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First Timers

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Hampshire, Illinois
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2 reviews
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First Timers

My wife and I are considering a first time trip to Guatemala. The thought was to spend about 10 days in country. Can any one give me any tips on where we should be basing ourselves from? We want to see the Mayan ruins, Antigua, natural beauty, rum distilleries, etc

Can/should we book this ourselves (on the fly, so to speak)? Should we be working through a tour company. We are fairly independent and don't want to be tied down by a tour group.

Thanks in advance for your advice...

Port Richey, Florida
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2,546 posts
12 reviews
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1. Re: First Timers

www.authenticmaya.com www.mayaparadise.com and www.mapasdeguatemala.com www.guatemalastory.com www.corpetur.com www.ronesdeguatemala.com are very useful web sites to get information about the country. It is fairly easy to move around the country. So, most of us would agree that you can easily do it on your own. I suggest you take a look at those pages. Then decide which parts of the country you would interested in visiting and we'll be glad to help you out in making up an itinerary. But keep in mind that with only 10 days it's not going to be easy to see a lot.

St. John's, Canada
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171 posts
1 review
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2. Re: First Timers

Youll have a great time.Theres a hotel on the shoreline of Lake Atilan called Dos Mundos that real nice.Its not the Dos Mundos in pana.You could spend a couple of nights in flores and 3 nights in Lake atilan.Theres also a village close to Dos Mundos where the kids approach you for photo shots,its a real good photo op.You can wing it here real easy as i think theres lots of next day tous and prices were great 6 years ago.A tour out of antigua was tikal ,18 hours,flight up,Tikal all day ,flight back same day.Everything in cost 200 american.Our Vulcan Paycaya tour was pick you up at 6 am,bring you back at 3pm and it cost 8 bucks ouy of antigua.These are 2004 prices.I also think you should spend more than 2 or 3 nights in Antigua if possible,its real nice but you may be surprised by so many old gringos hanging out.Theres lots of people willing to take anything you want to give.Pencils or small toys or anything at all will be quickly accepted and used.I wear old cloth on my trips and leave them behind, it also frees up luggage.The best suggestion would be one more day.11 days is better than 10 go ahead you cando it

Sydney
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76 posts
7 reviews
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3. Re: First Timers

It is easy to move around in Guatemala but 10 days is not a long time and not wasting time on fiddling around with transportation is important. We spent 2 weeks in Guatemala in December. I drew the itinerary myself and then sent it to a travel agent in Antigua who organised all transportation with driver (in private vehicle), all hotel bookings (some I chose, some I let them chose) and guides for the main sites. The travel agent was very efficient and very well priced (I asked a quote from another local agent - much more expensive). Our drivers always turned up on time and drove carefully. The service is also door to door which for us was important as we were travelling with 2 kids and a fair bit of luggage. Everything went very smoothly. I think this option saved us lots of time and hassle and allowed us to do more (Antigua-Lake Atitlan-Chichi-Xela-San Francisco- Antigua- Volcano Pacaya-Copan Ruinas in Honduras- Livingstone-Rio Dulce- Flores/Tikal and then Belize). Also no feeling of being stuck with a group as you design your own private tour. The travel agent we used was Sin Fronteras (based in Antigua) and I highly recommend them. The lady I dealt with was Fabiola - very good.

Not to be missed: Antigua (we stayed at the Hotel Aurora which was great), a few days around the lake Atitlan area (we stayed at Casa del Mundo-great as well), Chichi market but also Solola market which is more of a local affair, Tikal. If you have time, Copan and the ruins are great as is a stay at Finca El Cisne. Rio Dulce was interesting too. Avoid Guatemala City.

At the end of the day, it will depend on your budget. You can travel for very cheap but it will be more time consuming. Guatemala is a fabulous and easy going country, so whatever way you do it, you will love it.

