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Guatemala Safe?

NYC
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Guatemala Safe?

My husband & I are planning a trip to Guatemala this April 2012, but our adult daughter who travels widely expressed concern for our safety given violence in Peten area & Guatemala in general: kidnappings, etc. We plan to visit Tikal, Antigua & Chichicastenango. We speak only a few phrases of Spanish, another big disadvantage. We are tall Anglos in our 60's, going on our own (no tour group). Any info welcome - should we take this trip??

97 replies to this topic
The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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11,519 posts
327 reviews
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1. Re: Guatemala Safe?

This comes up constantly so a search of the forum will garner lots of posts suggesting you go with normal travel precautions and have a wonderful trip. I think it's hilarious that it's the daughter worrying about the parents' travel safety instead of the (more common) other way round! The link below is to my travel photos with trip and review links. I've pasted my personal safety guidelines at the bottom. Happy trails!

flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections

____________________________________________

Sometimes I travel alone, sometimes with one or more of my kids and/or my husband, sometimes with a group in tow. I don't feel overly paranoid but have never had a problem and would like to keep it that way.

Here are my concessions to safety when I travel in Central America:

:: I avoid the big cities as much as possible

:: I don't "party"

:: Where recommended I take specific transportation (ex: Hedman Alas in Honduras, avoid chicken buses on the mountain runs in Guatemala, take taxis after dark)

:: I know where I am and where I'm headed and make major transitions with plenty of daylight left

:: I don't wear jewelry (not even my wedding band) and try not to flash camera equipment or money around

:: Some trips I carry a “throw down wallet” with an expired card or 2 and the day’s cash in it

:: I keep important documents and cash under my clothes (except what I need for shopping, buses, etc. for that time period) and keep close watch on my things, especially in crowded places and when I’m tired

:: I ask locals about safety in an area - evenings, hiking, etc.

:: I travel really light so I don't feel vulnerable getting my bag off and on buses, shuttles, etc.

:: I continue to build skills in Spanish

Burr Ridge, Illinois
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3,900 posts
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2. Re: Guatemala Safe?

Hopefulist made a wonderful post.

Consider:

1. Get a local cell phone. They are cheap and prepaid. Good for staying in touch.

2. Some people suggest registering with the embassy. I've never done that, but it may be wise to consider.

3. Make local contacts and friends when possible.

4. Be aware in crowds and market areas.

5. Don't worry - enjoy!

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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11,519 posts
327 reviews
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3. Re: Guatemala Safe?

Ooo - great trips, Epi!

Bethesda, MD
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2,838 posts
38 reviews
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4. Re: Guatemala Safe?

I've registered my student trips with the embassy, but I don't bother with it for my personal travel. I don't like sharing my plans with the government.

Antigua, Guatemala
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450 posts
10 reviews
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5. Re: Guatemala Safe?

No to mention that the embassy is a huge hassle....

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3 posts
3 reviews
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6. Re: Guatemala Safe?

I just returned from the highlands, Lake Atitlan and Antiqua area, was with a group but spent many hours wandering with one friend. We were aware of our surroundings and were not obvious with money. No problems and felt very safe. sometimes in the bigger group we called more attention to ourselves. If you want a great guide for the big market, and a few other places, Pedro Juan Solis is wonderful, smart, informative of his country and his business is a small family run operation. He and his family were the best!!!! He can be found at tours.Atitlan.com. make sure your American money is new, not folded or any tears as the banks and many of the small stores will not accept it. Some ATM cards worked some of the time and credit cards cash advance worked most of the time. Banks only take cash or travelers checks but again make sure your cash is new!!

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7. Re: Guatemala Safe?

we are "tall anglos" in our late 60's. 2 years ago we went (on our own) to lake atitlan and antigua. fantastic trip! never felt threatened. the peeps were very welcoming. at the lake we even hitched a ride with some local guys (standing in the back of their old pickup). antigua is beautiful!

New York, New York...
8 posts
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8. Re: Guatemala Safe?

Any thoughts about the drug cartel violence in 2012? I read that the fighting with the Zetas and other cartels has spread from Mexico to Guatemala and the US had to send Marines to secure the border. I understand the need to exercise good judgement when traveling, but want to hear if there were safety concerns from recent travelers. Thanks all!

Alabama
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758 posts
151 reviews
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9. Re: Guatemala Safe?

Are you planning on traveling along the Mexican - Guatemalan border during your vacation in the near future?

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10. Re: Guatemala Safe?

Theresa,

My wife and I have travled to Antigua each year, and will do so again this year, for a month. We are in our late sixties, tall Angols, and have never found this a problem. Granted we usually are off the streets by 10:00, but if so inclined would not feel unconfortable. We have travled throughout central America, south America, and Mexico and have found Antigua to be the most enjoyable and safe yet. As in all cities a person needs to be smart. Go and enjoy, if you are there in Feb or March possibly we shall see you.

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