PRF Guatemala: Why origin trips are so valuable to roasters

PRF Guatemala: Why origin trips are so valuable to roasters

Origin trips have become an increasingly important part of specialty coffee, particularly over the past couple of decades. With the growing focus on direct trade and establishing long term, mutually beneficial relationships with producers, these trips provide invaluable opportunities for roasters to forge deeper connections with supply chain actors in producing countries.

In addition to establishing more sustainable relationships with producers, group origin trips also allow roasters to more closely engage with their peers and other industry professionals. In turn, they can broaden their networks even further.

As part of Producer & Roaster Forum’s event taking place in Guatemala this year, the Sourcing Trip Experience (STE) will be held from 3 to 6 March 2024. Created specifically for roasters and green buyers, the STE ticket includes a four-day trip to coffee-growing regions in Guatemala, followed by the two-day PRF forum in Guatemala City on 7 & 8 March 2024.

Read on to find out more about the STE and PRF Guatemala.


Put simply, an origin trip is when coffee professionals from other parts of the supply chain – including green buyers, roasters, baristas, and competitors – visit coffee farms in a producing country.

Although these trips are understandably more geared towards roasters and green coffee buyers, producers from other origin countries can also attend. This can be for many reasons, including to broaden their understanding of different farming practices and gain new insight into new and more advanced processing techniques.

As part of organised origin trips, attendees are taken to several coffee farms – which can span across different regions in a particular country. Guests will generally meet producers and visit farms, including different plots of land and micro and nano lots.

Attendees may also tour the farm facilities. Depending on the size and type of farm, this could include nurseries, grading and sorting areas, and wet and dry mills. Some farms may also have cupping rooms or sample roasting spaces – or even larger-sized roasteries and coffee shops.

Most origin trips are led by a company or an organiser, and bring together industry professionals from around the world. Ultimately, this presents a unique opportunity for roasters and green buyers to meet producers, as well as their peers, and connect in a much more close and personal way.


With a growing number of industry events taking place in producing countries every year, origin trips are becoming a more important part of them. Producer & Roaster Forum – one of the few that places producers at the very forefront – not only hosts a two-day forum in a different coffee origin country, but also organises a Sourcing Trip Experience.

During the STE, roasters and green buyers from around the world will have the opportunity to gain direct and immersive insight into coffee production. They will stay with local hosts on coffee farms in the country in several groups of up to 15 guests – allowing for a more intimate and engaging experience.

Julia Peixoto Peters is the founder of Peixoto Coffee in the US. She was also a guest on the PRF Colombia 2023 STE.

“The experience with [Host Sponsor] Cafe Lumbus was unforgettable,” she says. “The group of people travelling together were compatible, the farms we toured were stunning, the coffees we tasted were exceptional. And more importantly, the Cafe Lumbus team was incredibly generous and hospitable.”

The PRF Guatemala STE Host Sponsors are:

  • Unitrade Coffee – founded in 1989, the company is dedicated to growing, processing, and selling high-quality Guatemalan coffee, with a key focus on nature and sustainability
  • San Miguel Coffees – with over 130 years of experience, San Miguel sources coffee from eight different growing regions in Guatemala, focusing specifically on single origin coffees

STE attendees can expect to take part in a number of engaging activities such as:

  • Visiting farms and meeting producers
  • Observing harvesting and processing
  • Travelling to wet and dry mills
  • Taking part in roundtable discussions and educational activities, including with producers
  • Participating in cupping sessions

How can I apply?

For roasters and green buyers interested in attending the PRF Guatemala STE, tickets are available here. A PRF Guatemala STE general ticket covers:

  • Full access to the Sourcing Trip Experience from 3 to 6 March 2024, including farm visits, roundtable discussions, cuppings, and more
  • Access to the PRF Guatemala two-day forum on 7 & 8 March 2024, including an exhibition, lectures and presentations, workshops, and competitions
  • Accommodation and food for three nights and four days (from 3 March to 17:00 local time on 6 March)
  • Organised dinners and/or events with Host Sponsors

Additionally, at the two-day forum, a STE VIP ticket will include:

  • Fast track entry to the event
  • VIP lounge access and dedicated VIP wifi
  • Access to an exclusive coffee brew bar and private food service
  • VIP dinner

Following the STE, participants will return to Guatemala City to attend the PRF two-day Forum at the Anacafé venue on 7 & 8 March 2024.

