OLD-WORLD CHARACTER: The streets of Antigua are lined with ornate churches. CITY WITH A VIEW: Antigua lies beneath the Volcan de Aqua.
3 MORE WAYS TO FEEL THE MAYAN SPIRIT
A three-hour drive up a narrow, winding road seems like a long way to go for a potato (1 pound costs 12 cents), but Chichicastenango boasts one of the country’s largest markets. Thousands come here twice each week to trade. Priests perform traditional Mayan ceremonies at the stone shrine on Pascual Abaj. Though strenuous, a hike up the mountain pays off should you get to see the elaborate offering. Lake Atitlán is a restful, bohemian place. Twelve Indian villages are nestled on its shores, with Panajachel being the liveliest. There are no good beaches, but sunrise seen from a rickety wooden pier is stunning, and the shopping is superb. Carry cash and be prepared to bargain. Climbing a temple 231 feet tall is harder than the rock it’s built of but worth every bit of the burn. Hike in early to Tikal National Park (www.tikalpark.com) and claim your spot atop Temple IV before sunrise. As the jungle wakes, the voices of the birds, frogs, and howler monkeys create a city-streets cacophony that contrasts sharply with the heavy fog. Patience is rewarded when, after what could be a couple of hours’ wait, the clouds roll out to reveal a spectacular view of the park’s other temples and the Lost World.