Whether it's diving in Belize or venturing on an eco-trek in Costa Rica, you'll find answers to your questions on Central America travel here.

Guatemala!

Charissa

User avatar
Guidebook Dependent
 
Posts: 17
Joined: December 28th, 2009

Share on Orkut

Tags: guatemala, rtw, travel, Places
  • Added on: February 12th, 2011
Hello fellow Bootsnall peoples! 8-)

I am currently in the process of developing a loose itinerary for the first leg of my RTW trip, Guatemala! Yay :D

So, I was wondering: What are the best parts of Guatemala? What thoughts, memories and emotions does the word Guatemala illicit in you? What sights and experiences do you think I shouldn't miss?

Thanks for your help! ;)

Wiskee

User avatar
Lost in Place
 
Posts: 86
Joined: August 12th, 2008

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 12th, 2011
My partner and I spent 2 months in Guatemala in 2010, will give you my opinions...

Charissa wrote: What are the best parts of Guatemala?


Semuc Champey and the ruins at Tikal are spectacular, the kind of places that are touristy for good reason. I loved Lago Atitlan and spent 10 very relaxing days swinging in a hammock and eating at good restaurants in San Pedro. We spent a month studying spanish in Xela, a great city that´s a great mix between spanish students and friendly locals -- hiking is also very good here.

More off the beaten path, the hiking around Nebaj is outstanding. El Estor is a very pretty town on Lago Izabal near Rio Dulce where we didn´t see a single other Euro/American tourist and I got giggled at a lot when I went for a jog. The road trip from El Estor to Lanquin is one of the coolest single journeys of our past 11 months in Latin America.


What thoughts, memories and emotions does the word Guatemala illicit in you?


Very beautiful and diverse, great indigenous influence on the culture. Lots of different environments. Friendly locals. Sometimes chaotic but always entertaining. One of my favorite countries.

What sights and experiences do you think I shouldn't miss?


Semuc Champey is amazing. Lago Atitlan. If I had to pick 2 spots not to miss those would be them.

We also visited Poptun and stayed at Finca Ixobel which I highly recommend if you plan to travel between Tikal and Rio Dulce or El Estor. My other recommendation is not to be put off of Guate City by what you will hear from other travelers. If you stay in a safe ¨zona¨ and are careful to take normal precautions (dont carry too much cash or flash your camera, take taxis at night etc), the capital can be a fascinating place -- and one other backpackers typically avoid.

PM me if you´re interested in anything more specific like hostel recs, enjoy!
Formerly bakpakaddict

busman7

User avatar
World Citizen
 
Posts: 1174
Joined: January 12th, 2008
Location: Traveling for a while away from Playa San Diego SV

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 13th, 2011
Tikal is fantastic, much better than Chichen-Itza, Antigua is cool & a good place to base for travel in the area.

As to Guatemala City the only safe place is the airport, even zone 10 is no longer safe, according to the locals, but I guess if seeing a chicken bus surrounded by police tape with the passengers mulling about because the driver has just been shot, is your thing then it might be called interesting. :twisted:
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

blueberrypicker

User avatar
Guidebook Dependent
 
Posts: 17
Joined: July 12th, 2010
Location: San Francisco, CA

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 13th, 2011
I'm sure you probably already have a guidebook but if you don't, the Moon Guatemala Guidebook by Al Argueta is a very good resource. He also has a facebook page called Moon Guatemala and responds to messages if you need advice or help. I didn't love Guatemala personally (most of that was due to accidentally planning my trip there during the rainiest season on record), but Al's book helped me make the most of where I was.

I based myself in Antigua and, although it's chock full of gringos and is a bit expensive, you can find good food and accommodation there, and is a nice place to hang out for a few days. I can recommend a fantastic hostel called El Hostal...the owners treat everyone like family and the place is absolutely spotless.

One more thing...there is a European deli/bakery/restaurant called Epicure in Antigua, run by a guy named John. He is a good resource as well and runs a socially conscious business. His employees are wonderful and the food is some of the best I've had in my life. I would buy a ticket to Guatemala just to eat at Epicure again. haha

Good luck in your planning and have fun!

