Mystical Guatemala, inhabited by descendants of the Maya, hid in the tropical forests of Central America. Shaman rituals and pagan holidays, national parks, volcanoes and lakes, skyscrapers of the capital and ancient temples – all about Guatemala: tours, prices, maps and photos.
One of the most colorful countries in Central America, one of the centers of the Mayan civilization, exotic and tropical rainforests – all this is amazing Guatemala. It ’s worth going to Guatemala if you are unbearably eager to meet real Indians, take part in mystical shamanic rituals, see with your own eyes the villages where the descendants of the legendary Mayans live, immerse yourself in local customs and visit a pagan holiday that strikes the imagination with bright colors and unusual traditions. Tourists from all over the world rush to Guatemala to enjoy the beauty of the local nature and ancient monuments.
According to Wholevehicles, the capital is the city of Guatemala.
Climate of Guatemala
The weather differs in different parts of the country as the altitude varies greatly. In general, the climate is mild, in the south it is more humid, tropical, with an average air temperature of +28 °C. It is cooler on the plateau – an average of +20 ° C. The hottest months are February-May. From May to October, tropical downpours provoke floods and hurricanes. In December-January, at night, the temperature can drop to -10 ° C in the mountains and to 0 ° C on the plateau. See also the current weather forecast in Guatemala.
The best time to visit the country is from November to May.
Hotels in Guatemala are usually located in an old house with a small courtyard. It is better to book a room in advance, specifying the availability of a bathroom and hot water. It is better to ask the final cost of accommodation in a hotel of a non-international chain several times in order to avoid unpleasant surprises upon departure.
Resort hotels on the coast are classics of the genre: swimming pools, fitness centers, playgrounds.
Usually hotels operate on a bed and breakfast system with Swedish. Outside major cities, the hotel reception may not be open at night. The staff speaks Spanish and English.
To immerse yourself in the local culture, it is best to stay in a guesthouse. It has a more homely atmosphere, full board is offered, and the owners are happy to show you around.
Money and currency exchange
The monetary unit of the country is the Quetzal (GTQ), in 1 quetzal there are 100 centavos. Current exchange rate: 1 GTQ = 7.46 RUB (1 USD = 7.73 GTQ, 1 EUR = 8.13 GTQ).
Along with the national currency, the US dollar is freely circulating in the country. You can change currency in banks (open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 16:30, break from 12:30 to 14:30, on Saturday from 9:00 to 12:30), currency exchange offices (casas de cambio, Spanish), at the airport, as well as in shops and hotels. In most cases, you can pay with a credit card (moreover, Visa is preferred, and MasterCard is not held in high esteem).
The local currency got its name from the name of the national bird. Quetzal – the sacred bird of the ancient Mayans and Aztecs – is strictly protected. This bird is very beautiful: it has a graceful beak, a bright green back and a crimson-red belly.
It is unrealistic to exchange quetzal outside the country, get rid of it before departure. Usually a reverse exchange is possible only up to 100 USD.
Shopping and shops in Guatemala
Guatemalan craftswomen have become proficient in the art of making amazing carpets. The country is also famous for its jewelry, antiques and wool products, which are sold at reasonable prices. About a third of the price can be brought down during the auction. Clothing in the national style of the craziest colors can be purchased at the market. Souvenir shops are filled with items depicting the national bird, the quetzal. The main food souvenirs from Guatemala are coffee and chocolate. In Antigua, they make excellent cakes and skillfully copy Mayan stone products.
The most famous Indian market in all of Central America is in Chichicastenango. It operates on Thursdays and Sundays. Merchants and buyers come here from all the provinces of Guatemala, and it all looks the same as it did several centuries ago. Here you can buy colorful fabrics, masks, llama wool ponchos, Indian bags, mascot figurines and much more.
Cuisine and restaurants of Guatemala
The cuisine of Guatemala is similar to Mexican cuisine, based on maize, fried meat, rice and legumes. All dishes are richly seasoned with herbs and spices. Meat is most often grilled or stewed in pots. The bird is roasted on a spit and served with vegetables. Meat sausages are also popular. A traditional dessert is a sweet-filled burrito, ice cream, or seasonal fruit. A traditional meal is not complete without a cup of strong aromatic coffee. In some places, the traditions of Indian cuisine have been preserved since Mayan times.
From alcohol, local beer (especially Quetzalteca), rum and rompopo (rum cocktail with milk and egg) are popular among tourists.
Entertainment and attractions in Guatemala
The country has 11 national parks and reserves with diverse flora and fauna. Here is the deepest lake in Central America – Atitlan, its depth is 340 m. At the foot of the volcanoes in the vicinity of the lake, the descendants of the Mayan tribe live. All lakes of the country are clean and picturesque.
Guatemala City looks very unusual in terms of architecture: modern skyscrapers made of glass and concrete are mixed on city streets with old mansions built during colonization, and new wide avenues are accompanied by ancient temple buildings. Treasures of the Maya are presented in large numbers in the National Museum of Archeology and Anthropology.
From the capital, you can take a wonderful helicopter ride to Lake Atitlan or fly over the volcanoes. The rental price is 900 USD per hour, helicopters are designed for 4-6 passengers.
The small town of Antigua has become a famous tourist destination due to its location on three volcanoes, its turbulent past, and the ruins of ancient monasteries. Another city beloved by tourists is Tikal with its palaces, temples and pyramids.
Quetzaltenango in southwestern Guatemala is often referred to simply as Shaila. The most interesting thing in the city is the central square, the surrounding architectural ensemble and Minerva Park. From Quetzaltenango it is convenient to travel to the nearest villages, famous for hot springs and handmade household items.
Most Guatemalans wear European-style clothing for everyday life, although in rural areas traditional forms of dress are preferred – men still wear “sandalsor” and woolen “ponchitos”.
It is best to get acquainted with the culture of pre-Columbian America in the town of Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa on the Pacific coast. Around the city are many curious ruins and archaeological sites. And in the city of Livingston in the north-east of the country, the features of Guatemalan and Caribbean cultures are bizarrely intertwined. Boat tours of Rio Quechucha and Rio Cocoli also start from here.
Ceibal is an impressive archaeological site southwest of Flores, surrounded by a dense forest of powerful ceiba trees. The two main squares are connected by carved stone steles. In Flores itself, tourists first of all rush to the zoo 3 km east of the city and only then to the Aktun-Kan caves, to the ruins of the classical Mayan period in Motul (4 km south of Flores) and, towards the end, admire the views of Lake Lago de Peten Itza.
For lovers of an active lifestyle, this is a real expanse. Hiking along picturesque trails, climbing on volcanoes and highlands, diving and surfing, rafting and other joys await tireless travelers in Guatemala.
Visa to Guatemala
Those who are indicatively loyal to the citizens of Russia are the countries of Latin America – and the mysterious Guatemala is no exception. In order to attract as many tourists as possible to their ancient lands, Guatemala has abolished visas for Russians for up to 90 days – which is enough to thoroughly explore the Mayan ruins and tropical rainforests of this amazing country. Passport requirements are minimal – it must be valid only for the duration of the trip. If a three-month voyage seems too short for you, you can extend your visa on the spot for the same period.
Entry into the country
At the border, you must present:
- passport valid until the moment of departure from the country,
- return air ticket,
- it is desirable to have proof of sufficient funds.
Do not forget to take out medical insurance for the entire duration of the trip. Although the policy is not asked when entering the country, it is at least unreasonable to travel without it.