Puerto Quetzal

Puerto Quetzal Guatemala is our port of call on April 27. The map, below, shows the location of the pier and some of the top rated attractions available for excursions.

Top Attractions

Antigua church ruins

La Antigua Guatemala – “The old Guatemala” was destroyed by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in 1773.  Rather than rebuild the existing city, Guatemala was rebuilt 45 km away in the site of present day Guatemala City.  Antigua was left in ruins. These ruins include many well-preserved examples of  Spanish colonial architecture  As a result, Antigua has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to the history, museums, and architecture, Antigua features some of the best restaurants, galleries, and shopping in Guatemala.

Established in 1543, Antigua is a very walkable city. Most Antigua tourist destinations are within a compact 8 x 8 block area.  From what I can tell, Antigua is about 85 km and 90 minutes by road from Puerto Quetzal.

Celebrity is offering an excursion “Antigua – Self Guided”, for $39 round-trip. This is basically a bus ride from the port to the city of Antigua. Once there, you explore on your own or find a local walking tour. One of the recommended walking tours is with author and tour guide Elizabeth Bell. Celebrity also offers guided tours of Antigua for $85. Go with Gus has Antigua tours for $99 or $119.

Lake Atitlán (Lago de Atitlán) – Lake Atitlan,  “place of the great waters,” is considered by some to be the most beautiful lake in the world. It is a high mountain lake, 5,125 feet elevation, set amongst three towering volcanoes of 9,900 to over 11,600 feet. The lake shores are dotted with several towns that are only accessible by boat. Much of the local population are indigenous Maya. Coffee plantations surround the lake.

Lago de Atitlán as viewed from Santa Catarina Polopó

My personal interest in Lake Atitlan has a story behind it. One of my coworkers knows that I really like coffee. One day, he gives me a bag of Cafe San Luca Toliman coffee. It was some of the best coffee I’ve ever had.

I started researching this coffee and where it came from. It turns out that San Lucas Toliman is a fascinating and beautiful area located on the shore of Lake Atatlin. 85% of the inhabitants are of Maya decent. The coffee is produced under the sponsorship of the San Lucas Mission. The mission pays 650 families, above-market prices for the green coffee. As I write this text, I am drinking the some of the Cafe San Lucas Toliman that I recently ordered for myself. It’s a great way to anticipate our visit to Guatemala.

Celebrity is offering an excursion, “Lake Atitlan From Another Angle” for $89. This tour visits San Lucas Toliman and includes a a boat trip on the lake.

Pacaya is an active volcano that has been erupting almost continuously since 1965.  It made the news most recently in May of 2010 when its eruption left 7 cm of ash in some parts of Guatemala City. If you are in good physical shape, you can climb up the side of the volcano to the crater itself. There you can see the crater spewing rocks, lava, and ash.

Tourist at Pacaya uses molten lava to ignite stick

Along the way, you may have the opportunity to get close to slow moving lava flows. You’d never be allowed to get this close to Hawaiian volcanoes! Turix Activo and Go with Gus offer excursions to Pacaya.

Weather

The April 27 weather in Puerto San José (the next town down the road from Puerto Quetzel) is hot and humid with an average high of 92 F and 76% humidity. The average low is 76 F.

At an altitude of 4885 ft, Guatemala City has Spring-like weather year round, with highs in the 70s and lows in the upper 50s and low 60s. April is the warmest month. Specifically, for April 27, the average high is 81 F with a humidity of 70%. The average low is 63 F. Antigua and Lake Atitlan have similar climates to Guatemala City.

Here is the real-time weather for the Puerto San José.
Click for San Jose, Guatemala Forecast
Here is the real-time weather for Guatemala City. If you look at these during the day, you can see the large temperature difference between Puerto San José and Guatemala City.
Click for Guatemala, Guatemala Forecast

Port Information

Puerto Quetzel and neighboring Puerto San José are about 108km (67 miles) from Guatemala City. This is a popular weekend getaway for Guatemalan families because it is the nearest beach to Guatemala city. Nearby Iztapa and Monterrico have nicer beaches.

A big attraction in the area is sailfishing. The Pacific coast of Guatemala is the “Sailfish Capitol of the World” with many world records having been set in these waters.

Maps

Download and print out these maps to take with you on the cruise.

Guatemala map from Moon Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala from Moon Guatemala

Lake Atitlan from Moon Guatemala

Puerto Quetzel, Pacaya and Pacific Coast from Moon Guatemala

Currency Exchange

The local currency is the Guatemalan quetzal. Here is the exchange rate for the Guatemalan quetzel to USD. You might want to print out the Traveller’s Cheat Sheet just before the cruise.

3 Responses to “Puerto Quetzal”

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  1. Excursions Recap « Millennium Panama Canal - March 11, 2011

    […] Puerto Quetzal […]

  2. Excursion Plans? « Millennium Panama Canal - January 2, 2011

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  3. Puerto Quetzel Guatemala « Millennium Panama Canal - November 22, 2010

    […] Puerto Quetzal […]

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