Tortuga_traveller

Extra Pages in Passport
 
Posts: 3454
Joined: November 19th, 2004

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 13th, 2011
1. If you have a limited tme in Guatemala, then there isn't much worthwhile to see in Guat city unless you are doing a sociological/cultural study of poor Central American Capital cities, or you have business with Inmigration or someone official. If you do, bring your patience and understanding with you, and feed it well, you'll need it. Zone 1 is squalid and dangerous, though going to a bus station there is often a requirement.

I suppose if you wanted to experience life in a city where life is cheap, on the 'low side', Guat city would be perfect. Some people enjoy all sides of a country, even the squalid, and so I'd not deny you that experience, as long as you dress down, wear nothing valuable, and keep your eyes open. Oh yes, keep your nighttime perigrinations to a minimum unless you have local friends who can keep you 'safe'. I know some people who enjoyed guat city. They also liked to live on the wild side. Most were born there.

I found there one fair to middling museum of Natural historty, and a few other thinigs, including staying in the home of a Guat city middle class resident. It was interesting, but not to be gotten by say, staying in a high priced hotel in Zona 10.

2. I found Lago Atitlan to be the jewel in the crown that is Guatemala. The lake captured me, as it has captured many Gringos. You must at least visit it, Panajachel, and yes, Santiago. San Pedro has a great laid back attitude, and I spent a lovely week just lounging in that town. The lake is well..gorgeous and captivating, the land is incredible when the moon is full, and the moonlight reflects from the lake onto all sides of the mountains that surround the lake.

2. Xela has some cool hiking to be found around, and is a great place to learn Spanish on the cheap, and very well.

3. Antiqua is a great place to see an old colonial city complete with cobblestone streets and old buildings, and a very warm and social place. It shouldn't be missed, though if you want to learn Spanish, I'd head to Xela(quetzaltenango) Its a good intro to the rest of guatemala.

4. Tikal. Duh!! One of the most glorious pyramid sites in th world! I've seen a lot of pyramid sites, and Tikal tops the list, marauding insects and all.

5. Todos Santos, a great mountain town, a very traditional town with little to do but do some mounytain hiking and see how traditional village life goes in a comfortable fashion.

Never been to Nebaj... or Semuc Champey. Perhaps I should have.

7. Livingston is interesting, but a little squalid and it can be dangerous, or so I'm told. I never had much of a fascination for Criole culture mixed in with potential violence, though I'nm told the caves nearby are pretty cool. If you do, be careful and enjoy yourself.

Fluffy_bunny

User avatar
Lost in Place
 
Posts: 87
Joined: October 28th, 2010
Location: Erbil, Iraq

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 13th, 2011
Not really anything new to add here. Without question the 3 big ones are the ruins of Tikal, Lake Atitilan and Antigua. Not all places will suit all people. It really depends on what floats your boat.

Atitlan | Antigua | Tikal

Charissa

User avatar
Guidebook Dependent
 
Posts: 17
Joined: December 28th, 2009

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 13th, 2011
Thankyou so much for all these great answers! Most of my previous ideas were reaffirmed by your advice, so, hurrah! :lol:

I was totally planning on spending time at Finca Ixobel! I was looking at their website, and it looked really nice! :)

Has anyone ever stayed at the hotels at Tikal? I was looking at that option, and it seemed like it could be one of two things: Really touristy and expensive, and altogether a lame experience, or something I shouldn't miss.

I am more interested on focusing of the outdoors, because that is more where my interests lay, so...Any great out doors experiences that you would like to share? I particularly like hiking, camping, and horseback riding :D

Cheers! ;)

zoomcharlieb

User avatar
Squat Toilet Professional
 
Posts: 768
Joined: June 24th, 2007
Location: Lake Forest Park, Washington

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 14th, 2011
If you like hiking and camping then trek out to El Mirador. It is a trip that will astonish you as you are 50 miles in from the nearest dust bin of a village, which is 50 miles from a decent city and you are standing on top of the biggest pyramid in the world and you can see for a long long way but it is all green and that little speck sticking up 15 miles away is the pyramid you were at yesterday, and they are still excavating and trying to find the tomb. And then the guide says pelligro as you listen to the sound of peccaries knashing their teeth as they circulate below you in the brush part way down the pyramid and then the howler monkies set off their racket as the sun goes down and the forest awakens.

