Guatemala Expat Forum - Is it safe to drive to Guatemala from the United States?

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jenandmhia
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7/9/2009 12:12    
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If i decide to drive from Indiana to Guatemala will it be safe or will I have problems in Mexico? How much will I have to pay to bring my car into Guatemala? A 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer.

AngieAtitlan
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7/9/2009 15:04    
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YES

I have just done it (3 weeks ago)
I drove from Santa Fe (NM) to Brownsville (Texas), crossed border here drove down east coast of Mexico to 'Xilitla' then 'El Tajin' (both worth seeing).
Then crossed across Mexico and followed the West coast down to and crossed border at 'Ciudad Hidalgo'.
Then drove the 250kms to Lake Atitlan (where I still am).

Door to door distance was 4700kms.

I use garmin and consequently record tracks and waypoints, can forward this file to you if you can utilise.

Border cross at brownsville was very easy.
Costs approx $30 for car permit. & further cost of approx $20 for myself. Vehicle insurance not requested.
Drive down the East is maybe not the prettiest, but good roads, relatively fast and troublefree with only one 'health stop check' enroute.

I am an experienced traveller and this time was driving alone.

I very strongly recommend the crossing i used from Mexico to Guatemala. Head for the town of Tampachula. completly ignore the touts that strike you there !
Also, DO NOT take the std route signed for guatemala. instead drive South West towards the coast for 12.5kms then head (signposted) Ciudad Hidalgo.
Border crossing is in this very small town at :

N14.67629 W92.14593

absolute pleasure and very easy (no queues) to leave Mexico, one office stop all paperwork handled there.
Then cross bridge ($2 toll)
Guatemalean side of bridge stop at first building marked 'immigrasion'. Get your passport stamped here for $2
Drive another 50 metres and a very nice young lady will guide you through the paperwork (very easy, very little) and the 'dounne' building.
40 Quetzals needed, just change $10 with one of the 2 money handlers (i got ex rate of 7.7 to $ at time bank official rate was 8 to $ ) they will not rip you off.
Whole process takes maybe 40minutes and is easy, easy, easy.
Exit border post,
into town, first junction go straight across and follow 'natural' street to get to West side of town (2 mins) and then head south along the CA2 main road (good road except for where towns are which all appear to be getting upgraded.

I asked for (and got) 180days entry permit for my truck.
Insurance document not requested.

hope this helps.
Phil.

pics and info from my journeys on :

www.philflanagan.com

(though haven't got Xilitla to Atitlan up there yet)

pato23
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From: El Salvador
7/13/2009 14:06    
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Phil gave you excellent advices, for more detailed information visit the following websites

http://www.drivemeloco.com/

http://www.99daystopanama.com/

http://www.panamaorbust.com/

http://www.xelapages.com/

alaska to argentina portal for pan american highway
is
http://www.go-panamerican.com/

I am a resident of Central America for many
years and drove and maintained my own vehicles in
Guatemala and El Salvador for many years, puting in
800,000 klics (km.) and 14 years of almost daily driving,
city, towns, back roads remote areas and everything else in between

My Bloq offers good, concise no nonsense, no myth, no fantasy, common sense advices to
drivers and as well those traveling/relocating/volunteering by bus after arrival on land throughout the entire region.

Will send you a copy if you send me your e mail by private message.

Buena suerte y feliz viaje.

redman
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11/28/2011 11:09    
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I would like any information you might be able to provide. My wife and I are interested in driving into the country to experience it'
thanks
redman

AlPavarotti
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11/28/2011 12:19    
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I suggest you post your question on the lonelyplanet/thorntree forum where you'll find plenty of feedback and a whole lote more exposure. Keep in mind you have to go through Mexico. I've done it many m any years ago. You'll be fine. Good luck.

barrybrown61
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1/8/2012 02:43    
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I am thinking of moving our family of 5 to Quetzaltenango or Antigua, driving our Ford F250 down...would this go through the border OK or would we be killed with duty fees?

copperlisa
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1/8/2012 08:34    
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We decided against driving, not so much as a safety factor, but because of the import taxes. We were told taxes would be 30% of the Guatemalan determined value of the vehicle. The other issue is gasoline. Averages about $4.25 a gallon. I don't know what kind of mileage your truck gets.

barrybrown61
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1/9/2012 23:35    
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Thanks...that's good to know.

The truck is a diesel...maybe better to sell it and take the cash down as they don't charge duty on that!

The truck is a diesel...how is the price on diesel?

It's a 2002, 4WD, worth about 10K in the US, just guessing...that'd be a pretty stiff duty.

