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Off topic: Mexico / Guatemala border
Thread poster: N.M. Eklund

N.M. Eklund  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:46
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
Jan 30, 2008

I'm hoping for some insider info, since I've already scanned the internet without much success.

In March we're flying to the Yucatan peninsula where we will rent a car and drive down the coast, visiting the well-known and lesser-known ruins.
My boyfriend dreams of seeing Tikal, just over the border in Guatemala. Geographically it's not far away, especially since we also plan to go to Palenque.
The problem is that no car rental company will let us cross the border.
On the map, it apears we'd have to cross Belize before entering Guatemala.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Has anyone ever tried it?
or, Do you know of any travel companies that could arrange the trip from the Yucatan?
We had a driver in an SUV to go through the Tunisian sahara, have you ever heard of a company that does this in Mexico/Guatemala?

We heard of a local bus that goes there from Belize, but I'm hesitant since I don't know the kind of welcome reserved for two tourists.

Please help, if I have to tell him we can't go, it would be like telling a four-year-old that Santa doesn't exist.

Thanks in advance for all your help,

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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:46
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
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Travel forum Jan 30, 2008

I suggest searching and asking your question at the Lonely Planet Thorntree Forum for Central America and/or Mexico.

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nruddy  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:46
German to English
There is a bus Jan 30, 2008

A few years ago, I did it the opposite way. I was in Tikal and got a bus from Flores to Chetumal. It wasn't an experience I'd like to repeat because it took ALL day and the bus was a bumpy second-class bus with no air conditioning. It was mostly backpackers who got on in Flores. The bus goes through Belize and stops briefly in Belize City to let people off. On the next border (leaving Belize) you have to change money and pay money to leave Belize (maybe 20 dollars at the time).

I presume the bus does a return trip from Chetumal bus station, though I've never talked to anyone who has gone that way. Unfortunately I can't help you on the car rental issue but I imagine it'd be problematic. Good luck!


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Alp Berker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:46
Turkish to English
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Tour from Belize Jan 30, 2008

Hi Natalia,
Back in 1999 we took a tour from Belize to Tikal. We arranged the tour through Belize, and the tour took us to the ruins and back to Belize City in a day. We enjoyed the tour and were able to enjoy the ruins. I would ditch the car and take a tour, it's easier and less stress for you both.

[Edited at 2008-01-30 19:35]

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Elin Davies  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2008)
English to Welsh
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Full day by bus Jan 31, 2008

Hi Natalia

I did this journey about a year ago, travelling by bus from Chetumal on the border, with a 6am start if I remember correctly, and travelling for much of the day through Belize and on to Guatemala, but enjoying watching the world go by. The bus wasn't the most luxurious I've travelled in, and you can't blame them when you see the first stretch of road on the Guatemalan side, but it gets better after a while (the driver stopped once the solid road reappeared to check if there was any damage). Tikal is spectacular, and certainly worth the effort. You have to go through Belize as the northern border with Mexico is jungle with no road through.

If you decide to go by bus, feel free to contact me for any more tips etc...!

Buen viaje!


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Local time: 17:46
Spanish to English
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Safety (and fun) in numbers Feb 1, 2008

N.M. Eklund wrote:
We heard of a local bus that goes there from Belize, but I'm hesitant since I don't know the kind of welcome reserved for two tourists.

I can't help with any up-to-date information about travel to Tikal - the last time I was in Guatemala was ... er ... over 30 years ago! At that time, the only sensible way to get to Tikal was by air (to nearby Flores).

That said, I would strongly recommend travel by bus, rather than hire car. Buses to Tikal will be populated mainly by tourists so you won't be two conspicuous tourists - you'll be part of a crowd of like-minded people. In a hire car, in contrast, you will be very conspicuous - and you and/or the vehicle will more likely be the target of the less scrupulous members of local society.

Other advantages of the bus include: you're not on your own if the vehicle breaks down in the middle of nowhere; you'll get valuable insight into the life-style of the modern-day Mayan people; you'll accumulate a multitude of experiences that'll stay with you for the rest of your life (like the day I went by bus from Guatemala City to Huehuetenango and a fat piglet fell out of the luggage rack and started racing around the bus with everyone making vain attempts to get it back into the sack it was supposed to be travelling in).

¡Buen viaje!


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