Though the largest of all Central American countries,
Guatemala is still relatively small, which is beneficial
when it comes to transportation. Roughly the size of Tennessee,
Guatemala travel is more hampered by bad roads and its
predominantly mountainous terrain, rather than size. Getting
around in Guatemala can include a number of transportation
methods, perhaps the most famous being the often-filled-to-capacity-and-beyond
“chickenbuses”. In the country’s sparcely
inhabited northern Petén region, getting to the
jungle-dwelling ruins at El Mirador includes putting one foot in front of the other. Guatemala
travel can also come by air and by car, if you should
be so bold to rent a car in Guatemala. Ferries can be
found offering transportation in some regions, such as
Livingston and Sayaxché. For a truly unique experience,
you might consider taking one of the tuk-tuks, or auto-rickshaws,
you might see transporting people through crowded city
The quickest way to get around Guatemala, and anywhere else for that matter, is by plane. Guatemala’s largest airport can be found in Guatemala City, and from there daily non-stop flights can be found heading to the Flores. The city of Flores is where you will find the country’s second largest airport, and the city serves as the hub for travel through the Petén region. Plenty of Guatemala tours feature starting points in Flores, which serves as the gateway to the Mayan ruins at Tikal. You can also find various flights to and from the San José airport in the south, and the Quetzaltenango airport in the west. Whereas flying will get you from point A to point B the quickest, most of Guatemala is reached by car, bus or shuttle instead. There simply aren’t a bevy of airports serving the different regions of Guatemala. Some of the more expensive Guatemala tours include air travel, which can definitely save on time.
Guatemala bus travel is dominated by the legendary chickenbuses that can be found covering virtually every corner of the country. Guatemalan chickenbuses are recycled US school buses, and you will notice them most quickly by their colorfully painted exteriors. Taking you pretty much anywhere you might want to go in Guatemala, the chickenbus is a good option if you don’t mind the sometimes unpleasant smells or the fact that they are often packed to the gills. While wholly uncomfortable, and most often claustrophobic, the chickenbus is above all cheap. Not the Guatemala bus you want to ride for long distance hauls, chickenbuses are a popular choice for travel within cities and for short-distance trips. Of course, longer trips will have you looking for a Guatemala bus that is a bit more comfortable. Larger, air-conditioned buses can be found offering routes along the more major routes, with some going to smaller settlements as well. For optimal comfort while traveling between Antigua, Guatemala City and Flores, you can reserve a spot on one of the first-class night buses. In Guatemala City, the main bus terminal is located in Zone 4. Shuttles in Guatemala are an alternative to buses, and come usually in the form of comfortable vans. Commonly featuring headrest seats, air-conditioning, seat belts and full insurance, shuttles in Guatemala offer good peace of mind. Generally, shuttles are used for private use, or for use on different Guatemala tours. One of the more popular shuttles in Guatemala runs a daily route between Antigua and the beachside town of Monterrico.
For those considering car rental Guatemala options, be forewarned that driving in Guatemala City can be quite stressful, and might result in you wanting to head right back to the airport. The city’s narrow streets are commonly choked with traffic and break-ins are reported with general regularity. While most of nicer Guatemala City hotels offer protected parking, you should still avoid leaving any valuables in your car. Car rental Guatemala usually involves navigating a series of winding mountain roads, but it can be quite pleasant once you are out of the capital. Rates for car rental Guatemala companies can go by the hour, the day or by the week. Many companies offer newer model cars, minivans and SUV’s that have you traveling in comfort. If you want to travel in added style, you can peruse the various options online and find a luxury car rental, although any luxury rental will likely cost more per day than the standard cars do per week. The best way to find a Guatemala car rental discount is by checking ahead of time with the various Guatemala car rental companies. Generally, these companies offer discount rates for early bookings. At the Guatemala City La Aurora International Airport, you will find such recognizable car rental companies as National, Hertz, Avis and Budget. If you want to leave the driving up to someone else, you can always go by taxi or arrange for a car-hire service.