Travelling to Guatemala may well be one of the most exciting things I have ever done and I couldn't wait to see what the country had for my camera lens. With its Spanish roots, UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city of Antigua is incredibly colourful, built of colonial architecture and littered with ruins with a backdrop of volcanoes that just capture the imagination. The huge expanse of Lake Atitlan again surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, reminds you just how small you are; a backpackers haven in the midst of Mayan culture. Surrounded by rainforest, there's Semuc Champey, an incredible feat of nature; a series of limestone pools created by the Cahabòn River, filled with turquoise blue waters. We travelled to the awe inspiring Rio Dulce and stayed in wooden cabins stilted from the swamp in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle, kayaked the majestic river and boated down to the Caribbean coast. And then there was Tikal, steeped in history, grandeur and incredible architectural wonders. It was a true dream to see spider and howler monkeys sitting on ancient pyramids and to learn about the Mayan culture and its past. It is a fantastic country, very photogenic and it took me a long time to filter through my hundreds and hundreds of photos to find my favourites! I can't wait to return there one day and see more of this amazing country and more of Central America.
1) Mayan Girl in Antigua de Guatemala
I managed to capture quite a few photos of Mayan street sellers, but I love this one as it shows the Mayan culture of Guatemala and their traditional ways perfectly, all happening within the modernity that the city has adapted to. Yes, they drive VW Golfs in Guatemala too! I love the colours of the city in this picture too; the terracotta and mustard buildings, the bright coloured flowers and the lush green of the agriculture surrounding the city. (Canon 70D)
2) Convento de las Capuchinas, Antigua de Guatemala
The Convent was such a peaceful place to be and mostly still intact. Home to the nuns of Antigua, it was interesting to learn about how they lived by their strict regulations, sleeping in nun cells and the difference in lifestyles between the discalced nuns and the urban nuns. The archways that surround the courtyard were perfect for framing a glimpse into the history of the buildings, so perfect it almost looks like a painting. I love that you can just about make out Cerro de la Cruz, the Hill of the Cross, in the background. (Canon 70D)
3) Volcán de Agua, Antigua de Guatemala
The awesome and near perfect Volcán de Agua, dominating the city's skyline! I snapped this on my phone close to the end of my time in Guatemala, as every other day we'd been there, the clouds had stolen the view. We just happened to be sitting on the terrace at our hostel when the clouds cleared and Agua came out to play! Being so central to the Antigua vista, I was pleased to get a shot of it at all! (iPhone 6)
4) San Pedro, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
This was the amazing view from the path next to our apartment in San Pedro. I nearly added the view from our terrace, honestly, I think we had the best view in the whole town (airbnb people!), but I love the contrast of the wild plantlife on the shore and the serene blue of the water and the sky in this shot. I love the port towards the centre of the photo showing life just going on around us. (iPhone 6)
5) Washerwomen, San Pedro, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
This is possibly my favourite shot from my whole trip. We had been warned not to swim in the lake as it was fairly unclean, yet here were the local women washing their clothes in it. They were just nattering away to each other as they did their chores. I just managed to snap them as I walked past, but I wish I had had the opportunity to compose the shot better and to have used my dslr as it could have made an even better photo, but I didn't want to disturb them by shoving a phone in their faces so I was trying to be inconspicuous! (iPhone 6)
6) Semuc Champey, Guatemala
Ah, the beautiful turquoise waters of Semuc Champey. This is a pretty standard shot from the top of the Mirador (after a very hot and sweaty hike up the mountain), but again, I love the contrast of colours and you can just make out the figures of people swimming in the pools, showing the amazing scale of the place. What an amazing place to find in the middle of a rainforest. Just looking at this reminds me of how it felt to jump into those cool waters after that hike. Heaven! (Canon 70D)
7) Canoe Through the Rainforest, Rio Dulce,Guatemala
Canoe, the perfect transport around Rio Dulce, people would travel to work in these wooden boats. They were everywhere and people just went about their daily life, carrying their shopping in them, taking their kids to school or just popping to do some fishing. I don't know where these guys were off to, possibly to find their dinner, but they were nattering away as we floated past them. I love the green of their surroundings in contrast with their bright blue boat! (Canon 70D)
8) River House on the Rio Dulce, Guatemala
As we travelled to Livingston on the Caribbean coast down the Rio Dulce, our boat took us under the canopy of the rainforest, down the back streets of the river and we came across these amazing houses that seemed to float on the water. Away from the currents of the massive river, the water was so amazingly still, the reflections are pristine. Everybody in Rio Dulce would travel by canoe, this was the pitcure perfect snap of Rio Dulce life.
9) Canoe Girl, Rio Dulce, Guatemala
I know, another canoe, but this is also another favourite, I got so lucky to get this shot. This young girl was floating around a little lagoon surrounded by river houses in the back streets of the Rio Dulce and she was trying to sell some jewellery to passing boats (we were the only passing boat that we saw). She could not have been older than 12 years old and she happened to look straight down my camera lens as I took a photo of her. Again, the contrast in colours makes her stand out against the backdrop of greenery. (Canon 70D)
10) Tikal, Guatemala
How could I not include a shot of Tikal in my top ten? It's the classic shot over the tops of the rainforest canopy, one made famous by George Lucas in Star Wars Episode IV, A New Hope. The photo was taken from the top of Temple IV and I believe you can see Temples II and III poking up through the trees. Hello, the planet of Yavin 4!
The Dalyan exposé will run for 3 weeks in May and will include a lot of exciting articles every day and videos on our YouTube channel with interesting interviews with business owners and those who work in tourism in Turkey. We'll also be tackling safety issues and what terrorism means for Turkey and the beautiful riverside town of Dalyan.