Information and Tips About Traveling in Guatemala

Guatemala is a beautiful country situated in Central America that holds majestic landscapes, old ruins, enthralling volcanoes, and vibrant cities.  There really is something for everyone in Guatemala and while everyone should try to visit it in their lifetime there are some useful tips and information that you should know before you go.

Tamara Hillstrom Guatemala LandscapeEntry

When entering Guatemala there are different requirements based on which country you are coming from.  British citizens for instance do not need a visa to enter if they are staying for less than 90 days.  Check your local .gov page to find out if your country requires a visa to visit Guatemala.

Make sure you have had a valid passport for at least six months and while it is not required for all country visitors to have a yellow fever vaccination it is good to go ahead and get it anyway.

The Central American Border Patrol may require you to have documents if you are planning on visiting multiple countries.  Once you leave it is typical that a $30 departure fee will be applied.  This is most often calculated into the ticket.

Safety and Security

Guatemala has one of the highest crime rates in Latin America.  Over 6,000 violent deaths occurred in 2012, however most were associated with gang related violence.  However, some violent acts have taken place in tourist heavy locations.

When traveling it is safest to avoid public buses and take a taxi instead.  There has been an increase in crime on buses since 2009.  Also be careful when withdrawing money.  Some ATMs have been tampered with and do not withdraw too much at one time or at night if possible.  Criminals in Guatemala pay close attention to ATMs so keep yourself from becoming a target.

Natural Disasters

Because of Guatemala’s location and landscapes natural disasters have been prone to happen in the area.

There are active volcanoes in the country.  If you are near a volcano a local authority should have a good idea about exit procedure and the volcano’s recent activity.

Hurricanes have taken place during the rainy season in Guatemala which is from July to November.  This matches up with the hurricane season in the Caribbean so be sure to check the local weather when visiting.

Earthquakes have also taken place and the country is still recovering from the most recent one in November of 2012.  The country is subject to minor tremors quite often.  Most are not serious but in the event of a major earthquake get in touch with local authorities for strategy in case of a serious earthquake.

The best tip for traveling to Guatemala is to read lots of information beforehand.  It can sometimes be a dangerous country and you must be prepared before you arrive.  That being said it is also a beautiful country and if you put the research in you should have a wonderful time.

Senators Urge Guatemala to Process Adoptions

Guatemala Adoption The Love of PatriciaI read a recent article on The Hill about the adoption of children in need from Guatemala by Americans.  It looks like this is an example of politicians actually acting out of empathy just to do what’s right.

There are a great many children in need in Guatemala, and there are scores of Americans who are actively trying to adopt them.  Without going too much into the details as to why there is an issue, it will suffice to say that the Guatemalan government is really letting these kids down.  Some families have seen their cases go unresolved in the Guatemalan court system for up to six years!

Senator Mary Landrieu from Louisiana and Senator Roy Blunt from Missouri both felt that enough was enough.  They wrote a letter to the foreign affairs minister, appealing that the government make a concerted effort to push these cases through their courts and thereby try and find a suitable home for so many in need.

As we approach the holidays, it made me feel good to see senators working on this.  How wonderful it would be to see movement on this before the year’s end!