World Travel

Guatemala Picture Travelogue

Guatemala City Antigua Panajachel Lake Atitlan Chichicastenango Rio Dulce Livingston Flores/Tikal

Maya healing ritual embroidered on cloth
Maya healing ritual embroidered on cloth

(If you'd rather just see my favourite pictures of GUATEMALA, click here!)


Guatemala impressed me a lot. The short, funny, colourful Mayans, the Volcanoes, the ancient Mayan culture, the contrasts within the country, the Highlands, Jungles, Caribbean coast, sailing on Lago de Izabal, and of course Tikal, made Guatemala a real highlight of our travels through Central America. 

Traveling from Cuba, you find hawkers here too, but it was troubling to see that a lot of them were children - in Cuba they were mostly young men.

Realizing that crime is omnipresent was a shock for us: guns are worn everywhere, especially by guards outside western shops. You are even allowed to import a weapon if you can prove you are a tourist. And going out late is not really an option.

The Quetzal is the local currency. Prices are seldom quoted in Dollars, except for very touristy services.

This trip was from 6.4.2001 to 20.4.2001.

Btw: Check out www.lifelock.com to protect yourself from ID theft while traveling abroad.
Antigua's claim to fame is that it has 365 beaches, a new beach for each day. Enjoy a holiday at Antigua vacation hotels any time of year.
Our route through Guatemala
Our route through Guatemala (the map is clickable)

My favourites of Guatemala

  • Seeing a Volcano silhouette from our evening plane during landing in Guatemala City 
  • King size bed in Hotel "Holiday Inn" in Guatemala City and luxurious standard of room compared to Cuba
  • Guatemalan System seeming to be working much better than Cuba's
  • Local people's very gentle way of speaking. Typical is the melodic, nasal 'ah-hah'
  • Maya women dressed in traditional gear
  • Sights and sounds of Plaza Mayor in Guatemala City
  • Logical street naming/numbering system of Avenidas and Calles in most towns
  • Guns everywhere, even in the hands of the guard in front of McDonalds
  • Scare of body search by troupe of police on our second night in Guatemala City
  • Constant fear of 'armed robbers'
  • Ordering and eating local food in Guatemala City restaurant, not really knowing what it was
  • Ruins of Cathedral destroyed by earthquake in Antigua
  • Colourful Semana Santa Easter procession and sombre music in Antigua
  • Viewing volcano through arch across Antigua street
  • Town of Panajachel on Atitlan Lake, which has three volcanoes around it
  • Strange Church in Santiago on lake Atitlan
  • Shrine of Maximon in Santiago was out of this world
  • Beautiful Rio Dulce scenery
  • Wonderful sailing trip on catamaran
  • Agua Caliente volcanic hot waterfalls on sailing trip
  • Town of Livingston with Caribbean feel quite unlike the rest of Guatemala
  • Fort San Filipe landscape
  • Mysterious Tikal jungle and impressive Mayan temple ruins
  • Two nights with Annewien on the catamaran sailing boat
  • Night swims from the boat under a brilliantly starry sky
  • Linea Dorada luxury buses being almost like planes
  • Never being sick

The diary

6.4. Havana to Guatemala City
7.4 Guatemala City
8.4 Antigua Easter processions
9.4 Antigua to Panajachel
10.4 Boat ride on Lago de Atitlan
11.4 Panajachel
12.4 Chichicastenango
13.4 Panajachel to Rio Dulce
14.4 Sailing, Agua Caliente
15.4 Sailing, Livingston
16.4 Rio Dulce to Flores
17.4 Tikal
18.4 Tikal
19.4 Back to Guatemala City
20.4 Guatemala to San Jose

Tips

  • Buses in Guatemala City consume a lot of time and may not take the same route each time they drive. To save time and nerves taxis are more convenient. If you plan to take a bus to Antigua from Guatemala City from the airport (10$ pp), and you're at least 2 persons, it's faster and cheaper if you take a taxi (20$ for the whole taxi)
  • We did a catamaran sailing trip from Rio Dulce which we really liked (book from Antigua or Panajachel)
  • At Tikal, I don't think Temple VI warrants the danger of being robbed on the way to it. It's rather small and doesn't have anything worthwhile to the untrained eye after you've seen the others
  • We didn't see the graffiti in Maler's Palace, Tikal, immediately. Waiting till a tour group passes by solved the problem. The guide will point them out
  • Maximon's house in Santiago on Lake Panajachel is weird. You'll find directions at the tourist information a short distance after you hop off the boat or just follow the tourist streams, usually led by small kids
  • Souvenirs in Chichicastenango need hard bargaining
  • We did find reasonable rooms during Semana Santa (Easter week) in Panajachel when we looked around, no matter what people and tour operators said about everything being full
  • We found that we should NEVER trust a taxi driver to take us to a good hotel (guess this is valid most anywhere in the world)

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