1. When is the best time to visit?
For most of the country, the best time of year to visit is during the height of the dry season, December to February. April and May are the hottest months; July - September tend to be the wettest.
2. What are the accommodations like?
In Guatemala, we have selected a variety of charming accommodations ranging from simple homestays, to thatched roof jungle cabanas, to comfortable city hotels with all of the modern conveniences. In general, we use small, family-run lodges and hotels that are locally owned and characteristic of each area instead of luxury chain resorts. For more information, check out our Guatemala Lodging
page to view pictures of our standard hotels/ lodges.
3. What is the homestay like?
The village of Totonicapan is particularly well known for its artisans. The homestay is a unique opportunity to experience authentic village life and old-fashioned Maya hospitality. Accommodations are simple, almost like camping indoors. They have flush toilets but no electricity. Meals include local favorites such as rice, beans, vegetables, and eggs. Most villagers do not speak English, but your tour leader will be available to help you communicate.
4. Do I need a converter/ adaptor for the electricity?
Guatemala uses 110 volt, 60 cycle electricity, same as the US. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type so US travelers will not typically need a converter or adaptor. Outlets rarely have 3 holes so if your device has a third prong, bring an adaptor.
5. Are meals included?
Yes and no. We have tried to balance flexibility and convenience regarding meal options. For this reason, we include meals on any of our tour days when you are traveling off the beaten path where restaurant choices are limited. In the major towns, where there are a wide variety of restaurants, we generally do not include meals, to allow our travelers the flexibility of choosing their own food preferences. Your tour leader or hotel staff can recommend some great restaurant options. Your hotel will also provide a light continental breakfast on these days. Included meals are listed in parenthesis next to the tour itinerary on each tour page. An estimated meal budget can also be found under Personal Budgeting at the bottom of the itinerary on the tour pages.
6. What are the tour leaders like?
All of our tour leaders are exceptional! They speak English and Spanish fluently as well as the local languages. They are from the local areas where they guide and are among the very best guides available in each region. Our tour leaders treat our travelers like friends, showing visitors both the major highlights and the local treasures.
7. What type of transportation is used?
Our Guatemala tours
utilize a variety of transportation including private vans/ cars, comfortable tourist buses, flights, ferries, boats, etc. We use a mix of private/ public transportation to provide travelers with the safest and most efficient transportation in each area. Each tour itinerary page has a description of the transportation included on that tour. If you have additional questions, just ask!
8. What type of planes are used on internal flights?
In general, small commuter planes are used on most flights. Depending on the airline, these planes range from 15 passenger prop planes (Cessna Gran Caravan) to 50 passenger jets (DC 9- 51).
9. What type of food is typical of Guatemala?
Grilled beef, chicken Rice, beans, tortillas, tropical fruit, and fresh vegetables are some of the standard foods that travelers can expect in Guatemala. A few Mexican dishes such as tamales and enchiladas are also common.
10. What is the climate like?
Guatemala's climate has been described as the "Land of Eternal Spring" - much of the country does enjoy an agreeable climate. However, there are exceptions!
Altitude is the biggest climatic consideration in Guatemala. In the highlands including Antigua, Guatemala City, Lago de Atitlan and Chichicastenango, the altitude is between 4,260-6,890' (1,300-2,100 m) and the daytime climate is usually pleasant between 64-82°F (18-28°C). Humidity is rarely a problem. Be prepared for temperatures to cool off at night - make sure you pack some layers!!
In the coastal areas and the Peten jungle lowlands the heat and humidity can be draining. Be prepared at any time of the year to find temperatures above 85°F (30°C). Tikal owes the lushness of its jungle environment to the climate. Marvel at the ruins but be ready for steamy and humid conditions - as you wander among these towering pyramids, imagine building them under these temperatures!
There are two seasons in Guatemala. The rainy season, from May to October, experiences a mix of sunshine and clouds and you can expect periodic short tropical downpours in the late afternoons, clearing for the evening.
The dry season, November to April has cooler temperatures. Due to the clear skies, the coolest nighttime temperatures occur in December and January, with occasional snowfall and frosts at high altitudes.
11. Are these trips suitable for kids?
Guatemala is the most culturally intense country we visit in Central America. The warm and welcoming Maya population lives in the forested mountain highlands among splendid volcanoes and azure lakes. Some of our Guatemala tours include a homestay with a local Maya family. Participating in the daily life of another culture can be fascinating and rewarding for kids, if everyone is adequately prepared for the experience. However, it can also be overwhelming and challenging for children who do not adapt easily to changes in their routines. Further, although the majority of tourists visit without mishap, crime is also more common in Guatemala than some of our other destinations. Contact a travel specialist for more information on whether or not this destination would be a good match to your family's interests.
Our Family Travel Page
has some helpful hints for making the most of your family vacation and also has some minimum age recommendations for each tour. We realize that you know your kids best so we will be happy to answer all of your questions and try to give you the most accurate impression of what to expect. However, please remember that these are adventure tours and flexibility is essential!
To make family tours easier, we often recommend having a private group and guide, though families with well-behaved children are welcome on our group departures as well. We have special private tour rates for families- please ask your trip coordinator if you are interested.
12. What is a typical group like on the Guatemala tours?
Groups on our Guatemala tours tend to be small, with travelers from around the world, predominantly the US and the UK. Most of our groups are composed of adults (of all ages), though private groups of families with children are not uncommon.
