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Does anyone know anything about travelling through Guatemala?
I will be going backpacking through Central America to South America with some friends next year. I always wanted to check out Guatemala. Does anyone have any tips? Is it a country worth while visiting? Is there a lot to see? How long would you need to spend in Guatemala to see the main things there are to see there?? Is it dangerous?? Any info would be great, Cheers Emelia
- 1 decade agoFavorite Answer
Guatemala arguably has more to see than the other countries in Central America. I live in Guatemala and have been here for 5 years so my opinion is bias. I do, however, travel frequently around Central America for tourism.
Things to see in no specific order.
ANTIGUA - Small, colonial, walking pueblo. Ruins and Spanish colonial structures. The base for tourists. You will see a lot of tourists and Spanish schools here and will have no problem at all finding English speakers. Tours and mircrobuses to other attractions in the country are abundant. Nightlife can be quite fun as well.
PACAYA - An active volcano only 1.5 hours from Antigua. The best, cheapest and easiest way to visit this volcano is from Antigua on a tour. It shouldn't cost you more than $7 and you will pay an additional Q40 ($5) entrance fee. Tours tend to be programmed for 6am and 2 pm and you are back in Antigua 7 hours hours after departing. You can walk right up to the rivers of lava and even roast marshmellows and hot dogs over it!
XELA (Quetzaltenango) - A developing Spanish-school mecca. The 2nd biggest city in Guatemala. Not entirely worth seeing, but a fun place to be. Similar to Antigua in touristic ways.
SEMUC CHAMPEY - Number one on my list. In all my travels I have never seen anything as beautiful and pristine. Here is a picture. http://learnspanishdc.com/weblog/wp-content/upload... The picture doesn't do it justice, but it's very nice. You can swim the day away in these small ponds connected with tiny water falls. On the side you can take a tour swimming through a cave. You are swimming 90% of the time and your only light is the candle you have lit in your mouth!
RIO DULCE - The city of Rio Dulce is interesting because it is only a couple blocks on the highway, but next to the largest lake in Guatemala, which receives water from a river coming from the ocean. Many international boaters dock here during the huricane season. Staying in Rio Dulce the city is not nice. Staying in a little hotel on the lake is gorgeous. I recommend Tortugal. www.tortugal.com. Quite affordable for what it offers. Q75 per person. A wonderful day trip to Finca Paraiso is highly recommended. It is a 30 - 45 bus or pick-up truck ride to a waterfall of hot spring water. http://www.guate360.com/galeria/data/media/271/cas... This picture does it even less justice than the last since you can't feel the hot water. I can spend hours here sitting under the hot water and relaxing.
LIVINGSTON - The city itself is quite ugly in my opinion. The atmosphere is very interesting though because it is home to the Garifuna people; descendants of Carib, Arawak and West African people. In Livingston you can take small boat tours to Playa Blanca (a very small white sand beach), Siete Altares (seven small "altars" of waterfalls, neat to see if you have time) and to many of the keys of Belize.
TIKAL - Ancient capital of the Mayans. Easy to look up info. and find pictures. Many people come to Guatemala only to see this and Antigua.
LAKE ATITLAN - Panajachel is the main city. This can also be done in a day tour from Antigua. It's worth it to stay longer though. It's a very pretty lake high up and surrounded by 3 inactive volcanoes. It's interesting to visit the pueblos that surround the lake by boat. A large part of the internal conflict took place in these pueblos as they are primarily Indigenous peoples. In the pueblo of Santiago you will find the Indigenous/Christian god Maximón, who who has a cigarette eternally lit and has bottles of liqueur surrounding him at all times. Nightlife in Panajachel is also very fun.
As far as safety. Nothing has ever happened to me while here. That may be only because I have been lucky. You have to be careful of course, but I wouldn't go over board.
If you have any other question please feel free to contact me. It's always nice to have a contact when travelling. I hope you have a lot of fun on your trip!
- 5 years ago
I would recommend a trip to Guatemala to everyone. It is a country on the rise, but hindered by high crime. I was like you and got nervous about the travel warnings, but I've never had an issue the two times I've been. I spent 3 weeks there last year and will return later this year. If you use common sense you will be fine. The bad part of the trip is it takes a little while to get from one place to another (high volume of traffic up and down mountains). Try to plan your trip in the winter, as summer is the rainy season and mudslides and washouts of roads are common making travel even more difficult. The good is the natural beauty of the country at a great price. If you hang out in tourist areas, you will pay roughly the same as if you were in the U.S., but if you find somewhere to stay in a local hotels run by a family you will enjoy your trip much more. They are cheap (about $10 or less a night.) Stay somewhere on Lake Atitlan. Semuc Champey is an absolute must see. It is gorgeous and you can stay in a hotel in a nearby town. If you want to go to Tikal, you can fly out of Guatemala City for about $130.00 or you can take the long drive up, but the roads there can be more dangerous (bandits). Lago Izabel, in the Rio Dulce region, is a beautiful lake too. I stopped in a small town and rented an innertube for my kids from a local boy who charged $1.00 for the day. It's hard to find a place that is as beautiful and inexpensive as Guatemala.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
it's a very unique country. (emphasis on the VERY)
two major cultures, the mayan and the spanish, and it's very great.
the feeling that i get about it gives me the goosebumps (i lived there for a year)
the country is not REALLY tourist attracting, but once you go, the nature will stun you.
don't expect 5 star resorts..expect no star homestays/hostels with bugs crawling around, but that's the experience. it is very worth visiting, because the feeling u get out of it is indescribable.
ALTHOUGH it's beautiful, it has it's flaws. CORRUPTION AND CRIME. you REALLY do not wanna be walking around ESPECIALLY IN THE CAPITAL CITY. IT"S FILLED with gangs that aren't afraid of anything. stay out of the city, because there's nothing special in the city, and it will make guatemala seem unworthy of travel. ANTIGUA, is a safer place for toursits, but u still have to realize that gang members are EVERYWHERE. just be careful, because you can walk around in this part of the country. and go to natural places such as COBAN, ATITLAN, TIKAL, and Rio DULCE (i'm not gonna explain in detail about ALL of these places..but u can email me ur questions.
just PLEASE be careful.
- 7 years ago
Guatemala is awesome! Here is a rather detailed blog of my stay there. lifeotravel.blogspot.com