Like its neighbour Belize, Guatemala enjoys a balmy tropical climate and is rich in rainforest, woven around some of the most impressive ruins in the world. South of its sprawling, supercharged capital, Guatemala City, are the Pacific coast and the beautiful colonial city of Antigua. Heading north over the highlands of Sierra Madre, a sliver of Caribbean coastline crowns the east of the country, and to the north, the dense forest of the El Petén region conceals vast lakes and the ancient Mayan site of Tikal, one of the archaeological wonders of the world.
Areas in Guatemala
When to go
The dry season between November and April is both the balmiest and busiest. Between May and October, the frequent rains can make road travel problematic, but it’s often the best time to secure good value accommodation and avoid the tourist hordes.
PlanesLa Aurora International Airport near Guatemala City is the country’s largest, and is served by regular flights from airports in North and Central America, with two flights a day from Belize City. British Airways (www.ba.com) makes frequent trips from Heathrow to Guatemala City via Miami, or you can fly direct from Madrid with Iberia. United Airlines (www.united.com) flies direct to Guatemala City from Houston regularly and to Flores twice a week. For travel between Guatemala City and Flores, visit www.taca.com.
AutomobilesRoads are patchy, petrol stations are scarce, and security is, unavoidably, a concern. Private transfers are the safest and easiest way to cross the country. However, seasoned explorers can pick up a car from Avis at Guatemala City airport for around $20–$50 a day.
TaxisTaxis – of varying degrees of legitimacy – are easily found in Guatemala, although buses are more commonly used for shuttling around the countryside. Look out for three-wheeled tuk tuks in Guatemala City; their small size makes them adept at zipping around town. Agree a fare beforehand if you can.