Guatemala is still, in many ways, what the Americas looked like when the Spanish arrived in the New World. It is one of richest countries in the world for traditional culture and ecotourism. Apart from its archaeological wonders and the variety and vitality of its indigenous cultures, Guatemala's physical beauty is stunning. A verdant landscape of rain forests, highland cloud forests, white-water rivers, volcanoes and lakes are protected as national parks and wildlife reserves. Guatemala is one of the world's richest areas of biological diversity. Twelve percent of the country is declared a World Biosphere Reserve for its wildlife diversity and archaeological sites. Our expert guides and preeminent archaeologists interpret hieroglyphs and enlighten you about the ancient Maya civilization that constructed monolithic structures, calculated future time and planetary movements, had a written language and mathematics, and practiced religion and ritual ruled by a pantheon of gods.
Guatemala is the most authentic country of the Americas, where the traditional life of its indigenous people remains so visible and accessible. Fifty-five percent of the population is Amerindian belonging to 23 distinct groups, each with its own language, craft specialty, rituals, beliefs, traditions and, of course, indigenous markets. Many monasteries, restored churches, and old haciendas have been converted into lovely boutique hotels, especially in Antigua, Latin America's premier colonial city, designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. Our Field Director and principal guide, Alfonso Muralles, is a well-known conservationist and is dedicated to preserving Mayan culture. He worked as the personal secretary to the Maya Nobel Peace laureate, Rigoberta Menchú. After years of civil war, Guatemala is at peace and receives over a half-million visitors a year.