best of Mayan and European cultures. Although Christianity has been practiced here for 500 years, it still has seemingly only a tentative hold. You'll get the feeling Western influence still hasn't quite caught on, and possibly never will.
  2. Enjoying the outdoors Volcanoes, forests, and one spectacular lake afford many opportunities for day hikes, riding, and mountain biking, but always best as part of an organized tour.
  3. Celebrating festivals There's always a celebration going on somewhere. Holy Week (March or April) and Day of the Dead (November) observances dot this region, but every town celebrates the feast day of its patron saint.
  4. Shopping 'til you drop Whether you find that perfect souvenir, or decide simply to take in the cacophony, the highlands are the pageantry of traditional markets. Chichicastenango is the country's most famous affair, but every town holds a market once or twice a week.
  5. Pitching In The majority of Guatemala's development projects are headquartered here in the highlands. You can make a difference and have a different type of travel experience.

When To Go

When to Go

The highlands have distinct rainy (May-October) and dry (November-April) seasons, the latter of which offers the best weather conditions for outdoor-mar...

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