Port Richey, Florida
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2,546 posts
12 reviews
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4. Re: First Timers

The way samcha did it is a good way of doing a trip to guatemala. A good travel agent could get for you private transportation with a safe driver and good hotels. That gives you the advantage of having someone who you can depend on in case things don't go exactly as planned. Keep in mind guatemala is still very affordable compared to other countries in the region where cost of living has gone up tremendously. I've just got back from a quick trip to Mexico and I was surprised to see that nowadays eating at BK or any fast food restaurant in Mexico it's a luxury, because it's whole lote more expensive than here in the states. And that goes for typical food on the street or any restaurant and everyting else too.

St. John's, Canada
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171 posts
1 review
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5. Re: First Timers

great info,casa del mundo, is that the hotel on the side of the hill on lake Atilan,lots of steps with a great view.

Sydney
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76 posts
7 reviews
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6. Re: First Timers

Casa del Mundo is the hotel your refer to. The area where it is located is Jaibalito. There are lots of steps, so if you recently had a hip operation, not good. Otherwise, it will keep you fit and it is worth the effort. The hotel sent staff to help with luggage so we did not have to carry them all the way up. The travel agent had also arranged for a boat to meet us when we arrived at Panajachel, so we did not have to wait for a 'public' boat - which are often quite busy, so it makes it a bit awkward with luggage (and kids in our case). That was another advantage of having the agent organise all transfers, it made all transfers smooth, no waiting time, no missed buses etc. For ex when we drove to Puerto Barrios, we arrived late because there had been traffic problems but it did not matter as our boat was waiting for us to take us to livingstone. So it definitely makes your life easier - for what I thought was still very reasonable. Back to Casa del Mundo, It is not a luxury resort but it is plenty comfortable and the location is unique. There are bedrooms with private bathroom and some with shared bathrooms. Some of the rooms are all the way up which makes a long walk even after you dinner. We were in room 13, on top of the main building, very large room with sitting area, private bathroom and balcony and full on views of the lake from all the windows. Rooms at the top of the property (11,12,16) seem very nice too - but more steps but possibly quieter although noise was not an issue when we were there in early december (it was not a busy time )

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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11,151 posts
327 reviews
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7. Re: First Timers

I get a big charge out of the research and planning so I don't want someone else to make arrangements. Sometimes it's nice to arrange transportation in advance or have a good agency buy intracountry flights for you; here are 2 that I've had good success with:

www.adrenalinatours.com

www.rainbowtravelcenter.com

Happy trails!

Shelby, North...
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223 posts
24 reviews
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8. Re: First Timers

Just have to ask the question of Kyle2009: Why in the world would you be eating at a BK in Mexixo? Don’t you have those where you live in the USA? Man, try the juevos rancheros in a local restaurant. Not anything like BK. And certainly fresher, and probably cheaper.

Edited: 9:07 pm, February 21, 2011
Istanbul, Turkey
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6 posts
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9. Re: First Timers

@samcha I know it is rude to ask how much was the cost of your trip, but I really need to make a budget. Me and my girlfriend will be staying in Guatemala for about a month, maybe just a little longer. This is our fist time and we do not speak the local language. Having everything arranged by a dependable local agent sounds great to me at this point. Could you give me a figure and some details so I can relate my own trip and try to understand how much we are looking at? I would appreciate it tremendously.

Port Richey, Florida
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2,546 posts
12 reviews
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10. Re: First Timers

The reason why I like BK and McDonalds in Guatemala and other parts of the world is because I get tired of having to wait an eternity for tha second or third cup of coffee early in the morning, and the coffee they serve is very good. I can take it easy and read my newspaper in a nice ambiance. And I also get tired of eating those huevos rancheros which sometime are not exactly done the way I like them, with sometimes not very friendly waiters. Not to mention that on top of that you're still forced to tip them for bad service. I always like try the local foods including food on the streets. But I was just trying to make a point about the cost of food in Mexico compared to the US nowadays.