Yucatan and Guatemala over the Holidays - need help

Nov 9th, 2019, 02:54 PM
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Yucatan and Guatemala over the Holidays - need help

Late 30's couple will be in Tulum for a friend's birthday right before Christmas. Our original plan, had us going to Chile from Mexico for 10 days through Jan 3...but due to the recent political unrest in Chile, we are considering other options that wont break the bank (given last minute planning). Considering extending our stay in Yucatan to Merida for a few days before flying down to Antigua in Guatemala. As an FYI, we have been to Chichen Itza, MexCity, Puebla, SMdA and Guanajuato and loved it. Been to Cancun and hated it. How is this itinerary, 3 nights in Merida and 5/6 in Antigua..seems lie a lot. Any suggestions?

Dec 24: transfer from Tulum to Merida by evening.
Dec 25: relax in Merida. Most things will probably be closed.
Dec 26: Explore Merida some more
Dec 27: fly down to Guatemala, transfer to Antigua (or stay 1 night in GC?)
Dec 28: Explore Antigua
Dec 29: Explore markets, any other activities in town?
Dec 30: Day trip to Lake Atitlan
Dec 31: Relax/flex day, NYE
Jan 1: recovery from NYE. Everything will likely be closed. Relax at the pool.
Jan 2: fly back home to US
sshprints04 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 03:14 PM
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Dec. 27 - There are no flights between Merida and Guatemala. You'll have to travel overland to Cancun to catch a flight or connect in Mexico City.

Jan. 1 - I'm hard-pressed to even think of a hotel in Antigua that has a pool. At 5,000 feet elevation and in January yet, it will probably be quite chilly. If you mean this as a more generic " day of relaxing," great. It'll be way too cold to swim even if you can find a pool.

It's hard to know what will and will not be open that week.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 03:28 PM
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Hi, yes, sorry..regarding flying to GC, it will need to be from Cancun. I just looked, and there are no flights on the 27th so it would need to be 26th or 28th, mid-afternoon flight. For the return, it seems like we would need to fly out in the evening of Jan 1 instead of Jan 2 but appreciate the feedback on weather. I just started researching and didnt realize that Antigua is not that warm come Dec/Jan..which is just as fine. Is it warm enough in Lake Aititlan for pool or is it the same as Antigua?
Do you recommend spending a night (or 2) in Lake Atitlan?
Do you recommend spending the first day in GC or go straight to Antigua from the airport?


sshprints04 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 06:36 PM
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I can't think of a single hotel at the lake that has a pool either. In fact, the elevation is a bit higher than Antigua's. Guatemala is just not a "hang out at the pool" destination. Merida will be pleasantly warm in January; Antigua and Lake Atitlan will not be. In fact, you want lightweight jackets or a sweater. The thought of jumping in a pool there in January, even if I could find one, makes me shiver.

Whichever day you fly to GC, if you arrive early enough, go right to Antigua. It's about an hour away.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 06:48 PM
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While I enjoyed my time(s) in Guatemala City, I can't help but think you'd be better off with more time in Antigua. But I like big, busy cities on occasion. I really enjoyed Antigua too, having spent about a month there studying Spanish.
baldone is online now  
Nov 10th, 2019, 03:17 AM
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With the flight availability changing your dates, you might want to rethink the whole itinerary. To head to Mérida in the evening and only have 1 full day there I see a pity; if you fly from Cancún to Guatemala on the 28th and home on the 1st you only have 3 days in Antigua - not sure the hassle and expense of getting there and back is worth it for just 3 days. It’s obviously your decision but if it was my trip I’d choose between or add 1 more stop in Yucatán instead of Guatemala.

Antigua and Lake Atitlán are both around 4500-5000’ in elevation and that nearish the equator the temperatures don’t change much season to season. I’ve been on the lake since late October and was happy to have long sleeves and a down vest getting up early to go birding a couple of days in the last week - chilly in the mornings and gorgeous all day.

With limited time I wouldn’t stay in GC either. I spend at least a month and a half or 2 on Lake Atitlán very year - it’s certainly worth more than just a day or 2 and with your limited time I’m not sure a day trip would be worth it, would likely be 6 or 7 hours on the road for a few hours at the lake.

Do you fish? As part of a Yucatán loop years ago we spent a few nights on the gulf coast in San Felipe, great tarpon fishing plus flamingos. Lots of options! Have a great trip, whatever you decide!

