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Pana to/from Guate by Bus

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Last week I made a trip to Guatemala City and back by bus but, this time with less planning that I usually have made. The result was actually the easiest and fastest trip I have ever made to Guatemala City. In a place where buses are the typical mode of transport, they just work.

I had no particular schedule for heading to Guate so I skipped the really early buses. At 0752 I left my house heading to the intersection of Calle Real and Calle Santander with the plan of asking the orange juice lady about the next bus. I was reasonably sure it was 1100 but I figured it was worth a check. When I got to the corner a bus promoter asked me where I was going. I told him and he verified the next direct bus was 1100 but he recommended I take the bus to Xela which was two blocks away and change buses in Los Encuentros. I figured it was a good day for experimentation and went with that option.

I was on the bus at 0800 and 45 minutes and Q5 later I was in Los Encuentros. I walked across the highway and there was a bus waiting there heading to Guate. I didn’t pay any attention to where it had come from and just got on. It left in a couple of minutes and I was in the middle of Guatemala City a few minutes before 1100. The fare on the second bus was Q20 so the total cost was Q25, Q5 less than the fare for the direct bus. Less time and less money was a good combination.

Where I got off there were taxistas ready to take you wherever you want to go and you are close to the Trebol TransMetro station but I elected to walk, exploring a bit. Just for reference, a taxi to Zona 1 would cost from Q25 to Q35 and the TransMetro trip costs Q1. I had lunch at my favorite restaurant, Rey Sol, and walked to Hotel Spring.

The next day I walked around a bit — basically until I was lost thinking all the time how easy everything would be with a map and/or compass but not thinking about the SmartPhone in my pocket that would have answered all my questions and then took a taxi to where the buses leave from. That is, all the buses heading west on the Interamerican Highway.

There is a bus station for the direct buses to Pana but only one or two of the runs actually originate from there and you end up spending a lot of time before the bus really gets on the highway and underway. As I now was happy with a bus change in Los Encuentros, I didn’t care if I wasn’t on the direct bus. The buses all wait along the frontage road which is actually 41 Calle, Zona 8 and by all there are a lot with one leaving every few minutes. (On the map you want to be where you see 40A Calle B but on the next street in the direction toward the highway. Don’t worry, it will be obvious.)

I picked a bus for Quiche. I didn’t and still don’t know where Quiche is but I only cared that it went as far as Los Encuentros. It did and in a few minutes we were underway. Q20 later I was in Los Encuentros. There was no direct bus waiting for Pana but a couple for Sololá. (Note that they were unmarked but I asked and got pointed to the right one.) Q2.5 and a few minutes later I was in Sololá. I decided to walk around the town a bit and then got on a bus to Pana. Q3 and a few minutes later I was in Panajachel.

There are times when a shuttle may make more sense but it certainly wouldn’t have for this trip. If, for example, you have a lot of luggage and a plane to catch, the shuttle will take you to the airport directly. But, with just a backpack and no tight schedule, the buses are cheap, faster than the shuttle and certainly more interesting.

1 comment to Pana to/from Guate by Bus

  • admin

    I have to make a trip tomorrow (Sunday). I asked the expert (the lady who makes orange juice right where the bus leaves from) and she says the morning buses on Sunday are at “siete menos veinte y siete mas veinte” (6:40 and 7:20). She went on to say that the 6:40 bus is the better choice as the other one tends to be very full.

    Tomorrow I will check out the 6:40 one. I should be back Tuesday with an update.

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