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safety in Antigua Guatemala

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Bristol, United...
posts: 3
safety in Antigua Guatemala

My 19 year old daughter is about to leave with a friend for Antigua. We're really concerned about safety. She's planning on staying there for 6 weeks to learn Spanish, staying with a host family. I'm really worried after reading foreign office advice, it sounds so scary. Does anyone have real up to date information?

49 replies to this topic
Seattle, Washington
posts: 293
reviews: 4
1. Re: safety in Antigua Guatemala

We were in Antigua off and on for most of the past month, and weren't bothered by unsafe conditions in the city. There are plenty of locals and visitors on the streets day and night, and we had no problems walking to restaurants or visiting friends after dark. It is still not safe to walk unescorted to the hill of the cross (Cerro de la Cruz) or around Volcan Agua, but any of the locals can tell your daughter what it's safe to do and what's not. Assuming that she's a sensible person and listens to the advice of those who know the place, she should be fine in Antigua and in most of the other places frequented by tourists.

Bethesda, MD
posts: 1,719
reviews: 24
2. Re: safety in Antigua Guatemala

I'll second all that. Antigua is probably one of the safest places in the country. Just follow common sense precautions and she should be fine.

Shelby, North...
posts: 223
reviews: 26
3. Re: safety in Antigua Guatemala

Safety in Guatemala is a relative question. Almost anything you read concerning safety on a travel forum is purely anecdotal, i.e., based on personal experience rather than data. Some posters have more experience traveling in Guatemala than others; but, usually their opinions are based personal experience or hearsay, positive or negative. Please understand that I appreciate their personal viewpoints; but, that it is just what they are, “personal”.

The UK Foreign Office is probably is (in my opinion and that of many others) the most respected source in the world for providing travelers with the latest safety data and reports. Although I’m American, UKFO is my number one stop, when I travel internationally. If you are interested in the US Guatemala Embassy crime reports involving foreign tourists and residents here’s the link:

guatemala.usembassy.gov/recent_incidents.html

Also, if you interested in per capita crime statistics by country, try a google search. The UN has numerous reports, which include Guatemala.

Finally, my anecdotal, personal assessment (treat my view as you would others)concerning safety in Antigua. In October, 2010, after six days at Santa Cruz on Lake Atitlán, we spent three nights in Antigua. We had no safety problems in Antigua. The city is fairly small and the central area is well policed. Our hotel advised us not to stray far from the center of the city and after dark, use only taxis. On our last full day in Antigua, we booked a tour (through AsGreenAsIt Gets) to a coffee cooperative outside of San Miguel Escobar (almost a suburb of Antigua), at the base of Volcán Agua. We had the local coffee farmer with us as well as a very experienced bilingual guide. To make a long story short, my wife and I, and our two guides, were robbed and kidnapped by masked gunmen. Fortunately, we were released unharmed. So my advice, based on our experience, and what others told us, is to avoid anything near Volcán Agua. It is incredibly dangerous.

I’m not responding to your post to encourage or discourage your daughter’s stay in Guatemala. That is a personal decision.

Edited: 7:41 pm, February 15, 2011
Deerfield Beach...
posts: 2,505
reviews: 12
4. Re: safety in Antigua Guatemala

You keep on using the term "kidnappped". So, did you have to pay any kind of ransom which had to be a huge amount of money in order to be released, or are you just using the term because you think that from a legal standpoint here in the US, that could've been one of the charges filed against the robbers. Or how long were you kept in captivity for you to say that you and your wife were actually kidnapped. How did it happen. You've avoided answering that question previously.

Seattle, Washington
posts: 293
reviews: 4
5. Re: safety in Antigua Guatemala

The information on the link to the US Embassy site provided by UNC Blue is consistent with what I had heard about while in-country last month. There also was an unreported armed robbery of some Canadian students in Antigua as they were returning from an unescorted hike up Cerro de la Cruz.

Guatemalan friends blame the crime on the worsened economy and a general increase in "delincuencia" countrywide. The problem is compounded by ineffective police work; a miniscule proportion of serious crimes such as homicides are ever solved and succesfully prosecuted. Despite all this, the risk of theft or physical harm to visitors in Antigua still seems to be relatively low, provided they use good sense.

Bristol, United...
posts: 3
6. Re: safety in Antigua Guatemala

Thank you. I think if she is with a host family and careful she will hopefully come to no harm.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
posts: 6,434
reviews: 95
7. Re: safety in Antigua Guatemala

Here are my personal safety guidelines from a previous thread. If she uses good common sense where being out and about at night is concerned, she should be fine. Happy trails!

________________________________

Sometimes I travel alone, sometimes with one or more of my kids and/or my husband, sometimes with a group in tow. I don't feel overly paranoid but have never had a problem and would like to keep it that way.

Here are my concessions to safety when I travel in Central America:

:: I avoid the big cities as much as possible

:: I don't "party"

:: Where recommended I take specific transportation (Hedman Alas in Honduras, for example, or avoiding chicken buses on the mountain runs in Guatemala, taxis after dark)

:: I know where I am and where I'm headed

:: I don't wear jewelry (not even my wedding band) and try not to flash camera equipment or money around

:: Some trips I carry a “throw down wallet” with an expired card or 2 and the day’s cash in it

:: I keep important documents and cash under my clothes (except what I need for shopping, buses, etc. for that time period)

:: I ask locals about safety in an area - evenings, hiking, etc.

:: I travel really light so I don't feel vulnerable getting my bag off and on buses, shuttles, etc.

:: I continue to build skills in Spanish

St. John's, Canada
posts: 155
reviews: 1
8. Re: safety in Antigua Guatemala

wow.Heres my story. I spent sixweeks there on two sepperate trips.Like it a lot.Our second trip we took the kids who were 3 and 4 and had no problems.mostly linit nightime wandering

Sydney
posts: 65
reviews: 6
9. Re: safety in Antigua Guatemala

We travelled in Guatemala in December with 2 children (10 + 13 yo). We are experienced travellers. We read a lot of concerning items regarding various kinds of dangers expecting us there. However, AT NO TIME, have we felt in any kind of danger. We were not robbed, attacked, kidnapped or anything else and there was not even a hint of trouble. We felt safe at all times (actually safer than in most european cities!) and had no concerns regarding the children. Antigua was particularly a danger free zone. Of course we applied common sense (do not walk around with jewellery or in remote streets at night, listen to advice) and did not visit Guatemala City which, I understand, is more of an issue in terms of safety. The locals are friendly, helpful and hassle tourists far less than in many other countries. So as long as you daughter applies common sense she should be fine.

Sydney
posts: 65
reviews: 6
10. Re: safety in Antigua Guatemala

We travelled in Guatemala in December with 2 children (10 + 13 yo). We are experienced travellers. We read a lot of concerning items regarding various kinds of dangers expecting us there. However, AT NO TIME, have we felt in any kind of danger. We were not robbed, attacked, kidnapped or anything else and there was not even a hint of trouble. We felt safe at all times (actually safer than in most european cities!) and had no concerns regarding the children. Antigua was particularly a danger free zone. Of course we applied common sense (do not walk around with jewellery or in remote streets at night, listen to advice) and did not visit Guatemala City which, I understand, is more of an issue in terms of safety. The locals are friendly, helpful and hassle tourists far less than in many other countries. So as long as you daughter applies common sense she should be fine.

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