Welcome to Guatemala!
I pretty much fell in love with Guatemala right from the start. Though I’d heard Guatemala City was “scary,” I hired a shuttle with four other people at the airport upon arrival, & we were whisked away to the jewel that is Antigua with two cheerful, warm Guatemalan guys. Nothing scary about it. And the rest of my Guatemala travel journey proved to be as enjoyable, if not better.
I did not meet very many Americans during my travels in Guatemala. I think either they’re scared off because they believe Guatemala City is “too violent,” or it’s simply just not on their radar. But, because it’s such a short flight from the States (4-5 hours) & FULL of amazing adventures & some of the warmest people you’ll meet, I feel compelled to reveal some of the secret that is Guatemala travel: because there is SO much great stuff there.
Guatemala holds the colonial jewel of a city: Antigua. When I arrived there & looked around my rooftop patio, I thought, “I could live here.” The food in Antigua is to DIE for, & the coffee is simply my favorite ANYWHERE, from any country. And it tastes better in Guatemala. Then, you have the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal in the northern part of Guatemala, near Belize ~ the #1 tourist attraction in the country. And even better, in my opinion: Lake Atitlan & Semuc Champey, two legendary destinations with views that will blow your mind.
But it’s the people that make Guatemala so special. I will never forget the women who taught me how to weave in the tiny lakeside village of San Juan la Laguna, on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Or all the dogs I met! (All of my Guatemalan hotel owners had the sweetest dogs.) Guatemala just really hit my travel sweet spot. See if it hits yours…
Guatemala Travel Overview!
- Safety = Take Precautions in Guatemala City (or avoid it); Antigua & other tourist spots quite safe 75%
- Cost = Like most of Latin America, CHEAP!! 30%
- Adventures = Abundant!!! 100%
- How Safe I Felt as a Female Traveler = Surprisingly Quite Safe 90%
- Favorite Mode of Transport = Colorful Chicken Buses! A MUST! 100%
Guatemala Travel Quick Facts!
- Guatemala in One Word = Volcanoes.
- Guatemala in One More Word = Tikal.
- Wi-Fi = Wi-Fi can be spotty except for in cities like Antigua & Guatemala City; your best bet is to buy a Claro stick that can be used throughout the country.
- Global Peace Ranking = #117 out of 163 countries (U.S. is #103) = Crime tends to be concentrated in Guatemala City, which is a major drug trafficking zone & area of violent crime. Take precautions there.
- Hotels = For $30/night, you can get hotels with views that will take your breath away.
- Must-Do’s = Stroll the beautiful streets of Antigua. Paddle board & hike volcanoes at Lake Atitlan. Visit the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal, close to the Belize border. Swim in the amazing turquoise waters of Semuc Champey.
- Is Guatemala Good for Solo Travelers = Yes & no. Guatemala is not for the first-time solo traveler ~ I would go here with a little more experience & confidence. Personally, I was there for over a month in May 2017 & LOVED my experience ~ & met fantastic people. But I’ve also got years of travel under my belt.
- What to Expect as a Female Traveler = Machismo culture is prevalent throughout Latin America, but I personally did not find it excessive in Guatemala. Packs of young, teenage guys may make annoying comments once in awhile ~ but overall, not bad.
- Would I Go Back = Yes!!! Ohh…hell yes!