We're thinking of going down for a month to tour the country and get a feel for it before we commit (kind of like living together before you get married - not sure how well either work ;)

copperlisa
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1/10/2012 08:07    
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Diesel runs about $3.50-$3.75 here, but it's not clean diesel like the US. I think I would come down and check it out first. We knew we belonged here as soon as we hit the ground. We were back in 9 months stay permanently. If you like it, then that is the time to sell things and move. Good Luck!

barrybrown61
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1/10/2012 14:09    
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Hmmm....didn't know there was such a thing as unclean diesel ;) That's great advice, and through reading we'd pretty much come to the same conclusion...visit for a month or two or three, decide if we like it, and move back down.

I would have to make sure I have satellite communication for my business as I make my living via the internet selling physical products in the US as a broker (which is good because my biz is portable as long as I have good internet communication and a phone).

Have you heard of Johnny Mueller, perchance? He's in Antigua and has a site called TheLatinAmericanSolution.com/blog.

He is having a seminar sometime this month or Feb, I think, that we would've liked to attend but it sold out too fast for me to react (it only had 15 openings).

His basic schtick is that the US is going to continue to get more invasive into your personal life (which is true) and more expensive tax-wise and less profitable, and that Latin America can't go down much as it's already at the bottom, but if you come down, you need to get connected with a well-connected attorney who knows the right people, etc...you can go to his site if you want to know more or check out his premises and let me know what you think of his ideas.

He's connected with internet guru (a real guru, not a get-rich-quick guru) Ken McCarthy, so he has some credibility there with me.

A lot of his stuff I've listened to (MP3's) and the like make sense, but I am a green weenie when it comes to Latin America...I've been to Tijuana a few times and Mexicali for a week on a short term mission once (loved the people there).

Anyway, any advice and communication is most welcome.

spiritsage
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1/10/2012 14:42    
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i have been following your post, here is my two sense worth...if it is good for you pick it up...if not blow me off...one, check out thorntree, lonely planet, and even trip advisor and do some research...second, driving you will find is not a good idea for tons of reasons and the websites i mentioned goes into the long varied story of why...scratch the idea...three, anyone who is charging for a seminar is after your money...period, stay away, four, one month even 3 depending on the season is not really going to give you a good feel for anything other than you dont like it right off the bat...been here 7 months, have lived in 3 different houses in two different villages, and i was here during both the rainy and dry season...you need to experience both to make up your mind...come stay for 7 months, rent, dont bring a rig, and then make up your mind...we were in Belize for 3 weeks and loved it there for vacation, would have stayed longer had i the time and budget, yet knew it was not the place for us to settle down in...guatemala has been the perfect nest for us for the past 7 months, but only after making different locations in housing, for many reasons, all valid...now we are not sure if we want to do another cold and rainy season here....thinking we want a warmer rainy season for us...fifth, dont get an attorney until you come and check it out for a lengthy time period, then when you need one, you will ask the local expats who run businesses for their advice on who to use and why or why not...all for free...one village here is not the same as the other villages, each is different with different plus and minuses...we love it here, but not enough to live here forever, not our long term cup of tea...short term is has been great if one considers living in any third world country is not a breeze and does have its challenges...my two sense is you need to do more research, stop throwing money away on advice which comes for free from the real experts, the expats who live in the area you want to settle in...and live here for both seasons before committing, and a sat. dish is expensive, and you dont actually need one here...in order to do business, i would know as i use tigo and it works great, depending on where you live...and you would have known this if you had down your research...green yes, no excuse not to do your research and find out more of how things are done here...oh and one more thing, the house you live in will be a different enviroment depending on the season...might find you need a fireplace or not...might find its too damp...or not...

barrybrown61
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1/12/2012 00:10    
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Thanks for the advice...I won't "blow it off"except the comment toward the bottom about if I had done my research I'd have known about Tigo...I started researching this whole idea over Christmas, so I'm what, three weeks in? That's why I'm on here asking questions.

Nor have I thrown money away on anything...I'm asking questions and I appreciate your advice not to, but don't assume I've spent a red cent; I haven't.

Research Ken McCarthy. You're throwing mud at someone it won't stick to, one of the finest gents around. You may not agree with his approach, and I'm not even sure I do, but don't denigrate someone you don't know, please. And the gentleman he is helping market is himself an expat of some 20+ years and you are what, 7 months? I don't mind the advice, but I do mind the mud-slinging.

I think your advice about length of time is quite possibly good. And I am thinking you're probably right about the vehicle as well, although how do you get around?

