Frequently Asked Questions by people coming on my trip to the Maya area
The following is a list of popular questions about the trip, if you have any other practical queries don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Do I need a visa for entering Guatemala?
British nationals do not need a visa for entering Guatemala. Other nationals please check with your respective embassies.
Do I need any special vaccinations?
You do not need any special vaccinations other than the standard immunisations. Malaria pills are sometimes suggested for Tikal, but I have never taken them as they cause adverse reactions and I have spent many months in the area, without any problems. Of course, it is entirely up to you to decide what is best and I would encourage you to speak to your doctor/nurse about it.
What will the climate be like?
Do bring suntan cream/hat/glasses as it will be warm and sunny, the climate in Antigua is like our summer, around the Lake it is a bit cooler (our spring) and the rainforest area is quite humid. Some people who have come on previous trips were concerned about how hot it would be in the rainforest (we will be spending 2 nights there). It is humid in the region of 28 degrees Celsius, however we will not be doing any activities in the heat of day.
We arrive in Tikal at night, which is cool, and we will visit the temples at sunrise. By 10 am when it starts heating up, we will be by the pool cooling down! There are also fans in the hotel. The people who were worried realised upon coming that their concerns were unfounded and I would encourage you to not miss the experience of a lifetime for worries about the humidity.
What ages and sex of people go on these trips?
We usually get a mix, male and female, who have come on their own and a variety of ages from 21-75.
Will there be much walking/hiking involved?
This is another concern of older people or those with disabilities. There is little hiking involved, the most walking we will do is one trip is to see the temples in Tikal at sunrise and this is about a mile walk on level surface. Of course, none of the activities are obligatory, so if you are concerned about your health or ability you are more than welcome to lie on a hammock instead! One person who came on a previous trip had serious arthritis, but they did not find the trip exhausting and we made allowances to ensure that she had the best possible experience.
What will be the group size?
To ensure the highest quality of experience, we have a small group size of only 5-8 people.
Can I have my own room or do I have to share?
The choice is yours, either sharing with one other person, someone who is the same sex as you and similar in age or background, or you can have your own room, though you would need to pay a single supplement fee, as single rooms are generally the same price as double rooms.
Will there be internet access?
All of the hotels we will be staying at have internet access, as well as many of the restaurants.
What happens if I forget something, for example, toothpaste?
Don’t worry if you forget any toiletries or other items as Antigua has several supermarkets.
Will there be laundry facilities?
Try and bring clothes that will last for the duration of the trip. There may be laundry service available in some of the hotels, but they are fee-based and most likely won’t be washed in time for our departure.
What type of electricity sockets do they have in Guatemala?
Bring a travel adapter as Guatemala follows the same system as the US (2 pronged sockets).
What is the time zone in Guatemala?
Guatemala is 6 hours behind GMT and does not observe daylight saving time.
Are there ATM machines in Guatemala?
There are many ATM machines and the majority of places accept credit cards. You may want to contact your bank before leaving though, to inform them you will be using your card outside of the UK. I have found frustratingly in the past that certain banks will not authorise payments in foreign countries unless forewarned.
Alternatively, you can bring American dollars with you and change them in Guatemala. Don’t bother trying to bring Guatemalan Quetzales, they are hard to find and there is no problem changing dollars.
What is the international dialling code for Guatemala?
International dialling code for Guatemala is +00 502
How flexible is the itinerary?
The major visits are scheduled as hotels and so on are booked in advance, but we are flexible within the days themselves, so for example, one group was interested in visiting a village that made cowboy boots and so I changed the schedule to include this. In addition, we do make sure that there is some downtime each day. If you don’t want to take part in an activity and just want some personal time, that is absolutely fine.
This is your holiday and I want you to have the best experience possible.
Will there be lots of bugs in the rainforest?
Where we are staying, which is a touristy area, the answer is no, you will see the very cute pizote and monkeys, including the sounds of the howler, plus many species of birds, but bugs and snakes exist only deep in the rainforest where I work!
Who will be giving workshops?
All workshops and activities are given by friends of mine who are Maya. They are very excited about sharing their culture with you. This is one of the many highlights of the trip is that people experience the real Guatemala and meet people who treat you as part of their family.
What language is spoken in Guatemala and do I need to learn it?
Spanish is the official language of Guatemala, but there are about 28 Mayan languages spoken today. As part of a workshop you will be learning a few words in Kaqchikel.
I would encourage you to learn a few Spanish words as well, such as hello (hola), goodbye (adios) and thank you (gracias). Spanish is the lingua franca amongst the Maya and so we will be translating into English when necessary for them. English is spoken in the main tourist areas.
Should I fly via Europe or the States?
It is best to fly via Europe than America, Iberia is generally a good flight company to use. I have flown via the US but there is always a nightmare going through customs and immigration (up to a 3-hour wait) and delays due to adverse weather conditions.
Will I be flying on my own?
No, we generally catch the same flights together. We hook up those who live near each other or come from other areas of the country, so that they can travel together to the designated airport.
Can I arrive earlier or leave later?
You are most welcome to stay after the trip, or arrive before the trip starts, though at your own personal expense.
I don’t live in the UK, so can I meet you at Guatemala airport?
Of course, I will have my private driver look out for you.
What type of transportation is used?
We will have our own private mini-bus with driver to take us around. We will also be taking a boat across Lake Atitlan as well as a return flight from Guatemala City to Flores, the departure point for Tikal. People love having a ride on the tuk-tuks we endeavour to make sure we use these too!
What are the hotels like?
They are all of a luxury standard, but they are authentic hotels, not chain hotels. You can visit each hotel’s website from the trip’s main page under sample itinerary.
I am a vegetarian, will this be problematic?
Not at all, we can cater for vegetarians and even in one case someone who was not only a vegetarian, but couldn’t eat rice or nuts! The food is all of high standard and authentic fare. Links to the restaurants we will be eating at can be found on the main trip page under sample itinerary.
How do I book?
Contact us about your interest and we will send you the booking form with further details. A £150 deposit is required to secure booking. The total fee can be paid in one go or in instalments. The deadline for the full balance is to be paid 3 months before the start of the trip, as we have to pay for hotels, transport and so on in advance.