This coffee-growing, lava-flowing, jungle-clad land definitely doesn’t hold back with colour – think retro chicken buses cruising down the highway, pastel-washed colonial buildings lining the cobbled streets of historic Antigua and vibrant wares on sale at market stalls in Chichicastenango. And whether you’re cruising down the Rio Dulce to Garifuna-influenced Livingston, strolling around the quaint island of Flores in Lago Peten Itza, or trekking to the Maya ruins of Tikal, your Guatemalan adventure will unlock all but one of its highland secrets – how this Central American beauty is still largely undiscovered will continue to remain a mystery.
Just like much of Central America, Guatemala has a wet and dry season, with a pretty consistent temperature throughout the year. July–August and December–January are the peak seasons for travelling, which coincide with US and European summer holidays and winter breaks. However, visiting outside these times may mean that you not only escape the crowds, but you’ll also be able to fit in a couple of popular Guatemalan festivals. Say, Day of the Dead in October!
The dry season is from October to April, and this is generally considered to be the best time to visit as the weather is warm and sunny. However, this is also the busiest tourist time so expect more people about, especially around Christmas and Easter and in the main cities like Antigua.
The wet season is from May to October. During this time, some activities and roads may be restricted; however, it usually only rains for around an hour or two in the afternoon. As this is the low season for travel, you can enjoy the sites with less people around, but keep in mind that some of the national parks and archaeological sites may be a bit muddy.
Citizens of over 86 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and Canada, can visit Guatemala for up to 90 days without a visa. If you’re unsure if you need one or not, check your tour’s Essential Trip Information or enquire at a Guatemalan embassy well in advance of your travel date.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information.
It's customary to add an extra 10% to restaurant bills – if this hasn’t already been included. Tipping elsewhere is optional, but leaving spare change or rounding up your bill at small cafes is always a good idea as most Guatemalans live on a very limited income.
Wi-fi is becoming more and more prevalent in Guatemala’s cities, although the connection may be slower than you’re used to. Remote areas will have little to no internet access, so be aware if you’re travelling outside of the main tourist hotspots that you may have trouble getting online. The fast food chain Pollo Campero usually has wi-fi networks available, and they’re located in most larger towns.
Using your mobile phone while in the cities of Guatemala shouldn’t be a problem. Coverage may be less reliable in remote and mountainous areas.
Note that global roaming is especially pricey in Guatemala, so if you want to stay connected on the go, it’s probably best to get a local SIM card. Service providers Tigo and Claro have the best coverage across the country.
Many tourist sites and restaurants have flushable toilets, although some remote areas may have compostable or drop toilets. It’s a good idea to carry your own toilet paper and hand soap or hand sanitiser, as these aren’t always provided.
Guatemala's unit of currency is the quetzal. Prices here are approximate and shown in US dollars for ease of comparison.
Drinking tap water isn't recommended in Guatemala. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water – be sure to ask your group leader where filtered water can be found. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Credit cards can be used at most large restaurants, shops and other tourist hotspots. Expect to pay cash when dealing with smaller vendors, family-run restaurants and market stalls. Make sure you have smaller denominations of currency with you when you’re purchasing at local vendors to make transactions simpler and easier.
Internationally compatible ATMs can be found in most of Guatemala’s major cities. ATMs are far less common in rural areas and small villages so make sure you have cash on hand to cover purchases when travelling away from the larger cities.
Temperatures across Guatemala sit, on average, at a comfortable 22°C nearly year-round, and don’t differ too much in terms of season, but vary with the altitude.
In the wetter season, running from April until around September, rainfall is much more abundant; however, it would only disrupt your outdoor plans in the afternoon. The central region has mostly clear skies during the day with a downpour in the mid to late afternoon.
In the shoulder season (September–October), rains begin to ease up, but October is peak hurricane season. Mild temperatures and clear days make this a good time to travel and hike in the highlands.
The dry season from November through to April sees average temperatures drop slightly in the hilly central region – Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Chichicastenango, Coban and surrounds – to around 18°C.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to Travel Insurance.
For a current list of public holidays in Guatemala, including the movable dates noted above, go to worldtravelguide.net
As with many Latin American countries, Guatemala is not particularly gay-friendly, despite homosexual activity being legal over the age of consent. Many Guatemalans hold quite conservative Christian views, especially in remote or rural areas.
Same-sex couples and households are not eligible for the same legal protections as opposite-sex married couples, and while discrimination protections are in place in some contexts, discrimination against gender identity is not mentioned explicitly in law.
LGBTQIA+ identifying travellers are unlikely to encounter violence, outright hostility or overt discrimination in Guatemala, but it is advised to be mindful of the situation travellers find themselves in.
If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid group tour, you will share accommodation with a passenger of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. A single supplement is available on some tours for travellers who do not wish to share a room.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
Much of Guatemala’s hotspots are based around the coast and nature, so depending on travellers’ level of mobility, they can prove difficult to access. Many national parks are inaccessible for travellers using a wheelchair, as jungle paths are mostly remote and not stable. Antigua is also a bit tricky to get around, with rugged sidewalks and a lack of ramps. Transportation is an important factor also, and with not much space at all on public transport, private rental or tour-based travel may be the only option.
If you do live with a visual, hearing or another impairment, let your booking agent or group leader know early on so they’re aware and suitable arrangements can be made. What will assist you may depend on what country you are visiting, but as a general rule, knowing some of the local lingo, carrying a written itinerary with you and taking to the streets as a group, rather than solo, can help make your travel experience the best it can be.
If you have a disability and are planning to travel with Intrepid, we recommend speaking with your booking agent about specific concerns that pertain to accessibility.
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
In Guatemala, we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally run restaurants and markets where travellers will have opportunities to support community businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans. Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to being the best travel company for the world.
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