After visiting the impressive Mayan city of Tikal, we headed to Izabal, one of the most wild and exotic regions of Guatemala. The best-known spots in this area are the famous Rio Dulce and the Afro-Caribbean town of Livingston. Both of them are really worth a visit.
If you take the boat from Rio Dulce you can visit the “Castillo de San Felipe de Lara”, a fort built by the Spanish to stop pirates coming from the Caribbean when this area was a strategic trade center for Central America.
THE BEST OF RIO DULCE: THE CANYON
The most spectacular part of the river is the Río Dulce canyon, with huge cliffs emerging on both sides of the shore. This beautiful canyon is surrounded by the thick jungle, the sound of wild animals, all kinds of birds and small villages scattered along the shore.
THINGS TO DO IN RIO DULCE
There is a great array of activities in Rio Dulce, like renting a kayak and visiting nearby villages or waterfalls, walking in the jungle, visiting the seven altars, visiting different lagoons to see manatees, swimming in the river or just relaxing in a hammock.
We rented some kayaks to visit the waterfalls of the Lampara River and it was great. I won’t lie, the waterfalls themselves were nothing special… but the spot, in the middle of the jungle, was truly spectacular. Getting there by kayak was also amazing. We entered a beautiful river and passed some villages where local kids approached the shore to say hello and play with us. This part of the river doesn’t get many tourists, so the residents were very nice.
WHERE TO STAY IN RIO DULCE
Most of the lodges in Rio Dulce are located just before the canyon. They are basic but nice huts in the middle of the jungle. The idea is to stay a few days in a quiet bungalow without much luxury, but surrounded by pure nature.
We stayed at El Hotelito Perdido, 200 Quetzales a night for a hut for two people. There is a beautiful river just in front of the hotel where you can swim or simply lie in a hammock and relax. By the way, I was a bit paranoid, but they promised me there are no crocodiles in the river, so it’s safe to swim.
In the hotel they will help you organize different activities. You can also rent kayaks and hire guides for the jungle.
If you come here to experience a wild and exotic part of the country you cannot miss the city of Livingston.
This is the most unique city in all of Guatemala; it’s like being in another country. Here you will find a mix of Garifuna, Maya and Afro-Caribbean people who create a city with unique flavor and culture.
The city is quite small, so it’s easy to walk around, visit small markets, take photos of the colorful houses or just relax in a park and enjoy the Caribbean breeze.
THINGS TO DO IN LIVINGSTON
The city is right beyond the canyon, at the mouth of the Rio Dulce, so you can organize all of the above activities from Livingston. Moreover, you can take a cultural tour to taste local food and learn about the history of this unique people and their African origins.
WHERE TO STAY IN LIVINGSTON
We decided to stay in the village of Quehueche and enjoy a quiet Caribbean beach in the shade of palm trees.
We chose the Hotel Salvador Gaviota and it was a great experience, staying in a bungalow completely surrounded by jungle but just a few steps away from the sea. The place is very quiet and also offers a good breakfast and dinner.
PRACTICAL INFO WHEN VISITING RIO DULCE AND LIVINGSTON
Tourist boat Rio Dulce – Livingston. 125 Q 1.5 hours
Boat Livingston- Puerto Barrios. 35 Q 30 minutes
Bus Puerto Barrios – Guatemala City. 120 Q 6 hours
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Hi, I’m Miguel; Adventure traveler, scuba diver and hiking lover. I have been traveling the world for the last 12 years and I hope my experiences, photos and hiking routes inspire you to travel the world too.