Felix the Hat

User avatar
Extra Pages in Passport
 
Posts: 2939
Joined: June 17th, 2002
Location: itinerant

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 17th, 2011
Fluffy_bunny wrote:Not really anything new to add here. Without question the 3 big ones are the ruins of Tikal, Lake Atitilan and Antigua. Not all places will suit all people. It really depends on what floats your boat.


Seconded.

busman7

User avatar
World Citizen
 
Posts: 1174
Joined: January 12th, 2008
Location: Traveling for a while away from Playa San Diego SV

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 17th, 2011
Have talked with a couple people that have done the El Mirador trek it's supposed to be fantastic but a bit arduous.
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

Lucky Luke

User avatar
Knows What a Schengen Visa Is
 
Posts: 391
Joined: March 24th, 2005

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 18th, 2011
Charissa wrote: What thoughts, memories and emotions does the word Guatemala illicit in you?


Regret!

Because I didn't go there. I was in Belize, had the choice between heading back up to Cancun to catch my flight to Miami or throwing caution to the wind and continuing south to Guat for another 2 weeks with the really amazing group of new friends I'd made. I did the sensible thing and got on the plane, which resulted in me having a miserable time in Florida (which was FREEZING!!!), being taunted by emails and FB updates about how incredible Guatemala was and how much they all loved it. I'm already planning how I will get back and finish that trip!

Enjoy yourself!!

Qwovadis

User avatar
Armchair Traveler
 
Posts: 28
Joined: January 30th, 2011

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 19th, 2011
Been a fair amount over the years... wonderful but pretty dodgy country.

my fav places www.jaguartikal.com www.lacasadelmundo.com

Antigua www.blackcathostels.net makes a nice base avoid dodgy Mara infested GC if possible.

many dodgy areas review consular advisories www.travel.state.gov for a heads up

Backpacker trip insurance always wise. Have fun,

busman7

User avatar
World Citizen
 
Posts: 1174
Joined: January 12th, 2008
Location: Traveling for a while away from Playa San Diego SV

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 19th, 2011
While it's true there are areas where one has to use common sense + there are dodgy areas especially around Lake Atitlian & downright dangerous areas in Guatemala City, anyone taking to heart government advisories would never leave the house.

Also find it strange that, especially the US & Canadian governments have the gall to advise against foreign countries/cities while ignoring some of their own are as bad or worse. :evil:
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

Felix the Hat

User avatar
Extra Pages in Passport
 
Posts: 2939
Joined: June 17th, 2002
Location: itinerant

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 19th, 2011
busman7 wrote:Also find it strange that, especially the US & Canadian governments have the gall to advise against foreign countries/cities while ignoring some of their own are as bad or worse. :evil:


Why would US and Canadian governments issue advisories about domestic conditions in their advisories about foreign travel?

busman7

User avatar
World Citizen
 
Posts: 1174
Joined: January 12th, 2008
Location: Traveling for a while away from Playa San Diego SV

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 19th, 2011
Felix the Hat wrote:
busman7 wrote:Also find it strange that, especially the US & Canadian governments have the gall to advise against foreign countries/cities while ignoring some of their own are as bad or worse. :evil:


Why would US and Canadian governments issue advisories about domestic conditions in their advisories about foreign travel?


They wouldn't but their hypocrisy of issuing warnings of foreign countries is when their own are as bad is glaring! Heck last I looked there was still a warning against Bali for bombing in 2002 which is still hurting tourism + the El Salvador warnings are blatant untruths & totally ridiculous. :twisted:

I feel safer in San Salvador than 3 blocks from the Capitol in Washington DC (haven't been to DC in 20 yrs but doubt that it's gotten any safer).
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain


Next

Return to Central America Travel

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

PLEASE NOTE: Your original BootsnAll Boards Member login still works by logging in below on the Boards.
We have a new BootsnAll Account that you will start seeing around the BootsnAll Travel Network. This new login is not yet linked to your current Boards Account. In the meantime, you will need to sign up (for a BootsnAll Account) to use Account features like Indie ™ , Traveler Profiles etc.

Quick Links

Community Activity

Statistics for the last 7 days

New posts:
0
Newest Member:
hungodd94


Indie - Multi Country Flight Finder
Round the World Travelers


Join BootsnAll on Facebook

1 (503) 528-1005

© 2018 BootsnAll Travel Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.