Traveling in Guatemala

Traveling in Guatemala

Guatemala climate

On the Pacific coast it is hot all year round with maximum temperatures of 38 ° C. The constantly high humidity drops a little in the dry season (verano; from November to April). Spring-like temperatures between 15 and 25 ° C prevail in the mountains all year round.

Depending on the altitude, the central mountains and the Pacific side of Guatemala are pleasantly warm during the day, but can cool down significantly at night (especially in January and February). During the rainy season (invierno; from May to October) the mountain areas are usually humid and cool, but dry and warm during the dry season. While the pacific coast still receives up to 2,000 mm of precipitation annually, in the mountains there is hardly more than 1,000 mm on average. The valleys and depressions that run through the mountains are particularly dry.

The northeast trade wind, which drives warm, humid air from the Caribbean to the mainland, brings rain to the Caribbean lowlands and the mountains on the Atlantic side of Guatemala at all times of the year. Where the air masses have to rise on the mountain slopes, more than 5,000 mm of precipitation fall in some cases per year. Although the precipitation decreases somewhat in the winter months, there is no pronounced dry season on the Atlantic side.

According to Bridgat, the humid tropical climate in the lowland rainforest of El Peten only varies between hot and humid and hot and less humid. In the rainy season, mud can make roads and trails difficult to pass.

Guatemala transportation

Airplane: The airline TACA operates the route between Guatemala City and Flores every day.

Ship: The city of Livingston can only be reached by boat, from Puerto Barrios via the Bahía de Amatique or from the city of Rio Dulce along the Río Dulce. On the Lago de Atitlan, the riverside villages are connected by motor boats.

Car: Foreign drivers need a national or international driver’s license in Guatemala. Petrol and diesel are widely available. Replacement parts can be hard to find, especially for modern vehicles with a lot of electronics. Old Toyota pickups are everywhere in the country, so spare parts and mechanics who are experienced with the car are no problem.

The driving style in Guatemala is quite carefree, be prepared for overtaking in bends or with oncoming traffic. The use of seat belts is compulsory, but this rule is rarely followed.

The road network in Guatemala covers about 13,000 km, of which only a quarter is paved and can be used without any problems even in the rainy season. Most of the time, the road surface consists of volcanic ash, which softens in the rainy season. Larger, developed roads connect Guatemala City with the larger cities and ports of the country. Road signs are missing almost everywhere, which of course makes orientation difficult.
In Guatemala you shouldn’t drive at night: there is a possibility of being mugged and drivers are often drunk. Choose a safe parking space at night, especially in Guatemala City. There are

car rental companies in Guatemala City, Antigua, Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango, Coban and Flores. For small cars, expect prices starting at $ 40 per day.
To rent a vehicle, you will need your passport, driver’s license and a credit card. Usually the minimum age is 25 years.

Buses run almost everywhere in Guatemala. They are cheap, drive frequently, and are often overcrowded. Most are decommissioned school buses from the USA or Canada. The buses are also known as “chicken buses” in Guatemala, as many passengers carry chickens on the buses.
The buses stop practically wherever passengers are waiting. To stop a bus, simply stand by the side of the road and hold your arm out in front of you.

Some routes, especially between the big cities, are also served by buses that are more comfortable than the chicken buses. The best bus classes will be withPullman, primera clase or especial.

Usually the buses start early in the morning, after 4 p.m. bus traffic drops sharply. Night buses rarely run and, with the exception of the Guatemala City – Flores route, are not recommended for safety reasons.
The distances are not great in Guatemala, you are hardly ever longer than 4 hours in the bus.
For the better buses you can buy tickets in advance, which usually makes sense. Minibuses (called microbuses)

run on some of the shorter routes. The minibuses also collect all the passengers they can find – regardless of whether there is space or not.

Accidents involving buses and minibuses occur regularly in Guatemala. From time to time it also happens that buses are ambushed and passengers are robbed.

The public transport in the cities and villages will also be taken over by buses. In larger cities like Guatemala City, Huehuetenango and Quetzaltenango they can be quite useful for the visitor. There are also modern minibuses in Quetzaltenango.

Taxi: there are standard fares in the cities, but some of them are relatively high. Licensed taxis are identified by an “A” as the first letter on the license plate and number on the doors. Most taxi ranks are usually in front of larger hotels.

Traveling in Guatemala