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Getting To And Away From Guatemala

Most travelers arrive to Guatemala by plane at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City. An increased demand in tourism as well as a large number of Guatemalans living in the United States has pushed carriers to step up their presence in the country, and the government has also made improvements to both of Guatemala's international airports.

Traveling between Guatemala and other Central American countries can be done by air, land, or water. Air is faster and more reliable, but sometimes if you depart by bus or boat you will not have to pay a departure tax. Bus travel is extremely common in Guatemala, with options ranging from air conditioned coaches to rickety old school buses. If you are hoping to tour Mayan ruins, consider traveling by boat on Río Usumacinta. The river route goes from Frontera Corozal in Mexico to the Petén region in Guatemala, where you can easily take a detour to the famous Mayan sites of both countries.

Guatemala By Plane

La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City is the county's largest point of entry and exit. The government recently invested millions of dollars in a massive modernization project for the airport, which is still underway. Guatemala City is about four miles north of the airport, easily reachable by bus, taxi, or private shuttle.

Travelers can reach La Aurora from many points in North America, including from Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami on American Airlines; from Houston-Intercontinental and Newark on Continental Airlines; from CancĂșn and Fort Lauderdale on Spirit Airlines; and from Chicago O'Hare, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Orlando on TACA. Those skipping around Central American can fly in from Belize City and San Pedro Sula on Maya Island Air; or from San JosĂ© de Costa Rica, San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, and Tegucigalpa on TACA.

The only other international airport is in Flores, the Mundo Maya International Airport. Mundo Maya serves traffic for the surrounding areas, including the Mayan site Tikal. Mundo Maya can be reached from CancĂșn and Guatemala City on TACA, or from Belize City on Tropic Air.

Guatemala By Land

There are a number of ways for travelers to cross into Guatemala by land. The Pan-American Highway cuts through the country, allowing access to Mexico in the north and El Salvador in the south. Accessing Guatemala from Belize and Honduras is also possible, but be careful to only cross at officially recognized border crossings no matter where you are coming from. If traveling by car or bus, it is also a good idea to leave as early in the day as possible, as border towns in Guatemala are notoriously seedy places to get stuck in overnight.

Bus service is available from various points in Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. Buses crossing borders are sometimes subject to considerable delays, so plan accordingly. Ticabus ( is a popular bus company for budget travelers, which offers direct daily service from El Salvador and Tapachula, Mexico to Guatemala City, as well as several connecting routes.

Although some buses are air conditioned and comfortable, when traveling through Guatemala a fleet of retired U.S. school buses rules the road. These buses, which have been recycled and fragrantly repainted, have been dubbed “chicken buses” by English speaking travelers because it is very likely you might share a seat next to a local bringing livestock to or from a market.

No passenger trains currently run in Guatemala. Two steam trains were previously chartered by tour companies on the Ferrovias Guatemala, a historic 800 km (500 m) railway running through Guatemala from Mexico to El Salvador. However, the service was forced to end in October 2007 pending the outcome of a claim filed against the US-Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

Guatemala By Boat

Cruise ships call on Puerto Quetzal on the Pacific Coast and Puerto Santo TomĂĄs de Castilla on the Caribbean side. There is not much to see near either dock, but cruise lines offer a whole host of land excursions for those who want to visit local resorts and beaches or travel to Antigua, Tikal, or Lake AtitlĂĄn.

Water taxi services connect Punta Gorda, Belize to the Guatemalan towns of Puerto Barrios and Livingston. From Livingston, you can also catch a ride to Omoa, Honduras. Transportes El Chato leaves daily at 9 a.m. From Punta Gorda Puerto Barrios, a trip that takes only a little over an hour in length and costs $15 to $18 each way. The taxi returns around 2 p.m., so plan accordingly. On Tuesdays and Fridays Exotic Travel traverses the waters between Punta Gorda or Omoa and Livingston. Tickets can be purchased on the spot at the waterfront of each town. If the weather is bad, you may want to consider postponing your trip, because life jackets are not always readily available. Also, be prepared to fork over a $10 departure tax when leaving Guatemala by sea.

Boats also travel the Usumacinta River, which divides Mexico and Guatemala. The route, from Frontera Corozal in Mexico to La TĂ©cnica and Bethel in Guatemala, is popular for travelers interested in various Mayan ruins. YaxchilĂĄn is on the banks of the Usumacinta, but buses take travelers to Palenque on the Mexican side and from La TĂ©cnica and Bethel in Guatemala to Flores. Package deals combining water and land transport are available from several transport agencies in Palenque and Flores for around $35.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Guatemala: Getting To And Away, Getting To And Away From San Lorenzo El Tejar, Getting To And Away From San Marcos La Laguna, Tranfer To La Ceiba Honduras, Getting To And Away From San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Getting To And Away, Getting to and away, Getting To And Away, Getting To and Away from Santa Cruz del Quiché and Getting To And Away.

20 Jul 2010

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