Guatemala FAM With Sunny Land Tours

Guatemala FAM With Sunny Land Tours

It’s the “Center of the Mayan World” and center of the American continents, with a lingering landscape from the two great kingdoms—Mayan and Spanish—and a vibrant indigenous population comprising nearly half the population. But Guatemala is also known as the “Country of Eternal Spring” because of its year-round temperate climate, making visiting there as cool as a spring breeze.

You can experience this one-of-a-kind destination on a 5-day Sunny Land Tours itinerary starting at $499/adult. The adventure starts in the capital with an overnight at the Barcelo Guatemala City, then ventures to Antigua Guatemala, whose blend of ruins and restored colonial buildings earned its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Founded by the Spanish in 1543, Antigua was the country’s original capital, but once that was moved to Guatemala City in 1773, Antigua remained suspended in time, its cobblestone streets and walled courtyard gardens surrounded by volcanoes, keeping the modern world at bay.

Chichicastenango: A Buyer’s Market

The tour moves on to the town of Chichicastenango, a Mayan cultural center and home to the country’s most colorful and picturesque open-air market, selling handicrafts, food, flowers, pottery, candles and brilliantly woven textiles. Next door, the 400-year-old church of St. Thomas seems to hover in a cloud, which upon further inspection, turns out to be continually burning incense, creating a mystical aura and aroma that permeates the town square.

From there, you’ll visit Lake Atitlan, a crater lake in the Guatemalan highlands, one of the region’s deepest lakes and considered the most beautiful by many a traveler, including famed author Aldous Huxley (“Brave New World”).

Atitlan is the ideal place to explore Guatemalan folklore. Twelve indigenous villages surround the lake, their inhabitants descended from the Quiche, Cakchiquel and Tzutuhil nations.

Powerful 6.1 earthquake rocks Guatemala, tremors felt in El Salvador

Powerful 6.1 earthquake rocks Guatemala, tremors felt in El Salvador

6.1 magnitude earthquake strikes Guatemala southern coast, causing evacuations and damage, with tremors felt in neighboring El Salvador.

In a late-night seismic event, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake rattled the southern Pacific coast of Guatemala, as confirmed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The tremor, striking just past midnight on Friday, caused alarm among residents, leading to evacuations and initial reports of structural damage.

The quake’s impact extended beyond Guatemala’s borders, being distinctly felt in El Salvador. Despite the late hour of the occurrence, there have been no immediate reports of casualties. However, the event prompted a swift response from local and neighboring authorities, with El Salvador’s officials labeling the quake as “strong” and actively monitoring the aftermath.

The epicenter of the earthquake was pinpointed near Taxisco, a Guatemalan town situated roughly 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) south of the capital, Guatemala City. The tremor triggered alarms in the capital, inciting fear and leading to precautionary evacuations among the residents.

According to the USGS, the depth of the earthquake was measured at approximately 108 kilometers (67 miles). This significant depth often plays a role in mitigating the surface impact of seismic events.

One notable instance of damage occurred in San Pablo Jocopilas, a town northwest of the epicenter. Here, portions of a church’s facade succumbed to the quake’s force, as reported by CONRED, Guatemala’s emergency services agency.

Further affirming the severity of the earthquake, the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) also reported the event, corroborating the magnitude of 6.1. The GFZ’s measurements indicated that the earthquake occurred at a depth of 119 kilometers (73.9 miles). As the situation develops, both national and international agencies remain vigilant, ready to assess and respond to any emerging needs in the affected areas.

Best Volcanoes To Conquer In Guatemala For Beginners

Best Volcanoes To Conquer In Guatemala For Beginners

Guatemala, a haven of natural wonders, invites novice adventurers to conquer its breathtaking volcanoes. Here are three awe-inspiring peaks in this Central American country that promise epic adventures for those just starting their volcanic journey.

Ipala Lagoon and Volcano: Effortless Beauty in Chiquimula

Nestled in Chiquimula, the Volcano and Ipala Lagoon offer a climb that demands little effort. Despite the warm climate requiring hydration precautions, the two-hour ascent leads to a stunning lagoon. An added advantage is the volcano’s broad paths, allowing for a leisurely horseback ascent. Located 165 km from the capital city, the journey to Chiquimula promises a four-hour scenic adventure.

