I am planning to travel to Guatemala this summer for 3 weeks, but I would love to get some advice.
It is the first time I'll be traveling on my own and I do not have a clear plan jet. (accept for going )
Does anyone have some advice for a route to travel?
Arival and departure from the same city? (comming from the Netherlands) and if I do so how do I get around the easiest and see the most in 3 weeks? I would love to experience a lot of the Maya's, but maybe also do some diving etc?
I hope someone can help me out, because I am really looking forward to a great backpacking experience
Thanks in advance and looking forward to your advices!
At one time I would have advised Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, but there has been some trouble in Mexico lately, and though you can be a long distance from it, it would be up to you if you went there. Make sure you visit the historic site at Tikal, and nearby Flores is a nice place to chill out in for a day.
I would suggest, if I were you, to enter from one city, and leave from another.
With three weeks, this is what I suggest. I think you should fly into GUA and then go immediately to Antigua. Antigua is a Guat town very used to dealing with tourists and you can survive there with English...It's a good place to get used to the temp, and the culture, and the town is nice. There are volcanoes to see, and great people to meet. Then I'd leave and head south. I'd go to Copan Ruinas in Honduras. Another nice little town, and some great ruins. Lots of places to walk. I'd spend a couple of days there. From there, I'd go over to Suchitoto in El Salvador. beautiful place, pretty rural. Then I'd go back up to the GUA airport. I'd go and see the Tikal museum that's a walk from there. I'd buy me a ticket on the overnight bus up to Flores and use that trip (tiring though it may be) as an impromptu hotel as it'll take all night. Get to Flores, get a hotel room and spend the day kicking around. Buy a ticket for the next morning to go to Tikal. Get a lancha out onto the lake (if it's still there. I hear the thing is drying up...What a crime) Then I'd get me a bus to San Ignacio Belize. Hang around there a day. Go see the Place Of Ticks ruins. Off to BZE and the boat out to Caye Caulker, or down to Placencia. You're at the Caribbean, would be a crime not to experience some of it. Shlep around until you need to get back to BZE to fly out. And fly out from BZE.
Four countries. Two coasts. Three ruins, two lakes, time in the jungle, time in towns, time on the sand....and you end in a place that speaks English so you can regear for home.
Course, you could be happy just being in Guat, which is a beautiful place on it's own, but this way you get to see some other places down here....a sort of taster, if you will.
I´d 100% recommend Semuc Champey and Lanquin, there´s a great hostel in Lanquin called Zephyr Lodge, its a great place to stay, really friendly atmosphere and amazing views through some gorgeous countryside. Semuc Champey is a lovely spot in itself, the hostel also offers cavig tours by candlelight, some parts you have to swim etc, really good fun.
Flores and Tikal are both great, go to Tikal early in the day, more wildlife and also less heat. Finca el Paraiso is nice, which is near Rio Dulce, but I wouldn´t go out of my way for it.
Antigua as mentioned would be a good place to start, Lake Atitlan is supposed to be beautiful but I never made it there, and Xela is meant to be nice too, but again only hearsay no experience.
Don´t try and do too much at once, you could easily fill 3 weeks with just Guatemala and geta really good feel for the country, I had a fantastic time there.
Elsewhere if you set on seeing more, going to Caye Caulker and doing a 3 day sailing trip down to Placencia was one of the highlights of my 2 months in the region so far and won´t take you too far from Guatemala.
Hope that helps
Guatemala for 3 weeks it's awsome. I guess the only possible flight will b to/from Guatemala City anyway, I don't think there r another international airport there. Once you come to G.City - stay for couple of days in Antigua (colonial town nearby), it's good place for acclimatisation and adaptation. From there you can continue to ChiChi (for market) for a day and then for few days to Lago Atitlan. Then your road can b various, but anyway it will go in direction of Mexican border. Tikal is Guatemalian must, very impressive, even there r few similar places that less touristic and not less interesting in Guatemala, and nearby countries (Copan in Hounduras, for example). Guatemala - it's good choice for Central America as it constists almost everyting you only could dream in C.Am. There r : jungle, volcanos, huge cristal lakes and green rivers, some Caribbean, endless variety of culture and folklore and very nice polite and quiet local people. Semuc Champey (nice!) + caves nearby - must if ur an adventure one.If you about scuba dive - go to neighbour Honduras, but then your should cut off big piece of your time - transportation is slow-slow (slow!) and inefficient there. Caribbean cost of Gua is very little, there r adorable Livingston for chilling and huge water-reserve connected to Livingstone "from the land side".
Thanks for the rapid response to my post and the great advise! It really helped making a choice! First of all I was even still doubting whether I should go at all, but the decision has been made! I will arrive in Guatemala city on the 23rd of July!
I do still have a question about my first 'evening' in the city. I'll land at 19.45, but a lot of people advise me to leave town asap and go to Antigua. Is this do-able after 20u? (probably later), or would you advise me to stay the night in Guatemala? And if so, is it wise to book this hostel already in advance?
Thanks again for the nice messages!
Your best decision is to book ahead and stay the night in Guatemala City. Travel to Antigua the following day. I can't add anything to the fabulous experiences related by other members: Antigua, Atitlán, Chichicastenango, Flores (Tikal, Yaxhá)