Guatemala Driving Advice and Car Hire Info
Driving In Guatemala
Most people fly into Guatemala City airport and head straight to Antigua (about 30 mins drive). If this is your plan my advice is to get the car delivered to Antigua. Its an easy town to navigate and you’ll avoid the stress of driving in the capital. Also there have been incidents of robbery on people departing the airport in private cars, particularly at night. There have also been cases of Highway robbery on Carretera a El Salvador (Inter-American Highway) which has also seen an increase in alcohol related accidents. Caution should be taken when driving on this road. There have also been attacks on vehicles travelling between Guatemala city and Tikal. Given the cost of flights you’re probably best to fly to Flores and rent a car there to go to the ruins. Roads in Guatemala are generally of a pretty good standard though rural roads are poorly lit at night. Standards of driving are poor and Guatemalan buses are regularly driven recklessly and at alarming speeds. Pull over, let them pass, and be thankful you aren’t on board! Another quirk of driving abroad in Guatemala are speed humps which are the largest I’ve encountered anywhere in the world- many are like small concrete hills which need to be negotiated with extreme care. As many seem to be only semi-official, erected by villagers, they often don’t have a warning sign. Hit one of these in the dark at full speed and it would be akin to hitting a small wall, so always drive with extreme care.
Guatemala Self Driving Rules –
Depending on the rental company and even the rental location, different rules seem to apply on where the vehicle can be taken. In general Cars can be driven to Peten, Copan, Honduras and El Salvador. You will need to inform the rental company of where you intend to travel and may need to buy a permit. At certain times of year you may need to rent a 4X4 to access these locations. Vehicles will not usually be allowed to be driven into Mexico or Belize which is a shame as many travellers plan to drive via Tikal to Belize City, drop the car there and head to the Islands. I’ve not found a company who will allows this (please advise if anyone does know of one). If this is your intention you’re best to try and get a one way rental to Flores then take the bus to Belize from there.