Rio Dulce is a spot than most people miss on their journey around Guatemala but hopefully I’m here to put that right. Rio Dulce is about a 5 hour journey from Flores and Tikal in the north, and another 5 hours or so from Antigua in the south – every traveler goes to both those spots, so Rio Dulce is a great way to break up the journey too, not to mention the 2 very awesome things you can do here – the hot spring waterfall and the boat trip to Livingstone.
Rio Dulce is a tiny town perched on the side of the river which runs all the way, 30km or so, to the Atlantic ocean. There are a few ‘hotel’ options in the town, but I wanted to meet some travelers so I was trying to find the best hostel in the area, and I stumbled across one of the coolest hostels I’ve seen in a long time – Kangaroo Hotel, accessible only by their own private speedboat, complete with their own dock.
Gary, the Australian owner, is a bit of a legend too. He’s the man with the plan in Rio Dulce so no matter what your Guatemalan plans are, Gary has got you covered. I had spoken to him on the phone just as I was pulling into Rio Dulce and before I even checked in he had told me to drop my bags at a bar his friend knows, walk up to the main street, left here, right there and jump on a collective (small public transport minivans where they cram 20 people into 12 sears) to Finca El Paradiso. Ermmm, ok?!
So that’s exactly what I did, and was it ever worth it. A hot spring is one thing, but a full hot spring complete with a waterfall, now that is something else – the only one in the world apparently, and certainly the first I’ve ever come across in my 100+ countries. It was beautiful, and the water was piping hot too.
Gary had already sent a group of Candian/English/Australian/German and Swiss people here so he had hooked me up with them. In true backpacking style I joined them without a worry and we were all sharing beers within 10 minutes, right by the hot spring waterfall.
Gary had also sent us on our way to canoe down a huge ravine/canyon ($1.50), some local Guatemalan boys boat you down, then you walk further up still with huge imposing cliff faces on either side – really spectacular. After chilling for a while together, you reap the rewards of your hard work as you float back down stream to where you started, a great way to spend an afternoon.
Soon all 10 of us squeezed into an already full collective minivan, back to Rio Dulce, quick call to Kangaroo hostel and before we know it we’re across in the boat and relaxing in the all wooden, secluded hostel by the riverside (complete with hot showers, wifi and a fully stocked bar). Time for some relaxing. So there you have it, Rio dulce is an absolute must when you’re in Guatemala and make sure to swing by Kangaroo hostel, tell Gary I sent you – he’ll hook you up. Happy travels!
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