One of the most picturesque countries of Central America, one of the centers of the Mayan civilization, exotic and tropical rainforests – all this is amazing Guatemala. It’s worth going to Guatemala if you are unbearably interested in meeting real Indians, participating in mystical shamanistic rituals, seeing with your own eyes the villages inhabited by the descendants of the legendary Mayans, immersing yourself in local customs and going to the imaginatively vibrant colors and unusual pagan festivities . Tourists from all over the world rush to Guatemala to enjoy the beauty of the local nature and ancient monuments.
Foreign currency can be imported and exported without restrictions (a declaration is required), and national currency is not recommended. Persons over 18 years old can import up to 80 cigarettes or about 100 g of tobacco and up to 1.5 liters of alcohol (but not more than 2 bottles). In the declaration at the entrance, all imported valuables must be indicated. It is not allowed to export from the country antiques, archaeological values, rare animals and birds, as well as their stuffed animals and skins.
The weather differs in different parts of the country, as altitude varies greatly. In general, the climate is mild, in the south more humid, tropical, with an average air temperature of +28 ° C. It’s cooler on the plateau – on average +20 ° C. The hottest months are February – May. From May to October, tropical showers provoke floods and hurricanes. In December – January at night the temperature can drop to -10 ° C in the mountains and up to 0 ° C on the plateau. See also the current weather forecast in Guatemala.
The best time to visit the country is from November to May.
In Guatemala, Catholicism sometimes takes on rather bizarre forms: traditional Native American customs are mixed with Christian dogmas, and the pantheon of saints is generously diluted with local characters.
Guatemala Tourist Safety
The most unsafe region of the country is its capital. In individual areas of Guatemala City, a single traveler is better off not meddling. In busy places (markets, crowds of tourists), hold on tight to your wallet. Expensive jewelry, watches are best left at home, and do not carry large amounts of cash with you. Single excursions (to the volcano, for example) are also not a good idea. In most cases, you can’t count on the police; the country has a very high level of corruption.
Local laws oblige you to always carry your passport or a certified copy with you.
You should also take the necessary precautions regarding your health: do not drink tap water and do not brush your teeth with it, do not buy cut fruits in a street bazaar, do not eat unwashed fruits and vegetables, and do not dine in questionable eateries. Special vaccinations before the trip do not need to be done, but a pre-passed course of an antimalarial drug will be useful. And do not forget to stock up on quality repellent and sunscreens.
Hotels in Guatemala are usually located in an old house with a small courtyard. It is better to book a room in advance, having specified availability of a bathroom and hot water. It is better to ask the final cost of accommodation in a hotel of a non-international network several times to avoid unpleasant surprises when leaving.
Resorts on the coast – a classic of the genre: pools, fitness centers, playgrounds.
Typically, hotels operate on a bed and breakfast system with Swedish. Outside major cities, the hotel reception may not work at night. The staff is fluent in Spanish and English.
To immerse yourself in the local culture, it is best to stay in a guesthouse. It has a more homely atmosphere, full board is offered, and the owners will be happy to show you the surroundings.
Money and currency exchange
The monetary unit of the country is Quetzal (GTQ), in 1 quetzal 100 centavos. Current exchange rate: 1 GTQ = 8.37 RUB (1 USD = 7.76 GTQ, 1 EUR = 8.44 GTQ).
Along with the national currency, the US dollar has free circulation in the country. You can change currency at banks (open Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 16:30, break from 12:30 to 14:30, on Saturday from 9:00 to 12:30), currency exchange points (casas de cambio , Spanish), at the airport, as well as in shops and hotels. In most cases, you can pay by credit card (moreover, Visa is preferred, and MasterCard is not held in high esteem).
The local currency got its name from the name of the national bird. Quetzal – the sacred bird of the ancient Mayans and the Aztecs – is strictly protected. This bird is very beautiful: it has an elegant beak, a bright green back and a purple-red belly.
Exchange quetzal outside the country is unrealistic, get rid of it before leaving. Usually a reverse exchange is possible only up to 100 USD.
Shopping and Shopping Guatemala
Guatemalan craftswomen have become proficient in the art of making amazing carpets. The country is also famous for its jewelry, antiques and wool products, which are sold at reasonable prices. About a third of the price can be brought down during the bidding. Clothes in the national style of the craziest colors can be purchased on the market.