Big protests next will see roadblocks of many main highways and demonstrations in the capital and other cities on August 25-27 (Tuesday through Thursday). Roadblocks begin at 5 AM daily, so the only way to travel to Lake Atitlan and other parts of Guatemala will at night on extremely overcrowded chicken buses, if at all. However, some shuttle companies know the back roads between Antigua and the lake, so check with them.
As of Tuesday, the road from Xela to the Mexican border and San Cristobal de las Casas was blocked. So was the Interamerican Highway in the Momostenango area and other parts of the country.
If flying out, shuttles will likely operate between Antigua and the airport after sundown, so spend the night before your departing flight in the capital to ensure missing the plane.
Armed robberies of “chicken buses” have increased dramatically in recent months throughout Guatemala. They have been robbed on the routes between Guatemala City and Antigua, Lake Atitlan and the both coastal highways. Antigua had no chicken bus service for two days this month after drivers went on strike to protest the lack of police protection. And of course, several chicken buses drive off a cliff or crash into another bus or vehicle every year.
Shuttles are far safer, though do occasionally get robbed. And shuttles don’t cost much more: from San Pedro to the capital, Q50 versus Q30. If you must take a bus, do not travel after dark, especially on the Pacific coast between Mexico and Salvador.
There are lots of roadblocks around Guatemala during the many demonstrations here, which usually take place on Mondays and Saturdays. If flying out on those days, arrive the day before and spend the night in order to avoid missing your flight.
Roadwork on 148, the road from the main highway to Lake Atitlan, is complete, so no more delays for now.
Road repairs in Jocotenango, just outside Antigua, has also been finished, so traveling between Lake Atitlan and Antigua now takes 3.5-4 hours by shuttle.
We recommend the Casa Verde shuttle, as they have been running a small bus instead of a van recently. More comfortable seats, better shock absorbers and more space make a big difference, especially on the last hour of the ride down 148.
The bridge over the Rio Cabohon is in such bad shape that vehicles can no longer cross it. Some people have been daring enough to walk across the main bridge to Semuc Champey in northern Guatemala, even though many planks have already fallen into the river. This is extremely dangerous, even more so because the nearest hospital is hours away even when the roads are in good condition.
So if visiting Guatemala soon, especially for the national birthday and related festivals that culminate on September 15, check current conditions before going to Semuc Champey. Head for Lake Atitlan first, and go with the flow.
It’s hard to run into trouble here. Most parts of the lake are safe most of the time. But like anywhere else, it’s when you let your guard down that they get you. And read our Safety and Security FAQ, at the end of the page.
Shuttles from Casa Verde Tours depart at 5 AM (with connection to Lanquin from Antigua) and 9:30 AM. Also in Antigua, you can also pick up a shuttle to anywhere in Guatemala as well as Mexico and points south.
Casa Verde Tours transportation to Antigua is only Q40 (others charge Q60) right now. Q90 to the capital. They also have the best shuttle to the Semuc Champey area, a 5 AM departure that arrives in Lanquin at 4 PM.
Across the street from Alegre Pub.
The Casa Verde shuttles depart from in front of Alegre Pub in the zone viva for Antigua, the capital and Lanquin at 5 AM and 8 AM.
Construction was completed on a new international airport south of Retalhuleu this week. International flights from Central America and Mexico will commence next month. This city is on the way to Mexico along the northwest Pacific coast.
Now travelers going to the lake can fly into Reu, as it’s called, and take a Pullman bus and chicken bus to Santiago in five hours for about Q100. This will also turn the area into a booming tourism market. There are black sand beaches, Mayan and Olmec ruins, a water park and other attractions on the Florida-like Pacific coast.