You may have read my previous Guatemala travel guide outlining my itinerary for one to two months (I did two, more always works and is recommended!). So here is my second trip to Guatemala which was part of a whole Central America backpacking trip in summer 2014.
Antigua, Río Dulce, Livingston, Flores/Tikal (5-7 days)
- Antigua (1 night): We were in El Tunco, El Salvador, before and this was the most convenient option as we wanted to go to Río Dulce next (shuttle El Tunco to Antigua, $30). The shuttle arrived very late so we just had dinner and went dancing at La Sala. We booked a bus to Río Dulce via Guatemala City at The Terrace (Q200).
- Shuttle pick-up at the hostel was 9 am, waited in a bus terminal in Guatemala City until 1.30pm. The bus arrived in Fronteras around 6.30pm. From there we took a tuk tuk to Backpacker’s Hostel in Río Dulce (Q10).
- Río Dulce (2 nights): Kind of a boring place… There is really not much to do but the boat tour was kind of nice. If you’ve had a chance to take a backwater tour through Alleppey (India), you may be disappointed by this one though.
- Livingston: This was a stop on our boat tour along Río Dulce (Q200). We spent 2 hours there eating the famous Tapado (Caribbean coconut seafood soup) and then went back to our hostel. It’s also more of a place to hang out and chill but the vibes are better here than in Rio Dulce – more Caribbean.
- The next day we booked a tour to Casa Guatemala (school and orphanage) as we had collected some donations (Q155).
- Took a bus from Fronteras to Santa Elena at 1.30pm – first class bus!? Yeah right, A/C was broken, 35°C outside, dirty as hell… For Q100. Arrived in Santa Elena around 6pm and then took a taxi to Flores (Q20 whole taxi).
- Flores (2 nights): Stayed at Hostal Los Amigos and booked the Tikal early bird tour with them for the next morning (bus around 4.30am, 6.30am tour start; Q250). Tikal was quite impressive and we were lucky to have a guide, Luis, who made the tour really fun and informative. I recommend a guide as he knows where and how to spot wildlife. I recommend you book the sunrise tour if the weather forecast is looking good. Unfortunately, it was a very cloudy/foggy day for us so we did the early bird tour which was definitely early enough for us…
- 5 am the next morning we took a shuttle to Belize City (arrival at water taxi around 11 am, Q100).
- I recommend: Skip Río Dulce and Livingston, not worth the long trip by bus. Instead do a day or two in Semuc Champey and head on to Flores/Tikal. Also try to spend at least a day in Antigua, it’s really worth seeing. If you have the time, take at least three extra days and head to Lake Atitlan from Antigua (4-5 hours by shuttle).
Here’s some tips for Lake Atitlan: Two months Guatemala itinerary
You can read my recommendations for budget hostels and food here.