Other important details to note include:

  • International STE attendees must first fly to Guatemala City. The pick-up point will be at Guaco Café (on the ground floor of the Anacafé building) on 3 March 2024. Please ensure to arrive in Guatemala City with enough time to be at the pick-up point promptly
  • Costs of international flights are not covered with the STE ticket
  • Everyone who purchases a STE ticket will attend an onboarding call to provide further details
  • If more than one person attends per roastery or company, they will be placed with different hosts in different groups
  • Accommodation, meals, and transportation are not provided and the costs of these expenses are not covered before or after the STE (prior to 3 March and from 6 March onwards)
  • Health and travel insurance are required


For many roasters and green buyers, the experience of attending an origin trip is an unforgettable one. First and foremost, it allows them to deepen their understanding of the supply chain and coffee production. Moreover, it provides them with direct access to the people responsible for growing, selling, and exporting coffee.

During the PRF Guatemala STE, attendees can participate in deep, meaningful, and sometimes challenging discussions with producers, exporters, and other supply chain stakeholders. Ultimately, this is one of the most rewarding and mutually beneficial ways to build long-term relationships through which attendees can buy different coffees for years.

This could mean finding an exporter who can pre-finance shipments and handle logistics, discussing how to consolidate a container with other roasters, or buying coffee Freight On Board (FOB).

As part of the experience, attendees will also meet some of Guatemala’s leading producers, and see first-hand how they grow, harvest, and process their coffee.

Sourcing new coffees

Another major part of origin trips is looking for new coffees. Whether roasters are searching for different varieties and processing methods, a reliable new base for an espresso blend, or a competition coffee, events like the STE are some of the most effective ways to find new options.

Jason Kew is the founder of Coffee Project China, and was a PRF Colombia 2023 STE guest.

“Forest Coffee’s farm was amazing, and they were great hosts with an amazing location and food,” he says. “Cupping with the producers was a good experience, the farm tours were delightful, and there are endless opportunities for future business. We are looking to introduce the brand in the Chinese market.”

Additionally, as roasters and green buyers will attend cuppings organised with and by producers on the PRF Guatemala STE, there will be plenty of opportunities to learn more about particular coffees they are interested in purchasing.

Every year, more and more roasters and green buyers are understanding the value of attending origin trips to develop their businesses and expand their networks.

Hundreds of roasters have attended STE over the years and established lifelong partnerships with producers from prominent origin countries. To find out more about tickets for the STE, you can find more information here.

You can stay up to date with all announcements for PRF Guatemala here, or by subscribing to the newsletter here.

Please note: The STE ticket does not include any accommodation for the nights of 6, 7 & 8 March. It also covers no costs once attendees return to Guatemala City after the STE.

