Can I Travel to Guatemala Right Now?
In February, GeoEx arranged an extensive journey through Guatemala for Michael Anderson. After Michael’s return to the US, we contacted him to talk about how his trip had gone, what conditions were like traveling to and within Guatemala now, and if he would recommend this trip to others. His exuberant responses are inspiring, and we are thrilled to present our wanderlust-whetting conversation here!
Where did you travel to in Guatemala and when were you there?
I went to Antigua, Comalapa, Lake Atitlán, Livingston, Petén, and Guatemala City. I was there from February 4–21, 2021.
In terms of Covid preparations and practices, how was your experience preparing for and traveling to Guatemala?
The Covid preparations and practices went smoothly. They were effective without being too burdensome. I got my PCR test to travel to Guatemala at a clinic that focuses exclusively on the health needs of travelers. I received the results of the test in just over 24 hours, which was perfect. When I got to the airport at home, the airline checked for proof that I had a negative test, and that was very simple. Once at the airport in Guatemala, a nurse checked my temperature and insured that I had taken a Covid test. Next, I cleared Customs and that was it. It took maybe 20 minutes.
Can you tell us how each step of your journey went, from your home to your first hotel there?
The trip from Washington, DC to Antigua was very easy. I had two flights. The one from Washington to Houston took about 2.5 hours. There weren’t lines to check in with the airline or at security, so it took me about 45 minutes to go from my house to the gate. I stayed overnight in Houston near the airport, and then caught an early flight to Guatemala City the next morning. Again, there were no lines checking in with the airline or at security. The flight from Houston to Guatemala City was just over 2 hours long. As we were landing in Guatemala City, one of the nearby volcanoes, Fuego, began to erupt and I got to see it from the air. That was a pretty spectacular introduction to the country!
It took less than an hour to get from the plane to the parking lot at the airport. While it didn’t take long, I did feel that the Covid and security measures taken at the airport were sound without being onerous. When I got to the parking lot, I quickly met up with my local contact and driver. They took my temperature, had me use hand sanitizer, loaded my luggage into the SUV, and we were on the way to Antigua. My local contact and driver were friendly, helpful, and enthusiastic. It took about an hour to get to my hotel in Antigua.
How was traveling within Guatemala?
Since I had my own driver throughout the trip, traveling in Guatemala was safe and easy.
Were you ever uneasy or was it comfortable throughout the journey?
There was never a time when I was uneasy throughout the trip.
What were the highlights of your journey: sightseeing, dining, encounters, etc.?
There are plenty of things that stick in my memory. These include:
- Hiking at Pacaya and watching it erupt
- Seeing the mural in Comalapa (it’s 200 meters long) that depicts its history and aspirations for the future
- Dawn at Lake Atitlán
- Hiking along Lake Atitlán from Santa Cruz to Tzununa
- Visiting the artisans in San Juan La Laguna
- Learning about the history of Santiago Atitlán, particularly during the period of the civil war
- Boating along the Rio Dulce and seeing the incredible amount of birdlife it has to offer
- Dawn in Livingston
- Seeing the sunset from atop a temple at Yaxha
- Visiting Uaxactun
- Climbing 197 steps to get to the top of Temple #4 at Tikal and looking across the jungle; there was no one there but me.
How did you feel touring? Were most people (staff, travelers, and locals) following Covid protocols?
All hotels and restaurants followed Covid protocols. They took it very seriously, but also managed it very efficiently, so it never became a burden.
What was your overall impression about traveling in Guatemala now?
For me, traveling in Guatemala was safe and easy. It is a beautiful country, so traveling through it was often very enjoyable.
Were you especially surprised by anything?
Places like Lake Atitlán, Antigua, and Tikal are all spectacular, but I had some familiarity with them, so they were not huge surprises. The Rio Dulce was! The gorge is amazing in its own right, but the number of pelicans, cormorants, and egrets all through it was just astonishing.
Also, even if you have seen it and know all about it, the sunset at Yaxha is breathtaking.
Now that you’re back, what would you tell travelers who are interested in going to Guatemala now?
I would definitely say to go. It’s a beautiful country, the people are very friendly, and they seem to be doing a good job of managing the Covid situation.
If you were to do the trip all over again, would you do anything differently?
I wouldn’t delete anything that I did. It was all amazing. I might add the hike to the top of Acatenago. It is not an easy climb and is often done overnight. From the top, there is an amazing view of Fuego, which erupts frequently. That would be amazing to see!
Are you glad you went?
I am thrilled that I went. It was spectacular.
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To find out more about GeoEx journeys in Guatemala, call our travel experts at 888-570-7108.