Friday, June 16, 2017

Rainy Season Travel Tips for Guatemala

It's rainy season and the tourists seem to have disappeared. Why? Too many travel websites and guidebooks warning travelers to stay away. Pfft! I'm gonna tell ya why rainy season can be an awesome time to visit Guatemala.

INFO ➠ The rainy season in Guatemala generally runs from May to the end of October.

Keep in mind that even though Guatemala is a small country by most standards, it does touch two coasts and has massive variations in elevation. Therefore, the weather can be wildly different from place to place. It can be hailing in a high mountain town while at the same be steaming hot on the Caribbean coast. Here at Lake Atitlan in the Western Highlands, the weather can even vary from town to town. It can be rainy, windy, and cold in San Pedro but partly cloudy and warm in Panajachel.

1. Don't let the rainy season deter you from coming here.
Airfares and hotels are cheaper. Tourists sites are not overflowing with people. Also, the countryside is absolutely stunning! Waterfalls become glorious rushing cascades, rather than the sad trickles they are in the dry season. Flowers bloom everywhere. Dusty fields morph into vast swathes of green. The dramatic hills of the Highlands are suddenly covered in lush jungle. It's beautiful!
The waterfall on the road between Sololá and Panajachel.
Photo courtesy of: Rob And Carley
2. Pack your rain gear -- but expect to get wet anyway.
I have an awesome raincoat (thanks, Mumsy!) but I've found that the rain runs down the coat and soaks my pants. I also have an amazing giant rainbow umbrella (thanks, big sister!) but that doesn't help when a passing pickup splashes your legs! 😆
I have rubber boots for really rainy days but I prefer to wear waterproof hiking sandals or crocs for most trips out and about. If you forgot your gear, don't worry! There are tons of smart vendors who bring out umbrellas and ponchos for sale when the rain starts.
rain rainy season Guatemala Panajachel
Some smart folks handling the rain with aplomb. This was on my walk to the grocery store today.
3. Plan your day and be flexible. 
A typical day during the rainy season in Guatemala is a lovely partly cloudy morning, followed by rains moving in around 2 or 3 pm and continuing all night. Therefore, you can plan to do all your outdoor activities in the morning and then find a cozy cafe, museum, restaurant, or bar to spend your afternoons and evenings. There are some days where it rains from morning to night, but there are other days where it's full sun all day. To be clear, I'm only speaking from my experience here in Panajachel on Lake Atitlan. You can almost set your watch to the rains! It could be different in other areas of the country. Post in the comments if you have some more info about weather trends in a specific area of Guatemala.

4. Watch the weather, especially tropical storms.
If you're planning something special that requires good weather, keep a close eye on the weather reports. If a tropical storm or hurricane is hitting either coast, it causes heavier rainfall or full days of dreary drizzle. I like Weather Underground, which also has a section for hurricanes.
Lake Atitlan Panajachel Guatemala Volcan San Pedro volcano rainy season rain clouds
Volcán San Pedro being all dramatic and stuff. :)
5. Enjoy the rain.
It's part of what makes Guatemala so great! Plus, Guate has some of the best coffees in the world to warm you up, as well as a vast array of traditional soups and stews. Yum!
Hot, thick, flavourful Pepian stew. Yum!
Click the pic to go to Chowhound's article about Guatemalan soups.
BONUS TIP: Do not walk barefoot. No matter how much you hate having wet shoes or how much your hippie soul yearns to connect with Mother Earth, keep your shoes on! The water in the streets is literally loaded with feces and urine, both animal and human. Plus there are the dangers of broken glass and other garbage. And to top it off, there are parasites that can enter your body through your feet and make you sick. Be smart!

Flooding today in San Pedro Ayampuc, north of Guate City.
Okay, so with all this cheery "glass half full" optimism, I feel obligated to warn you that rainy season can SUCK. Roads flood. Flights get canceled. Hiking trails become muddy trenches. Boat rides across the Lake are wet, cold, and rough. It can get kinda depressing. So I would advise that if you're looking for that perfect sun-all-day-every-day vacation to Guatemala, visit during the dry season from late November to April. And bring sunscreen! 😊

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