Guatemala – Land of Eternal Spring and heart of the Maya World – is a treasure trove of culture, tradition, mysticism, ancient Maya history and some of Central America’s wildest natural wonders.
While geographically small, the country offers an almost overwhelming variety of sights and experiences: from charming colonial cities and vibrant Mayan culture to soaring volcanoes, steaming rainforests, idyllic lakes and some of the world’s most spectacular ruins. Against this breathtaking backdrop you’ll find luxurious accommodations, state-of-the-art facilities and exacting VIP service. Step into this magical world with Elegant Adventures and fill your senses with the brilliant color, awesome adventure and eye-popping discovery of Guatemala.
Things to Know Before You Go
Weather conditions vary from season to season and region to region. The dry season is from October to early May and the rainy from late May until the end of September. Temperatures vary little during the year. The average high temperature is 77°F and the low 55°F in the highlands. While in Guatemala City and the highlands area wear spring clothing and a sweater at night. Comfortable walking shoes are suggested. While at archaeological sites and the lowlands, light-colored, lightweight, cotton clothing is recommended. Sunglasses and a hat are recommended while on tours or at the beach.
Hotels, restaurants and shops in Guatemala City and most of the tourism areas accept most major credit cards. Traveler’s checks can be exchanged at most banks.
The local currency is the Quetzal, named for the national bird. The US dollar is now accepted as legal currency. Exchange rates fluctuate so check with your hotel for the current exchange rate. (At the time of publishing the rate was US$ 1.00= Q. 7.50.)
Air passengers pay US$30 or 237 quetzals, at the time of publishing. Land and sea departure taxes vary according to the area you are exiting.
110 volt AC is found throughout most of the country. A few locations have 220 volts.
U.S. citizens need a passport, valid for at least six months beyond the intended stay, and a round trip or continuing ticket.
Guatemala has a democratically elected government with elections every four years.
No vaccinations are required for travel to Guatemala, but visitors are typically advised to have current typhoid, hepatitis A, tetanus and polio vaccines. Some other immunizations may be recommended based on personal health and specific travel plans. Consult your doctor. For the latest health information visit the Centers for Disease Control’s website at www.cdc.gov/travel/camerica.htm.
The official language is Spanish, but English is spoken in the popular tourism areas. Over 20 indigenous languages are still spoken.
Modern, clean, and sanitary conditions and facilities can be found in most parts of the country.
The population is approximately 12 million. Guatemalans are a mix of indigenous, Ladinos and Garifunas. There is also a population of U.S., Canadian and European residents
As in all of Central America, Catholic churches are plentiful throughout the country. Most other denominations are represented.
Goods and services are subject to a 12% value-added tax (IVA). Hotels also have an additional 10% tourism tax.
Guatemala is in the Central Standard Time zone and does not observe daylight-savings time.
Generally, a 10% tip is appropriate for restaurants. Ask if the tip is included since some establishments add it to the bill.
Guatemala covers 42,000 square miles and is at the northern end of the Central American isthmus (It is approximately the size of the state of Kentucky). It is bordered by Mexico to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea and Belize to the east and El Salvador and Honduras to the southeast. The country is comprised of towering mountains and majestic volcanoes, temperate plateaus, tropical lowlands, desert-like river valleys, lowland jungles and swamps.