Tours in Guatemala: A Cheap and Safe Way to Experience the Country
Guatemala is a cheap and easy tourist destination: practically every hostel is connected with a travel agency, which offers tours in Guatemala that include transportation to all local sites and well beyond at very reasonable rates. You can also book guides through these agencies. Although Guatemala has a high crime rate and tourists have frequently reported muggings, it is perfectly safe if you hire tour guides, stay with a group, and ask the staff at your hostel whether there are any parts of the town that you should avoid. Guides typically cost $5-15 per tour, and they are very worthwhile – both for their knowledge and the security they provide.
The most famous site in Guatemala is Tikal, which features the magnificent ruins of an ancient Mayan city, including excavated, step-pyramid temples. There is also an interesting array of wildlife, including spider monkeys, howler monkeys, tarantulas, and a variety of trees. I recommend staying in Flores, which is an island town on stunning Lake Peten Itza that is approximately 45 minutes from Tikal.
Our $15-per-person tour included a van ride from our hostel in Flores to Tikal; admission into the park; an English-speaking tour guide; and transportation back to our hostel. I recommend going in the morning – particularly during the summer, because it gets uncomfortably hot in the afternoon. You probably need 4-6 hours in Tikal.
Photo by Alyssa Saunders.