Photo credits: Hacienda Cafetera La Pradera

Perfect Daily Grind


Colour and cautious hope on a ‘bling bling’ bus journey through Guatemala

Colour and cautious hope on a ‘bling bling’ bus journey through Guatemala

The country’s remodelled US school buses showcase both its passion and problems
The chicken buses come barrelling past, a flash of colours accompanied by blaring horns and exhaust pipes. In a former life, these extraordinary-looking vehicles were sprayed yellow and tasked with ferrying children to and from school in the US. Stand on almost any roadside in Guatemala and you’ll see their Central American reincarnation. They roar preposterously around bends beneath volcanoes and belch black smoke into narrow, dusty town centres, vying to attract passengers. The buses are privately run, so owners get to choose the style of their fleets. The more ostentatious the better. Chrome is popular, so are stars, wings, curved lines and bright clusters of lights. Their engines are modified for a dangerous extra oomph. Yet their names are calmer, often tending towards the saintly or abstract: Saint Thomas, Little Princess, The Beautiful Foreigner, Fortune, Hope. Hope is something Guatemalans have lacked recently. Though the country has the largest economy in Central America, it is also one of the most unequal. Indigenous Guatemalans, who make up almost half the population, are twice as likely to be affected by poverty. Each year thousands of people attempt to immigrate to the US. A recent authoritarian slide has raised the stakes further in an election year but, for most, change is a distant prospect. When the first round of presidential elections took place last month, familiar names featured prominently among the more than 20 candidates. They included Sandra Torres, a former first lady, and Zury Ríos, the daughter of the country’s former dictator. Throughout Guatemala’s turbulent recent history its chicken buses, known as las camionetas (vans) or las burras (donkeys) in Spanish, have been a fixture of everyday life. (The tourists’ name “chicken bus” is thought to have come about because live poultry used to commonly be wedged in the luggage racks.) The main form of transport between and within cities, the vehicles reflect some of the country’s knottier problems, including crime and inequality. Extortionists routinely demand bus drivers pay up to pass through their territory; workers who commute into the capital Guatemala City because they can’t afford to live there face long traffic jams on top of their already long hours. Travelling by bus, therefore, offers a way to trace the contours of the country at a crucial moment. The first stop on my journey is a wood-panelled office in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, thousands of miles away from Guatemala City. Adam Thoma sits at the desk from which he runs 422 Sales, an auction house started by his father in the early 1980s. Before bus-buying moved online, the company was the leading seller of second-hand school buses in the US. Thoma, a laid-back 41-year-old with a pearly smile, speaks fondly about the glory years of the family business during our video call. Their most successful day was when they offloaded 764 buses at one auction in August 2000. Back then, in-person sales were the only way to secure one. Buyers who didn’t live in the US had to travel up from Mexico and Central America, which was, and still is, by far 422’s largest market. “Guatemalans can buy a decent used vehicle at a reduced rate and still operate it for 10 or 20 years,” Thoma says. Perhaps longer, if you follow the rule one client shared with him: “If the bus starts in the morning and has brakes working on one wheel, we’ll use it.” Occasionally, customers send him photographs of their reconstructed buses. Taking a framed picture off the wall, Thoma singles out a flamboyant green and red vehicle from Guatemala. “They definitely do the best work down there,” he says. A week later, I set off on a sunny June morning from Guatemala City to meet Juan Estrada, a loyal 422 customer who lives in Escuintla, a city not far from the Pacific coast. At the main bus station in Villa Nueva, part of the capital’s metropolitan sprawl, burras of all colours judder to a halt. Mine turns out to be a rather plain green-and-white model, but its interior is relatively plush, with new high-backed green seats that are surprisingly comfortable. There are a dozen passengers on board, as we cruise past scores of political posters and descend gently towards the sea, past maize fields below the steep sides of a volcano. An hour later, I’m in Escuintla, where I find Estrada’s bus garage down a cobbled side street. Estrada, 49, is wearing a green grease-stained polo shirt. He leads me to a messy office strewn with equipment, where pride of place is given to a picture of Jerusalem’s skyline, a common possession for Guatemalan evangelicals. As we begin talking buses, Estrada becomes animated. He started driving buses at 18, he says, even though he didn’t have a licence. Not long after, Estrada travelled to his first bus auction in the US and returned behind the wheel of his boss’s new purchase. Despite running his own company now, he frequently drives buses back from the US down through Mexico, a trip in the thousands of miles. “All the journeys are an adventure. Each one has its own story.”
Estrada promised himself that he wouldn’t travel to the US this year, either to add to his collection of nine local buses or to buy for his resale business. But he recently returned from his third trip in less than six months. He jokes that he just can’t shake his “vice” even though, with supply much lower than in the past, second-hand bus prices have soared (a 10-year-old bus costs between $5,000 and $15,000, says 422’s Thoma). US school districts cling on to vehicles for longer, the effect of the 2008 financial crash and then the pandemic. They used to be sold after 10 years, but now it is closer to 20. Yet though Estrada’s margins are tighter, he is following his passion. “The majority of owners have been born and brought up with buses. We carry this in our blood. We love them,” he says. Just as he inherited his father’s company, he wants his 11-year-old son to take over one day. “It falls from generation to generation.” The same is true for the bus painters and mechanics of Ciudad Vieja, 30 miles north, where I head next, whizzing through lush landscapes on another camioneta. Although only a small town, its 16 burra workshops make it the chicken bus revamp capital of Guatemala. At Horacio’s, the oldest of them, I talk to Henry González, whose grandfather started a vehicle repair shop nearby more than 70 years ago. In the dim light of the workshop, González explains the story of Guatemalan camioneta know­how. From the 1960s to the early 1980s, the US bus manufacturer Blue Bird had a factory in the country, which drove local interest and technical knowledge, he says. Over time, the burras’ designs — González calls it their “bling bling” — grew more elaborate. “Sometimes they put lights on them, televisions inside. They look like a disco,” he says, somewhat disapprovingly. His words are vindicated the following evening when the strangest and most extravagant camioneta I’ve seen bumps its way along the cobbles of Antigua, a pretty colonial town heaving with tourists. Its front is a beacon of red light and its body pulses blue, like some improbable deep-sea creature. Over the road from Horacio’s is the San Jorge workshop, another family-run affair. Giovanni Rodríguez, a muscular, tattooed 36-year-old, whose jet black hair is gelled upright, shows me his handiwork. He is in the process of painting a bus, predominantly white and blue. On the upper back corner, the initials of its owner curl satisfyingly. Much of the bus is still coated in masking tape and newspaper — mainly from the sports section and the Guatemalan equivalent of page-three pin-ups — to protect it from stray paint. When it is finished, the name La Humilde (The Humble One) will billow beneath its windows in red and yellow. As we fight to be heard over the noise of a metal grinder that’s remodelling a bus bound for El Salvador, conversation turns from aesthetics to an ugly but endemic problem in Guatemala: extortion. “It’s always existed,” sighs Rodríguez, before confiding that La Humilde’s owner has to pay what the gangs euphemistically refer to as renta (rent). If he refused, his drivers would probably be killed. For more than a decade, the Association of Widows of Public Transport Drivers in Guatemala City has helped those affected by the killings, offering work courses for bereaved women and arranging school support for their children. Lilian Maribel Pérez decided to set up the organisation after a spike in homicides in the late 2000s — almost 200 bus and taxi drivers were shot dead in 2009, she says. The number of deaths is still high; more than 500 bus drivers were killed in acts of violence between 2010 and August 2022, according to the Guatemalan newspaper La Prensa Libre.

