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Guatemala, Tikal & Copán FAQ

FAQ for this Tour

What is included in the tour price?
Virtually everything! Hotels, most meals, all of the activities described in the itinerary pages, airport transfers in select cities, gratuities to hotel porters, restaurant staff and local guides. Caravan’s professional Tour Directors and local guides will be with you every step of the way, ensuring a worry free vacation.

What is not included in the tour price?
Prices do not include air travel, country entry or departure fees, airport porter fees, visas, phones, valet, all items of a personal nature, food and beverages not on the regular menu and tips to the Caravan Tour Director and Driver. General fees and taxes are additional and listed separately beneath each tour’s price.

How long will each day be?
A well paced and unhurried itinerary is our goal, after all, you are on vacation! Touring days begin and end at reasonable hours and include frequent stops. While the occasional early morning departure is necessary, we do our best to ensure a leisurely vacation.

What clothing should I pack for my Guatemala trip?
Caravan suggests clothing for warm and hot weather during the day: 2 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of shorts, 3 changes of shirts, a rain poncho, a swimsuit, and a sweater or jacket for the air conditioned bus. Caravan recommends footwear that has a bit of a tread and will not slip on wet surfaces. Walking shoes, hiking boots, sneakers and sandals are all acceptable. Caravan also recommends packing a sweater or light jacket to wear at night in the higher elevations (around 5,000 feet high ) of Guatemala City, Antigua and Lake Atitlan. Quick dry clothing (especially a pair of convertible pants that zip at the knee to convert into shorts) is recommended for your visit to the tropical areas. A pair of convertible quick-dry pants and aquick-dry shirt can be purchased from clothing manufacturers such as Travelsmith.com (1-800-950-1600) and ExOfficio.com (1-800-644-7303), and Columbia (at Sportmart). And for all tropical tours, don't forget the sun block, bug spray, a flashlight, a sun hat, a lightweight packable raincoat or poncho, anti-diarrheal medicine, plenty of wet wipes and a travel alarm clock.

How large will my group be?
Group sizes will vary depending on the reserved rooms at the hotels and lodges and the capacity of motorcoaches used. Usually, the maximum size will range from 36 to 44 passengers.

What vaccinations are required to enter Guatemala?
No vaccinations are required to enter Guatemala.Caravan does not have any doctors on staff and cannot give medical advice, so please consult your doctor before deciding whether or not to receive a vaccination. You may also check the Center for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/travel for Guatemala travel advisories and disease updates. Please note that many Central American pharmacies sell the 500 mg. Vitamin B-1 pill as an anit-mosquito pill, and these pharmacies suggest that people take the pill daily starting two weeks before arrival in the tropical areas. Caravan does not endorse any products, but most Caravan staff take the Avon Expedition repellent to the tropical areas. Caravan staff also avoid eating bananas, because this smell attracts mosquitoes.

Preparing for the Tropics
It is recommended to bring at least one pair of quick-dry pants and one quick-dry shirt. The quick-dry pants that zip at the knee to convert into shorts are particularly popular. Be sure to also bring a sweater or jacket for the cooler night temperatures in Guatemala City and Antigua. It is also recommended to prepare for the mosquitoes that are sometimes present in the tropical low lands of Copan and Tikal. Caravan does not make product endorsements, but many Central Americans feel that Avon Skin So Soft oil (not cream), or Avon's Expedition anti-mosquito spray is effective protection against mosquito bites in the jungle. Caravan does not endorse any vitamin, but please note that Central American pharmacies sell 500 milligram Vitamin B-1 tablets, a non-prescription vitamin, as "anti-mosquito" pills. Many Guatemalans take Vitamin B-1 pills and eat garlic for about two weeks prior to and during their visits to the jungle because they believe that the smell of Vitamin B-1 and garlic repels mosquitoes. If you believe this may be of value, consult your doctor for further information on Vitamin B-1 and garlic. Guatemalans also avoid eating bananas in the rainforest, as it is believed that this smell attracts mosquitoes. Also, it is wise to wear light-weight quick-dry long-sleeved pants and shirts in these tropical areas.

What is the currency exchange rate?
The currency exchange rate as of October 1, 2006 is 7.59 Guatemala Quetzals to 1 U.S. Dollar.

Where can we change money and find ATMS during the tour?
In hotels or banks in Chichicastenango or Panajachel. U.S. bills must be in good condition, even for money changing. Torn or stained bills will jot be accepted by banks, hotels or stores. There are ATM machines in Guatemala City, Chichicastenango, Panajachel, and Antigua, but ATMs can empty out on the weekend.

Do most Guatemalan stores accept U.S. dollars and credit cards?
Most of the stores accept Visa and Mastercard both but some have to charge the 8 % service fee the credit card company charges the vendor. U.S. dollars are accepted in popular tourist locations, if the bills are in mint condition. Torn and damaged U.S. bills will not be accepted.

Do you have any advice on purchasing real estate or timeshares?
We strongly caution against purchasing real estate or timeshares during your vacation with us. Instead, we suggest you use the experience for the purposes of orientation and information gathering. If you are interested in such a purchase, we suggest you return for at least one more visit and seek the guidance of a lawyer.

What are the elevations at our hotels on the tour?
Thie highest elevation on the tour is at Chichicastenango, around 7,000 feet. For the hotels, the elevation in Guatemala City is 4,900 feet. The elevation in Antigua is 5,000 feet. The elevation in Tikal is 400 feet. The elevation in Copan is 2,100 feet. The elevation at Lake Atitlan is 5,100 feet.

