Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rio Dulce - "Paddling in Paradise"

Just back in from the field!  Old Town guides just brought in pictures and stories from the trail, our most recent trip out the to Rio Dulce, an amazing jungle river on Guatemala's Caribbean coast. 
 This is must hit do-it-all outdoor excursion for the adventurer who wants a good mix of culture, adventure and nature all rolled up into one fantastic 4 day tour.
 This part of Guatemala is riddled with limestone river canyons, beautiful lakes and plenty of other cool stuff stuff to do like caves, waterfalls and even a stop in at a thermal waterfall hot-spring! 

The trip starts out with an early leave from Antigua to beat the traffic in Guatemala City.  As we drop out of the city we start to leave the mountains behind and move into a Caribbean the landscape past vast banana plantations and covered Mayan temples
 Arriving to the River we detour for a stop in at "Finca Paraiso" where there is the most unique oppotunity to shower under a natural thermal waterfall.  The falls cascade into a cold river that comes out of cave just upstream.  You are able to mix the hot and cold of the falls and river to find just the right balance.   
After a picnic lunch we river walk upstream to a hidden cave entrance in the forest where we don headlamps and navigate our way to where the fresh water river exits the cave and float back to the hot-springs!  Pretty insane really.

Each night we move on to a new and unique riverside jungle hostal  as we paddle our way down the Rio Dulce towards Livingston, Guatemala's only Garifuna village.  The paddling on the river gives us plenty of opportunity for bird-watching and if we are lucky enough perhaps a glimpse of the endangered manatee.  As we float down stream we'll pass local fisherman out for looking for the days catch, which most likely will end up on our plates that evening.
 As the river gets closer to Livingston we float through perhaps the nicest part of the, the Canyon, where the river narrows and steep limestone walls rise out of the water hundreds of feet over head.  It is a truly amazing site.  
The town of Livingston with its funky mix of Guatemalan and Caribbean culture is at the mouth of the Rio Dulce and the Caribbean ocean.  It is an amazingly vibrant town with the sounds of steel drums in the air, open cafes and cool Garifuna culture. 
 To round out the trip to Guate's Caribbean coast we stop in at the Mayan ruins of Quirigua on the way back to Antigua.  These ruins once controlled the Mayan lowland area between Copan las Ruinas, Honduras and the mighty ruins of Tikal.  Quirigua boasts the largest stelae known in the Mayan world.
If you are looking for something different and off the mainstream tourist track this is certainly a great option.  Get in touch with us at the shop and we'll help you  put together a custom trip out this way.  There's loads more to do out here than this and we know it all!   

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