Guatemala has a very special place deep in our hearts. But beyond our personal bias, Guatemala truly possesses an unmistakable magic known to both locals and visitors alike. A country full of cultural richness that goes back centuries in time, it is also home to incredible natural beauty and some of the world’s friendliest and most cheerful people. It has also faced disaster, tragedy and injustice and continues to recover from the civil war and prevail over present day challenges. Still, like many of its Latin America neighbors, Guatemala and its people exhibit a resilience and indomitable spirit that is nothing short of inspiring. Just be careful, you might come intending to stay a week only to find that the weeks turn into years and you’re still around town pinching yourself because you can’t believe it’s all real.
Spanish is the official language of Guatemala. As a first and second language, Spanish is spoken by 93% of the population. Twenty-two Mayan languages are spoken, especially in rural areas, as well as two non-Mayan Amerindian languages, Xinca, an indigenous language, and Garifuna, an Arawakan language spoken on the Caribbean coast. English is spoken widely in the prominent tourist destinations of La Antigua and Lake Atitlán.
What will the food be like on my trip?
Guatemalan food and drink are primarily influenced by the country’s Maya and Spanish cultures. However, it also received influences from African and Caribbean cultures. We will be taking you to our favorite restaurants where you will get to try food local to Guatemala as well as some non-traditional cuisine.
Can I drink the water in Guatemala?
We do not recommend drinking tap water in Guatemala. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water; ask your leader where filtered water can be found. It’s also advisable to peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Is it safe to travel through Guatemala?
Although there are parts of Guatemala that are dangerous, most tourist destinations are very safe.
Are credit cards/debit cards accepted?
Credit cards are becoming more widely used in Guatemala, especially in upscale hotels, urban centers, nice restaurants, and major tourist attractions. Smaller shops may accept credit cards but will charge a fee, usually around 7 to 10 percent of the transaction amount. Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted credit cards in Guatemala.
What documents do I need to visit Guatemala?
If you’re a U.S. citizen, all you’ll need to visit Guatemala is a U.S. passport that’s valid for at least six months beyond the intended length of stay and proof of onward or return travel. U.S. citizens can stay in Guatemala for up to 90 days without a visa.
Other countries – including those in the EU, as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, and Switzerland – need a passport that’s valid for at least three months beyond the intended length of stay and proof of onward or return travel.
Do Americans need a visa to visit Guatemala?
No. When you arrive at the airport or border, you’ll go through standard immigration procedures and don’t need any special paperwork unless you’re planning an extended stay or are visiting for reasons other than tourism.
Do I have to pay for a Guatemala departure tax?
Yes. There is a departure tax of US$30, but it is usually included in the price of a flight.
What’s the rule of thumb for tipping?
Tipping is a personal choice and depends on the service rendered, but 10% is standard. Many times gratuity is included at restaurants, but always double check the bill.
What is the weather like in Guatemala?
Guatemala has a tropical climate, with weather that is largely determined by altitude. Put simply, the higher up you go the cooler it gets. Lowland jungles and areas along the coast are usually hot and tropical, while mountainous destinations can be quite chilly. Travelers will find nice spring-like temperatures in cities like Antigua, Quetzaltenango, and Guatemala City.
Do I need an adaptor for my electronics?
Most outlets in Guatemala are 110 volts, the same as are found in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. If you’re coming from one of these countries, you won’t need to bring an adapter.
What is Guatemala’s currency?
Guatemala’s currency is the quetzal, which is denoted by Q. Quetzal bills come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100. The exchange rate is usually around Q7.5 – Q8 to 1 US$.
Can I use my cell phone in Guatemala?
Most restaurants and hotels have Wi-Fi, but if you’d like to be connected outside of Wi-Fi zones, you can buy a Guatemalan sim card.