Car Travel

Main roads in El Petén, such as between Flores/Santa Elena and Tikal, are paved and in very good shape. Secondary roads, however, often are in poor repair and not very well marked. Some roads are impassable during the rainy season, so check with the tourist office before heading out on seldom traveled roads, such as those to the more remote ruins surrounding Tikal.

If you're not booked on a tour, one way to get around El Petén is to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Many rental agencies, including Hertz, have offices at Mundo Maya International Airport. Tabarini, a local company, also rents vehicles from an airport office. Prices start at around US$35 a day, or US$50 a day for an SUV, cheaper than Belize. You need a valid driver's license from your own country to drive in Guatemala.

Most rental companies in Belize don't allow the car to leave the country. Crystal Auto Rental in Belize City does, however; though you need to coordinate this two days in advance to get paperwork ready. Insurance through Crystal will not cover you in Guatemala. It is ill-advised to drive after dark in Guatemala; use extreme caution when driving. Armed attacks on cars have happened both between Guatemala City and Petén, and between the Belize border and Tikal. Check official crime and safety reports before traveling.

Local Agencies

Hertz. Hertz also has vehicles for rent at the Hotel Camino Real Tikal. Mundo Maya Airport, Santa Elena, Petén. 502/3274–4424; 800/654–3001; rentautos.com.gt.

Tabarini. Mundo Maya International Airport, Santa Elena, Petén. 502/2444–4200; www.tabarini.com.

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