Chicabal Volcano and Laguna: Nature’s Beauty Unveiled

Located in the department of Quetzaltenango, the Volcano and Laguna Chicabal present an enchanting challenge. Scaling its heights rewards adventurers with a stunning lagoon view. The ascent, taking 3 to 4 hours, unveils a nearly perfect cone-shaped colossus.

A crucial note: Laguna Chicabal holds sacred significance in the Mam worldview, adorned with altars on its shores. Visiting is restricted during Mam celebrations in early May.

Pacaya Volcano: A Thrilling Challenge

In the Escuintla department, Pacaya Volcano National Park is one of Guatemala and Central America’s most active volcanoes. Unlike its counterparts, Pacaya demands a certain level of physical fitness to witness its breathtaking landscapes and feel the heat of lava rivers.

Two paths lead to Pacaya’s summit:

  1. La Corona Trail: Beginning in Concepción El Cedro village and ascending to Cerro Chino, this trail offers glimpses of diverse flora and fauna adapted to the unique ecosystem.
  2. Main Path: Starting at San Francisco de Sales village, this route leads from the visitor’s attention center to the volcano’s crater, allowing visitors to experience the volcano’s grandeur.
US restricts visas for over 100 Guatemala lawmakers for ‘undermining democracy’

US restricts visas for over 100 Guatemala lawmakers for ‘undermining democracy’

The United States announced visa restrictions on nearly 300 Guatemalan citizens on Monday due to what it described as “anti-democratic actions” of officials and “other malign actors,” accused of attempting to annul the election won by President-elect Bernardo Arévalo.

The visa restrictions include “over 100 members of the Guatemalan congress, as well as private sector representatives and their family members for undermining democracy and the rule of law,” the US Department of State wrote in a statement Monday.

Since Arévalo’s landslide victory in the summer, members of Congress and Guatemala’s Public Ministry, headed by Attorney General Consuelo Porras, have been accused of attempting to disqualify the results. Raids were ordered on the electoral authority offices, arrest warrants were requested, and last week, the ministry said it had made another request for Arévalo’s presidential immunity to be stripped. The ministry accuses Arévalo, who won on an anti-corruption platform, of money laundering and the alleged use of false documents to establish his party, the Semilla Movement.

Arévalo, who is due to take office in January, responded to the ministry’s allegations last week saying the attempts to malign his party with various crimes, as well as questioning the elections, were all part of an attempted “coup d’état.”

It came weeks after Guatemala’s Congress approved a resolution, requested by the country’s Public Ministry, to remove the immunity of four of the five Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) judges, the body responsible for certifying Guatemala’s election results.

The maneuvers have triggered widespread international condemnation and mass protests in Central America’s most populous nation.

The US State Department on Monday cited the attempt to annul Arevalo’s immunity as well as “the Public Ministry’s announcement of arrest warrants for electoral workers and party representatives,” as “evidence of its clear intent to delegitimize Guatemala’s free and fair elections and prevent the peaceful transition of power.”

Arévalo’s father was Guatemala’s first democratically elected president in 1945 and is fondly remembered for creating the country’s social security system. Arevalo was born in Uruguay, during his parents’ exile from the country. He has promised to bring back the journalists, judges and prosecutors who fled the country in the wake of the government shutting down a United Nations-backed anti-corruption commission, known as CICIG,

The expulsion of Camilo García fuels resistance against fraud in the USAC

The expulsion of Camilo García fuels resistance against fraud in the USAC

A march of the university community walked through some streets of the historic center of Guatemala City this Tuesday when the 347 years of the founding of the University of San Carlos were commemorated. During it, the resignation of those who make up the CSU was demanded for supporting fraud in the election of rector and for the expulsion of the student Camilo García.

In front of the University Cultural Center building (Old Paraninfo Universitario), scene of important moments in the history of the University of San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC), groups from different generations of university students gathered to commemorate the 347 years of the founding of the university. USAC.

