Up A Creek…

The Rio Dulce  (Sweet River)

The Rio Dulce (Sweet River)

Antigua was somewhere behind us. At 4:00 AM on a Friday morning we’d hoisted the suitcases to the roof of the crowded shuttle van and headed for Guatemala City and the waiting bus which labored on our behalf during the uneventful six hour drive to Rio Dulce, the river route to the Caribbean coast of Guatemala.

Water lilies in a quiet spot on the river

Water lilies in a quiet spot on the river

Rio Dulce is a haphazard town that has grown up on the banks of the river for which it is named. It possesses a muggy humidity much different than the rarified air of the Guatemalan highlands. It continues to grow thanks to the influx of wealthy Guatemaltecans who build trendy vacation homes with large boat houses.

Castillo de San Felipe

Castillo de San Felipe

The only concession to historic importance is the old military fort, Castillo San Filipe de Golfo built in 1657 to keep the safe sanctuary of the lake, Lago Izabal, out of the hands of foreign pirates. In Rio Dulce we engaged a pushcart driver for our bags and backpacks and headed for the river. The launch from the Kangaroo Hotel, which had come highly recommended by a friend in Antigua, arrived shortly. As the name implies, it is an Aussie operation. Gary opened shop about five years previous and is one of a handful of foreigners on the river.The Kangaroo Hotel The Kangaroo, more a hostel than a hotel, is a rambling, comfortable and welcoming place to visit and our stay there was an enjoyable experience. Nestled in a dead-end branch of the river it was quiet, isolated and inhabited by polyglot travelers from around the world. With our sight-seeing itinerary and Gary’s knowledge of available resources we found ourselves up a creek, so to speak. The following morning we boarded the Kangaroo launch and headed for the collectivos (shuttle vans) in Rio Dulce. Forty minutes later we were dropped at the trail head for the Cascada Agua Caliente, the only reported hot water falls in the world. Approaching the waterfallA national park, it retains all its natural beauty, the trail being the only concession to progress. Here you can swim in a natural pool, stand or sit in the hot waters of the falls or climb a short distance and take a mud bath. Afterwards, depending on both bravery and adrenalin, you can either jump from the ledge or climb back down to the pool. With the canopy overhead the creek is nearly protected from the direct glare of the sun.Cascade of hot water When we felt sufficiently sated with the agua caliente we headed back to the highway and flagged down the next bus headed for Valle Boquerón. Boquerón is a deep canyon cut through lime stone hills creating a sun dappled creek bottom with towering cliffs, fissures and shallow caves.Valle Boqueron We set off up the creek in a long canoe, manned by our guide, and tied off on a gravel beach above a small set of rapids at the terminus of the trip. Here in a quiet pool of water, sparkling in the sunlight, reflecting the deep greens of the trees and limestone cliffs in the steeply cut canyon we spent our time exploring, swimming and relaxing. For the second time that day we found ourselves up a creek, fortunately with a paddle.Valle Boqueron By Richard and Anita, August, 2013


  • so, um, im ready to go now. looks like paradise!


  • Hi guys;

    Dick, bet you thought I’d dropped of the face of the earth. Shortly after I received your reply, (thanks!!), I had an old friend come from out of state, to visit and stay for awhile. (That’s my story, and I’m stick’n with it.) I’ll get back with you about your very detailed e-mail. It’s getting too late on a Sunday night to start that project now. I just wanted to touch bases with you to let you know I’m still alive.

    I see you’re on the trail again. I bet I wouldn’t even recognize that river as it’s been 23 years since I passed through on my way from Tikal to Guat City. There wasn’t much there in the way of anything other than the jungle and river water. Great post and very inviting pictures. I bet your melting in the warmth and humidity of the Caribbean. It’s quite different than the coolness of the highlands, even though they are both tropical. Keep that in mind as it’s the same principle anywhere in the world. Just when you think you can’t handle any more hot, muggy tropical paradise at the beach, just hop on a bus and gain some elevation.

    I’ll catch you on your “off the record” address soon. Enjoy!


    • You’re so right about adjusting to the hot, tropical climate of the Caribbean coast after the Guatemalan highlands. Right now we’re just moving slow, enjoying swimming & snorkeling and taking the occasional nap. Just another day in paradise!


  • Keep em coming! Love your posts!


    • Thanks for your enthusiastic feedback. We’re having a great time writing and sorting through our pictures every week. Knowing that others like what we’re writing just makes it that much more fun! Anita & Richard


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