I will research Tigo. I have a unique situation, I think, in that I will be selling to US clients, broker from US or China manufacturers, have a US phone number, and can do business from anywhere in the world. Pretty cool. But I have to figure out how to do it. I was actually talking about satellite phones, not satellite dishes as well.

So, three weeks of research qualifies us as green, yes, but we're not moving yet, we've not spent money, and everyone I read has made mistakes even with lots of research, so we expect we'll make a few.

copperlisa
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1/12/2012 06:51    
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I will tell you that because of it's touristy status, Antigua will be more expensive in terms of rent, etc. Accessibility isn't an issue, for it's a walking town. Between the tuk-tuks, the taxis and the buses, you can get around, although the buses aren't terribly safe. San Cristobal might be more what you need, with quick access to Guatemala City. There are plenty of gringos who are there. Claro is the other phone company who does cells. Tigo has a bigger range, Claro has the better calls usually. You might want to contact ReMax or Century 21. They both have offices here. Even if they don't have a rental, they will know where to guide you. Renting a vehicle is also an option.

barrybrown61
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1/13/2012 00:33    
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Thanks for the advice copperlisa! We'll check it out. We are now at about 95% for coming down in August!

I am going to start a new thread about families moving down...I would love for anyone who has kids to chime in on this subject...watch for it if you have kids and we have lots of questions in that dept.

Expat19700
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12/20/2012 00:13    
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To barrybrown61:I have a friend who had to cancel his reservation for Johnny Mueller´s seminar in Guatemala next January - for work reasons- (He and his wife). He says that now there are two seats available.
Johnny´s emails are the following: theexpatfiles@gmail.com and johnny@ expatwisdom.com
Hope it helps ;)

barrybrown61
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12/20/2012 10:29    
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Thank you. We paid Johnny for a consultation that was quite helpful. However, we have already moved to Nicaragua just over 2 weeks ago, and are now getting a real education! My biggest recommendation is to learn as much Spanish as is humanly possible before you get here and you still won't really know the language, but its a good start.

GavinoGainza
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12/20/2012 12:58    
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Yes with reservations. There are some parts of Mexico that can be an issue. These are near the border. For real info on hot to drive from the USA to Guatemala check out XelaPages. Tom the owner has driven down from Brownsville Texas many times to Quetzaltenago, with no issue. Just google it and he can give you first hand information.

Nevadajayhawk
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4/1/2014 23:48    
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Pato,
My wife who is from guatemala , our son 16 who is autistic and my mom who is 83. Would drive to guatemala from Las Vegas , Nevada. If we knew a safe route and if it made sense to take our car a pick up truck, and fill it with boxes instead of shipping or just buying new stuff in guatemala?????
Thx,
Steve and Silvia

busman7
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4/2/2014 09:58    
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I drove down to El Salvador in Nov 2010, crossed at Douglas AZ. Found the Mexico side of the border safer in that area thn the AZ side with no stupid border patrol stops like in the US.

Used touts at the border crossing near Tapachula MX worth the modest charge IMO. Take CA-2 along the coast too many mountains on the Panamerican.

Nevadajayhawk
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4/2/2014 17:36    
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Busman 7
How much did you take or were you not moving things? We are flying down in June and looking around, place to live school for our 16 year old wh o is autistic. Found many housing options and found a school in ciudad vieja. Any other info you can give us would be great. Lvlitho@yahoo.com
Thanks,
Steve & Silvia

busman7
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4/3/2014 09:32    
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I drove an E350 Ford Econoline handi-trans busette, brought down my clothes, a bureau, recliner plus books, small household and personal items.

I travelled to El Salvador, love Antigua but it has gotten too expensive for me.

If you are bringing thing down concentrate on electronics as they charge ripoff prices for them here, vverything else can be purchased at or near the US/Canadian prices so hardly worth paying shipping on anything you can't transport yourself.

Nevadajayhawk
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4/3/2014 16:08    
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What about all that I've heard about Mexican cartel, murders, robberies, ect. On this trip between US and Guatemala? My family's safety most important!!

busman7
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4/3/2014 17:47    
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Guess you can hide behind your couch cowering in fear because you "have heard" stories or you can believe accounts of people who have done the trip, get out and live.

The choice is yours!

bajasur
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4/3/2014 17:54    
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In the past I have spent a lot of time in Baja California, driving. As well in other Mexican States. (For over 15 years). Never had any problems.

Nevadajayhawk
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4/3/2014 18:14    
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Thank you, a friend of mine from Mexico just warned me!

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