To help you while you make your travel preparations, we would like to give you some basic information:
The Republic of Guatemala is located in Central America and neighbors Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. It is 109,000 km² in area and has a population of 14.7 million.
The picturesque island of Flores is located in the north of the country on the third largest lake in Guatemala. It is situated in the heart of the tropical rain forest - which covers almost the entirety of Petén - and has a population of 2,600.
Flores is the perfect starting point for trips to the Mayan World. Here, visitors will find everything they might need to prepare for adventure tours into the jungle: supermarkets, internet cafes, pharmacies, doctors´ offices, shops for camera equipment, book exchanges and more. Flores is also the perfect place to relax after several days in the jungle. Travelers can enjoy a soothing massage or eat delicious food in one of the numerous restaurants.
Guatemala - Country of a maximum diversity
Guatemala offers a plethora of opportunities for adventurous people. The colonial city of Antigua is one of the best preserved in the world and provides tourists the chance to explore a bounty of historic monuments and nature sites. Travelers can even climb impressive volcanoes such as Pacaya (easily accessible from both Guatemala City and Antigua) with a guide.
Guatemala boasts species-rich flora and fauna: Mangroves at the pacific coast and huge Ceiba trees - the "universe tree" of the Mayans - as well as countless other regional plants, span the beautiful terrain. Howler and spider monkeys of the rainforest of Petén, brilliantly colored butterflies, jaguars, toucans, scarlet macaws, and even the quetzal (Gautemala’s national bird and namesake of its currency) roam the land.
Travelers looking to catch some rays will certainly enjoy Guatemala’s beautiful, world-renowned beaches. From the Caribbean atmosphere of the charming beach-town of Livingston on the Atlantic coast to the famous volcanic black sand of Monterrico on the Pacific coast, travelers will certainly leave amazed.
Visitors of Guatemala have the unique opportunity to experience the spirit of ancient Mayan ruins in the tropical rain forest. Travelers visiting Tikal can watch the mystic morning fog curl up around the ruins while watching the sunrise or listen to the impressive howling of monkeys while sitting on highest temple in Yaxha during sunset. From dawn until dusk, the endless jungle offers travelers extraordinary adventures.
There are two seasons in Guatemala: summer and rainy season (May to October). During the rainy season, visitors can expect short, heavy showers in the afternoon but clear skies and sun during the early morning and evening. The climate is warm and humid year-round.
Temperatures in Flores usually fluctuate between 25 and 35°C (77 and 95°F).
Guatemalans love corn-based tortillas, rice, refried beans, scrambled eggs and chicken. However, in touristy places like Flores, visitors will find large selections of international foods as well such as pasta, beef, chicken, sea food, and pizza. Meals are usually not very spicy, but hot sauce is always available upon request.
Visitors may use tap water to brush their teeth but should boil water before using it for meals or for drinking. Bottled drinking water is a common alternative. Most restaurants offer purified ice-cubes.
We have been exploring the Guatemalan jungle for years and have yet to encounter a tourist who has contracted malaria. We suggest saving your money and buying good bug spray at home or in Guatemala instead.
For short stays, we suggest the standard vaccinations (hepatitis A+B, tetanus, measles, diphtheria). For longer stays, we ask our students to consult their family practitioners.
Usually, diarrhea is the worst ailment that visitors can expect during their time in Guatemala. (The possibility of an upset stomach or bout of diarrhea should not prevent you from exploring this beautiful country!)
The official currency of Guatemala is the Quetzal. Most touristy places - hotels, restaurants, attractions - accept US dollars. Visitors can change Euros, but at a very low exchange rate.
There is an ATM in Flores where visitors may withdraw money using their Visas or Mastercards. Visitors may also redeem traveler's checks at the bank in Flores or in Santa Elena. Please note that European Maestro cards are rarely accepted.
Citizens from Europe, Asia, the United States, and Canada do not need to buy visas. A valid passport (for at least 6 months) warrants a free ninety-day tourist visa upon entering the country. Travelers may extend this visa for another ninety days by leaving Guatemala (and traveling to Belize, for example) and returning.
Safety is a very important issue for travelers, and many tourists are apprehensive about a visit to Guatemala after reading safety warnings on the web. For this reason, we would like to tell you what you really should expect when traveling through Guatemala.
There is, of course, reason for Guatemala´s bad reputation in regards to crime. However, most incidents occur in the capital, Guatemala City. Tourist destinations such as Flores and Antigua boast a higher police presence and are very safe.
As is always the case when traveling in foreign countries, visitors should follow some basic rules: