Guatemala itinerary

Old Nov 7th, 2013, 02:53 PM
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Guatemala itinerary

Hey guys! My two sisters and I are planning to visit Guatemala in december/january for about 18 days, and we would love to visit antigua, chichicastenago, panajachel/lake atitlan, semuc champey, and tikal. Do you guys have any advice on how to order this in the best way and make the best use of our time (or suggestions for other places we should visit)? And also, any transportation tips for how to get from one place to another would be amazing!!! Thanks!
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Old Nov 7th, 2013, 06:56 PM
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That's a lot of ground to cover in 18 days but doable. The order depends on what day of the week and time of day your flights arrive, in part for connecting transportation and in part because of Thursday/Sunday Chichi market days.

Plan on at least 3 nights per stop except for Chichi; the night before the market is plenty there or hire private transportation to get your there early in the morning so you can see the market set up and church steps activities and the gorgeous produce market in the commercial building (don't miss it!) and leave before the crowds of (embarrassing) day trippers arrive. It's closer from Pana than Antigua.

Semuc Champey could be a 3+ day stop between Guatemala City and Flores (for Tikal); likely the best bet would be share shuttles. It will take a full day to get there and most of a day to get to Flores which is why I haven't been tempted to visit yet (in more than a dozen trips to Guatemala).

Try to arrange at least 1 tour with archaeologist/naturalist Roxy Ortiz - she's amazing. I think so highly of her that I schedule my visits around her availability and her Trip Advisor reviews are so strong she's ranked above the temples as an attraction in Tikal National Park. In addition to Tikal, consider Yaxhá.
www.tikalroxy.blogspot.com

I would spend at least a night in the park, then Flores or El Remate would be fine for add'l nights in Petén.

My photos with blog and travelogue links on the main page of each collection are below in case you're interested - all my recommendations are embedded there. Happy planning!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
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Old Nov 7th, 2013, 07:12 PM
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A few transportation notes. Share shuttles are easy to set up and convenient and not too expensive in Guatemala (as compared with neighboring countries, especially) but not necessarily comfortable. A flight to or from Tikal would mean less time on the road than buses or shuttles; night buses are popular but I haven't been tempted because I don't think I'd sleep well (9-10 hours).

Here are 2 transportation providers I’ve been pleased with in Guatemala for share shuttles, private transfers, and flight arrangements:
Adrenalina Tours: www.adrenalinatours.com
Rainbow Travel: www.rainbowtravelcenter.com
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Old Nov 8th, 2013, 10:05 PM
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Thanks so much for all the info! We're getting in on Christmas day (Wednesday) around noon. So you think we should go to antigua, then pana (and chichi for a day), then semuc champey and finally flores, before returning to guatemala city for the flight back? I don't think we can afford flight from tikal to guatemala city (we're leaving and arriving in guatemala city btw). Seeing as how semuc champey and tikal both require a day of travel, do you think they are worth it? Or should we explore the antigua/pana/coban area more? And if we go to semuc, should we go through coban or is there a more direct way? And when you say spend a night in the park, do you mean the tikal park? Are there places to stay in the park itself? Sorry for all the questions--just want to make sure we learn as much as we can before we start booking hostels (and recommendations for those in any of the areas mentioned btw?) Thank you so much again!
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Old Nov 8th, 2013, 10:36 PM
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Do you have a guidebook? I like the Moon Handbook and Rough Guide for Guatemala. Regarding Tikal, I definitely think it's worth it - it's 1 of the premier ruins of any kind in the world and the surrounding jungle would likely provide your best wildlife viewing of the trip. You can save time and lodging costs by traveling there and back overnight; the buses are nice and considered a safe, comfortable way to travel.

Yes, by in the park I meant Tikal National Park. There are 3 hotels there; my favorite is the Tikal Inn: www.tikalinnsunrise.com

You can stay more cheaply in Flores or El Remate but then you can't do a sunrise tour or go for a swim during the heat of the day between visits to the ruins.

That option isn't available for Semuc Champey so you'd spend a day each way. I believe it's beautiful but not sure it's worth that much time. I'd check out a guidebook's recommendations for transport - I can't help other than heresay since I haven't been there.

I generally live with local families on Lake Atitlán and prefer budget to midrange hotels over hostels. Here are links to my favorite hotels in Antigua and on Lake Atitlán:
Antigua: www.casa-cristina.com
--
Panajachel: Mario's Rooms: http://www.mariosroomsatitlan.com and last I heard, this is the email address: [email protected]
--
San Pedro La Laguna (my favorite town on the lake):
http://hotel-sakcari.com/
http://www.mikasohotel.com/

Happy planning!
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Old Nov 11th, 2013, 05:11 PM
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A great hostel in Antigua is Casa Amarilla. (Yellow house). Be sure to book in advance as it is very popular.

In san Pedro de Laguna, I loved Hotel Sakcari. Some friends stayed at the hostel Jarachik. They liked it just fine. The cafe at Jarachik was wonderful.

Happy planning!
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Old Nov 16th, 2013, 12:13 PM
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Thanks everyone! I've finally put together the itinerary and will be visiting antigua, pana (and chichi), Lanquin (semuc) and Tikal before returning to guatemala city for the flight home! Thank you for all your help!
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