Eric Toupin, blogger & web developer

Eric Toupin

My name is Eric. I write about places to go and things to do in Guatemala. Sometimes I lapse into less-utilitarian, prose-like travelogues.

I was born in Williamsburg, VA. I've traveled abroad some and have lived all over the U.S. as well as in Ghana, South Korea, Costa Rica and (clearly) Guatemala. I travel light.

Meet The Writers

Elesha Piper
Aaron Owlex
Anna Sondergaard
Eric Toupin, blogger & web developer
Matt McGuire, blogger & photographer
Matt Wicks, traveler, writer, photographer
A lancha loaded with people at Lake Atitlán

Navigating the towns and cities along the shores of Lake Atitlán would be expensive, time consuming and impractical by land. That’s why residents and tourists in the Atitlán area use lanchas colectivas (collective boat taxis) to get around. Tuk-tuks still make sense within city limits (and in some cases between small, neighboring villages), and hiking is certainly worthwhile for its own sake, but boats are the modus operandi for most people intent on moving between Atitlán’s many unique and visit-worthy towns.

Semuc Champey arial view

Hiking in Lanquín is very beautiful. The rolling green mountains, winding blue-green rivers and velvety wrinkles of foothills are really breathtaking. In fact, most visitors to Lanquín will notice how gorgeous the landscape is before even arriving, simply by gazing out of the windows of their shuttle or bus.

Unfortunately, hiking trails in Lanquín aren’t very well developed or documented. Part of that is an issue of demand, in that few tourists seem to arrive in Lanquín looking for hiking day-trips. And that’s understandable considering the primary attraction in Lanquín is Semuc Champey, and plenty of visitors only stay in the area a day or two.

A group of guys prepared for the zip line tour in Lanquín

A zip line tour in Lanquín wasn’t on my personal agenda. In fact, a zip line tour anywhere is not my sort of thing. Or at least I don’t think it is. I’ve never actually tried zip lining, and yet certainly consider it a little hokey. Seems fair, right?

But when Max at El Muro Pub invited me along to photograph a zip line tour, I couldn’t refuse. I’m a sucker for taking pictures, and I didn’t have plans for the next couple of hours. I’m glad I went.

Just want the pictures? There's a slideshow at the bottom of this post.

Las Grutas entrance, complete with rickety stairway.

The caves in Lanquín are pretty incredible. There are two main cave systems in the area, Las Grutas at the beginning of the Lanquín river, and K’an B’a across the bridge from the Semuc Champey Natural Monument. Both are awesome, but Las Grutas is definitely the winner in my book. The most important difference is guides aren’t required at Las Grutas, and the cave system is not 100% explored.

That was pretty much the deciding factor for me.

Tortugal in Río Dulce ($56), Doña Magdalena in Acul ($3.35)

Guatemala travel is perhaps easier now than it has ever been, and yet there are still plenty of untouched destinations in the country. It’s no surprise that Guatemala travel is continuing to enjoy some popularity, either. The intersection of geographical and cultural diversity, ease of access (for North Americans and South Americans) and a very low cost of living go a long way to make Guatemala a favorite among budget vacationers, longterm travelers and backpackers alike.

Las Fuentes Georginas in Zunil, Quetzaltenango

Fuentes Georginas is a natural hot spring in the beautiful mountains of Zunil near Xela, Quetzaltenango. The hot springs are definitely worth a visit. If you’re spending more than a day in Xela, the springs should probably make your short list of things to do. I’ve already written up pretty detailed instructions on getting to Las Fuentes Georginas in Zunil. So why am I revisiting the subject?

Visiting Fuentes Georginas is cool. Staying there is cooler.

Semuc Champey in Lanquín, Alta Verapaz

Semuc Champey is a natural monument in Lanquín, Alta Verapaz. Lanquín’s accessibility issues (no paved roads) don’t prevent it from being a favorite destination among national tourists and backpackers. If you’ve scheduled a shuttle to Lanquín, you’re certainly in for a long rocky ride. It is, of course, worth every bump.

Check out this brief video for a quick look at the Lanquín area.

Fields and mountains in the Lanquín area

The Lanquín area in Alta Verapaz is gorgeous. Rolling, green mountains, beautiful emerald rivers and a horizon cluttered with peaks and valleys in all directions. Clouds cling to the mountain tops in the mornings.

Photos taken over the course of a week spent in the Lanquín area.

Livingston hot springs and cave, reception

One of Livingston’s more interesting natural attractions are its cave systems and hot springs. There are actually plenty of caves and hot springs scattered throughout the Livingston area, but few are properly developed and regularly available to visit. The Community Project right on the Río Dulce is a different story.

Homes and trees in Livingston, Guatemala

I took a walking tour in Livingston, Izabal with a local artisan named Peachy. It cost me Q70 ($9.30), lasted a couple of hours and followed a haphazard crisscrossing pattern that covered plenty of ground. I went alone - better prices are available for groups. (Don't feel like reading? Skip to the slideshow.)

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