First stop in this magical country is Flores - a town in the northern region which is on an island on Lake Petén. We stayed at Los Amigos hostel, which is really sociable and has an awesome bar area. A double private room was the same price as a dorm so it was really cool to have our own space for a while. The hostel is really great but if you're thinking of going to Flores we would recommend to explore the town for food spots - the hostel food is alright but the local restaurants have so much more to offer.
In Flores you can grab a boat ride either at sunset or sunrise across to see the famous Tikal ruins - temples and palaces dating back to estimated lay around the 1st century.
Another must do here is renting a canoe and exploring around. We stumbled upon a little area with a rope swing into the water, a thin long wooden plank which of course only Charlotte was brave enough to jump from, and a chilling area with hammocks and benches etc. We stayed here for a couple of hours before attempting the paddle back. We were actually better at it than we anticipated - especially when a local in his motor boat passed us on the way back and offered us to grab his rope and sit back and relax.
En route back to the hostel we stumbled upon a little restaurant called Maracuyá (meaning 'passion fruit') - and wished we had found it before our last night! It's situated right on the edge of the lake, covered in beautiful trees and fairy lights, and inside they serve the most fresh food using only local ingredients. We sat and had their evening menu: starter, main and local hibiscus juice for only 30 Quetzales... Equal to around £3! They also serve what looks like an incredible breakfast from 7am... But sadly our early morning bus meant we didn't have time to make it.
The bus to Semuc Champey was an experience to say the least. Road safety isn't such a thing over here apparently. 8 hours into the windy journey we hit a stretch where google maps told us to drive it would take 40 mins but to cycle it would take 15.... It was down the steepest, cobbled hill on the edge of a sheer drop. But hey we survived.
We arrived at Zephyr Lodge feeling pretty ready to not be confined to a bus, only to find one of the most beautiful locations we've ever seen. The hostel is situated bang in the middle of the largest mountains and at an altitude of 5000ft you're pretty much up in the clouds. It has an infinity pool with the mountains as the backdrop, and our room had glass windows opening out onto the same view. One thing to note is that creepy crawlies are EVERYWHERE. There are cockroaches at night and big spiders but luckily we brought mosquito nets and hung them over the beds. Despite being absolutely torn apart for being 'princesses' by the Aussie roommates we had, we were SO glad we had brought them.
There are two main activities to do up here. The first one is the caving tour, which involves climbing through these huge caves using candlelight to guide your way, then a 30 min hike up to the viewpoint where you can see an awesome view of Semuc Champey and the natural pools. Then at the end you get the chance to swim in the pools at the bottom. The other activity which was our personal favourite was tubing down the Lanquin river. There was a group of around 20 of us sliding down in huge rubber rings with beers attached to the cup holders on the side. The views on the way down were breathtaking, and at the end you can jump off the bridge into the water below. Definitely a must do at Zephyr. To note: be prepared as the hostel has a big party vibe and that's in low season - every night there's music and drinking games and everyone's up for having a fun time.