Lush green rainforest. Howler monkeys everywhere. Birds. Thousands of birds. A river so beautiful it could be the Amazon. Maya people wearing traditional costumes in old colourful wooden boats. Garifuna people in the streets. Music playing. Warm, humid air. That was the first impression we got, arriving at Livingston, a small town at the Carribean coast, just an hour by boat from Belize.
The last 3 days, babe and I stayed in one of the coolest places we have ever seen. We took the boat from Punta Gorda, the most southern town in Belize, to Livingston, in Guatemala. First we were to go to Puerto Barrios first, but the boat guys in Livingston arranged a lancha to leave at 10.30am on a Wednesday, directly to the small town of Livingston. Of course we had to go through immigration, however, it was one of the fastest lines we ever went through. Nobody checked our bags, they just wanted us to pay the usual exit fee of 40 Belize Dollars and were ready to go. The boat took around 1,5 hours – a bumpy but beautiful ride. We were really lucky with the weather. As it is rainy season at the moment, we did have a lot of heavy downpours in the last few days, but not on the morning of the trip. Still a little chilly, it was the first time we actually got to wear our longsleaves on the trip.
Upon arrival at Livingston, a few people were waiting at the dock and showed us the way to the Guatemalan immigration office and then to the other dock where we took a public lancha from to get to our hostel. The immigration took like 2 minutes, no bag check, no questions, no proof of onward travel needed. So easy!
The hostel we had booked the evening before, was actually closed for renovations, so when we arrived there, they offered us to stay in the Finca Tatin, same owner, but a little pricier and nicer. We did get our double cabin for the same price though, as we had the reservation (how lucky!). Their shuttle boat picked us up and it was another 5 minutes to get to the Finca. The ride along the River Dulce was a beautiful one, through a lush green rainforest and a canyon to the right. We could hear thousands of birds, some howler monkeys and were overwhelmed by the beauty of nature.
When we got to the hostel, it exceeded our expectations! A beautiful wooden house, with no walls – completetely open to the sides, with a dozen colourful hammocks, a pool table, big dinner room and kitchen (not communal) surrounded by the Guatemalan jungle. It is actually built on the water and all the bedroom cabins (they offer private and dorms) are a little walk through the jungle from the common space with the hammocks. They had a generator and also solar light and a charging station for electronic devices. There`s no wifi, being in the middle of the jungle, which was really nice. We got to talk to so many other backpackers, had dinner all together at a long table and were all enjoying our time together instead of everyone starring onto their phone screens. A truly natural experience in the most stunning surroundings you can imagine.
We rented kayaks the next day and did a 3 hour paddle back to Livingston together with two other travellers. So we got to see the canyon again and had a drink in Livingston before being picked up by the hostel lancha at 4pm. I loved the evenings there as everyone gathered together to play cards, share travel stories and have a couple of beers.
Their kitchen was open from 8am to 3pm and within that time we were able to order breakfast and lunch individually. There were really good options, also for vegetarians and vegans and they asked us upon arrival whether we would like to have vegetarian dinners. Dinner was at 7 and I loved the atmosphere of everyone sitting down together and enjoying a great 2-course meal.
The reality of our stay was so much better than our expectations (click here) – I would never have imagined to enjoy this trip that much! Of course I had high hopes, but you never know. Especially as being in the middle of the jungle can also mean tons of insects crawling around and mosquitos, but surprisingly that wasn`t even the case! Yes, there were a few, but we have definitely stayed in places with a lot more bugs around. I am so happy we stayed at Rio Dulce, I really wouldn`t want to miss the past few days. We are leaving with great memories and new friendships!