Safety for travelers in Guatemala and at Lake Atitlan
Our guests at Lomas de Tzununa have enjoyed some of the best traveling experiences of their lives here at Lake Atitlan. We have lived in Guatemala for 30 years and feel a resounding sense of safety and comfort as we go about our daily lives.
We do understand however that Guatemala has a somewhat dangerous reputation and that many travelers have concerns around visiting this beautiful country. As with any international destination, there are certain things you can do to minimise the risk you are exposed to and of course here at the hotel we more than happy to help make your trip as safe as possible.
On this page we have placed Lonely Planet's "Safety in Guatemala" guide for you to read. If you have any questions around risk and safety please don't hesitate to give us a call - we're here to help.
Lonely Planet - Safety in Guatemala
While crime definitely happens in Guatemala, and definitely happens to tourists, these days the most frequently reported type of nasty incident involves robbery on walking trails.
The days of robbers targeting tourist buses out on the open highway seem to be thankfully in the past, although some tourists in rental cars have been targeted. This information is incredibly fluid – check with Proatur for the latest.
The crime you're most likely to become a victim of involves pickpocketing, bag-snatching, bag-slitting and the like in crowded streets, markets, bus stations and on buses, but also in empty, dark city streets.
One common scenario is for someone to spray ketchup or some other sticky liquid on your clothes. An accomplice then appears to help you clean up the mess and robs you in the process. Other methods of distraction, such as dropping a purse or coins, or someone appearing to faint, are also used by pickpockets and bag snatchers.
Regrettably, ATM card cloners have moved into Guatemala, targeting Guatemalans and foreigners alike. They operate by attaching a card reading device to the ATM (often inside the slot where you insert your card) and once they have your data, proceed to drain your account. There have been reports of card cloning in all the major tourist destinations. The only way to avoid it is to use ATMs that cannot be tampered with easily (inside supermarkets or shopping malls). The ATMs most prone to tampering are the ones in the little unlocked room at the front of a bank. Note that you should never have to enter your PIN number to gain access to an ATM room.
It's best to travel and arrive in daylight hours. If that's not possible, travel at night using 1st-class buses and catch a taxi to your hotel once you arrive.
Only carry the money, cards, checks and valuables that you need. Leave the rest in a sealed, signed envelope in your hotel's safe, and obtain a receipt for the envelope.
Don't flaunt jewelry, cameras or valuable-looking watches. Keep your wallet or purse out of view.
On buses keep your important valuables with you, and keep a tight hold on them.
Use normal precautions when using ATMs (and be aware that card skimming is a reality here).
Hiking in large groups and/or with a police escort reduces the risk of robbery.
Resisting or trying to flee from robbers usually makes the situation worse.
Hiking on active volcanoes obviously has an element of risk. Get the latest story before you head out. In the wet season, hike in the morning before rain and possible thunderstorms set in.
Be careful, especially in rural areas, when talking to small children, always ask permission to take photographs, and generally try not to put yourself in any situation that might be misinterpreted