Leaving Guatemala City, the main highway descends through a dry and distinctly inhospitable landscape with cacti spiking the barren hillsides. The first place of any note is the Río Hondo junction where the road divides: one arm heads south to the Oriente and town of Esquipulas, while the main branch continues on to the coast.

On down the valley the landscape starts to undergo a radical transformation; the flood plain opens out and there’s a profusion of tropical growth. It was this supremely rich flood plain that was chosen by both the Maya and the United Fruit Company, to the great benefit of both.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Guatemala features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Guatemala City: 7 reasons to stay a while

Guatemala City: 7 reasons to stay a while

Most visitors race through Guatemala City, keen to get to Antigua’s colourful colonial streets, visit the country’s Mayan sites or explore its spectacular v…

12 Jul 2017 • Freya Godfrey insert_drive_file Article
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

1. Thailand There’s a reason why Thailand remains so popular with backpackers – it’s got idyllic islands, a rich culture, beach-huts aplenty, tantalising…

21 Aug 2015 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
In pictures: traditional dress around the world

In pictures: traditional dress around the world

The Sari, India Ostensibly the simplest item of clothing possible – a single length of fabric, up to nine metres long – the sari is also one of the worl…

02 Feb 2015 • Alice Park camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month