Last edited by hopefulist; Nov 10th, 2019 at 03:19 AM.
hopefulist is offline  
Nov 10th, 2019, 09:01 AM
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thanks for all the feedback. I think we will cut Merida out and just spend an extra day on the beach before heading to Guatemala on Dec 26 instead of 28th. hopefulist not sure where the 6-7hrs is coming from. According to every guide, it says that Antigua to the lake is 2-3hrs; its 133km. Re-arranging the itinerary now a bit. Does this sound more doable?

Thur Dec 26 - Arrive GC at 1:30. Transfer to Antigua, arrive around 3:30.
Fri Dec 27 - Antigua - flex day. Perhaps volcano hike
Sat Dec 28 - San Marco/Atitlan
Sun Dec 29 - San Marco/Atitlan
Mon Dec 30 - Atitlan>>Antigua - flexible on time of day
Tue Dec 31 - Antigua, NYE
Wed Jan 1 - Antigua>>GC for 2pm flight.

How does this sound?
sshprints04 is offline  
Nov 10th, 2019, 09:16 AM
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Hopeful was no doubt talking round trip. I know that when we went, we had to wait almost an hour at the turnoff to Xela to wait for another collectivo to pick up other passengers. And at times it was slow going behind a truck.
baldone is online now  
Nov 10th, 2019, 12:40 PM
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The new itinerary sounds great. I don’t care for San Marcos but it does have its fans.

Baldone is correct that the 6-7 hours is round trip, mentioned when you were considering just a day trip to the lake. The last time I made the trip between Antigua and Panajachel was just a couple of weeks ago and it took more than 3.5 hours one way with a private driver - the new cutoff road was closed (common, poorly engineered), traffic was bad in Chimaltenango, we stopped for half an hour for a bicycle race on the Pan Am (have had this happen half a dozen times over the years), and a rock slide between Sololá and the lake made the going 1 lane, another significant delay. Not represented this time: construction, crashes, and strikes, also common causes of delays. Don’t count on 2-3 hours.
Happy trails!
hopefulist is offline  
Nov 11th, 2019, 04:31 AM
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Your plan now looks good to me now that you opted against Mérida. I was in Guatemala City in 2016
and 2019 and enjoyed the modern energy of the capital, but Antigua has that colonial charm and history that many visitors seek. Climbing Pacaya volcano was fantastic and a workout; if there’s a walking tour of Antigua going on your last days before flying out, I found that a great way to get a sense of the former capital’s rich history.

best wishes. Daniel
Daniel_Williams is offline  
Nov 11th, 2019, 03:18 PM
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Thanks. Do you guys recommend any specific activities?
I was thinking of the volcano hike (Pacayo?) also a visit to Cerro san Cristobal or Hobbitenango?
sshprints04 is offline  
Nov 12th, 2019, 04:21 AM
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I like walking up to Cerro de la Cruz for a view over Antigua, people watching in the parque central, wandering through the streets and the produce market early in the day, and visiting some of the colonial ruins. I’m fond of La Recolección, San Gerónimo, Las Capuchinas, and the ruins behind the main cathedral façade (enter on the side street to the right). Jocotenango is a neighboring town with a nice park/church and a coffee and Maya music museum. There’s an Inguat (tourism) office near the parque central with information including maps for walking tours.

Our favorite private driver, Alfredo Garcia, is bilingual, personable, prompt, and safe, and has nice vehicles: [email protected] His wife Jane is a wonderful, well-regarded tour guide and they can both be reached here: Mayalandia Tours: Customized Guatemala Tours

On the lake there are reserves for hiking near San Marcos and (esp nice with a butterfly place) Panajachel. Arguably the best shopping is in Pana, too. If you’re fit hikers the Indian Nose and Volcán San Pedro hikes are good. Hiking from Santa Cruz to Jaibalito or San Marcos is a favorite. For hikes, hire a guide. Kayaking is a treat and visiting the villages is a highlight - be sure to get up away from the main dock areas and off the main roads leading up the hill to see more traditional areas and markets. Santiago Atitlán (google Maximón and Father Stanley Rother, there’s a little museum room honoring him at the church but you have to ask) and San Juan (murals and women’s weaving coops) and unique.

Happy trails!

hopefulist is offline  
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