Guatemala is a country in Central America and located at the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
I traveled to Guatemala on my world trip through Latin America:
1. Shuttle from El Tunco (El Salvador) to Antigua Guatemala. Since we were at the Ruta de las Flores before, we caught the shuttle at a crossroads.
2. Shuttle from Antigua Guatemala to Panajachel at Lake Atitlan.
3. Day trip by shuttle to Chichicastenango Mayan Market.
4. Shuttle from Panajachel to Antigua Guatemala. We wanted to go directly to Copan in Honduras, but since there was no direct shuttle and it was cumbersome to use public transport, we had to spend the night in Antigua.
5. Shuttle from Antigua Guatemala to Copan in Honduras.
6. Bus from San Pedro Sula (Honduras) to Guatemala City.
7. Bus from Guatemala City to Flores.
8. Day trip to Tikal.
9. Shuttle from Flores to Belize City and then ferry to Caye Caulker.
The colonial city of Antigua Guatemala has cobblestones and many colorful houses. For me it was one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Latin America. During a short day trip we were at the Macadamia Farm Valhalla and learned about the cultivation and processing. Antigua was also our starting point for trips to the Fuego and Pacaya volcano.
The Atitlan Lake is surrounded by several volcanoes and small Mayan towns. We stayed in Panajachel because of its good connection with the shuttles. We took the ferries to explore the towns. At the end of the day, the experience was not so good and an organized tour would have cost the same as the ferry crossings and a guide for a city.
In the city of Chichicastenango is Guatemala’s largest Mayan market held twice a week. At the nearby “Pascual Abaj” was a tourist group and we saw a Mayan ceremony.
The Fuego volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Central America. On a tour from Antigua Guatemala, we hiked to a nearby volcano for over 5 hours on the first day. It was cloudy and we couldn’t see anything, but we heard him regularly. We camped at minus degrees and warmed ourselves around the campfire. Shortly before sunset, the clouds moved away and we could see the fire-spitting volcano. A breathtaking spectacle to see glowing magma from the earth’s core so close. It was one of the best experiences on my entire world tour through Latin America.
In the afternoon we made a trip from Antigua Guatemala to the active Pacaya volcano. Other travelers told us that liquid lava can be seen up close. An image search on Google also confirmed this. When we were there, hardly any lava flowed and we could only see it from several hundred meters. Still there was hot lava stones on which we grilled marshmallow.
In Central America were the two high cultures of the Mayas and Aztecs. The Mayan ruins of Tikal are remains of a past civilization of several thousand inhabitants. Compared to the other Mayan ruins, this one had the highest temple that towered far above the jungle.
International bus companies like TicaBus run from the capitals of neighboring countries such as El Salvador. There is a good overview on Rome2Rio.
There are shuttles between the typical travel destinations. These are small buses that take you door-to-door. They are faster, more convenient and safer than public transportation. Especially on long journeys, they are no more expensive than public transport, because you save unnecessary overnight stays. We had the following shuttles:
From El Tunco (El Salvador) to Antigua Guatemala. Since we were at the Ruta de las Flores, we caught the shuttle at an intersection. We already bought the shuttle ticket in El Tunco and organized the day of pick up via WhatsApp.
From Antigua Guatemala to Copan (Honduras). The shuttle picked us up at 4am and we were in Copan by 10am.
Between the cities
The public buses are former American school buses and are called chicken buses because the locals sometimes take living chickens with them.
Traveling on a chicken bus is cumbersome with a large travel backpack. The buses are often overcrowded, there is hardly any space and there is a higher risk of theft. They last for ages because they stop at every dog house and you often have to change the bus for longer distances. Shuttles are more convenient, faster and safer.
As a German, you will buy a CA4 tourist card for $ 10 at the border, which is valid for 90 days. The “Central America-4 Agreement” applies to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua and only has to be bought once. The limit of 90 days is important. We had an unfriendly passenger in the shuttle and had to wait unnecessarily 1.5 hours due to passport problems at the border.