When we travel in Guatemala with a group or as a family we call Ruben. He is reliable, honest and he knows how to get around the country efficiently. Ruben speaks English. If you want to stop for lunch, he knows the best places where the food is safe to eat. If you need to stop at an ATM he knows where they all are. He is part of our in-country support network. One time when Ruben was to pick us up at the airport and his van was in the shop he hired another driver and van and came along personally to meet us.
You can contact Ruben via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We travel through Antigua about twice a year. We host groups of engineers and students working on projects throughout the country. Usually our first night is in Antigua. It is about 45 minutes from the Guatemala City Airport and most in-country travel options are available.
Our student groups usually stay at the Black Cat Hostel which is just one block from the central plaza. The cost is about $8.00 per night to stay in a dorm style room with a shared bath. The water is hot and the place vibrates with energy. Fortunately they close the restaurant/bar at 10:00pm and the place calms down for the night.
The real treat at the Black Cat is that Breakfast is included in the price of your room - and it is a really great breakfast!
Check out: the Black Cat
We (The Appropriate Technology Collaborative) have been in Guatemala for 2 years now. We know our way around pretty well. We know which places really merit your attention, moreover we know great places to eat and sleep throughout the country.
We are starting a regular update of this site with special emphasis on:
Copan (technically in Honduras, but most folks get there from Guatemala)
Xela (also known as Quetzaltenango)
This arc through Guatemala, known to many as "La Ruta Maya" and also as "The Gringo Trail" has much to offer.
Our blog will deliver to your door our unfiltered knowledge of where to stay and where to eat - where we got food poisoning and where we ate our way through the entire market without so much as a burp.
Some of the places we have reviewed in the past have changed ownership. Some are no longer in business. One hostel where we stayed in Guatemala City has had a Disco move in next door and the walls are thumpin' till 4:00am.
Please check back. We have updates rolling into Guatemala Travel almost daily.
On the shores of Lake Atitlan are several small towns. Santa Cruz is one of the smaller of these towns. At water level there are a few hotels, restaurants and one large, active and very nice hostel. La Iguana Perdida ( the lost iguana) has much to offer. First I have to report that the Lonely Planet has this place all wrong. Local rumors (Guatemala has more rumors per capita than any other place on the planet) is that the writer for the Lonely Planet never actually visited the place due to some financial problems with the home office. The LP has reported through more than one issue that the Iguana has no hot water. I am pleased to give a personal report that the Iguana has hot showers and cold beer which fits my view of how life should be on the road.
The Iguana is almost a village itself. Dozens of room types to choose from - big dorms, small dorms, privates, cottages, etc. They have scuba lessons and gear + lots of hikes and other ways to interact with this beautiful place.
Also down at water level is the restaurant Jacaranda - great food on the water with a perfect ambience. The prices are very reasonable. Definitely worth your visit if you are on the lake.
However just visiting the Iguana and environs at lake level really isn't getting to see Santa Cruz. You should visit the church in the town square. It has dozens of carved figures that date back centuries. All lined up along one of the church walls makes you feel you are in an eternal procession.
The Amigos de Santa Cruz, a local non profit are building a new school that will have a commercial kitchen + local, historically accurate crafts store just off the square. I visited the place while still under construction and it will have the best view of the lake from any location. It is truely breath-taking. Check it out sometime in 2010.
The rap on
There are many Spanish language schools located in Antigua, because "the Spanish is spoken with an extremely pure accent making it easy to be understood throughout
We moved over to our most extravagant digs of the trip, el Posada Don Valentino for our last 4 nights in Guatemala. Don Valentino has a great internet cafe in the courtyard, and clean rooms, cable TV and private baths for a very reasonable price. (less than a Motel 6). We had budgeted about $7.00 - $10.00 per person per night for our trip and by the time we got to Antigua we were under budget. Our stay at Don Valentino put us over budget but not by much.
If you stay at Don Valentino, the building next door has an ice house that provides ice for street vendors. In the early AM they saw ice into blocks for the vendors, which is pretty loud. You might not hear this if your room is located on the first floor. The second floor courtyard rooms were pretty loud. The noise only lasted for a half an hour or so, but it was way too early for this traveler.
Since our summer trip I have stayed at Los Nazerenos, which I recommend highly. It has very nice staff and a quiet picturesque courtyard around which all the rooms are arranged. Also Casa Rustica is nice, very close in to el Parque Central.
More on Guatemala after our next visit in summer 2008.
Check Out: Casa Rustica
The Black Cat
Prices have changed recently due to the US dollar fluctuations so please check prices with an online booking agent or directly with a hotel / hostel via email.
The next night chose to stay overnight at the Jaguar Inn, a hotel in the Tik'al National Park ($75.00 per night, which was more than our budget). Power in the park is turned off at 10:00 pm every night, and back on at 6:00 am. The restaurant at the Jaguar Inn serves good traditional Guatemalan food as well as many American style dishes.
Across the parking lot from the Jaguar Inn is a restaurant under a grass roof that is less expensive. We had a meal there which was very good.
Tik’al was one of the major cultural and population centers of the Maya civilization. Though monumental architecture at the site dates to the 4th century BC, Tik’al reached its apogee during the Classic Period, ca. 200 AD to 900 AD, during which time the site dominated the Maya region politically, economically, and militarily while interacting with areas throughout Mesoamerica, such as central Mexican center ofI recommend having a guided tour of the park one day, staying overnight and then returning to see areas of particular interest as soon as the park opens on the second day.
. There is also evidence that Tik’al was conquered by Teotihuacan in the 4th century A.D. Following the end of the Late Classic Period, no new major monuments were built at Tik’al and there is evidence that elite palaces were burned. These events were coupled with a gradual population decline, culminating with the site’s abandonment by the end of the 10th century. Teotihuacan
Flores is an island town on Lake Petén Itzá. Flores is the staging ground for trips to the spectacular Mayan ruins in Tikal. There are several nice places to stay, we found La Casa Del Lacandon, across from Dona Goya, on the water with a balcony overlooking the lake. 140Q per night for a triple, or about $6.25 per person per night, well within our $7.00 per night budget.
Restaurant Las Puertas was particularly nice, we talked with owner Carlos Salizar about the history of Flores and his small wildlife preserve on the north side of the lake near Francis Copola's property. Las Puertas feels like a european restaurant to me, the food is first rate