GUATEMALA is the most populous nation in Central America. The name Guatemala means land of the trees in the Maya-Toltec language. Guatemala’s abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contribute to Mesoamerica’s designation as a biodiversity hotspot. It has a total of 91 protected areas – almost a third of the country’s territory.
It’s location on the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean makes it a target for hurricanes (Mitch in 1998 and Stan in 2005). The damage was not wind related, but rather due to significant flooding and resulting mudslides. The Pacific Coastline stretches 250km from the Mexican border in the west to the border with El Salvador to the east and is characterised by black volcanic sand beaches on the coast where water-sports are enjoyed and the mangrove swamps and lush, subtropical forests further inland where several archaeological sites can be explored.
Puerto Quetzal is a new port built on the Pacific side to replace the old port of San José. The Navy requires that yachts come directly to the naval basin to ensure safety. All formalities are completed from there. This is a modern commercial port with little attraction as a cruising destination in itself.