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Guatemala Too Dangerous???

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We are supposed to be going to Guat in April and we just got the reports in on the attack on the students there.

Our group consists of 2 guys and 2 girls. If you are familiar at all with the going on's of Guat (our first time), we would appreciate some input.

We are supposed to be buying tickets today, were going to hold off for now. Please share your experience.

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    I didn't read about the attack on the students nor where it happened. There are notoriously dangerous things to do in Guatemala as in any country. If you've travelled Latin America before without any difficulty then chances are nothing will happen to you in Guatemala. I was in the highlands ( Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango ) the Peten ( Flores, Tikal ) the conurbations ( Guat City, Antigua ) and down south ( Chiquimula ). There is street crime in Guatemala City ( Los delinquentes - no need fr a translation ) there is trouble walking around the outskirts of Antigua ( especially up the mountains ) there are numerous highjacks on the route from the Peten to Guatemala city ( hardly surprising sixteen hours at night on unpatrolled roads ) do the sensible thing and you should be unscathed. If you don't know the sensible thing here is a short list to which you can add many other things.

    1. No flashy displays of wealth;
    2. Keep money in secure areas;
    3. Try not to travel at night - bus journeys tend to start and end early;
    4. Don't dress provocatively;
    5. If you consume drugs do not trust locals;
    6. If you have sex with locals wear protection;
    7. Don't go wandering around on your own in the small hours
    etc. etc. and you'll probably find the biggest problem is the humidity!

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    I agree with the last person, if you book side trips, go with Clark tours ( ck Fodors for the phone they are near Boston) they can book trips to Tikal and Chichi for market. you pay them then they send you itin and you pick up vouchers for rest of trip at your 1st stop usually the hotel in Gua city they will book the westin nice but a typical Westin better is Pan American in Zone 1 ( beware of Zone 1 at nite) but during the day you are near the Central market and that is good if you cant get to Chichi for market. Now I have heard don't climb volcanos and dont go out on Lake Arenal unless its with a tour, and you need to spk a little spanish at least know numbers and how to ask for the check, the bus stops, rest room etc. other wise I really liked it and would like to go back but be careful and dont go to outlying areas.

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    As much as I agree with the last two responses, I have also been doing a great deal of reading about Guatamala, as I am going to Central America in the summer with a group. I heard about a tour bus that was stopped and all the women were taken off the bus and raped. This just happened within the past two weeks, but I am unsure of the exact location within Guatamala. In all of the travellers hand guide books I have read (including Fodor's, Frommers, Let's Go and Lonely Planet) they all warn about safety more than the other countries, especially with thieves, rapists, etc. I am convinced however that Guatamala is not entirely unsafe, and like the response above said, just make sure that you are street smart and use some common sense. If you book a tour, numerous sources recommend doing so with American companies that are reliable.

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    I have been to Guatemala twice for several months each time. There is a growing negative hype about Guatemala's safety. I understand everyone's concerns but if you take precausions you really should not be paranoid about the trip. Not travelling at night, always watching your bags, and sticking to general "tourist trails", and not getting lost will do loads to prevent problems. Guatemala is far too beautiful a country for the negative things I here on many websites. But I understand the concerns, I know about the bad things that happened. But watching a few precausions and knowing where to go will help

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    HI! I've lived in Antigua, Guatemala for three years, and it's the most wonderful lifestyle I've known. I met my husband here, he came here 6 years ago and never left, too. We love it so much we started a newsletter "GUATEMALA Living & Retirement" for those who also want to make Guatemala their home. And we bring people down on retirement/relocation tours, so we definitely see the better side of Guatemala, not just the "negative" press reports.
    About safety: don't walk around like a tourist, with expensive jewelry and cameras. Dress conservatively, act conservatively. Take the normal precautions you would anywhere.
    Maria

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    I live in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala and believe this is one of the safest places I have ever lived.

    I spent the last 10 years in San Francisco and a day did not go by when the papers and news did not report a random murder, rape or carjacking.

    Just last week 9 people were brutally murdered in Denver. Is anyone saying colorado is not safe...where is the travel advisory for Denver???

    You must be careful when you travel here or in the US or any country. But Guatemala is safe and 99.99% of the people have a great vacation here.

    This is my 2 cents!!

    Visit my travel guide

    Quetzaltenango Travel Guide
    http://www.trafficman.com/xelapages/

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    I had a "magical" visit to Tikal and Flores last spring. Traveled alone but did not do anything "foolish" so I was safe and secure. Tikal at dawn is a once in a lifetime expirience. Monkeys in the trees, toucans flying everywhere and the sun rising while I was sitting on top of one of the temples was something I never thought I would expirience.Watching and being asked to join in playing with the children on Sunday evening at the town center in Flores was really cool. My spanish was poor but the residents tried hard to understand me. The prices were quite low and the quality of food and lodging quite high. Be cool, be smart, be respectful and you will be fine.

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    Excuse the following long message, I had an immensely rewarding (and safe) trip to Guatemala in late 1995.

    You may have already completed your trip, but the best advice I can give is to hook up with one of the excellent and cheap Spanish language schools in Quetzaltenango, all of which arrange for stays in private homes, one-on-one instruction and three meals per day for about $125 US!

    I studied at the Instituto Central America (ICA) for a month in 1995, followed by trips to Antigua and the Peten, and had no problems at all with crime. By attaching yourself to a school you always have a contingent of locals and a family looking out for you, informing you of the "real story" regarding safety and recent crime patterns; always have a group of friends to travel and socialize (safety in numbers); an honest local resource for group day trips or overnight stays, which are often 100 times more difficult (and usually less authentic) than those you organize on you own.

    Travel agencies often have a vested interest in downplaying recent assaults against their clients, so again I would rely on a school to organize your tours (which usually involves you paying the minimal transport cost of the instructor/guide).

    Don't under any circumstances climb the volcanoes around Antigua ... I can't figure out why anyone would dare to do this with all the negative info out there but I did hear several travelers relate stories of robberies and assaults in this area. I've also heard that Guatemala and especially Quetzaltenango have become much less safe for tourists and locals alike since the signing of the peace accords two years ago, which put a lot of decommissioned "soldiers" on the street where some have gotten involved in organized crime.

    I am going through a similar debate at home about whether my partner and I will be traveling together to Guatemala. Although I plan to go back alone for further Spanish study, I have a hard time taking her to a place where a small army of predators sees fit to rob, rape and kill with complete impunity. There are some truly evil people in Guatemala, as in Mexico, Los Angekes, and pretty much everywhere with a large underclass. If you spend any time there you will certainly hear many stories of violent crime but the chances of it happening to you are somewhat within your control.

    The previous writer mentioned some safety tips, and I would add limiting the number of destinations you explore. Many violent crimes seem to start with bus hijackings and robberies which progress to sexual assaults. If I were going now I would probably pick a few destinations and limit my exposure to trouble by becoming more "networked" in these few places, rather than trying to cover the whole country in one trip.
    It's especially true with Guatemals that you will be just as fascinated and enriched by soaking up the local culture than by trying to see every sight. In short, be less a tourist and more a student and you will most likely increase your group's safety substantially.

    As one of the previous writers mentioned, Guatemala is about the most beautiful place you'll ever see, with some of the kindest, most unassuming and generous people you could ever ask to meet. I hope you have/had a safe trip.

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