Seeking feedback on itinerary!

Mar 10th, 2010, 10:14 PM
  #1  
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Seeking feedback on itinerary!

Hi all, I am trying to craft an itinerary for myself and a friend who will have 8 days together in Guatemala. We both prefer more off-the-beaten path, and it's a first time to Guat. for both of us. Does the below plan sound doable, roughly? Too much or too little time anywhere, anything you would skip, or something we're missing?

Day 1: depart Guat. City for Puerto Barrios, ferry to Livingston (~ 6.5 hrs)

Day 2: Livingston / Punta de Manabique

Day 3: Punta de Manabique

Day 4: Boat trip down Rio Dulce to Lago Izabal

Day 5: Lago Izabal

Day 6: Quirigua ruins, back to GC

Day 7: some Saturday village market W. of GC, or Lago de Atitlan overnight

Day 8: GC, my friend's departure for U.S.

I much appreciate your advice!

mp413
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Mar 10th, 2010, 10:15 PM
  #2  
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p.s. I guess I should say "anything we're missing IN THE GENERAL AREA we're covering" - obviously I realize there is a lot we are missing throughout the country!
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Mar 11th, 2010, 05:16 AM
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Hmmm....I have the same feeling here I had when I read this on the Thorntree forum: all told I've spent months in Guatemala and you've picked one of my least favorite areas I've visited (though I haven't visited Quirigua and hope to some day). If your friend hasn't visited Guatemala before it seems sad s/he won't get to see the highlands for more than a potential overnight on the lake. Just my 2 quetzales' worth...
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Mar 11th, 2010, 04:11 PM
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I agree with hopefulist.
A first time to Guatemala should include the highlands, chichicastenango and lake atlitlan are a must.
Tikal is also a must.
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Mar 11th, 2010, 09:57 PM
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We're skipping Tikal this trip - lots of tourists + ruins isn't our bag so I will save it for a trip with someone whose bag it is

It does seem criminal to skip the W. Highlands though. I'm revising!
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Mar 11th, 2010, 10:36 PM
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Not everyone loves ruins so it's your choice. If you spend the night in the park you practically have the place to yourselves in the cooler evening and early morning hours when the surrounding jungle is alive with wildlife and the day trippers aren't there. I just don't want you to think of Tikal as packed with tourists.
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Mar 12th, 2010, 01:23 PM
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For general information (not to try to talk you into a change) I agree about Tikal's not being terribly crowded especially early and late in the day. It is a big area and most people concentrate on only part of the park. In fact, there are warnings to tourists not to go alone to some of the more remote temples.
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Mar 13th, 2010, 10:39 AM
  #8  
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interesting - why the warnings? danger from wildlife or humans?!
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Mar 13th, 2010, 10:53 AM
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Danger (of robbery) from humans. Our Fodor's guidebook mentioned that Temple VI is quite far "off the beaten track" and should only be visited with a guide. I didn't read this until after we had walked out to the area without a guide and without incident. We saw very few other tourists there
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Mar 13th, 2010, 11:38 AM
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When I've headed to the Mundo Perdido (Lost World) area in the early mornings I've never seen anyone other than my family or group. That is unless you count the coatis, ocellated turkeys, gray foxes, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, hatching butterflies, parrots, orapendolas, toucans, and aracaris.

I've worried a little about robberies but have never felt threatened. I don't carry much with me, though.
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Mar 13th, 2010, 12:53 PM
  #11  
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Wow, that sounds amazing! We're both really into wildlife...but we can't afford the airfare and it's 9 hours by bus from GC, right?

I am now wondering whether we could in fact have the best of both worlds and do the trip down Rio Dulce as well as spend some time in the highlands. We could spend 3-4 days exploring the highlands, then the next 4 days getting to Rio Dulce, Lago Izabal, the boat trip, and then a bus back from Puerto Barrios. Doable?
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Mar 13th, 2010, 01:41 PM
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I'd choose highlands/Tikal if it was my trip, but highlands/Rio Dulce is possible. Did you realize the town of Rio Dulce is half way on the bus trip to Tikal? You actually could do all 3 if you don't mind moving around a lot.

At the end of 2+ weeks in the highlands in 2007, a friend and I left Atitlán for Rio Dulce town (Las Fronteras), spent 2 nights there with a day trip down the river to Livingston between, bused to Flores and shuttled to Tikal for a night in the park, then spent our last night in Flores before flying to back to GUA and home.

You could do the same with 3 or 4 nights in the highlands 1st, either split between Antigua and the lake or just in Antigua with day trips to the Pacaya volcano, the lake, and area villages. You could bus instead of flying to get back to GC. If you haven't checked out my recommendations and photos, here they are:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections

Happy trails!
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Mar 13th, 2010, 03:55 PM
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Wow - thank you for this great advice. My friend has no interest in Antigua, and I will be there for several days later on, so in the W. Highlands we would want to just check out villages and Lago Atitlan, I think.

Would it be possible to use one of the lake towns as a base for exploring, rather than Antigua? Or would we be needing to connect through Antigua anyway?
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Mar 13th, 2010, 04:37 PM
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Absolutely, though sometimes it's easier, depending on your flight times, to land in Antigua the 1st or last nights. There are some really wonderful small villages around Antigua worth exploring, but not necessarily more so than the villages around the lake with limited time. Another activity that's really popular from Antigua is the Pacaya volcano hike - I melted the bottom of my shoes a little from the lava.

There are 4 or 5 villages around the lake with the infrastructure to use as a base, and lots of options between. I can help a bit with that if you decide that's what you want to do. Happy trails!
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Mar 14th, 2010, 12:23 AM
  #15  
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hopefulist, aside from your screen name which is just so encouraging in and of itself, your posts have been super helpful! yes i would love more ideas about the Atitlan area. 2 villages i decided i wanted to see (based on the Rough Guide) are Nebaj and Nahualá. I'd love any feedback on those villages, others you'd recommend, as well as whether we could conceivably use San Pedro or Santa Cruz on Lago Atitlan as a base.

thanks as always for feedback from my most knowledgeable Fodorites
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Mar 14th, 2010, 06:31 AM
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When we visited Tikal, we were suprised by amount of wildlife we encounter, for mot of the time we were by ourselves on the trails. Not trying to talk you into it but it is more than the imposing ruins.
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Mar 14th, 2010, 08:53 AM
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Nebaj and Nahualá are both too both far from San Pedro and Santa Cruz for day visits. Nebaj is probably at least 4 or 5 hours by various connecting buses and Nahualá less but not main roads so I don't know how you'd put transportation together (haven't been to Nahualá). If you're still talking about the 8 days with your friend neither makes sense unless you choose to spend your whole time in the highlands. The good news is there are lots of interesting, diverse villages around the lake itself, accessible by boat, each with their own traditions, dress, and local flavor.

In other words, if you only have 3 nights in the highlands, you'll pretty much have to stay on the main track - Antigua, the lake, maybe Chichicastenango.
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May 10th, 2010, 03:51 PM
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nebaj, is a non descript town. no longer an attractive village at all. not worth the effort imo. market @ chichi seemed over rated and full of imported goods. the mangrove swamps at the end of lago izabal are stunning ; hire a boat early am from el estor. pana is not so attractive but lago atitlan is a wow. again hire a boat and cruise out to the villages.
very nice folks los chapinos
cheers AndrewDavid
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