The youngest resist against fraud in the election to the Rectorate, and the others joined together to organize the mobilization.

However, they were not summoned by the fact of the founding of one of the first universities on the American continent; the banners and slogans, shouted at the top of their voices, referred to the current university authorities as corrupt and fraudulent.

A good part of the university community does not recognize the current Higher University Council (CSU), since in May of last year, when the rector Walter Mazariegos was elected, the process had several irregularities that have been considered a fraud. In response, the national student movement took over the central campus and some regional centers demanding that the election process be repeated.

“We are not here to commemorate the founding, we are here to defend the autonomy that has been trampled and continues to be trampled every day by a CSU that has betrayed the USAC,” repeated the speeches of those who took the microphone to encourage those present. to protest and defend university autonomy.

Read about USAC fraud here

The expulsion of Camilo García

The issue that marked the mobilization was the expulsion of the student representative of the Faculty of Chemical Sciences and Pharmacy, Camilo García, who after calling Walter Mazariegos a usurper, was expelled from his representation before the CSU and as a student of the University with the vote of the 22 representatives of the university government.

“We are all Camilo,” “Camilo is not alone,” they shouted in chorus while a student could be heard over the loudspeakers saying that the march was heading towards the Human Rights Office (PDH), where they would deliver a letter with more than two thousand signatures asking Attorney General Alejandro Córdova to investigate the violation of García’s right to education.

Already in front of the PDH facilities, Camilo García appeared and was cheered by the protesters who assured that the expulsion fuels student resistance against the fraud committed by the CSU last March.

In the absence of Córdova, representatives of the PDH received the letter and the signatures, however, García decided to enter in the company of his fellow faculty members to file a complaint against the CSU himself, for violating his right to education. In response, the PDH informed him that they officially initiated an investigation the day the CSU voted for his expulsion.

Read all the information about Camilo’s expulsion here

The march continued towards Pasaje Rubio, where the commemorative plaque is located for Oliverio Castañeda de León, the General Secretary of the Association of University Students (AUE), murdered by State forces in 1978, after giving a speech at the shell. acoustics of the central park a few blocks away.

At the site, the demands of the General Coordinator of Students (CGE) were read, who requested the resignation of the 22 members of the CSU for violating university autonomy and supporting the imposition of Mazariegos as university rector, in addition to demanding the reinstatement of Camilo García as student representative and reverse his expulsion.

They read what they called “Symbolic Execution” naming each of the CSU members and placed piñatas with their photographs, Mazariegos’s one had a pig’s head. In the end, between songs and laughter, they burned some of the piñatas.

García recalled Oliverio Castañeda, who minutes after giving his speech was murdered on the spot. “Today they don’t kill us with bullets, but they expel us and criminalize us,” García said while his companions chanted “Camilo, friend, the people are with you.”

The USAC was founded in 1676 by the royal decree of King Charles II of Spain, who after founding universities in Mexico, Peru and the Dominican Republic, requested the founding of a university in the Central American region.

The first seven chairs taught were Scholastic Theology, Moral Theology, Canons, Law, Medicine and Languages. The first recorded day of classes is January 7, 1681 with sixty students enrolled, including 7 in theology, 36 in philosophy and the rest of the languages, including Cakchiquel.

The expulsion of Camilo García fuels resistance against fraud in the USAC
The expulsion of Camilo García fuels resistance against fraud in the USAC


Llamativa nube: cómo se formó y cuál es su relación con la actividad que mantiene el volcán de Fuego

Llamativa nube: cómo se formó y cuál es su relación con la actividad que mantiene el volcán de Fuego

Una “extraña” nube despertó el interés de los guatemaltecos y un experto explica las razones detrás de este fenómeno y su conexión con el volcán de Fuego.

Este viernes 19 de enero, un fenómeno natural inquietó a internautas cuando una nube expansiva se formó sobre el Volcán de Fuego.

Sobre este llamativo evento, los meteorólogos han ofrecido una explicación de cómo ocurrió.

