Advantages Lots of amazing scenery, helpful people and a chance to see a truly different culture.
Disadvantages The necessity to ride on antiquated and crowded public transport.
Quetzaltenango, also known as Xela (shela) is located in western Guatemala, close to the Mexican border. It is in the Guatemalan Highlands, and home to awe-inspiring scenery. The highlands are quite simply spectacular. An excerpt from my travel journal: "Lots of brooding mist-enwreathed mountains covered in tropical bush, framing distant, hazy valleys and interspersed with cardamom plantations. To fall asleep on the bus is to miss this fiesta of scenery." From Xela, there are many ecotourism projects and adventures you can go on. I went on a 2 1/2 day trek up through remote mountain villages, where locals still wear traditional dress, using tracks made by the guerillas and soldiers during the war several years ago. The trek culminated with viewing a lovely sunrise over a picturesque lake.
Xela itself is a cute, but not stunning town. It is quiet yet friendly, with a good range of accommodation, internet cafes, restaurants and cafes. There are many charity/volunteer opportunities there.
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