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Backpacking Trip in Guatemala: A 3-Week Adventure


An Epic 3-Week Trip

Embarking on a well-planned backpacking trip in Guatemala is undeniably a must-do for every keen traveler. Positioned as a vibrant and diverse country, Guatemala caters to the interests of every backpacker, offering a kaleidoscope of experiences. With its super rich and diverse history, stunning landscapes, and unique culture, Guatemala emerges as an ideal destination for a 3-week adventure, ensuring a multifaceted exploration.

Navigating this compact yet captivating country is a breeze, facilitated by its size and an efficient shuttle system, making it easy for travelers to hop from one enchanting locale to another. Even within a short span, there is an abundance of noteworthy sights to explore, revealing some of the hidden gems that contribute to the country’s allure.

In this insightful blog post, we will seamlessly guide you through an unforgettable journey, unveiling the best hostels that provide both comfort and authenticity, highlighting must-see destinations that showcase the diverse beauty of Guatemala, and recounting unforgettable experiences that will leave an indelible mark on your backpacking adventure.

Now, check out this 3-week action-packed backpacking trip in Guatemala!

Day 1 – Arrival in Guatemala City & Transfer to Antigua

  • Arrive at La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City.
  • Transfer to Antigua via a shared shuttle (1-hour drive). This is the cheapest option, but you may have to wait 45 minutes or so until the shuttle fills up. Therefore, if you don’t want to wait, you can book a private transfer. It’s also cheap and easy.
  • After that, check in at Tropicana Hostel in Antigua.

Days 2-5 – Antigua

This colonial town is a jewel of Central America.

Cerro de La Cruz - trips in Guatemala.

Cerro de La Cruz

Days 6-8 – Lake Atitlan

One of the highlights of any backpacking trip to Guatemala is Lake Atitlan and its colorful towns.

  • Day 6: Transfer to Lake Atitlán via shared shuttle (3-hour drive).
  • After that, check in at La Iguana Perdida in Santa Cruz La Laguna.
  • Day 7: There are some beautiful hikes around the lake but you may be hiked out already after the volcanoes in Antigua so you may want to take it easy and explore the lake’s villages by boat.
  • Day 8: Relax and enjoy the day at your leisure. Try yoga, meditation, or kayaking around the lake.
La iguana Lake Atitlan - trips in Guatemala.

Chilling with a view of Lake Atitlan

Days 9-11 – Quetzaltenango (Xela)

  • Day 9: Transfer to Quetzaltenango via shared shuttle (3-hour drive).
  • After that, check in at Casa Kiwi and explore the town. Furthermore, if you’re a fan of Indian food, swing by Sabor de la India. It’s Fantastic.
  • Day 10: Take a guided hike to Laguna Chicabal or visit Fuentes Georginas hot springs.
  • Day 11: Join a day tour to explore the indigenous villages of Momostenango and San Francisco El Alto.

Days 12-14 – Semuc Champey

It’s a DRIVE to get to Semuc. It’s remote but unbelievably beautiful. No Backpacking trip in Guatemala is complete without visiting Semuc.

  • Day 12: Transfer to Lanquín (8-hour drive) and check in at Zephyr Lodge. This is probably one of our favorite hostels in the world. You’ll know why when you get there, or you can check them out on Instagram here.
  • Day 13: Visit the natural pools of Semuc Champey, explore Kamba Caves, and go tubing down the Cahabón River.
  • Day 14: Enjoy a free day to relax by the pool at Zephyr or hike to El Mirador for panoramic views of the area.
Zephyr Lodge - trips in Guatemala.

Remote and Beautiful

Days 15-18 – Flores and Tikal

  • Day 15: Transfer to Flores via shuttle (8-hour drive) and check-in at Los Amigos Hostel.
  • Day 16: Visit the Mayan ruins of Tikal on a guided tour and enjoy sunset views from Temple IV.
  • Day 17: Explore the island town of Flores, kayak on Lake Petén Itzá, or visit the nearby Actun Can caves.
  • Day 18: Take a day trip to Yaxhá and Topoxté, two lesser-known but impressive Mayan sites.

Days 19-20 – Rio Dulce

  • Day 19: Transfer to Rio Dulce (4-hour drive) and check-in at Boatique Hotel and Marina. They have dorms for around $20/night.
  • Day 20: Take a boat tour through the Rio Dulce Gorge, visit Livingston, and experience the Garifuna culture.

Days 21-22 – El Paredon

  • Day 21: Transfer to El Paredon (5-hour drive) and check in at The Driftwood Surfer. You’re coming to the end of your trip now so there’s no better place to wind down than Driftwood. Play sunset volleyball and rock their swim-up bar all evening long.
  • Day 22: Wake up with a small hangover no doubt but you’ll forget all about it when you release some freshly hatched baby turtles into the ocean. Moreover, enjoy the beach, watch the sunset, take surf lessons, or participate in a mangrove tour.

Day 23 – Return to Antigua

  • Check into Tropicana again to say goodbye to your old friends. Take part in whatever activity is on that night from beer pong to Salsa dancing. Enjoy one last night in Antigua before you go.

Day 24 – Departure

If you find yourself reading this, it indicates that you’re likely in the process of planning your trip. Allow us to reassure you that embarking on this 3-week backpacking extravaganza through Guatemala is undeniably the adventure of a lifetime! Brace yourself as you’re about to be captivated by the mesmerizing blend of culture, excitement, and tranquility that awaits. Carefully curated, we’ve hand-picked the absolute best hostels in the country to ensure you forge memories that will be cherished eternally. Therefore, it’s time to swiftly pack your bags and prepare to embark on a whirlwind journey that will undoubtedly leave you spellbound by the stunning landscapes and rich experiences Guatemala has to offer. Seize this opportunity for a life-changing adventure that you simply cannot afford to miss!

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