What are good home bases in Guatemala?
Replies: 25 - Last Post: Aug 20, 2012 5:09 PM Last Post By: eddystonelightk...
Aug 7, 2012 7:28 PM
Aug 17, 2012 12:42 AM
16The festival of Santo Thomas in Chichicastenango, from the 18th of December building to the 21st is one of the biggest festivals in Guatemala, not to be missed. I would head for that.
Villahermosa to palenque, you need at least a couple of days at Palenque to visit the museum and Ruins, Mayabel is very close to both. Palenque to Frontera Corozal to visit Yaxchilan (a must on this route in my opinion - I have been there twice) From Frontera Corozal you can go to Flores (or Santa Elena -cheaper) and use that as a base to visit Tikal and any other ruins in the area you want to see.
From there I would consider working your way to Coban on the Chicken buses...I love them too. It is a wonderful experience... From there go to Uspantan with a side trip to Nebaj (if you have time) or south to Quiche and Chichi for the festival.
The festival of Santo Thomas in Chichi has 2 religious processions a day, led by the Cofradia transferring saints from Neighborhoods to the Main Church and back. There are traditional dances performed all over town every day, they move from neighborhood to neighborhood. Voladores and copious Fireworks with a Castillo each of the last two days and Toros. Not to mention the regular Sunday and Thursday markets which are some of the largest in Guatemala.
There are always rooms avalable in town, even at the height of the festival. The El Salvador has never filled up when we were there. There is also a walk to Pasqual Abaj right outside of town. Chichi is worth several days and fits your criteria of a hot place to be on December 21st.
Other towns that make a good base....Xela or Quetzaltenango...2nd largest city...from there Visit the Hot Springs out of town, Totonicapan - very traditional town - Momostenango - Blanket market and hot springs out of town, also traditonal altars with Mayans Praying. Zunil and other local villages are interesting.
Panajachel is also a good base from which to visit the towns around Lake Atitlan, although we prefer to go to each town and stay, Santiago Atitlan, San Pedro La Laguna, (our favorite) San Marcos and more.
Antigua is also a good place to base yourself out of. It can be crowded at the Holidays but you can always find a place with a little work. It is a great place during the Christmas season as there are Posadas and lots of Christmas decorations and entertainment.
Notice I have skipped Guate - Guatemala City. There are some very interesting museums (Ixchel and the Anthro) but it is not a nice place to stay by me. We have had good times there but have also been robbed at gunpoint. We avoid staying there if possible.
Another idea (at the beginning of the trip) is to stay in Mexico from Frontera Corozal to Benemerito de Los Angeles and get a boat to Sayaxche and then go south to Coban and on to the Highlands and Chichi. You would have to visit Flores and Tikal on your way to Belize City. A more adventurous route.
A tip for the chicken buses...the bus pulls in and everyone rushes the bus to get on...go to the back of the bus and climb in the emergency door, handing your bag to the ayudante who is on the ladder going to the top of the bus. (Make sure it is locked up) There are almost always seats in the back of the bus as Guatemalans crowd the front of the bus first.
Another tip, if you are starting your trip where the bus is starting, get there early to get a seat up front. You may need to ask the day before when the bus leaves and where it makes up. It is worth it, les sway and you get to watch people get on and off.
I like the chicken buses, they are far more interesting than the shuttles. However if you are going from point to point, hotel to hotel the shuttles are extremely convenient.
Aug 17, 2012 10:31 AM
Aug 17, 2012 10:40 AM
18Eh Paxton, thanks for all the info, you're confirmed some of my ideas and helped me accelerate the rest.
My plane ticket is bought, so now I just need to finalize the trip and book the hotels early next week. And yes I do plan to go to Frontera Corozal and I'm also thinking of staying at one of the 3 hotels in Tikal parc.
Aug 17, 2012 11:43 AM
19I forgot to mention Copan and Copan Ruinas. I really like that site and it is well worth visting.
It would be easiest to go to on your way to Belize City
You can get a Shuttle (I think one way) from Antigua direct to Copan, it leaves Antigua about 4 am and gets in to Copan Ruinas about 11 pm. There is also a Bus that leaves Guate at 5am and goes to Copan Ruinas, I think it is Hedman Alas. And I think there is another tourist bus but not sure, research would pay here.
What ever you take you want to make sure it gets you across the Honduran border and into Copan Ruinas, which is a nice place to spend a couple of days.
Leaving you only want to get transportation back to Rio Hondo. This is the jumpoff point to get a bus to Flores and the road to Belize. You do not need to go back to Guatemala City.
You can do that by shuttle (you can probably get a tourist shuttle one way all the way to Flores) or local bus back the way you came. You want to get to Rio Hondo in the middle of the day to catch a good bus. All buses stop there but they thin out in the late afternoon.
Personally I would not worry about booking hotels except in Frontera Corozal and Tikal as there is limited housing and it is in demand. In Palenque, Antigua, Xela, Pana, Lake Atitlan, Chichi and Copan Ruinas there are lots of places and they don't fill up during the Christmas Season.
We have been to all over many years. Visiting Copan on Christmas day was a real treat...it was open and there were almost no people or guards there. Lots of wildlife.
Aug 18, 2012 6:07 AM
20re: Antigua direct to Copan, it leaves Antigua about 4 am and gets in to Copan Ruinas about 11 pm
Man, that's a slow bus!
Aug 18, 2012 8:15 AM
21#16--Blanket Market at Momo--we went there in May and were very disappointed to find only 3 or 4 stands selling poor quality local blankets. Numerous stands selling tons of second hand western clothes. But only market in Guate that sold live cats. Passed on cats as I did not bring my gas grill with me.
Believe that Copan bus leaves Antigua at 4 Am and return to Antigua at 11 PM--my daughter did a Sunday trip like that while taking Spanish Classes in antigua.
Aug 18, 2012 2:51 PM
Aug 18, 2012 4:30 PM
Aug 20, 2012 12:46 PM
24Eddy--One of the many corrections that I put into my Bible states that Saint Patrick chased all of the snakes out of Guatemala. On my fourth bottle of White Out making corrections--life was much easier before I started receiving Divine Inspiration.
Aug 20, 2012 5:09 PM
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