Según el Instituto de Meteorología (Insivumeh), todo sucede en una altura donde la temperatura experimenta un cambio significativo, marcando el inicio de la estratósfera, que es clave para entender este fenómeno.

Allí, los gases calientes del volcán de Fuego encuentran una barrera que impide que puedan seguir subiendo continuamente, y por lo tanto comienzan a dispersándose y dan origen a la majestuosa nube.

En este caso, el viento jugó un papel fundamental y tuvo que ser moderado, permitiendo así que la fumarola del volcán alcanzara altitudes notables y se expandiera, entre 11 y 12 kilómetros.

¿Cómo se forma la nube?
El doctor Paris Rivera, del Servicio Meteorológico de Guatemala (SMG), explica que estas nubes llegan a formarse cuando un volcán está en acción.

Según Rivera, cuando un volcán entra en erupción, lanza al aire pequeñas partículas candentes. Estas partículas no solo viajan hacia arriba, sino que se agrupan formando lo que se llama un “pirocúmulo”.

Este pirocúmulo se eleva en el cielo y convive en las alturas con otros gases, vapor de agua y pedacitos de roca volcánica, conocidos como piroclastos.

Entonces, es en ese momento en que todo este calor generado por la actividad volcánica puede tener un efecto y hacer que la humedad en el aire se condense, como cuando se ven gotitas de agua en el exterior de un vaso frío en un día caluroso, explica el experto. Esto da lugar a la creación de este tipo de nube.

Este fenómeno, según Paris, es parecido al de las nubes lenticulares que suele formarse en las montañas más altas del planeta, y que muchos aficionados insisten en atribuirlo a la actividad alienígena. Sin embargo, son nubes comunes en los ecosistemas montañosos, apuntan los expert

Clima en Guatemala- Insivumeh explica cómo sigue influyendo un sistema de alta presión en el país y cuál es el pronóstico para esta semana

Clima en Guatemala: Insivumeh explica cómo sigue influyendo un sistema de alta presión en el país y cuál es el pronóstico para esta semana

La nubosidad y lloviznas o lluvias seguirán presentándose del norte al centro del país por la influencia de un sistema de alta presión, mientras que en otras regiones las condiciones serán favorables.

Según el Instituto Nacional de Sismología, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrología (Insivumeh), en las regiones del Norte, Franja Transversal del Norte y Caribe, seguirán los nublados parciales, posibilidad de precipitaciones, con ligero incremento gradual en la temperatura diurna.

Mientras que, para el resto del territorio, se esperan pocas nubes en el período con alta radiación solar, y hacia la costa sur habrá presencia de bruma.

En Altiplano Central, que incluye la capital, se descarta la posibilidad de lluvias, mientras que en Oriente, únicamente se pronostican lloviznas o lluvias en zonas de montaña en inicios de semana. En ambas regiones la velocidad del viento norte prevalecerá moderado, entre los 20 a 30 km/h.

El Insivumeh también espera que para esta semana comprendida del 22 al 26 de enero, continúe el frío en la noche y madrugada en Occidente y algunas zonas de Altiplano Central, por lo que recomienda abrigarse.

Próximo frente frío
De acuerdo al SMG, una chorro subtropical favorecerá la formación de una vaguada y esto a su vez contribuirá al incremento de la temperatura. Debido a estas condiciones, combinado al ingreso de humedad proveniente de los océanos, se esperan lluvias y actividad eléctrica a partir del jueves, con posibilidad de extenderse hasta el fin de semana.

El Insivumeh también monitorea un frente frío que, de continuar su trayectoria, para el fin de semana incrementaría la nubosidad y posibilidad de lluvias en las regiones del Norte y Caribe.

Pronóstico por región
El Insivumeh dio a conocer en un boletín el pronóstico del clima por regiones para esta semana.

Meseta Central (incluye la capital)
Se esperan áreas con niebla o neblina en las primeras horas de la mañana, luego parcialmente nublado alternando con poca nubosidad, y finalmente soleado. Viento del norte y nordeste ligero a moderado, cambiando a sur a mediados de semana.

