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Guatemala

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I am thinking of going on vacation to Guatemala in December. Anyone ever been? Is it as dangerous as its reputation suggests?
post #2 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambulance Chaser View Post

I am thinking of going on vacation to Guatemala in December. Anyone ever been? Is it as dangerous as its reputation suggests?

i did not know guatemaala had reputation for being dangerous. when i visited the city and antigua i walked around and took taxis and never found it dagerous. The only ting i can say is that is expensive compared to mexico.
post #3 of 11
Was there in 07, really loved it. Made the trek out to Antigua twice. Quite enjoyed that. Tikal was really cool, but the group I was with kinda killed it for me in a lot of ways. Would recommend spending the night in one of the Mayan cities, if at all possible. Dunno about dangerous in GC TBH. I think just like any other city there are good and bad parts, just that there are more bad parts and they are far worse than the bad in America. Still, you can figure out quickly what part you are in and know not to flash shit around.

Did walk around a fair bit with ipod and camera, and other than "meeester help" no problems. The poverty will fuck you up.

Street food is great. So are the tacos. Tons of these Tacontento places with fresh tortillas made right as you order, cheap as shit. Can eat like a ton of tacos for 6 bucks.

Any other questions? Which hotel you looking at?
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks, ed. When I read about tourists getting mugged outside outspots like Antigua and Tikal, and tourist buses getting hijacked by armed robbers, I think maybe I should visit Yucatan or Argentina instead. Which would be a shame, because Guatemala is supposed to be the best country to visit in Central America by a considerable margin. Good to hear that the danger is somewhat overstated (a lot of the reports are from the alarmist State Department), although it doesn't hurt to be on guard. I'm probably going to do a package tour -- not that into DIY travel.
post #5 of 11
Yeah that road to Tikal is incredibly safe. There's a military instillation by Tikal's entrance (IIRC), the police monitor your progress (there's a speed limit and a minimum time you can travel from point to point to ensure you obey the posted sign)... TBH, the road from airport to Tikal looks like an average small town US highway. Paved, boring, lots of open space, just in a rainforest.

Maybe if you drive from GC to Tikal it is different but that's an 8 hour trip and like only $100 less, so take the plane.

IDK, I've never had any problems in Rio, despite clearly being a traveler, felt safe in Acapulco right after a spate of beheadings, blah blah blah.

But yeah, go to Argentina too. BA was really cool. I was homesick as shit (like nearly cripplingly) the entire week I was there for some strange reason, but still found it amazing. Want to go to Tierra del Fuego badly.

ETA: Yucatan can be legit dangerous.
post #6 of 11
I was in Guatemala in 2008 for a short visit. Guatemala City is pretty crappy - didn't spend any real time there, besides using the airport. Antigua is a wonderful city (about a 30 minute cab ride from the airport), and felt perfectly safe walking around even after midnight. Lake Atitlan, which is maybe a 2 hour drive from Antigua, is well worth the trip (you can do it in a day). I also did a volcano hike a short distance from Antigua (forget the specific one). That was an amazing experience - was able to get so close to the lava that I could poke a stick into it (no way you'd be allowed that close in most places - whether its all that safe or not is another question). I visited the ruins in Copan (Honduras), which was about a 6 hour drive from Antigua, and was worth the trip. The drive from Antigua to Copan was an adventure though - 1.5 lane windy road through the mountains with huge trucks passing our van at high speeds - there is probably a better way to do that drive.

I didn't experience any issues at all with violence, but was also in mainly tousist friendly areas, and with a group of guys who are pretty travel smart. Honestly - I'd skip the packaged tour. Just go to Antigua for a week, and arrange a few side tours (there are lots of companies) once you are there. It really is not that difficult to navigate, even without being able to speak much Spanish.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback, guys. Last night, I talked to someone who lived in Guatemala for several years. She suggested waiting until after the election in September to visit because the country will be more stable. She also stated that Guatemala is okay so long as you don't walk around certain parts of the country by yourself late at night with an iPod -- basically stuff you wouldn't do in any large city in America. Surprisingly, she also said that Guatemala is not necessarily more unsafe than Costa Rica, because Costa Rica doesn't report crimes.
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambulance Chaser View Post

Thanks, ed. When I read about tourists getting mugged outside outspots like Antigua and Tikal, and tourist buses getting hijacked by armed robbers, I think maybe I should visit Yucatan or Argentina instead. Which would be a shame, because Guatemala is supposed to be the best country to visit in Central America by a considerable margin. Good to hear that the danger is somewhat overstated (a lot of the reports are from the alarmist State Department), although it doesn't hurt to be on guard. I'm probably going to do a package tour -- not that into DIY travel.

I've traveled through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Guatemala was the last one I'd visit again. Atitlan was nice.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by svd View Post


I've traveled through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Guatemala was the last one I'd visit again. Atitlan was nice.
Why?
post #10 of 11
I don't know exactly what kind of trip you have planned or what you are looking for, but I think you can find whatever it is, but better somewhere else.

I thought the ruins of Palenque, in southern Mexico were similar to but more interesting than Tikal and in a more dramatic setting. The food in Guatemala, after spending 6 weeks in Mexico was much like Mexican food without the flavor.

The people in Honduras and and Nicaragua were friendlier. If you are hoping to an authentic experience those two countries have seen a lot less tourism over the past 20 years and at least feel like you are getting a truer glimpse of Central America, with the same language, topography, culture, food, etc.

If you are looking for a well worn path, Costa Rica is a little more expensive but a lot more comfortable. More jungle tours and beaches than Mayan ruins here, but if part of what you are looking for is meeting other travelers from around the world and having a good time this is a better option.

If I had a couple weeks and were looking to hit this part of the world I'd look to put together an itinerary that did something like one of the following, depending on what I was after.

* Start in Oaxaca spending a couple days exploring the famous food markets there - interesting and different cuising from what you think of as Mexican food. This is the area that roasts grasshoppers but also puts together delicate mole sauces from pumpkin seeds in the fall. The food is varied and delicious and safe to eat in the open air markets. Head down through San Cristobal de las Casas and maybe hit a couple side trips in Chiapas. Spend a day or two near Palenque and find my way home. Central Mexico is highlands. In December this will be a cool weather trip until you get to the jungle down near the Guatemala border.

* Start on the Pacific coast, around Zihuatanejo perhaps, then Chiapas and Palenque. This is the warm weather beach route.

From either of these you could still hit Guatemala if you've got the time. There is a well worn path from Palenque to Lake Atitlan, which was the highlight of Guatemala for me.

* Hit Nicaragua and the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Mayan ruins of Copan, colonial town of Granada, volcano island of the Lago de Nicaragua, beach in Costa Rica. Jungle tours in either country.

* Panama - couple days in Panama City. Jungle tour in the northeast. A week in Bocas del Toro - a remarkable beach sopt with few tourists. You travel between the islands daily on motorized canoes.
post #11 of 11
I went to Guatemala in 2010 with a couple of buddies, basically what everyone else said, don't be an obvious tourists, flaunting who you are and you'll be fine. In my experience the people were actually really friendly and the food was great, I stayed in a little town right by the sea called Puerto Barrios so we had fresh seafood everyday which was great. Plus there were jungle tours that were great, it's a beautiful country.
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