We have arrived at the country of sweet River (starting from Semuc Champey) after 4 hours of those dirt roads that at every leap it seems that from the eyeballs your soul must splash out and we immediately realized that the country can only be defined with one word: ugly. A busy street full of gigantic trucks, smog that you can't breathe, half-ruined houses and the usual market that in Guatemala is omnipresent in every more or less inhabited center.
For those arriving without a reservation, finding accommodation is the least of the worries: all the shuttles leave tourists a few steps from the pier where the touts in the pay of the various hotels attack them en masse to propose this or that hotel.
It should be borne in mind that all hotels on the lake can be reached by boat and by boat you pay (some move checkin and checkout give it for free), which means that once you choose the hotel you end up staying there for lunch and dinner.
Among the hotels that offer us we choose Hotel Casa Perico recommended by the guide as one of the best in terms of value for money. The lower price is due to the fact that this one does not have a pier directly on the lake, like most of the higher-end hotels do. Despite this I am delighted, I like the hotel (I have not found a match for many negative comments on TripAdvisor), it is a collection of cabanas on stilts in an intimate dimension, secluded along a secondary stream and under the shade of the forest canopy.
Kayaking on Rio Dulce
The only problem is the mosquitos which are really boring and very hungry, not even liters of autan can keep them away.
Two other hotels that I have heard really good from other travelers are the Kangaroo and the Backpackers Hotel, but when we arrived we were both fully booked.
The Rio Dulce is an emerald arm of water that connects the large lake to the sea and navigation (200 quetzales each round trip) takes just over a couple of hours before reaching Livingston, a small town at the mouth of the river : the canyon that you cross is really impressive with the high and steep walls covered by the jungle.
Fort of San Felipe
As we approach the mouth of the river, we see the first houses of Livingston. It is immediately clear that Livingstone is a fishing village, it can be seen from the long jetties, from the numerous fishing boats moored everywhere and from the thousands of pelicans waiting with attentive air for the fishermen to throw the remains of the cleaning of the fish into the sea.
Fishing boats moored in Livingston
We arrive in Livingstone around noon, about three hours are given to go to the discovery of this small town famous for being the only place in Guatemala where you can find the Garafuna culture.
Garifuna culture in Livingston
Livingstone is nice, small groups of kids play and dance on the streets (they then ask tourists for money) but what I liked most was moving away from the tourist part (which then develops around a single street) to go to the looking for some nice photo shots.
To photograph I went to the countless piers and I was lucky enough to come across a family of fishermen intent on cleaning and salting the fish, booty of the morning at sea.
For those interested in photography, I think this is an excellent opportunity to bring home unique shots of the common life of the country.
A young fisherman in Livingston
In this part of the country there are also a lot of un-touristy restaurants, oh my the hygiene does not seem to be of the highest levels, but if you have a good mouth like me, you can eat excellent fresh fish at a ridiculously low price.
Absolutely to try the tapado, the typical dish, a coconut soup with shellfish, fish and plantains.
Other things to do and see in Rio Dulce and Livingston:
Finca Paraiso: from Rio Dulce you take the colectivo and ask to be dropped off
in front of the Finca Paraiso, the journey takes about forty minutes. From Finca Paraiso a path in the woods leads up to a waterfall famous for being a waterfall of hot water where it is possible to swim. The place is beautiful, under the canopy of trees, too bad the noisy horde of families with children.
Playa Blanca: although Livingston is not famous for its beaches (being at the mouth of the river there is no classic blue water typical of the Caribbean Sea) Playa Blanca remaining slightly farther from the river and the country is of whiter sand and the sea is bluer than elsewhere. Absolutely the best beach that can be found in these parts.
San Felipe Castle: A small badass-looking fort at the entrance to the great lake, built by the Spaniards against the pirates who raged up and down the river. We have only seen it from the boat, but it is possible to organize a visit and it seems to be worth it.
You are altars: a series of natural pools and waterfalls connected to each other. From Livingston to get there you have to walk a couple of hours. A great place to swim and cool off on very hot days.Do you want to discover the Guatemala truer and more authentic by relying on atrusted local agency?
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