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Driving in Guatemala?

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Washington, DC
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Driving in Guatemala?

My husband and I will be traveling in December 2011. We ordinarily rent a car when we travel for the convenience and flexibility. Is driving in Guatemala a safe option? We've driven in Mexico and were fine. We would plan to stick to main roads and drive in the day time. My current thinking about an itinerary is arriving in Guatemala airport, renting car, driving to Coban, then to Tikal, then to Antigua (stopping for a night along the way), staying in Antigua for a few days, driving to Lake Atitlan, and then heading back home. Your thoughts are very welcome! Thanks!

Burr Ridge, Illinois
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3,900 posts
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1. Re: Driving in Guatemala?

I go to Guatemala a couple times a year and I admit that I have yet to drive while in the country. There are a few places where I don't drive and India and Guatemala are two of them.

If you decide to drive you have to be a very defensive driver. My good friend has had 3 accidents this year alone. Mind you, all minor with no injuries, but they did do significant damage to the vehicle.

My advice, get a good automatic and opt in for the insurance.

Bethesda, MD
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2,715 posts
36 reviews
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2. Re: Driving in Guatemala?

I've driven there a bunch. It's doable. You do have to stay very alert to crazy bus drivers, people passing, poorly operating vehicles, and a few other things. Don't let your tank get too low, and make sure you have secure parking.

La Libertad
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42 posts
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3. Re: Driving in Guatemala?

You forgot to mention the lack of road signs, so if one doesn't know some Spanish you could have a problem.

Even when parked at a secure hotel off the main road & with security someone tried to siphon fuel from my tank, was just about empty so not so bad but don't see why they had to steal the fuel cap in the process.

Lots of public transportation in the country so the hassle of driving isn't worth it.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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10,871 posts
327 reviews
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4. Re: Driving in Guatemala?

9 or 10 visits and I've never rented, either. Guatemala has an impressive range of options from cheap local buses and tourist shuttles to pullman buses and private shuttles. If you rent be careful that you stay in a place that has protected parking (a limiting factor). Have a great trip whatever you decide!

Port Richey, Florida
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2,546 posts
12 reviews
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5. Re: Driving in Guatemala?

I always drive a rental car when I go to guatemala. I live in south florida and I can honestly say driving in guatemala is no different than driving here in south florida. Hit and run fatalities are common here. I guarantee you none of you people while driving use the turn signal when turning or changing lanes and yet consider yourself safe drivers. Unfortunately nowadays people instead of forming their own opinions tend to imitate other people's bad habits.

6. Re: Driving in Guatemala?

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Guttenberg, New...
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7. Re: Driving in Guatemala?

Wanted to know if you finally went ahead and rented. Well, I am from india, so i am thinking how bad can it be. I live in Jersey, and trust me I find that Indians drive way better than they drive here :-) IMHO.

If not renting a car and driving it your self, anyone did you consider any other from of renting? Like hiring a car with a driver? We did this in Jamaica and were very pleased, because, we didn't have to worry about refueling, reading signs, pondering over maps and all.

I am right now planning my trip to GUA for end of November this year and was on the forum to see what fellow travelers are doing, especially on the front of car and hotel rentals. What would be safe an worry free.

Edited: 12:59 pm, November 09, 2011
Guttenberg, New...
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8. Re: Driving in Guatemala?

Ugh! Please ignore the typos!

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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10,871 posts
327 reviews
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9. Re: Driving in Guatemala?

When I had a group of 15 in tow in 2009 I hired Adrenalina Tours to haul us all over. We were really pleased with the nice vehicles and the friendly, prompt, and safety conscious drivers. You could check them out if you decide to look into a private driver.

www.adrenalinatours.com

Bethesda, MD
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2,715 posts
36 reviews
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10. Re: Driving in Guatemala?

Stacey always mentions Adrenalina, I always mention STA: http://www.transportguatemala.com/index.php