Guatemala is a land of many colors and cultures. Its many ruins attest to the architectural prowess of both the Maya and the Spanish conquistadors. A trip to Guatemala can focus on the art and culture, natural beauty, ancient archaeology, or a combination of the above. You can partake in adventure sports, spend some time brushing up on your Spanish, or lend a hand as a volunteer.

Some like to travel independently, while others are more comfortable booking a package tour. Guatemala is a country that's easier to navigate with a guide and organized transport for at least some legs of your trip. Whatever your interests or travel style, this chapter will provide you with all the tools and information necessary to plan and book your trip.

Guatemala sits at the northwestern tip of Central America. It's bordered by Mexico to the north, Belize and the Caribbean Sea to the east, Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. The country covers an area of 100,000 sq. km (just more than 40,000 sq. miles), which is slightly smaller than the state of Tennessee. Almost two-thirds of the country is covered by mountains, most of which are volcanic. There are some 33 named volcanoes in Guatemala. Of these, quite a few are active, including Volcán Pacaya, Volcán Santiaguito, and Volcán Fuego.

Aside from a few major urban areas, the country is predominantly rural and densely populated. Most visitors stick close to a well-defined tourist trail that encompasses Guatemala City, Antigua, Lake Atitlán, and the Western Highlands, with a side trip to Tikal and the Petén. Those with more time, or a more adventurous spirit, are starting to explore the Atlantic Lowlands, Pacific coast, and the central region, which includes Las Verapaces and El Oriente.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.