En route to Pérez’s home, which doubles as her office, I board a 28-year-old bus driven by Jimmy Gómez. He fills up at a petrol station near the historic centre of Guatemala City. Previously a long-haul lorry driver, Gómez only started his job two weeks ago, but he understands the risks. “Eight drivers were killed on my route in 2022,” he says matter-of-factly, as we arrive at the bus station and he edges us into a parking space. Asked if he fears for his safety, Gómez offers a come-what-may response: “I have God in my heart.” The widows’ association is near a busy ring road. Pérez shuts the window grills to reduce the noise. She tells me bluntly she has little time for the country’s politicians, who haven’t given her organisation any support. “Unfortunately, our authorities have always been indifferent to violence. There’s never been a government that could really combat the criminality that there is in Guatemala,” she says. Going to the police is often not an option, she says, citing corruption. Pérez knows of only a handful of murderers who have been convicted in the past decade for killing bus drivers. “You feel very impotent because you can’t do anything. There is nowhere you can demand justice.” Guatemala also suffers from severe financial inequality. A small number of families hold enormous influence, while one in two children is malnourished and decently paid work is scarce. Many young girls are driven to leave homes in the provinces and move to the capital to seek jobs cleaning, ironing and cooking in the houses of the affluent. Some 300,000 people perform this role across the country, according to Centracap, an organisation that offers them help and training and which battles to win them rights in law. Early one Friday, I arrive at Bethsi López’s home on the outskirts of the capital to accompany her to work. The 4.45am start is necessary because López, who looks younger than her 34 years, is keen to beat the traffic. Almost two decades after arriving as a 17-year-old in Guatemala City, the single mother of two still works six days a week for wealthy families. The demands of the job are tough enough without the length of her bus commute, which can take up to six hours return. She limps because of problems with the tendons in her feet. We reach the bottom of a precipitous hill, cross a footbridge and board a brightly lit camioneta. It’s a bit of a squeeze, but we find a seat and López starts to recount the challenges and the loneliness of her work, for which she gets paid between £9 and £15 a day. “It’s a solitary life,” she says, explaining that she barely talks to anyone except her two daughters. We discuss the discrimination workers face. Racial abuse towards the indigenous women who make up most of her sector’s workforce is particularly prevalent, López says. Some families abuse their powers in other ways too. An hour and a half after our bus sets off, we near the leafy neighbourhood where she works, on a hill east of the city. It is only a little more than 20km from her home, but it might as well be another world. The place is quiet, the air is fresh and large condominiums are everywhere. Joggers pad along its quiet roads as López shuffles towards the entrance to her boss’s gated community to work. Guatemalans desperate for a country with more equality and less corruption cheered during the “Guatemalan Spring” of 2015, when president Otto Pérez Molina and vice-president Roxana Baldetti were booted from power and imprisoned for crimes committed in office. But under the next two leaders, democracy went further into retreat. Few I met on my travels realistically thought this slide would be halted by the presidential elections. Nevertheless, on the eve of the vote, thousands left Guatemala City for their family homes in other towns to exercise their democratic right. Accompanying some of them, I set out for Nebaj by bus. The town is in the western region of Quiché, a place ringed by idyllic cloud forests but haunted by a brutal past. It is the home of the Ixil people, against whom the army unleashed waves of massacres during the civil war that started in 1960 and lasted until the mid-1990s. Asked if he fears for his safety, bus driver Jimmy Gómez offers a come-what-may response: ‘I have God in my heart’
