Monday, June 27, 2022

Stay Safe & Healthy in Guatemala

North AmericaGuatemalaStay Safe & Healthy in Guatemala

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Stay Safe in Guatemala

Guatemala has one of the highest violent crime rates in the world. Travellers should take extra precautions while in Guatemala. If you are assaulted, robbed or approached by armed persons, cooperate. Do not make any sudden movements or hand over any items or money that are requested. Tourists have been shot for resisting attackers. Be aware that these robberies are sometimes committed by off-duty police officers – incredible as it may seem, being a robber or kidnapper is a part-time job for many police officers.

Do not travel to areas known to be hotbeds of drug trafficking (i.e. parts of Peten) and do not travel to the most dangerous areas of Guatemala City (zones 3, 6, 12, 18, 19 and 21). Be careful in Zone 1 of Guatemala City, especially after dark, and do not stay in hotels in this area. The slightly more expensive hotels in Zone 10 or Zone 13 (near the airport) are a much better idea.

Women should be especially careful around men, even if they pretend to be employees of a local hotel. Last year, several tourists were victims of brutal sexual assaults in the beach community of Monterrico and in the town of Panajachel. In one case, a local man posed as a hotel employee before torturing, raping and attempting to kill a young woman who lived in the area.

Do not use buses in Guatemala City as they are often robbed by gangs. Radio taxis (Taxi Amarillo) are a safer way to get around the city. When travelling by chicken bus, also pay attention to the people sitting next to you.

While some say that travellers should always carry some cash and be prepared to bribe a few police officers, most tourists will have no reason to bribe anyone. The most likely situations in which you would need to bribe the police would be if you were driving a car or motorbike and were stopped for fictitious traffic violations. Most Europeans/North Americans find this immoral, but it is much easier to spend Q50 and avoid a headache than to be harassed by the police. Phrases like “I’m sorry officer, is there a way to resolve this now?” work well. Do not offer a bribe directly to an officer as this is illegal and you could get into more trouble.

Never take photos of children without permission. Some Guatemalans are extremely suspicious about this and will think you are a kidnapper (even if the children are someone else’s). In Guatemala there have been many problems with children being sold or kidnapped and offered for adoption on the black market. This of course does not include a few children mixed with many adults at a distance. This happens mostly in the more remote villages of Guatemala. In the big cities, people are a little more open about being photographed, but they still avoid it.

It is dangerous to travel between cities after dark. This greatly increases the risk of having a car accident or being robbed at gunpoint.

Pickpocketing is common at markets, so never carry anything in your back pocket and carry as little as possible.

One of the best things about Guatemala is the abundance of natural beauty and the many hiking trails. Some of them are notorious for predation (Volcan de Agua, trails around Lago de Atitlán, Volcán de Pacaya). Always enquire about the situation before going in blindly. The Inguat, locals and other travellers are reliable sources of information. Travelling in a group during the day sometimes reduces the risks, but not always.

The traffic can be dangerous. You will encounter many single-lane roads (one lane in each direction) and drivers tend to swerve to avoid potholes and bumps. There are also several multi-lane highways. Traffic in Guatemala City and surrounding metropolitan areas is very slow during rush hour, but generally driving is very fast (average speeds can reach 60 mph on some city streets).

Stay Healthy in Guatemala

Drink only purified water (Agua Pura Salvavidas is recommended by most hospitals and hotels).

The CDC states that the risk of malaria is in rural areas at altitudes below 1,500 metres, and that there is no risk in Antigua or Lake Atitlán. Preventive antimalarial medication can and should be purchased before travelling to areas where malaria is endemic.

Dengue is endemic throughout Guatemala.

Vaccinations against hepatitis A and B are recommended.

How To Travel To Guatemala

By air Guatemala's main airport, La Aurora International Airport (IATA: GUA), is located in Guatemala City. International flights come mainly from other Central American countries, the USA, Mexico, Colombia and Spain. The airport recently underwent a modernising reconstruction. Today it is a glass and concrete building with modern shops and...

