Last updated: 6 Jan 2022



Antiquity is at the heart of Guatemala: the country incorporates many spectacular Mayan archaeological sites, and the pine forested hills of the highlands are home to Mayan communities that still wear traditional weavings. Guatemala has around 21 different ethnic groups, speaking some 23 languages.

See the sights of Guatemala City, which include Parque Central, bordered by the National Palace and the Cathedral. Not to be missed is the world's largest Relief Map (of the Republic) in Minerva Park, and the city's wonderful art and archaeology museums.

Head for the Tikal National Park for diverse wildlife, including howler monkeys, tropical birds, ocelots, jaguars and brocket deer

Climb a volcano. At 4,200m (13,776ft), Tajumulco is Central America's highest volcano but a technically easy climb. More challenging is Tolimán, with a twin peak summit. Alternatively, ascend Agua (or Hunapu) and you can sleep in a refuge inside the crater.
Capital:  Guatemala City (GUA)
Currency:  Quetzal (GTQ)
Language:  Spanish. English is spoken in tourist areas. 
Dialling code from SA:  +502
Time Zones: UTC / GMT -6 (8 hours behind South Africa)
Public Holidays 2022:

Jan 1; Apr 14-16; May 1; Jul 4; Sep 15; Oct 12, 20; Nov 1; Dec 24-25, 31

Side of the Road: Right
Best Time to go: November - April
Best For: UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Archaeological Sites, Cultural Exploration, Spectacular coastline
Plugs: 115-125 volts AC, 60Hz. There are some regional variations. Plugs are the flat two-pin American type.
Drinking Water: All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Milk is unpasteurised. 
Health: Comprehensive health insurance is recommended and it should include emergency air evacuation coverage. Within the capital city, private medical facilities are recommended over state-run facilities. Outside of the capital city, medical facilities are very limited. It is advisable to carry basic medical supplies.
Customs: Dress is conservative, and casual attire is acceptable except for smart restaurants and casinos. Before taking photographs of children, or approaching them, it is advisable to first seek permission from an adult – locals are highly suspicious due to incidents of child kidnapping. You may be asked to pay a small amount of money. 
Local Offences / Laws: It is illegal to wear military / camouflage clothing. 
Travel Tips / Warnings: The local currency is difficult to exchange outside of Guatemala, therefore it is recommended to exchange currency before leaving. Outside of the main city, public displays of affection between same-sex couples should be avoided. 
Duty Free: The following goods may be imported into Guatemala by travellers over 18 years of age without incurring customs duty:
• 500g of tobacco in any form
• 5L of alcoholic beverages
• 2kg of confectionery
Prohibited Imports: Meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, dairy items, unlicensed ammunition or weapons, and pornographic media or literature. Plants must be accompanied by phytosanitary certificates.
Prohibited Exports: Fruits and vegetables, Mayan artefacts (unless purchased at reputable stores with a certificate) and any products made from endangered species.

Travel Alerts

Last updated: 17/09/2021

Guatemala is open for travel from most countries. Vaccinated passengers must hold proof that they have received two doses of vaccine, at least 14 days before arrival.

Entry restrictions

  • Passengers are not permitted to enter Guatemala if they are travelling from or have been in Brazil, South Africa or the United Kingdom in the past 14 days.
  • This does not apply to:
    • Nationals or residents of Guatemala,
    • Personnel of the diplomatic corps,
    • Air crews,
    • Passengers entering for humanitarian reasons, provided they have been declared by the competent authorities.

Test requirements

  • Passengers aged 10 years and older must either hold:
    • A negative antigen or PCR test certificate from an authorised laboratory in the country of origin, obtained within 3 days prior to departure;
    • Proof they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at least 14 days prior to arrival;
    • A medical certificate to evidence that the passenger has recovered from Covid-19 in the past 3 months, provided the medical documents must include the date of diagnosis and a copy of the test that confirms the diagnosis and the passenger's recovery. The copy of the test that confirms recovery must have been obtained with a minimum of 10 days after being diagnosed. 
  • The above requirements do not apply to nationals and residents of Guatemala travelling for emergency reasons.

Form requirements

  • Passengers are advised to complete a Safe Conduct Form (Salvoconducto) prior to travel.

Quarantine requirements

  • Passengers have been in Brazil, South Africa or the United Kingdom in the past 14 days must quarantine for 10 days on arrival.

This Information is intended as a Guideline.

Visa Requirements

No visas are required for a stay of up to 30 days for SA passport holders.

South African passport holders traveling to Guatemala, are to contact their nearest Guatemalan Embassy which is the Guatemalan Embassy in Cairo,  Egypt. 

Embassy of Guatemala in Cairo,  Egypt 

Their email is:

Embassy of Guatemala in Cairo
17 Port Said St.
5th Floor  Apt. 501.  Maadi, Cairo,  Egypt
Phones  202-2380.2914
202- 2359.1498

SA Representative

Representation accredited from Mexico City, Mexico

South African Honorary Consul

11 Avenida 30-24
Zona 5
Ciudad de Guatemala
Tel: + 502 2332 6953
Tel: + 502 2331 5734


Travel Health

Compulsory:  Yellow Fever 
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis A & B, Rabies, Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio
  Malaria Risk