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Impulse buy: ticket to Guatemala

Old Oct 11th, 2015, 05:11 PM
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Impulse buy: ticket to Guatemala

I have been wanting to go to Guatemala for a while. I am going to have the month of Jan off, so I was checking out ticket prices. I was not really planning to buy, but the price was good, so I went for it. Now I have a little planning to do. I will have 11 days, so with a day of travel on each end, that means 9 days to see the sights.

DH does not have the month of Jan off, so I will be traveling solo. I am a 50 something female and have traveled by myself quite a bit but not in Central America. I speak Spanish and I prefer independent travel to tour groups. My tentative itinerary is as follows:
Guatemala City, quick overnight near the airport, a flight to Flores and a visit to Tikal. I am not sure if one night there will be enough. Maybe I should plan for two? I saw the great recommendations for Roxy Ortiz and will contact her.
From there I was thinking about taking a shuttle to the Lake Atitlan region and staying there 2-3 nights. I would like to go hiking. I often hike by myself but assume that would not be a very safe plan during this trip. Maybe I will go with a tour there.
Then on to Antigua where I will spend the rest of the my time. I am not sure about the best way to get there.
Hopefulist, I checked out your great blog. As I get a little more into my planning, I may have some more specific questions for you. I am excited about the trip!
AnaBelen is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2015, 08:12 PM
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I hope that Stacey (Hopefulist) sees your note. She's the Guatemala expert. I've been there, but only for 10 days - it was fabulous and I definitely enjoyed it. Lake Atitlan is stunning. Antigua is wonderful. Again, I hope that Stacey sees your post.
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Old Oct 11th, 2015, 10:24 PM
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Here I am! A visit of either 1 or 2 nights works for Tikal; great idea to book a tour with Roxy - she's awesome.
www.tikalroxy.blogspot.com

I would weight your time more to Lake Atitlán than to Antigua; I find it culturally more interesting, more picturesque, and with great hiking options. Many areas are safe to hike on your own but I'd recommend hiring a guide. You might want to contact Lee Beal at Kayak Atitlan, he gets good reviews.
http://www.kayakguatemala.com/

Here are links to some of my favorite hotels in Guatemala; they’re mostly in the $15-30/double price range and some include breakfast:

Antigua: http://www.casa-cristina.com
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Panajachel: Mario's Rooms: http://www.mariosroomsatitlan.com
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San Pedro La Laguna (my favorite town on the lake):
http://www.mikasohotel.com/
http://hotel-sakcari.com/ (price has gone up recently)
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Tikal: http://www.tikalinnsunrise.com/ (harder on the budget but worth it to stay in the park imo)
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Flores:
midrange options: http://corpetur.com/
good budget choice: Mesa de Mayas Flores - Alfaro Lopez <[email protected]>
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Guatemala City (2 minutes from the airport)
http://hostalvillatoscana.com

For transportation, I'd use share shuttles and/or private shuttles but shell out for flights for Tikal. Share shuttles are cheaper but private shuttles mean you pick the schedule and can make planned and unplanned stops enroute. Here are 2 transportation providers I’ve been pleased with in Guatemala for share shuttles, private transfers, and flight arrangements:
Adrenalina Tours: http://www.adrenalinatours.com
Rainbow Travel: http://www.rainbowtravelcenter.com

Our favorite private driver, Alfredo Garcia, is bilingual, personable, prompt, and safe, and has nice vehicles: [email protected]

It sounds like you've seen this link, but in case others haven't, my photos with blog, travelogue, and review 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 Oct 12th, 2015, 05:34 PM
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Thanks so much for the help. I am going to take your advice and take flights to Tikal and back.

I think San Pedro sounds wonderful, so I am going to plan to stay there for a few nights.

I will start looking into hotels and also transport from Guatemala City to San Pedro and from San Pedro to Antigua. The choice between shared and private shuttle will probably depend on the prices. Since DH is not able to go with me, I am trying not to burn through too much of our travel budget.

It is really nice of you to provide so much information. There do not seem to be many posters for Guatemala and I know guide books can get out of date quickly.
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Old Oct 12th, 2015, 06:29 PM
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It's possible to go to San Pedro by road but I try to avoid the road down from the Pan American highway - steep and curvy, in terrible shape (really, hard to paint a picture of how beat up it is), and under construction which means unpredictable stoppages. I prefer to head to Panajachel and take a boat across to San Pedro instead. The boats leave from the dock when there are enough people to make the trip worth it and the cost should be 20 quetzales, about $2.50. The captains will try to convince you to pay more for a private boat because the next public boat won't leave for hours but usually the wait is more like half an hour if you don't bite.

Share shuttles between Antigua and Pana are a good bet; between Guatemala City and Pana, not so great; they all stop in Antigua and can take 5 hours for the trip instead of 2.5 or 3.

Happy trails!
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Old Oct 13th, 2015, 07:56 AM
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I will throw in my two centavos worth because I live here not too far from Antigua. Follow hopefulist's notes and you will have a wonderful time. Guatemala is an amazing country! Take shuttles, stay off chicken buses, and don't hike alone.
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Old Oct 18th, 2015, 04:21 PM
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I think my travel plans have shaped up nicely. I would be happy to get any comments on what I have so far:

Late arrival in Guatemala City (GC), overnight at Villa Toscana before getting an early flight to Flores the next day

2 nights at Hotel Tikal Inn - I sent an email to Roxy Ortiz but no reply yet

8am flight from Flores to GC, private shuttle to Pana then boat to San Pedro del Lago for three nights at Hotel Sac'kari - My last night in the Lake Atitlan area I will stay in Pana, but I have not worked out which hotel yet.

Early shared shuttle from Pana to Antigua for 2 nights at Casa Cristina

Late afternoon shuttle to GC before early flight home the next day - I am not sure if I will spend the last night at Villa Toscana or someplace else. I often try to stay someplace a little nicer the last night of a trip, but I like the idea of being close to the airport too.

One thing that has surprised me is the number of negative comments from family and friends on my plans to travel alone on this trip. Maybe the bad reputation is from years past? I did a fair amount of reading on this, and I am sure that I will be fine. I cannot wait to go to Tikal. It has been on my wish list for quite a while.
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Old Oct 18th, 2015, 05:29 PM
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This sounds like a great itinerary! Most of us get those scary comments - it's hard for those who haven't enjoyed Guatemala to read the State Dept's travel advisories without feeling like half the people who visit are mugged or murdered. In reality the violent crime is mainly gang-related and in areas of large cities tourists don't visit.
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Old Oct 19th, 2015, 04:13 PM
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The tuk tuks in San Pedro are VERY cheap. I think $1 to go almost everywhere. We got ripped off first ride but were then told the correct price by the hotel. They are a riot. You'll love it.

You'll love your hotel on the lake. We stayed there. The stars at night are gorgeous. The sky is beautiful. A lovely place indeed.. They have kayaks for you to use, also.

You'll have a nice trip. Horseback riding in S. Pedro is also very reasonable. %15 for a 3 hour tour I believe. We didn't have time to go but would have liked to.
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