Guatemala: Trip Preparation & Destination Information

About Guatemala

Overview

Known as the Land of the Eternal Spring, Guatemala is home to volcanoes, rainforests and ancient Mayan sites. The capital, Guatemala City, features the stately National Palace of Culture and the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Antigua, west of the capital, contains preserved Spanish colonial buildings. Lake Atitlán, formed in a massive volcanic crater, is surrounded by coffee fields and villages. Welcome to Guatemala.

 

Capital: Guatemala City

Population: 16.86 mil (2020 est)

Currency: Guatemalan quetzal

Time Zone: Central Standard Time (GMT-6)

Emergency Number: 110

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Packing List

Speak the Language

Language: Spanish is the official and most spoken language. In addition, there are 22 different Mayan languages as well as two other Indigenous languages - Garífuna and Xinca.

 

  • Hello - ¡Hola! (O-la)
  • Goodbye - ¡Adios! (AH-dee-ohs)
  • Thank you - Gracias (GRA-see-as)
  • Do you speak English? - ¿Habla inglés? (Ab-la in-GLAYS)
  • I (don’t) understand - Yo (no) entiendo (yo no en-tee-EN-doh)
  • How are you? - ¿Cómo está? (KOH-moh eh-STAH)
  • I’m fine, thank you - Bien, gracias (bee-EN, GRA-see-as)
  • What’s your name? -  Cómo te llamas? ((KOH-moh te ya-mas?))
  • My name is… - Me llamo… (May ya-moh… )
  • Where is... -  ¿Dónde está… (DON-day es-tah...)

- The bathroom - el baño (el BAH-nyo)

- An ATM - un cajero (un kah-HEH-roh)

 

Google Translate: Download the Google Translate app or click here  

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Weather

GUATEMALA CITY WEATHER

Fun Facts

  • Guatemala’s national bird is the quetzal, a long-tailed bird that lives largely in humid forests. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to see them in the wild, but you can see them every day on Guatemalan bank notes, as the currency is also named after the bird.
  • Experts believe the word Guatemala derives from the indigenous Nahuatl word “Quahtlemallan,” meaning “land of many trees.” 
  • Long before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Guatemala, the land was ruled by various Mayan kingdoms. You can still see evidence of these pre-Columbian civilizations at more than 5,000 archaeological sites.
  • Guatemala is divided into 3 main parts: the sparsely-populated northern plains, the volcanic yet largely-populated central highlands and the agricultural Pacific lowlands. It is known as the ‘land of the eternal spring’ as it boasts a warm, tropical climate.
  • The volcano-ringed Lake Atitlan is a jewel in the crown of Guatemala’s tourism industry, but it is also interesting below the surface. At 340 meters deep, Atitlan is the deepest lake in Central America.
  • With more than 30 volcanoes in the country, Guatemala is known for its spectacular landscapes. Three of these volcanoes are active, including Fuego Volcano just outside the colonial city of Antigua.
  • Coffee is the biggest industry in Guatemala and you are never far from a coffee farm in the highland regions. Today coffee from Guatemala can be found around the world, and it has become famous for its great taste.
  • The Guatemalan flag features two blue vertical stripes, representing the sea on either side of the country, with a white vertical stripe in the middle bearing the country’s coat of arms. This coat of arms includes the quetzal, Guatemala’s national bird, and a scroll that gives the date of Guatemala’s independence.

Tipping

Tipping Suggestions: Tips for Guides, drivers and restaurants are not included. Tips provide supplemental income, and, while not mandatory, are greatly appreciated. If the local teams have added to the experience, please reward them.

Guides USD $5-15 per person/per day
Drivers USD $5-10 per person/per day
Restaurants (full service) USD 10% of total bill

 

FAQ

Where can I find information on travel safety? Check out the US Department of State's website for the most up-to-date information on safety while traveling 

 

Is the water safe to drink? It is not safe to drink tap water in Guatemala. Bottled water (*agua pura*) is widely available in grocery stores, restaurants, and hotels.

 

Do I need a Visa? For Visa information, click here. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after you return home and has two or more blank pages. Otherwise, some countries may not let you enter.

 

What about vaccines? For vaccination information, click here.

 

Do you recommend travel insurance? While not required, we highly recommend all travelers get travel insurance for their trip to protect themselves from the unknown! Check out travel insurance options from our partner, worldnomads.com, or from a provider of your choice. 

 

How much should I pack? As we will be using shared transfers and spaces throughout our tour we recommend all travelers pack as lightly as possible. Please review our luggage restrictions below.

 

What does public transportation look like? The main form of public transportation is by bus. There is an abundance of camionetas buses, which are affectionately known as “chicken buses” by travelers. They are slow, particularly when winding up and down mountain roads, and often filled to capacity with people and caged birds as the name suggests.

 

Is Uber or Lyft available? Uber is available in some cities. 

 

Luggage Restrictions

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