Guatemala Part 3 | Tikal, Flores and Lake Atitlan

The stunning view from our balcony in San Pedro.

Ah, the final blogpost in my Guatemala trilogy. Thursday night Val, Imane and myself took an overnight bus from Guatemala City to Flores. We took a first class bus, which was like a Greyhound here in Toronto. There was plenty of legroom and the seats were super comfortable, so we all slept well. However, the one tip I would say is to make sure you bring a warm sweater or a blanket and some socks if you are wearing sandals, as it does get super cold at night on the bus.

This is definitely the longest of the three parts. You’ve been warned!

The one thing I really wanted to see in Guatemala were the Mayan Ruins in Tikal. This is something that has been on my bucket list for years and I am so happy Val and Imane both wanted to do this as well. Antigua to Tikal is about an 8 hour drive and we couldn’t afford to lose a day traveling, which is why we opted for the overnight bus.

We got to Flores around 6:00am groggy, and unprepared for the strong heat compared to the weather we were used to in Antigua. However, once we got freshened up and had breakfast in our bellies we were eager to start our day.

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Our view during breakfast at Hotel Casa Amelia.
I went with the enchiladas morenas mostly because it didn’t say it had cheese, but alas, I was fooled. Still delicious, but also super filling.

I don’t even know how to put Tikal into words, as no matter what I write just won’t do it justice. I find the Mayan civilization so fascinating, so seeing it was a dream come true. I had to keep reminding myself that I was actually there and not just looking at a photograph. It was also so amazing to wander through the rainforest, which was home to so many unique plants and animals; we had spider monkeys swinging above us and were able to catch a glimpse of a couple toucans. I’m so happy I got to visit Tikal and got to experience it with Val and Imane.



Getting my yoga on atop of Temple IV. Part of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was filmed here.










I would of loved to have stayed here till sunset, but we were pretty sweaty and had worked up quite an appetite, so we headed back to Flores. On the way back we stopped at this hidden restaurant off the side of the road where we were treated to a delicious outdoor lunch in the rainforest.


We were then dropped off back in Flores and had the rest of the day to relax and explore. I loved the tropical, peaceful vibe of Flores. It is an island connected by a causeway and is so beautiful. When I was younger I was obsessed with Super Mario Sunshine (okay, maybe I still am) and wished Isle Delfino was real so I could go there. Though I didn’t see any piantas or shine sprites, Flores gave me the feeling of Isle Delfino which made me so happy.

Afternoon Gallo.




For dinner we went to Raices Bar and Grill which was more of an upscale restaurant right on the water. Imane and I went with the vegetarian kebabs and Val had the most delicious margarita pizza. Since I was sort of in vacation mode I skipped Gallo and went with a margarita instead, which ended up being on for half price. Altogether my meal came to 42 quetzals or $4.52. We stayed for awhile after just chatting and taking advantage of the restaurant’s wifi. We watched the sunset and it was just the perfect way to end a perfect day.




We then took an overnight bus back to Antigua and met Megha, Andrea and Elena and caught another bus to Lake Atitlan, where we were spending the weekend. We were dropped off in Panajachel and from there took a water taxi across Lake Atitlan to San Pedro.






We checked into Casa Rolando, where I was super excited to take a hot shower (having traveled for over 20 hours I was starting to feel pretty gross). Feeling like myself again, we headed out for lunch. We went to Zoola which was an Israeli restaurant. We sat inside a large colourful tent at low tables and on comfy cushions. I went with the roasted eggplant which was smothered with a tomato and tahini sauce.

Elena, myself, Imane and Val stoked for some lunch.


After a little shopping we headed back to our hotel to relax and recharge for the evening. Our hotel had hammocks outside the rooms and the most incredible view. I could of laid there forever just soaking in the sun and my surroundings.



That night we went to Shanti Shanti for dinner and drinks, where we were joined by a furry guest. This guy was so adorable and super friendly, mostly because he was hungry. He ended up eating an entire french fry from me and some scraps off Andrea’s plate before falling asleep on my lap. From there we bar hopped a bit going from Zoola to Sublime to hanging out on the docks. I won’t go into too much detail about the night, but let’s just say what happens in Guatemala stays in Guatemala.



Not feeling (too) hungover the next day, we spent the morning kayaking on Lake Atitlan. We decided to kayak from San Pedro to San Marcos which ended up being much more of a workout than we were expecting. I’m not sure about the distance, but it was easily over 10km there and back. In San Marcos we jumped off the 21ft dock which was absolutely terrifying. I honestly probably wouldn’t have done it if I wasn’t so hot from kayaking, as I desperately needed to cool off in the water. I’m glad I can say I did it though.




The Spice Girls! Rocking our friendship bracelets. I love these girls.

And before I knew it, it was time to head back to Antigua, pack up my stuff and set my alarm for 2am (my driver was picking me up for 3am to head back to the airport, sob). Though I looked forward to going home for the little things; sleeping in my bed, cuddling my cat and having a cup of vanilla rooibos tea, I was sitting on the plane home already missing this beautiful country.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my trip as much as I enjoyed writing it and reminiscing. I am so happy I made this a reality and got to experience this amazing country and volunteer with something I feel so passionate towards. Though I of course wish I now did the two weeks, I’m still thrilled I did this and feel I was able to pack a lot in the week I was there. I have made some unforgettable memories and met some amazing people. I can’t thank Imane, Val, Andrea and Megha enough for making my trip better than I could ever have imagined. In one short week I feel like I have known these girls my whole life and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us next (and for our Guate reunion)!

The world is truly an amazing place and the door is wide open, my friends.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Stephanie says:

    I LOVED your blog posts! I’m going to Guatemala in January but in the medical placement program. It’s going to be my first time out of my country by myself and it is nerve-racking. I was thinking adding the tour they offer the week after I finish my program, but you traveled wothout it, right? How dis you male all of the arrangements?


    1. ellerow says:

      Hey Stephanie, thank you so much for reading and I’m so thrilled you enjoyed my posts! Are you volunteering with IVHQ or with another company? IVHQ offers tours and trips through Guinness Travels, which is who we booked the Yalu Coffee Plantation with. They were great, but they are also a bit more expensive than other travel companies we saw/visited. There are so many travel companies in Antigua, I would recommend shopping around and comparing prices first, and/or getting recommendations from people. You’re also going to make friends there that you will probably end up booking trips with too. We booked with a random travel company (cannot remember the name, sorry) in Antigua that arranged for all our transportation from Antigua to Flores and back and to Antigua and Lake Atitlan and back. My friend also booked Pacaya through GT Adventures who are a couple shops down from Maximo Nivel and also worth checking out. Just make sure you book things at least 48 hours in advance!

      Hope that was somewhat helpful! Volunteering abroad by yourself definitely is scary, especially if it’s your first time out of your country, but it’s completely normal to feel that way. I’m a pretty shy person so I felt like puking at the airport, I was so nervous! Just remember all the other volunteers you meet felt the exact same way and most people came by themselves as well. You are going to have the most incredible time and meet so many amazing, like-minded people. Almost everyone I met was so warm and inviting! Happy travels!



  2. Love your photos from Guatemala, Leah! Looks like an awesome trip 🙂


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