Máximas: Ciudad Capital 26.0 ºC a 28.0 ºC.
Máximas Altiplano Central y Occidental: 23.0 °C a 28.0 ºC.
Mínimas: Ciudad Capital 10 °C a 12 °C, Altiplano Occidental -2.0 °C a 0.0 °C.
Región de Bocacosta y litoral Pacífico
Poca nubosidad con ambiente cálido y presencia de bruma, con viento suroeste de ligero a moderado.

Temperaturas máximas: 34.0 ºC a 36.0 ºC.
Región Norte (Petén)
Se prevé áreas con niebla o neblina en primeras horas de la mañana, parcialmente nublado alternando con poca nubosidad. Se esperan lloviznas y o lluvias dispersas en inicios de semana en horas de la tarde y noche. El viento será nordeste ligero a moderado.

Temperaturas máximas: 30.0 °C a 32.0 °C, incrementando gradualmente.
Alta Verapaz, Caribe y Franja Transversal del Norte
Persistirá la niebla o neblina en las primeras horas de la mañana y noche, parcialmente nublado alternando con poca nubosidad. Las lloviznas o lluvias dispersas se presentarían al inicio de la semana, en horas de la tarde y noche. El viento norte y nordeste será ligero a moderado.

Temperaturas máximas
Alta Verapaz: 24 ºC a 26.0 °C.
Caribe: 30.0 °C a 32.0 °C, incrementando gradualmente.
Región del Motagua y Valles del Oriente:
Se presentará neblina en las primeras horas de la mañana, luego permanecerá parcialmente nublado alternando con poca nubosidad. La posibilidad de lloviznas o lluvias es solo en zonas de montaña, al inicio de la semana.

Temperaturas máximas: 33.0 ºC a 35.0 ºC, incrementando gradualmente.

I took a solo trip to Guatemala as a new mom — and it changed my life

I took a solo trip to Guatemala as a new mom — and it changed my life

“I never would have guessed that you’re a mother,” Lena, a fellow traveller, says to me as our collective shuttle meanders through the dizzying maze of streets that make up Guatemala City.

It’s the last day of my weeklong trip to Central America, and the first time I have travelled solo since giving birth to my son. Until this point, I haven’t been away from him for more than a couple of hours at a time.

But Lena’s observation reflects something I’ve realized since leaving my 18-month-old toddler at home (in the care of my supportive husband) and venturing back out into the world: I haven’t felt like a mother here. And I have not mourned the loss of that feeling once since stepping foot in Guatemala.

While I love my son, I was eager to head out on my own and rediscover who I am: not a mother, not a wife, not the person I was before. But I’m also terrified of who that person might turn out to be, and guilt-stricken by the relief I feel when I say goodbye, and anxious about mentally cracking wide open like a postpartum Humpty Dumpty, unable to put myself back together again. Conflicting emotions are my constant travel companions.

I catch a few restless hours of sleep when I arrive in Guatemala City and hop on another plane to Flores, in the country’s north. My destination is the ancient Mayan city of Tikal. As a collective shuttle takes me from the airport to my hostel, I relax as the arid landscape transforms into wild, lush jungle.

That afternoon, as the heavy heat of the rainy season begins to ease, I wander alone through the vast ruins of the pre-Columbian city, a major archeological site originally inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D.

I stroll down deserted roads, imagining what this place looked like at the height of history. I hum the theme song to “Star Wars” as I clamber up a teetering flight of wooden steps hammered clumsily into the side of Temple IV. At the top, I’m wrapped in a breeze so fresh I feel reborn, and not even the murderous screams of the howler monkeys can disturb my deep sense of wonder.

As a mother, it’s easy to defer to societal expectations: that a woman who travels alone should be young and unfettered; that there is something inherently selfish about leaving your child. At times, I’ve felt as if the word “mother” has been tattooed so often on my body, there’s no room for who I am outside the role. Could this place allow for a new version of myself, one where the warring sides of being a mother and having time for myself could peacefully coexist?

