A Travellerspoint blog

Muchas Aventuras en Guatemala

y cumpleanos tambien

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Crossing the border

Our adventures in Guatemala started with the weirdest border crossing we had so far in our travel. The day started very early on the Mexican side, waiting in the rain and in the middle of the jungle in El Panchan for our ride to the nearest border town. Most of the way to the border was spent not by riding but by waiting (the ride to the border is combined with a touristy travel to nearby Mayan ruins, so basically when we were few minutes away from the border we sat down and waited for other people to finish their touristy journey!).
The border crossing itself is in the middle of a national park, so – it doesn’t cost anything to leave the state, but since you’ve entered a park you have to pay an admission fee…After a short stop at the immigration office (still inside the national park) we walked to the river and took a boat to the Guatemalan side. Why not cross a simple bridge? The next town on the Guatemalan side is not in front of the Mexican one, so you have to take the boat (for about 40 minutes)…

The 40 min ride on the no-man’s land (?!!!)

On the Guatemalan side we found out that the next bus was about 2 hours later than we were told, and to complete the local ride experience the mini-van we took that has seats for 12 people was actually carrying 16 people sitting and 7 standing (and we think 2 were on the roof with all the baggage). Needless to say that the roads in these rural areas are not the best…
But the “best” part of the journey was to find out that the entrance fee to Guatemala that we (had to?) paid at the immigration office was a complete scam. The police officers charge about $5 per person, but the money is going directly to their pockets :(

Flores / Tikal


The little island of Flores in Lago Peten Itza was our first home in Guatemala. Little means you can cross it walking from side to side in 5 minutes. The fact that beside the big church in the middle almost all the houses on the island are a hostel, a restaurant, a souvenir shop or a travel agency doesn’t make it less cute :)


While in Flores we took a tour to the amazing Mayan ruins site of Tikal. The combination of the huge pyramids with the jungle around it is just great. The fact that most of the buildings are still buried beneath dirt and trees is funny – you get to walk between pyramid-shaped hills with monkeys and other animals running around.

Pyramid half clean, half taken by the jungle. Tikal style

Differently from Palenque, in Tikal we had the feeling that we were walking in the middle of the jungle, just to see the tops of the pyramids between the (high) trees.

Semuc Champey


As we were told that Flores is not as nice as other Guatemalan destinations (what we don’t agree) we moved a bit faster than usual to Semuc Champey. This area houses several caves with running water inside and we did a non-typical tour inside one of them: from the first moment inside the cave we had to swim, walk in deep water, climb rocks and steep ladders and all that with a candle in our hand as the only means of light! Needless to say it got wet and turned off a million times... when was the last time you swam with one hand holding a candle? Too bad we couldn’t have the camera with us, it was hilarious (when it wasn’t scary…). The cave was a walking distance from our guest house, and we’ve made the way back tubing down the river (ABUVIM in Hebrew. Took me, Shiri, back to the summer vacations in the Jordan Valley. Well, the rivers in Guatemala are not exactly the Jordan river…).
The other main attraction there is the Semuc Champey National Park, which is famous for the river that runs beneath some rocks, creating wonderful natural turquoise water swimming pools on top of the rocks. We spent half the day jumping down the stream, from one pool to the next, until the water comes out of the rocks again.

The view from the Mirador (viewpoint), we made it up there with flip flops!!!



On our last night there we made Shiri a small B-day celebration, with an Israeli dinner of schnitzel and chips (they ran out of humus…), wine and a cake (well, not a proper B-day cake, but that’s what we got).



Antigua Guatemala is our biggest deception until now, we thought (and heard) that the town keeps the same colonial style and atmosphere as San Cristobal, but somehow Thialand famous sentence can be applied here “Same same, but different”. Everywhere in Antigua is hold behind bars, from pharmacy to stationary stores, and at about 21:00 the small alleys are dark and with no one passing by.
So we decided to stay lesser than previously thought and did the only one really worth thing to do on the town: Climb the Pacaya Vulcan.

Pacaya Vulcan

Of course, we choose exactly the hour that started to rain heavily ( if we can mess around, why not?) but is was a very different experience, to climb an active Vulcan, just several hours after a “river” of lava had flown from the top.


Tourists going up, lava down

Test your knowledge

What’s wrong with this picture ?

Answer will be added latter on the comments…..

Posted by shiriandre 19:12 Archived in Guatemala Comments (5)

Chilling out at the Zapatistas territory

Enjoying Chiapas

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San Cristobal de Las Casas

San Cristobal’s cathedral

Our first stop in Chiapas was in San Cristobal de Las Casas, which is a charm full and cozy small village. Our plan was to stay there for around a week, and even after that time was difficult to leave.

