Wooden houses on stilts with palm leaf roofs on riverbank of the Rio Dulce in Guatemala

Río Dulce

Submerged in an ecosystem resembling the richness of the Amazon forest, in an area extending from Lake Izabal and its many rivers to where it merges with the Caribbean ocean, possesses the highest biological diversity in the country. Shimmering beneath the hot tropical sun, this sweltering coastline is cooled by ocean breezes and is the destination that best represents the essence of this department. While cruising its waters, keep an eye out of the large variety of fish-eating birds such as pelicans, swooping down from the sky. It is also home to the Quiche Mayans, whom can be seen in their huts and dugout canoes fishing the river waters.

Beach at Izabal Lake Guatemala

Lago de Izabal

It is the largest lake in Guatemala, covering an area of 235 square miles, and is surrounded by beautiful beaches at El Estor, Mariscos, and Playa Dorada, as well as by exuberant vegetation that offers the visitor a grand panorama. With all this water, every imaginable water sport is practiced here, in addition to providing peaceful and undiscovered beaches. Boat excursions up the many streams and waterways leading into the lake are also a great adventure.

Boat anchored off tropical beach in late afternoon light, Livingston, Guatemala

Livingston

Accessible only by boat, at the delta of the Rio Dulce on the Caribbean coast, lies this Afro-Caribbean town called Livingston. It is a lively little town populated by mostly Garifuna blacks, whose origin and culture stems from escaped West African slaves. This town feels more like Jamaica than any town in Guatemala, where brightly colored houses are common, and reggae melodies mixed with latine sounds are heard throughout. The town is the main fishing hub in the Bay of Amatique and is only accessible by boat.

Castillo de San Felipe, located in the shore of Lake Izabal, Guatemala.

San Felipe Castle

This fort is a National Historical Monument. Built in 1652, it was used as a first line of defense against mainly British pirates entering Guatemala’s Atlantic coast during the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, it is one of the area’s greatest tourist attractions and famous castles on Central America’s Atlantic coast.

Kayaking at Amatique Bay

Amatique Bay

Without doubt, this is a very pleasant trip within the marine environment of this area. The bay has white sand beaches, forests, and multiple scenic sites, among which are Punta Cocolí, Punta de Palma, Bahía de Santo Tomás, and Balneafama. The bay also offers ecological tourism activities.

Agua Caliente Fall at Finca el Paraíso Izabal Guatemala

Finca El Paraiso

Nestled in tropical flora, resplendent pools of cool river water, met by a hot volcanic waterfall, is what awaits you at Finca el Paraiso. A fabulous one hour boat ride from Rio Dulce will get you there. It is also a great place to rent horses and ride though a private cattle ranch, another great experience you don’t want to miss.

Chocón-Machacas Biotope

This flora and fauna reserve is located near the north shore of El Golfete, and is a protected area of extraordinary natural wealth. It has guided footpaths, campsites, marinas, boats for hire, and other services. It is the habitat of the manatee, in danger of extinction.

Mayan archaeological Site of Quirigua on Guatemala

Quiriguá

Founded around 250-550 AD by people who came from the Tikal area, it is today the most impressive archaeological reminder of the Maya Early Classic Period. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1979. It possesses the highest stele in the Maya World. Just a short distance from Rio Dulce, it is located in the lower valley of the Río Motagua. This site has a central plaza, a ball court, an acropolis, and many zoomorphic figures.

Cerro San Gil – Rainforest Reserve

Cerro San Gil is a large tropical rainforest reserve that starts at the river and meets with the Caribbean sea, ideal for hiking, birdwatching and birdwatching, where over 300 species of birds exist, making it one of the richest in terms of biodiversity i the continent. Its abundant natural ecology will dazzle you. Mountain biking trips may also be organised.

Sarstún River Scenic Route

Separating Belize from Izabal, the Sarstún River is a historical route as well as a tourist rout of unusual scenic value. It meandering course is bordered by mangroves and reeds, and its river port of Modesto Méndez connects with Amatique Bay.

Río Las Escobas

This river originates in Cerro San Gil. It tumbles down the side of the mountain creating cascades, rapids, and hidden inlets of singular beauty. It empties into the Santo Tomás bay amidst unexpectedly cool pools.

Man water skiing at sunset.

Water Sports

Water-skiing, fishing, scuba diving, kayaking and more… With so much water in Lake Izabal, the canyons, canals, rivers and of course the Caribbean sea, the Rio Dulce area could be called aqua country, and any water sport lovers heaven. Clear and glassy rivers and lakes make for perfect conditions to practice your favorite water sports. The lake also provides fabulous opportunities for archeological scuba diving, and with the most pristine Belizean cays just a few hours away by boat, a day or more of world class diving and snorkeling easily becomes part of the program.

Discovery Tours going to this location: