In a country as rich in culture, kindness, and beauty, there are still so many ways that your volunteer time here, applied responsibly, has a lasting and beneficial impact. Guatemala has a close-knit community of active and interesting changemakers and volunteers have the opportunity to serve an important role in the positive development work.
Guatemala continually struggles with issues such as lack of education, malnutrition, gender inequality, poverty, pollution, and street animals; but there are steps of inspiring, even if incremental, progress every day. Volunteers in Guatemala have the opportunity to contribute to projects in hands-on, direct action with caring folks in a strong effort for a healthier, more just future.
There are many resources available online and we encourage you to check them out. Here are some helpful links:
- INGUAT (Guatemalan tourist bureau): www.visitguatemala.com
- University of Texas Latin American Studies (Guatemalan history): http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/ca/guatemala
- Revue Magazine (English-language magazine of current events): www.revuemag.com
The majority of Buena Onda’s project partners are located in the villages around Antigua and Lake Atitlan. We do work with communities in other parts of the country and we are happy to provide more information about those areas when we present a project there. Here, though, we offer introductions to our two main partner locations.
Antigua, Guatemala is situated at 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) above sea level in the central highlands, in the department of Sacatepéquez. Antigua is the most popular destination in the country for both tourists and local Guatemalans alike. The city is famous for its well preserved colonial architecture and spectacular ruins—so much so that the entire city is designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site by the United Nations. As Antigua is a major destination for both international and local visitors, the government has made great efforts to ensure safety and a special “tourist police” force is deployed around the city, making Antigua the safest place in Guatemala.
Called the most beautiful lake in the world by National Geographic Español, Lake Atitlan is actually the crater of a massive volcano that erupted over 84,000 years ago. Now, three smaller volcanoes – Volcán Atitlán, Volcán San Pedro, and Volcán Tolimán – watch over the waters. Three miles wide and seven miles long, with unique indigenous Maya villages, each with its own character, dotting the perimeter, Atitlan is a popular stop on any Guatemala itinerary.
Other areas of interest in Guatemala: