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Casa Amelia and Lake Peten Itza

View from Hotel Room

Hotel

Hotel

House

House

House

House

House

Street

Street

Street

Street

Street

Street

Street

Street

Street

Street

Street

Taxi

Street with Taxi

Santa Elena on the Mainland

Sunset on Lake Peten Itza


Flores is a lovely little city on an island in Lake Peten Itza. With its narrow, windy, cobblestone streets and its colourful houses it is very picturesque. The city fills the whole of the island which is not that big,. We walked around the entire island in less than one hour and this is with stopping to look at birds and take photos of the streets and buildings. One could probably circle the city in about 20 minutes.

The much larger city of Santa Elena is visible just across the bridge. Santa Elena is a typical Central American city with nothing special there. However, Flores has no banks, bus station, airport or other things that most cities have, so it is necessary to go to Santa Elena for most services. Flores is full of hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops.

In spite of the many warnings on the internet, Guatemala seems very safe. There are tens of thousands of tourists from all over the world at Tikal and Flores. There have been no robberies or assaults in a long time. The only places that I did not feel entirely safe was in southern Chiapas and the Guatemalan border areas but even there, there has been no crime against tourists in many months. Bandits used to put up roadblocks to rob and kidnap people but the police and army seem to have this under control now.

The Flores and Santa Elena taxis are little, red, three-wheel vehicles that are built on the body of a motorcycle. They work well and are very convenient and cheap for getting around the city. One only has to walk out into the street and wait a few minutes and one will come along.

I found Guatemala, or least Peten, to be very expensive compared to Mexico or Belize. Souvenirs cost several times the price of the same item in Mexico. Entrance to Tikal National Park is more than $20 and you have to pay every day even if you are staying there overnight. Belize is cheaper than Guatemala but still a lot more expensive than Mexico.

There is nothing special to do in Flores but it is a very nice place to spend a couple of days and mostly is an overnight stop for people on the way to and from Tikal. There are hotels in Santa Elena and other towns between here and Tikal but I think that Flores is the best place to stay.

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