How To Travel Around Guatemala

By bus It's hard to miss the brightly coloured buses that fill the streets of Guatemala's big cities and highways. These are chicken buses, or camionetas in Spanish, and are a common mode of transport for Guatemalans and an adventure for tourists. They are much cheaper than tourist buses or...

Visa & Passport Requirements for Guatemala

The following nationalities do not require a visa to visit Guatemala: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Russia, Singapore,...

Destinations in Guatemala

Regions in Guatemala Central HighlandsThis region is home to the capital of Guatemala and at least one active volcano.Western HighlandsThis region is by far the most beautiful part of Guatemala and includes many indigenous Mayan villages. Lake Atitlan is also in this region, as are at least two active volcanoes.Eastern...

Weather & Climate in Guatemala

Guatemala has a varied climate. Most parts of the country are hot (between 80 and 90 , depending on the season and location), with post-meridian thunderstorms usually moderating the heat somewhat. In the Altos, the mountainous region, the weather is generally a little cooler, varying between 70 ...

Things To See in Guatemala

The Mayan ruins are the country's main attractions and the most notable are El Mirador, perhaps the cradle of Mayan civilisation, and Tikal. Volcanoes Guatemala has many volcanoes, many of which are over 3,000 metres high. Volcán de Pacaya (2500m) - this is an active volcano located about 30 minutes from Antigua....

Things To Do in Guatemala

Guatemala is rich in natural beauty and travel opportunities. It is a country that offers so much for those who are willing to get off the beaten track for a while. Antigua Guatemala is often referred to as a hub for travellers, a picture-perfect ruined city in Central America surrounded...

Food & Drinks in Guatemala

Food in Guatemala Typical food : Kaq IkPepiánJocomQuichomTortillas and tortillas de harina. Corn tortillas are served with most meals.Frijoles negros - stewed black beansCaldos - Beef brothsTamales - steamed maize flour with various toppings, wrapped in banana leaves.Rice and beans (Garifunafood in Puerto Barrios)Tapado, ceviche and other fish dishesChurrascos The typical breakfast...

Money & Shopping in Guatemala

Currency The local currency is the quetzal, named after the national bird, whose connotations are still ancient and mythical today. One US dollar is equivalent to 7.61 quetzals. US dollars are widely accepted and can be exchanged in most small towns. ATMs can be found in larger towns, but don't...

Festivals & Holidays in Guatemala

The Guatemalan Labour Code recognises the following dates as public holidays with paid leave: 1 January: New YearMarch / April Thursday, Friday and Saturday: Easter, Holy Week1 May: International Labour Day, known as "Workers' Day".30 June: Armed Forces Day15 September: Independence Day20 October: Revolution Day1 November: All Saints' Day24 December:...

Internet & Communications in Guatemala

Phone The international telephone code for Guatemala is 502. There is no area code. All telephone numbers have eight digits. On 18 September 2004, the telephone system was changed from seven to eight digits, and there is a system for adding certain digits to the beginning of seven-digit numbers (description...

Language & Phrasebook in Guatemala

Spanish is the official language of Guatemala and the most widely spoken language. More than twenty indigenous languages are still spoken throughout the country, but many Maya have at least a basic knowledge of Spanish, except in the most remote areas. For the Garifuna of Livingston, Garifuna and English...

Culture Of Guatemala

Guatemala City is home to many of the country's libraries and museums, including the National Archives, the National Library and the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, which has an extensive collection of Mayan artefacts. There are also private museums such as the Ixchel, which focuses on textiles, and the...

History Of Guatemala

Pre-Columbian The earliest evidence of human settlement in Guatemala dates back to at least 12,000 BC. Sites dating back to 6500 BC have been discovered at Quiché in the central highlands and at Sipacate, Escuintla, on the central Pacific coast. Archaeologists divide Mesoamerica's pre-Columbian history into a pre-Classical period (2000...

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