Last updated: 17 Feb 2021



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 2021:

Jan 1; Apr 1-3; May 1 Jun 28; Sep 15; Oct 12, 20 Nov 1; Dec 24-26; Dec 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

COVID-19 Travel Advisory: Borders have reopened. Travellers require a negative PCR Test taken not more than 96 hours prior to the flight. Passengers arriving by air are required to complete an online Health Pass before arrival. Flights from UK and South Africa have been banned. 

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