What is the electric current in Guatemala?
110 volts 60Hz, which is identical to the U.S. voltage. No adaptors are needed for small U.S. appliances. However, a universal adaptor is needed for any other appliances designed to be used outside of Guatemala.

Can we drink the water?
Visitors are advised not to drink water from the faucet. Bottled water is provided by Caravan and purified water is available at the restaurants and hotels. You are also advised not to use ice or ice products unless you are sure the products are made from purified water.

Are meals included?
Included meals for each tour are listed at the end of each day. Meals are shown by B (breakfast), L (lunch) and D (dinner). Full, buffet, or deluxe continental breakfasts are included everywhere. Coffee and tea are provided at all meals. In Latin America, bottled water is provided free on the motorcoach and purified water is provided at the meals. Alcoholic beverages are not included unless specified.

What kind of food can we expect?
Food is a combination of traditional mild Guatemalan cuisine and European-style cusines. Meals are offered on a set menu and we regret no special diets can be accommodated. Dining on your own can increase health risks.

How can I call home?
There are public phones in Guatemala City, Panajachel and Antigua. We recommend you purchase a local calling card- international calling cards purchased in the U.S. often do not work.

Can we check email during the tour?
There are internet cafes in all overnight towns- however, connections are not always reliable.

Can we do laundry during the tour?
There are laundry services at all hotels, but no self-service laundromats.

I’d like to do some fishing and play some golf.
You would have to arrange some independent extra days of travel, we do not visit areas where this can be undertaken easily. There is world class fishing off the Pacific coast of Guatemala and golf is available through private clubs only.

Where can I rent a car?
Driving conditions can be erratic and difficult for those not used to the region. We do not recommend self-drive visits.

Do the hotels have air conditioning and heat?
Tikal Futura Guatemala City, Posada Real Copan, and Villa Maya Petenchel all have air conditioning. The Villa Colonial and the Villa Santa Catarina do not, but are located at a higher elevation where the climate is more temperate. None of the hotels have heating in the winter months.

When is the rainy season in Guatemala?
May though September, although it does not rain all day, neither does it rain every day.

What about the Lake Atitlan cruise?
The cruise is one hour each way. The large boats are covered. The water is usually calm en route to Santiago, although it can be a little choppy on the return.

How long is the visit to the Copan ruins?
Around two hours.

How long is the visit to Tikal and can we stay longer?
We are at the site for around 6 1/2 hours, which includes lunch, free time and escorted walking. Those who do not wish to walk too much have an option to rest. We return to the hotel around 4:30 p.m., with time to walk the trail or use the pool before dinner. Those who wish to stay at Tikal may arrange for a private return transfer. The 1 1/2 hour drive will cost around $70.00.

How is the drive to Antigua from Petenchel?
The drive time to the stellae at Quirigua is around 4 hours. We spend two hours here before resuming the drive. The five hour trip from Quirigua to Antigua is punctuated by ample rest stops. On arrival in Antigua, clients have time to stroll the steets of the historic city.

What are Guatemala’s National Holidays?
New Year's Day (January 1st), Easter (March/April Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday), Labor Day (May 1st), Army Day (June 30th), Virgin de La Asuncion (August 15th), Independence Day (September 15th), Revolution of 1944 (October 20th), All Saint's Day (November 1st), Christmas Day (December 25th) New Year's Eve (afternoon of December 31st).

FAQ for all Tours

How long has Caravan been in business?
Caravan has been offering fully escorted tours worldwide under the same family ownership and management since 1952. Caravan understands and truly cares about your great expectations.

Do I have to participate in all of the activities?
No. You may chose to skip an activity and relax at your hotel or do some independent exploring instead. If you do not wish to participate in an activity, simply advise your Tour Director. In most cases, we cannot make refunds for missed activities.

How far in advance do I need to book my tour?
Many tours sell out each year. The farther in advance that you book, the more likely it is that your preferred tour will be open. Late bookings are welcome if the space is still available.

Does information on the web site differ from the brochures?
Caravantours.com is constantly updated and is likely to have more complete and current information about new tours, hotel descriptions, weather, transfers, packing and other useful information. While we strive for perfection, errors are inevitable, both in print and on this web site. If you have any questions or wish to confirm any information, please contact us.

U.S. Center for Disease Control
You may check the U.S. Center for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/travel for the latest travel advisories and disease information on your travel destination. Caravan does not have any medical doctors on staff and cannot provide medical advice.

Do you have family trips?
Families are always welcome on any of our tours, but we do not have any programs specifically for or limited to families. Families can make specific requests for connecting, adjacent, triple or quad rooms, when available. Children should be at least 5 years old.

What forms of payment do you accept?
Caravan accepts payment (in U.S. funds only) via MasterCard, Visa, Discover or by check.

Do you have a travel protection plan?
Yes. Caravan’s travel protection plan offers peace of mind if you cancel for any reason prior to departure of the tour. The travel protection plan also includes Travel Guard’s medical, air, and baggage insurance. The cost is $99. Find out more

Can I use my cell phone on tour?
Out of courtesy to your fellow tour members, please restrict the use of cellphones to emergency use only when you are on the motorcoach. Please also remember to turn off ringers; cellphone conversations and ringers are intrusive and can spoil other passengers' enjoyment of the tour. Please contact your service provider for information regarding cell phone reception areas, calling costs and surcharges.