13. Are these trips a good choice for solo travelers?
Yes and no. The Guatemala Easter Festivals tour and Guatemala Explorer tend to attract the largest and most diverse groups so these are usually great choices for solo travelers. Many of the other Guatemala tours tend to depart with very small groups (sometimes only one couple or family) so a single traveler is more likely to feel out of place. If you have a particular tour or departure date in mind, ask your trip coordinator for recommendations. Solo travelers should also take a look at our exclusive Solo Traveler Departures.
14. Do tour rates include international flights?
Tour rates do not include international flights. We find that it is usually less expensive for travelers to book these separately and this also allows you the flexibility to choose the schedule and routing that is most convenient for you. You can purchase international flights directly through, or we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator that specializes in Central America flights.
15. How do I get to the hotel from the airport when I arrive?
In Guatemala, we recommend that we arrange a transfer to the hotel for you as it is a bit longer than in most destinations. We offer a special rate on our Guatemala airport transfers. We can arrange a transfer to Antigua for $40 (single) or $20 per person for two or more.
16. How much should I budget for tips?
Tips are not required on any of our tours. However, it is customary in Latin America to offer a small tip for exceptional service. Tipping amounts vary widely, though some travelers report that ~$2-$10/ day for your guide and ~$1-$3/ day for your driver is common. Other travelers opt to bring small gifts from their home to give to service providers along the way.
17. Are there any discounts available?
We offer select trip discounts periodically throughout the year. Check out our Travel Discounts
page for the latest offers and on-going discounts.
18. How far in advance should I book?
You can book your Guatemala tour at any time. For most departures, 2-3 months notice is fine, though Easter tours may fill up 5-6 months in advance. We usually recommend that you wait to book your international flights until after your tour is confirmed. The sooner that we arrange your tour, the sooner that you can take advantage of flight deals as they become available.
We are often able to accommodate last minute travelers as well (some even departing in less than one week!!), so give us a call and we will do our best! For last minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice tour may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip coordinator can probably recommend some other similar options that would be equally interesting! Many lodges will not hold spaces less than 30 days before departure so for last minute bookings, you may be asked to send your registration form and trip payment in right away to secure your spaces.
19. Are tour dates flexible?
Please contact us if you are not able to travel on the set departure dates listed on-line. Most tours can be arranged on alternative departure dates for a minimum of two travelers as long as lodges/ hotels are available.
20. Can I extend or change my stay?
Check out our Guatemala Extensions
for ideas. Extra days can also be arranged in most areas if desired. Let us know how you would like to customize your trip and we will do our best to accommodate you.
21. What should I pack?
You will receive a detailed packing list after you book your tour. Bring long sleeves and a fleece/ sweater for cool highland evenings and plenty of comfortable, breathable clothes for hot jungle days. Good walking shoes, insect repellent, and sun protection are also a must.
22. How safe is Guatemala?
Though we have not had any safety concerns on our tours, crime can be a serious problem throughout Guatemala. Travelers should follow the advice of hotel staff and tour leaders as well as taking common sense precautions. Hotels can store your valuables in a safe if desired. That said, most travelers visit Guatemala without incident. Check out the US State Department travel advisories
on-line for the latest information.
23. Is the water safe to drink?
The tap water is generally not safe to drink in Guatemala. Bottled water is readily available at tourist sites, hotels, and restaurants. Don't forget to use bottled water when brushing your teeth as well! Ice is not always made with boiled/ bottled water. Order your beverages without ice ("sin hielo") or ask your tour leader if the ice is safe in a particular restaurant.
24. What immunizations are recommended/ required?
No immunizations are currently required for visiting Guatemala except a yellow fever certificate if you are arriving in Guatemala after visiting an infected area, such as the Amazon. Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended. Medications to prevent malaria are also recommended if visiting lowland areas, though some travelers opt not to take them. For the most current information, please consult your doctor and/or check out the Center for Disease Control web-site at www.cdc.gov
25. Do I need a visa/passport?
Travelers will all need a passport valid for at least 6 months after they depart. Most travelers do not need a visa for Guatemala. Visas are not currently required for citizens of the following countries: USA, Canada, Austria, Germany, France, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, the UK, and many other countries. Entry requirements in Latin America change with surprising frequency. It is each traveler's responsibility to check with the consulate for the most up-to-date visa information.
26. What is the local currency, exchange rate, etc.?
The local currency is the quetzal, named after the country's national bird. Check out a Currency Converter like, www.oanda.com/currency/converter/
for the latest exchange rates. Many restaurants, markets, and other service providers will also accept small denominations of US dollars. They will generally give you change in local currency.
27. Should I bring cash or Traveler's checks? Are ATMs available? Can I use credit cards?
Most travelers bring a small amount of US cash with them and withdraw from ATMs as they need it along they way. ATMs are readily available in the larger towns and cities. Travelers can withdraw US dollars or local currency at fair exchange rates. Traveler's checks are fine, but they can be more difficult to exchange and you will usually receive a poorer rate or be charged an additional fee. Credit cards are accepted only in the larger restaurants and stores. Although it is helpful to bring a credit card along for emergencies, don't count on using it for most purchases.
28. Can I use my cell phone?
Check with your cell phone provider. Each company is different and they can give you the most up-to-date information. In Guatemala, we can also arrange a rental cell phone for you if desired. Talk to your tour coordinator for more details!
29. What time zone is Guatemala?
Guatemala is six hours behind GMT (same as CST). They do not observe daylight-savings time so during these months (April-October), Guatemala is on MST.
30. Is travel insurance recommended?
We work with a company called TravelGuard that provides reasonably priced insurance for trip cancellation, medical expenses, medical evacuation, lost bags, etc. They have two different types of insurance available, depending upon whether or not you will need the cancellation coverage. Check out our Once You're Booked
page for more information.