We arrived in San Cristobal just in time to watch the world cup qualifier game of Mexico X USA, and for that we went to a small local bar and watched the game with Mexicans that went crazy as Mexico managed to win after being under by a goal.

One of the many churches around the city historic centre, dedicated to virgin something. This was a source for a full week celebration with fireworks every night and all night long…

Siesta time at “Mi casa”, our GH

The city is full of colorful houses and many churches, and it keeps a very nice atmosphere that makes it perfect of chilling out and relaxing. Luckily (probably more negligence from the federal government than luck) it was not changed to be a booming tourist centre, and almost nothing changed there since my (Andre) last visit 7 years ago.

Hammocks on sale

Food market, as expected the variety of frijoles (beans) and maiz (corn) is impressive. Everything you see on the picture is bean or corn, but not all of them are in the picture

Corn hanging on the market

As the main city in the region, it is full of indigenous (mainly Mayan) people walking around, each one with their typical (and very colorful) vests. As the indigenous people believe that photos can steal their energy, they (usually) doesn’t allow tourist to take pictures.
Short curiosity story: Ancient Mayas had a habit to purify their bodies and souls by eating or drinking something that will make them vomit and as the Spaniards arrived this tradition was slowly forgot. In the late 60’s Coca Cola arrived in Chiapas and the Mayas saw it, due to its capacity to provoke burps, as a modern way to reincarnate their ancient tradition. Nowadays they use coke on almost all ceremonies, including burials (burying the dead with food and coke).

Seller sleeping in the market

Mayan children selling souvenirs

Mayan women preparing tortillas

Our first cooked meal (except from the cooking course). We prepared wonderful steaks a-la Brasileros and potatoes a-la e-ma Masset… all the other guests were jealous :)

View from the Canyon del Sumidero, a pleasant 1,5 hour boat ride inside the canyon

Crocodile “walking” freely in the canyon, thank god we were on the boat….

Cascadas de Chiflon

Montebelo lake, the other side of the lake is already Guatemala


The ruins of Palenque were our last stop in Chiapas (actually in Mexico) before going to Guatemala. The ruins are much more impressive than the others in the Yucatan peninsula (such as Chichen Itza) and now have a really nice museum with lots of relics found on the site. The most impressive one is the tomb of Pakal, king of the Mayas and ruler of Palenque.



Palenque ruins in the middle of the jungle

Posted by shiriandre 19:04 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

A new start: The Americas

A bit of family taste and beaches

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Vancouver, Canada

Our arrival in Vancouver started with a huge surprise: we got there on time and with our luggage! We never thought this will be possible due to our past experience with Air China…. What do you know, we got out of Ulaan Bataar on time and from there no problems in our connection in Beijing (in fact the only thing to complain is that I (Andre) was upgraded to business class and Shiri not so we had a long flight separated, thanks to Air China).
If that’s not enough, due to the fact that we flew from the east to the west crossing the pacific, and the date line, we arrived in Vancouver 3 hours before we left Beijing! We won 3 hours to our trip :)
We went to my (Andre) cousin’s house, Kelly, that together with her fiancée Martin made our trip there very pleasant, despite the fact that we had there the hottest day in the city’s history.

Shiri, Andre, Kelly and Martin at the Stanley Park

It was nice to feel at home again, after so long on guest houses, and especially for me (Andre) it was great to visit (again) my cousin and be with her after such a long time.

At Capilano bridge

Arriba Mexico, first stop Isla Mujeres

After such a long time without getting close to a beach (and after the really hot days in Canada) we were so happy to reach Cancun and head directly to Isla Mujeres, we could do what we were dreaming of for a while: lie on the beach, have beers or a margarita and let the time fly …

Hard life in Isla Mujeres….

The Tulum ruins in front of the beach

After a busy week of waking up late, going to the beach, drinking and eating nice Mexican food, we decided to move to Tulum, where we could wake up late, go to the beach (sounds different, doesn’t it?) and we see some Mayan ruins (just to make the trip a bit more cultural).

The turquoise Caribbean waters just in front of the Tulum Mayan ruins

Playa Papaya, our favorite spot in Tulum

Chichen Itza

On our last day on the beach, or better saying, in the Yucatan peninsula, we decided to see the world’s famous Chichen Itza Mayan ruins. The site is impressive for the pyramids but what drove the most attention was the quantity of souvenir sellers there. It was really too much…

The main pyramid of Chichen Itza

A cenote, a sacred font of water for the Mayans

Posted by shiriandre 20:25 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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