As daylight wanes, I follow in the footsteps of the Mayans also searching for a new beginning. I gasp when I see the Temple of the Great Jaguar breaching the canopy of the dense foliage that has been clawed back over years of excavation. I revel in this lonely space, watching the sun sink low. It’s just me and the ghost of my former self here, only now I no longer feel haunted.

The whirlwind of my trip continues with a flight back to Guatemala City, and a transfer to the cobbled streets of colonial Antigua Guatemala. That night I toast the view of Volcan de Agua erupting over the rim of my locally brewed pint. My contentment bubbles over like the froth of the beer.

The next morning, I join a two-day guided hike up Acatenango, Guatemala’s most well known volcano. I’ve opted for what the company OX Expeditions calls a “Double Whammy,” in order to get up close with a second volcano, Fuego, and its Instagram-famous fiery eruptions. We wind through the cloud forest, past aromatic coffee fields and packs of dogs, stopping on occasion for puppy cuddles.

At one point, during our push to the summit of Acatenango, a fellow hiker asks if I miss my son. I take a beat, sucking the thin air into my heaving lungs, wondering if I should be honest with the response that punches into my gut.

“No. No, I don’t.” I brace myself: for the judgment, for the shame, for the guilt. It doesn’t come.

I’ve always believed that time in nature is the best therapy, and it’s here, on the summit of a volcano, that my brain is no longer in danger of destruction. The intrusive thoughts of maternal failure for leaving my son at home have dissipated with the ash that belches fleetingly from Fuego’s caldera. I realize that the deep, all-consuming love I feel for my son doesn’t require sacrificing who I am on the altar of parenthood.

The final leg of my trip takes me to Lake Atitlan. I run with abandon on trails behind the Laguna Lodge eco-resort. I wander through villages soaked in music and colour. I wake up early to hike up the Mayan Nose, the ombré shadows of the surrounding volcanoes reaching out across the water toward the fiery embrace of the rising sun.
Before I leave, I savour every sip of the rich coffee from hole-in-the-wall cafés, eventually learning to not make the sacrilegious request for milk. I inhale juicy steak and eggs wrapped in freshly baked tortillas for breakfast, and let the tingle of chili chocolate linger on my tongue.

Every moment is just for me, and me alone. And I finally feel like I deserve it. Then, sated and refreshed, I go home.

Traveler Tips- Best Times to Visit Guatemala for Different Experiences

Traveler Tips: Best Times to Visit Guatemala for Different Experiences

The travel landscape of the beautiful and eclectic country that is Guatamala is diverse beyond compare. Planning to navigate this country is a thrilling, captivating and exciting adventure on its own, with many tourists outsourcing their planning to agencies, for example, this travel company offers a great many selections of trips and tours for travelers to choose from and maximize the thrill of their Guatemalan trip.

Located in Central America, Guatemala is nestled between Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Belize. With openings on either end to the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, it is known for its relatively warm and tropical climate. Depending on what you’d like to experience, it’s good to take note of the weather and seasons in Guatemala so that you can plan your trip accordingly.
Going Outdoors: The Dry Season
People say that the best time to visit Guatemala is between November and April, as this is their dry season and tourists can make the most of their dry days by visiting many of the beautiful cities and towns within Guatemala. The perk of going in the dry season is obvious, very few wet days. This is especially useful for tourists looking to spend a lot of time outside.

If you are looking to explore the Caribbean Sea side of the country of Guatemala, like visiting the beautiful and tranquil Puerto Barrios for an adventure on the beach, then it makes sense to take advantage of the November – April dry spell with temperatures reaching between 72°F and 90°F, making it ideal weather to lounge around the beach drinking their famous ‘Gallo’ beer. The months of March and April are the hottest, so take that into account. For a moment though, picture sunbathing and dipping into the Caribbean Sea while sipping on a cold beer – this is Puerto Barrios.

Should you be planning a city trip, for example, visiting the famous city of Antigua where you can get lost in the winding streets that lead you from a cultural and historical sight with every turn in the road, then going during the dry seasons mentioned above is also advantageous. Don’t forget, this is a tropical country, so the heat there, even in the slightly cooler months of December and January can still be intense for tourists. Spending hours walking through the city, entering museums, churches and other culturally important spots takes a considerable amount of energy. So even if you plan on staying indoors most of the time, it’s still good to go when you’re not getting drenched in the rain.

