General Information for traveling in Guatemala

Population and Languages

Guatemala is a multicultural country and home to 23 Mayan ethnic groups, each one with its own culture and language. The Caribbean coast is populated by the Garífuna people, descendants of African slaves and in the southeast region of the country the remaining Xinca population also adds diversity to the country; each of these populations also possesses its own language (Secaira 2000). "Ladinos", people of mixed Mayan and European descent make up the rest of the population. The official language in Guatemala is Spanish.


The national currency is the Quetzal, with a current approximate exchange rate of 7.5 Quetzals to the US Dollar.

Quetzal bill
Guatemala's currency was named after the national bird. Each note carries a drawing of a flying male Resplendent Quetzal.

The easiest way to travel in Guatemala is to use credit cards (VISA, MASTER CARD). ATMs are available in all cities. US Dollars are accepted in most tourist destinations. Your tour leaders will always help you with tips on how to best manage your money during your trip and where you can access ATM machines.

Electricity and Water

Electricity is available in all major settlements, 120 volts AC (60 Hz) and American standard plugs are used. Some of our birding destinations will be in rural areas and will have electricity only for a few hours. Tap water should not be used for drinking in Guatemala, bottled water is available everywhere.

Internet access

Most hotels offer access to the Internet via WiFi. Several cellular telephone companies offer dense coverage in most parts of Guatemala, and offer roaming service to access the Internet with your phone.


Secaira, E. (2000): La conservación de la naturaleza, el pueblo Maya, y la espiritualidad en Guatemala: implicaciones para conservacionistas. PROARCAS/CAPAS/USAID, SUI, FCG, TNC, Guatemala.

Kekchi women in Alta Verapaz
Women weaver group in a Kekchi village in Alta Verapaz.
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