This video explores how to travel from Panajachel to Guatemala City as well as the reverse and how to navigate to and from the La Aurora (Guatemala City) International Airport (GUA). To simplify this description costs will be given in US Dollars but expect to pay in Quetzales
First we will explore the way to travel between Panajachel and Guatemala City. There are three primary methods: bus, shuttle, and car. While I typically find no need to rent a car in Latin America some do. Traveling by taxi, Uber, or private driver are all likely to cost roughly about $100 USD and all have the advantage of taking less time. Shuttles reach a middle ground with more direct travel but could involve a side trip to Antigua with a cost around $40 per person. The bus is the most frugal choice with an expected cost of less than $10.
Chicken buses are retired public school buses from the United State much like the rafting buses I ride all summer. The buses are referred to as “chicken” buses due to the transportation of all things including livestock and chickens. However they also play chicken with oncoming traffic while passing slower vehicles. Bus options include a few direct buses early in the morning. Rebuli has a 4:30 AM and 5:00 AM bus from Panajachel to Guatemala City.
One obvious advantage of the two Rebuli direct buses is not having to change buses along the way. Another perk is much lighter traffic in the morning. Additionally this option avoid a side trip to Antigua. These are the town and cities encountered along the route: Panajachel, San Jorge La Laguna, Solola, Los Encuentros, Tecpan, Patzicia, Chimaltenango, San Lucas Sacatepequez, and Guatemala. The cost is expected to be less than $10. actually all four direct buses belong to Rebuli.
I understand there are a couple additional direct buses later in the morning but I have less information about these and they will encounter more traffic and potentially be crowded. Random chicken buses will work as well but you will have to change buses along the route at several towns and you may or may not be able to avoid a side trip to Antigua.
If you choose to take the bus option then it has been recommended to me to get off at Miraflores in Guatemala City. The reasoning is it is easier to hail taxis here and you can also catch Uber. I understand that the terminal is in one of the more sketchy zones or parts of town. There is also a mall to spend sometime and a nearby museum to visit while waiting for check-in time at your hotel.
If you are traveling in the reverse direction from Guatemala City to Panajachel then you would take a taxi or Uber from your hotel to the Bus terminal Huehue Xela. Bus terminal Huehue Xela is located at JF59+X6V, Vía Exclusiva, Cdad. de Guatemala. If you are traveling directly from the airport you would utilize one of the official taxi stands at the airport. This option may cost you an extra 10 Quetzales but is worth the afforded safety.
Stay tuned I will provide additional video content regarding my experience taking this route as a first-timer soon. I traveled overland from Mexico to Guatemala and have not yet visited the Guatemala City or the airport. However I do have a network of contacts and friends that have provided intel. This video is the result of my recent research on the subject.
Still feeling uneasy about taking this on? Consider hiring a private driver like Roberto Hernandez. You can reach him by way of WhatsApp +510-594-28274 or everydayhobo.com. In addition to driving he can assist you with translation services.
Correction from my friend Allen in Panajachel: There are two more direct buses in the morning--one around 6am or so and the other around 7am or so. All four direct buses are with the Rebuli bus line.
I primarily travel solo but you don't have to to enjoy this channel. Working as a river guide during summers in North America I don't earn a lot of money and live close to the federal poverty level. In spite of this I live a rich life on a frugal budget. If you would like to learn more about traveling in Latin America or maybe frugal travel tips visit https://fastfreds.com/travel and if you would like to come rafting with me check out https://fastfreds.com/raft for details.