Staying Indoors: The Wet Season
Guatemala is known for receiving more rain during May – October. The general rainfall during this period is between 40 – 80 inches of rain, however, if you move to the east toward the Caribbean Sea, there is often double this amount of rain and the eastern part of the country often experiences strong rain storms which results in floods. It is not an ideal time for tourists to go visit unless they plan on truly staying indoors more, which is indeed possible in a country as diverse as Guatemala.

This country is known for its beautiful forestry, in which retreats have been set up. The Guatemalans are known for leading a healthy, wholesome and holistic lifestyle, which they offer any travelers who sign up for one of the many forest retreats on offer. These often include hours of meditation and yoga practices, foraging in the forest for food with locals who can advise you and keep you safe and endless indoor spa and jacuzzi facilities. Making for an ideal way to spend months in Guatemala without letting the idea of rain get in the way.

Consider Visiting Guatemala
A country rich in history, natural beauty and cultural sights, this is a place that everyone must visit once in their lifetime. Whether to bathe in the sunshine, spend hours walking through the bustling streets of the cities or put on some trekking boots and scale the forest and mountains – this country has something thrilling for everyone.

Fast approval and cost-effective logistics- The path to 'filling' the world with Guatemalan flowers and plants

Fast approval and cost-effective logistics: The path to ‘filling’ the world with Guatemalan flowers and plants

“National producers of flowers and ornamental plants in Guatemala project closing 2023 with $142 million in sales, but the volume could increase with a more aggressive international lobby from elected authorities and fewer procedures.

Increasing the volume of exported products and streamlining the requirements for approving new varieties are two challenges facing the sector of ornamental plants (for pots), foliage, and cut flowers in Guatemala. The country could increase its sales in this sector to two or three times the current $100 million annually, but it requires the agility of incoming authorities to access new markets and maximize existing ones.

According to Lorena de Luna, president of the Ornamental Plants Committee of Agexport, despite the sector’s wealth due to the country’s rich diversity, there are still “some barriers in terms of agility to approve new varieties, too many procedures. For example, a Plant Risk Analysis, a study to certify that the plant does not pose a risk to the country, takes months, if not years, to admit a new species.”

While the Ministry of Agriculture has accelerated some processes this year, according to De Luna, it has not been with the agility needed to bring in necessary seeds and plants. She emphasizes the need for the ministry to have a larger budget and personnel to meet the demand the sector aspires to scale.

A factory for specialized nurseries Both Guatemalan plants and foliage have been valued in the United States for many years.

Species exported to the U.S., such as Antirrhinum (snapdragons), adapt to cultivation cycles to produce colors according to the season. Roses, gerberas, bird of paradise, and other exotic cut flowers and foliage for arrangements, such as leatherleaf and tree fern, are also part of the portfolio.

Guatemala is also becoming a major exporter of cut flowers for large companies, garden plants like chrysanthemums, which are planted in U.S. nurseries and then marketed as ornamental plants. De Luna sees the country as “a product maquiladora for very specialized nurseries.”

However, the sector now feels ready to seek acceptability in other regions, such as South American markets. With the support of the Ministry of Agriculture (Maga), they have pushed for the reduction and facilitation of requirements for importing vegetative material, achieving new products such as dianthus, mini callas, and solanaceae, for which acceptability is being processed in the U.S. and Europe.

However, the speed challenge for acceptability is joined by a significant logistical limitation in the country. “Costa Rica and El Salvador are more agile in exporting a plant and sending it to another country—even though they are farther than Guatemala. If we project doubling the volume, we necessarily have to go to the United States, the European Union, and South America, the latter having a high population, and the economy is not suffering as much as other countries,” says De Luna.

She emphasizes that, due to insufficient volume, “we are not competitive to enjoy good maritime and air rates. Costa Rica pays up to $500 or $1,000 less per container, but due to their volume, they can negotiate better rates.”

