Escape to Guatemala's Caribbean coast on this action-packed 6-day itinerary. Starting from the capital of Guatemala City, set out towards the east coast to discover a whole new side of the country's culture and scenery. Visit magical hot spring waterfalls, kayak the waterways of the Río Dulce, and experience Caribbean Garifuna culture in Livingston.

Highlights

  • Explore the beautiful Río Dulce area by kayak
  • Bathe under a unique hot spring waterfall in Finca Paraiso
  • See the majestic stelae of the Quiriguá Ruins
  • Experience the Caribbean culture of Livingston

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City  Guatemala City
Day 2 Transfer to Río Dulce & Finca Paraiso Hot Springs Río Dulce
Day 3 Kayak the Río Dulce to Río Tatin Río Dulce
Day 4 Kayak the Río Dulce to Livingston Livingston
Day 5 Boat to Rio Dulce, Visit the Quiriguá Ruins & Transfer to Guatemala City Guatemala City
Day 6 Depart Guatemala City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City

Guatemala City's main plaza
Guatemala City's main plaza

Welcome to Guatemala! Upon arriving at Guatemala City International Airport, you will be met outside the airport by your driver and transferred to your hotel.

Depending on your arrival time, you can spend the rest of the day relaxing or discovering the city at your leisure. Explore the city's neighborhoods, relax at the hotel, or enjoy local cuisine at nearby wine bars and bistros. For a more in-depth excursion, book a historical city tour or a day trip to nearby Antigua.

Day 2: Transfer to Rio Dulce & Finca Paraiso Hot Springs

Finca Paraiso Hot Springs Waterfall
Hot springs meet cool water at the Finca Paraiso Waterfall

Today starts at dawn, with an early transfer taking you on the 5-6 hour journey from Guatemala’s mountainous west to her tropical east coast.  After a short breakfast on the outskirts of Guatemala City, you'll continue heading northeast through the morning, traversing a wide range of diverse climates, terrain, and topography.  

Crossing over Central America’s longest bridge, enter the Río Dulce and continue the last 20 miles of your trip to arrive at Finca Paraiso on the shores of Lago Izabal—Guatemala’s largest freshwater lake. The idyllic Finca Paraiso is created by a tropical stream inlet of the lake, where thermally heated waterfalls cascade into a cool and deep natural swimming pool. Enjoy a group lunch here, then continue upstream for 20 minutes to reach the mouth of a submerged cave, where you can go swimming and explore deeper with headlamps.

Afterward, head back to the mouth of the  Río Dulce to check in at your waterfront cabanas on the old tropical plantation of Hacienda Tijax.  Here you'll enjoy a delicious seafood dinner and sleep peacefully on your first night by the river.

Day 3: Kayak the Río Dulce to Río Tatin 

Paddling along Rio Dulce
Spot local wildlife as you paddle down the Río Dulce 

After a hearty breakfast at the hotel, take a 45-minute boat ride downstream through the beautiful Golfete, where you can leave your luggage with the boat driver and get settled into your kayaks for the day.

The waterways throughout the Biotopo Chocon Machacas Manatee Reserve are full of lagoons, creeks, local birds, and wildlife. Spend all morning in this playground for paddlers, and arrive (with a big appetite) around mid-day at a tasty local river restaurant renowned for the region’s famous tapado—fresh seafood soup.  

After lunch, your group continues further downriver, stopping off at natural hot springs and caves for a swim and rejuvenating mineral soak.  Further downstream, you'll follow a small tributary (Río Tatin) to reach the riverside dock of your hotel for the night. Get settled in and spend the evening enjoying the symphony of jungle sounds that fill the air after nightfall. 

Day 4: Kayak the Río Dulce to Livingston

Paddling along Rio Dulce
Kayak through the limestone canyons of the Río Dulce

Rise early this morning to spot some of the many beautiful birds that gather at the hotel’s riverside dock before breakfast. After preparing the kayaks and packs for the day, your first stop is just upstream at the local indigenous association of Ak’ Tenamit, where artisans from Río Dulce communities employ sustainable natural resources such as banana leaves and coconuts to fashion the unique handicrafts available for sale.  

Continue paddling downstream for the morning through the steep limestone canyons of the lower Río Dulce, finally arriving at the river’s mouth and the coastal town of Livingston. Here you can pick up some great Caribbean seafood in a favorite local restaurant, and take the rest of the afternoon to walk around this relaxed and funky beach community, renowned as the only town in Guatemala which hosts Caribbean Garifuna culture.  

Check in to your waterfront hotel just a short walk from the town center, then head to a local restaurant for dinner to enjoy some cool drinks to beat the coastal heat, and satisfy the appetite you worked up on the river today.

Day 5: Boat to Rio Dulce, Visit the Quiriguá Ruins & Transfer to Guatemala City

Returning to Livingston
Visit the ancient Mayan ruins of Quiriguá

After breakfast, your group will embark on a 1.5-hour boat ride back upriver to your transport in Río Dulce. After loading up the van and waving goodbye to the coconut trees and river otters, you'll head back westward towards the Guatemalan highlands.  

Break up today’s drive with a visit to the Mayan ruins of Quiriguá— home to the largest and best-preserved carved stelae (ancient rock monuments) in all of Central America.  Enjoy lunch on the road, and arrive back in Guatemala City late in the afternoon/evening depending on road conditions.

Day 6: Depart Guatemala City

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Guatemala in Guatemala City
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Guatemala in Guatemala City

Your time in Guatemala comes to a close today, as you transfer to the airport to catch your departing flight. ¡Buen viaje!

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