Getting Around Guatemala
Guatemala’s domestic flight network is fairly limited, the main route being Guatemala City to Flores. Avianca (www.avianca.com) and TAG Airlines (www.tag.com.gt) run daily flights. Except for high seasons such as Semana Santa it isn’t necessary to book these too far in advance.
The flight time between Guatemala City and Flores is 45 minutes.
A travel tax of Q5 per person is applied to internal flights and payable at the check-in desks.
The majority of travel within Guatemala is by road, and major highways connect the main cities. Most travel is by bus and the most popular are the colourful, ex-US school buses called camionetas, but known by visitors as chicken buses. They are cheap and efficient, but the driving conditions can be erratic, schedules somewhat flexible and conditions hot and cramped for longer journeys.
Ex-Greyhound buses known as Pullmans operate longer journeys between main cities, and provide a better level of comfort. Private shuttle minibuses operate on the main tourist routes.
Side of the roadRight
There is an extensive road network and the main highway network has had a major make-over and is now in good quality. Many of the more rural roads can be poorly maintained however.
Travelling by car is a good way to access more remote areas but driving conditions are not for the faint-hearted. International and local car hire firms have offices in Guatemala City. Four-wheel drive vehicles are an asset.
Taxis in Guatemala City are metered, and it is preferable to call one from a hotel. In other areas, be sure to negotiate the fare before setting off. Three-wheeled tuk-tuk taxis have become common, especially in smaller towns.
Cycling is common and it is possible to rent mountain bikes in places such as Antigua, Panajachel and Quetzaltenango.
Seat belts must be worn at all times. Speed limits vary depending on the condition of the road but they are rarely enforced.
PROVIAL patrols the major highways (tel: 1520, in Guatemala only). Alternatively, call the police (tel: 120) or the fire brigade (tel: 123).
A national licence is valid for one to three months, but an International Driving Permit is recommended.
In 2011 and 2012 there was a spate of murders in Guatemala City by resident gangs and almost 100 bus drivers were killed. While the problem seems to be under control, care should be taken when using public low-cost buses in the city.
Most Guatemalan cities are small enough to walk around, but Guatemala City and major towns have limited, but cheap regular bus services. Travellers are advised to use radio-dispatched taxis or taxis from hotels.
Regular boats operate between Puerto Barrios and Livingston. There are also frequent services along the Rio Dulce, as well as on the bigger lakes, in particular between villages on Lake Atitlán.
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