Bearing in mind that our centre focuses on business founders with growth mindsets, these are our tribe's top picks for you if you value a combination of adventure, exploring, personal development and trying out new things.
All equally excellent adventures, some are possible to arrange alone and some are impossible to undertake as a tourist in Guatemala. These are the top experiences we have undertaken with the Paragon Tribe in Guatemala (and fully thrived as a result of).
There's nothing like a new challenge to kick out the mental and physical cobwebs and boost one's confidence and self-esteem!
Our Ultimate Adventure List:
Sailing in the Rio Dulce (and out to Belize and the Bay Islands of Honduras for scuba diving and wonderful island adventures, if you've got friends with boats).
Adventure trekking into the jungle to explore the pre-Columbian site under excavation, El Mirador. Go with members of the local community cooperative at Carmelita. This adventure is 5 or 6 days of trekking and camping in the jungle among the coatimundi, bromeliads, snakes and spiders. Expect basic food, cold wash downs, and mud. You can take mules which you can hop on and off of if you want a varied experience (we recommend this option) - being up off of the ground and down at ground level both feel very different in that environment, and it's surprising how much you see when you're not staring 100% at the jungle trail in front of your feet!
By helicopter, circling the active volcano, Volcán de Fuego (also visible directly across from your private accommodation at our centre), and then going on to explore the rich cultural history at the the pre-Columbian archaeological site of Iximché. A small museum and a significant lack of tourists due to the uncomfortable lack of road access makes this a gem!
Kayaking around Lake Atitlan (several days) and learning about the diversity of the area from tribal conflicts to marvelous textiles to some of the best coffee in the world!
Mountain biking around Tecpán (the Alps of Guatemala) snacking on artisan cheeses and smoked meats. We fully recommend the recently opened MTB Guatemala Base Camp run by a young North American founder, Brendan, THE EXPERT on trails and MTB trips around Guatemala. He's also training up as many local guides as possible so he gets our support for contributing to the local economy. You don't need to bring bikes but you do need to take layers as it can snow up there or get baking hot!
Bird-watching at Finca Los Tarrales on the flanks of Volcán Atitlan (and going on to see the Guatemalan quetzales about 30 minutes down the road if it's the season). We love this nature reserve with its simple comfortable lodging (or a treehouse if you prefer!), homegrown coffee, and of course its expert guide Freddie. If you’ve never been into birding, a trip here will change that! Freddie is an expert guide who can identify EVERY bird in Guatemala by sound alone!! You also get a species list to tick off what you’ve seen (we love a bit of that type of challenge!) … and you might see some pumas around if you’re doing the owl spotting night tour… don’t stray too far from Freddie! Lol.
An overnight hike / camping trip up the Volcán Acatenango. The volcano obsessives rate this as the best volcano experience IN. THE. WORLD. It’s a hard trek and you might get altitude headaches but you definitely won’t die and it’s one of the most incredible experiences EVER!
Trekking from Antigua to Xela - so much to see, few tourists, variety, space! Spend 4 days doing this trek starting from our centre in Antigua Guatemala to Xela in Guatemala's western highlands. Xela itself is a very interesting city with lots of museums, more volcanoes of course and great views - for this experience, check out Trek Guatemala.
Fishing on the Pacific Coast. This is the best sport fishing in the world, better than Panama and better than Costa Rica (we're sure we'll get bitter emails for stating this fact but there it is!). If you are a fishing fanatic or if you want to try it, less than two hours from our centre is Pacific Fins Resort & Marina who will give you a top notch experience.
Surf lessons or body boarding at El Paredón (pacific ocean side) for some refreshing sea air in your face and some chilled out vibes. This low-key beach village has great sunsets and also some other activities we recommend you explore through La Choza Chula, a local NGO focused on supporting the sustainable growth of the area - check them out and send them a few bucks if you can, they are a properly registered and managed charity. You definitely want to stay somewhere with a pool and aircon because it gets really hot and humid - the beaches are black sand, thus for water-based learning and not sun bathing! We love Paredón Surf House (when we can get in that is!) or there are a few good AirBnBs with both pools and aircon.
The avid researcher of 'things to do in Guatemala' will notice that we left out:
1: Tikal. Although highly esteemed and considered the best example of the ancient Maya civilisation in Guatemala, in our opinion, this isn’t a patch on the Mexican sites and isn't an adventure so much as a cultural site to see. In our experience it is also full of guides making up complete nonsense which, whilst utterly fascinating to watch vulnerable tourists suck up, is just shocking to us - better to do your own research online and then use the guides' explanations for amusing entertainment. Too harsh? We don't think so; we don't find fooling people funny. It’s also full of tourists - if that’s your thing then that’s your thing, but it’s not our thing. Still, if you've got to tick it off your list, you can do a half day trip from Flores (the same town from where you will depart if trekking to El Mirador). We haven't missed the irony of using a photo of one of the pyramids at Tikal for this post; after all, Tikal is about the photo ops.
2: Probably other things - let us know if you've undertaken an awesome adventure in Guatemala and think it would be genuinely worthy of being on our Top 10 list - we'll try your suggestion out with some of our Paragon Tribe - and then review and update our list to include it if it's epic enough!
Please remember, we are not a tour company and we do not runs trips for tourists - this is a list that has to entail excellent adventures for our Paragon Tribe of business founders, who have worked hard and who are looking forward to engaging on unique, dynamic adventures (solo or together) during or after joining a programme with us at our centre.
Questions? Get in touch and we will answer you!