A message from the sector to the elected authorities is to have a real lobby between governments, opening the market not only individually on the private side but also with Maga authorities and their bilateral counterparts.

“The migration to the United States has also affected the availability of labor,” De Luna continues, as “the sector employs women for greenhouse work (up to 80% of the staff), and personnel are also needed for precision agriculture.”

Good practices Brigitte Obrock, coordinator of the Ornamental Plants Commission of Agexport, adds that there is potential in pony and rose producers to increase volume and quality to reach international markets. However, it requires applying technologies, access to bank credits, training, and technical assistance to enable them to become exporters, she said.

It is a challenge for people to be trained in good agricultural practices to meet Maga’s verifications regarding phytosanitary issues, Obrock said.

For Lizzy Montero, Marketing and Sales Manager of Sunfresh Farms, a company that recently received the Exporter of the Year Award, authorities should focus on supporting producers to improve the quality of flowers and ensure they apply good practices. They should also promote their participation in international fairs with their products.

Farms work to maintain standards; Sunfresh Farms has Rainforest Alliance certification—covering good agricultural, environmental, and social practices—and others are in the process of certifying, Montero explained. While not a requirement to enter markets like the United States, some customers require it for purchase.

Every year, audits are conducted to maintain certification, representing significant challenges, Montero added.

Overview in numbers More than 55,000 hectares in seven Latin American countries, including Guatemala, are dedicated to the cultivation of flowers and ornamental plants, according to data from the specialized site MetroflorColombia, which recognizes the region’s advantages for developing this important business.

In Guatemala, the Ornamental Plants, Foliage, and Flowers Commission of the Guatemalan Exporters Association (Agexport) indicates that there are approximately 3,500 hectares of production, allowing for exports of over $100 million annually in both cut flowers and ornamental plants.

Last year, the Directorate of Policy and Economic Analysis of the Ministry of Economy reported that the sector exported 30,677 metric tons of flowers and foliage and 17,798.4 metric tons of roots, bulbs, seeds, and ornamental plants to destinations such as the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, El Salvador, Honduras, Japan, and Colombia. In total, these exports generated $142.3 million in foreign exchange.

The most demanded products in this sector include leather leaf, yucca, beaucarnea (Pony), dracaena, roses, chamadorea SP, asparagus SP, tillandsia, sansevieria, and croton plant.

Colombia and Ecuador stand out as rose exporters in the region and represented $975 million, 34% of the total global, according to a note from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2020.

The quality and durability of the roses exported by Guatemala are comparable to the Colombian offer of these flowers, Montero explained.

The size of the flower and the length of the stem are characteristics that must be carefully maintained to meet the standards of exported roses.

Promising horizon The Ornamental Plants, Foliage, and Flowers Commission estimates closing with $142 million for this year and projects an 8.5% growth in 2024 with sales to European destinations, the United States, Canada, Hawaii, and Japan, among others.

In addition to strengthening the production chain of the sector and adding value to the exportable offer with bouquets and diversifying varieties to enter new markets, Montero said, “We seek to change the market; we are already positioned, but we need to increase production to meet demand.”

Guatemala participates in forums, international fairs, specialized magazines, and ventures into floral tourism with visits to botanical gardens and fields, flower festivals to attract travelers interested in these tours, and to stimulate the local market.

The sector aligns with the most important trends that involve producing plants that contribute to reducing air pollution; colors that mark a fashion trend, for example, the Pantone Color Institute designated Peach Fuzz as the color of the year for 2024—a pastel shade that combines with a wide range of colors from reds, fuchsias to blues and greens, providing great possibilities for design, decoration, and color varieties in trending flowers.

Guatemala supplies the demand of supermarkets and clients who are distributors and decorators, requiring good logistics to arrive on cargo flights, maritime containers, or land transportation with punctuality and quality.

The flower growth cycle is 16 weeks, and harvests occur year-round.

In the current season, demand is growing by 300%. However, market coverage depends on production. Over the past three years, the climate has been very cold between November and January, delaying production, Alvarez commented. About 40,000 stems are cut each week, and in peak seasons like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, the harvest doubles.”