My journey takes me through Los Encuentros, a camioneta crossroads just north of Lake Atitlán, where I wait to change buses. On an overcast Saturday afternoon, the tinkling bell of an ice-cream salesman seems hopeful. But the burra ayudantes — boys and men who tout their buses over competitors’ and tie luggage on the roof rack while their camioneta zips along the road — have more luck. Boarding a stylish red, white and black bus, I squash beside two other adults on a bench designed for two US children. As we race into the hills to Nebaj, the music on board is typically loud and upbeat. The following morning, large queues form at the outdoor polling station beside Nebaj’s main square, where Gabriel de Paz is expecting me. Like most Mayan men in the town of his generation, the 62-year-old farmer is dressed in local indigenous attire: a smart red and black jacket and a straw hat. As we move to the quiet of a nearby building, de Paz tells me how his youth was violently uprooted by war. When the Guerrilla Army of the Poor, known as the EGP, took up positions in the surrounding hills, the state military made its presence known and razed dozens of local villages, in a cruel bid to cut off potential support for the insurgents. Its actions were particularly grisly under the brief dictatorship of Efraín Ríos Montt, who ruled for 17 months in 1982 and 1983. De Paz’s family escaped into the mountains, often staying in hiding for months at a stretch. He still has nightmares in which soldiers pursue him, destroy his animals and send in planes. Like many others, he cannot afford the psychological support he needs. Added to this untreated trauma, de Paz was worried: that Zury Ríos, whose father’s troops killed thousands of Ixil people, could become the next Guatemalan president. Ríos had campaigned in the region and her party’s mayoral candidates were expected to do well in parts of Quiché. To de Paz, the possibility that Ríos could be elected, after decades of denying her father’s crimes, was hard to fathom. Yet many are unaware of their history, he says. After our discussion, we walk to the cemetery, where de Paz points to the final resting place of victims whose remains were only discovered 10 years ago. “Some people say there wasn’t genocide. But how can they deny it? When there are graves here,” he says. As I turn the light out that evening, a child in the street beside my hotel shouts with high-pitched delight that other candidates are beating Ríos. The scale of her defeat is revealed the next morning as plummeting support consigns Ríos to sixth place in the presidential race. Though to de Paz’s sadness, Ríos’s party’s mayoral candidates are elected in the nearby municipalities of Cotzal and Chajul. But there’s reason for optimism. Bernardo Arévalo, a rare anti-corruption figure, claimed a surprise second place in the presidential vote, thanks in part to the fact that more Guatemalans chose “voto nulo” than voted for any other single candidate. The political elites or pollsters had not expected it, and hope is in the air. A 23-year-old student in Nebaj tells me the country “had finally started to open its eyes”. Though Arévalo is due to take part in second-round elections in August, the election results were disputed and called before the courts. As one Guatemalan friend texts me, even if there is a fresh start, “It will take a lot to clean the shop when it has been dirty for such a long time.” I re-read her message, which is otherwise full of cautious hope, on my chicken bus home, as cheerful Mexican ballads blast from the speakers. For a brief moment, Guatemala’s political outlook coincides with the radiant colours of the country’s camionetas.

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,

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.

Mayan Jungle Ruins in Guatemala Could Become Major Tourist Attraction

Mayan Jungle Ruins in Guatemala Could Become Major Tourist Attraction

Deep within the lush, tropical Guatemalan forest lies the ancient Mayan city of El Mirador, a site over 2,000 years old. However, it’s not just an archaeological treasure; it’s at the center of a heated debate over its future and that of the surrounding jungle – a UNESCO-designated forest called the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR). The question looms: who should dictate the destiny of this precious heritage: local communities, or foreign scientists? Dr. Richard Hansen, an American archaeologist, has dedicated much of his life to El Mirador. Over the past two decades, he’s been striving to establish a privately-managed park in the area. His vision is to protect not only the ruins but also the jungle, believing it can be done more effectively than what the Guatemalan state can provide.

This proposal has ignited a fierce battle, pitting conservation against local livelihoods. Hansen’s plan would require reclassifying El Mirador from a national park to a wilderness area, potentially disrupting existing forestry concessions that sustain local communities. As the debate rages on, the future of El Mirador and its surrounding jungle hangs in the balance, highlighting the delicate equilibrium between preservation and progress, as well as the complex web of interests and values at stake.