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!   

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Eco Filer Hike For Water

Pacaya Volcano
Don't forget, this Saturday is the Eco Filter "Hike for Water" climb on Pacaya Volcano.  Spaces still available.  If you are interested stop by the shop for more details.

Help us help to locals.  Sign up, hike, donate filters.  You get to hike Pacaya, you have fun, Guatemalans get a filter, everyone wins.  Come by Old Town today and sign up.

If you cant make this weekends hike, there are two opportunities to get involved.  Old Town Outfitters will be guiding two more hikes, one on active Fuego volcano and the other an overnight trek on Acatenango Volcano.  
See ya on the trail

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Highlands Ride

When the man upstairs created Guatemala, he must have had mountain biking on his mind.  The Guatemalan altiplano is evidence of this.  If you are looking for some real, out of bounds back country riding, the highlands outside Huehuetenango is the place to go. 

As its a bit of a haul to get to, we normally hang out for a few days.  There is just so much single track to ride that you could stay here a month.  Outside of the odd hiking group, you probably wont see any other gringos out here the entire time.  This is a unique opportunity to ride in countryside among people whose traditions are very much still alive and present.
Our favorite ride is a 5 day epic ride that crosses the most remote section of the mountains called the "Trans Maya"
Come by or email the shop today and get on the next ride.
See ya on the trail

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cuchumantanes trekking

About five hours to the west of La Antigua, Guatemala lies Central America's highest mountain range, the Cuchumantanes.

These mountains have a feeling of remoteness similar to some of it's South American cousins. Life in many areas of these mountains goes in as it has for centuries. Mayan farmers and sheep herders work and walk the land. There are very few villages up here in these mountains, most of which only comprise of a few houses.

Taking advantage of the low population density, open space, huge views and most importantly, abundance of trail, Old Town Outfitters offers many different walks across these remote mountains. We can build day walks into an existing itinerary or build a custom five day walk across the altiplano from Nebaj to Todos Santos.

This past weekend we were fortunate enough to head out on an amazing three day trekking circuit taking in some of the best trail in the area. We stayed in community hostals and locals houses to fully immerse ourselves in the local surroundings. There is no better way to really experience the area than to gather around the hearth at meals times and talk to the folks from the area.

There is an amazing opportunity to take in more than just the natural beauty of an area when you are invited into their homes.
On day two we reached our treks objective of Laguna Magdalena, a hidden alpine lake that impossibly sits in a steep valley overlooking the low-lands below. It was a tough walk across the limestone studded hills but the Laguna made it all worth while.

The trails that cross cross the western highlands of Guatemala weave their way in and out of beautiful valleys, wide and vast plains and amazing pine studded hills. As you walk you are constantly reminded of a time long past, villages with no roads to get to them, houses with no power, and candle lit meals by the hearth.

This is truly one of the last untamed expanses in Guatemala. A place where back country lives up to its name.
This is a place that although requires a bit of effort to get to, pays off ten fold in what it gives back.

Come check it out! Get in touch with Old Town Outfitters and let us put together a trek for you that is for sure to leave a lasting impression.

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