Fields and mountains in the Lanquín area

The Lanquín area in Alta Verapaz is gorgeous. Rolling, green mountains, beautiful emerald rivers and a horizon cluttered with peaks and valleys in all directions. Clouds cling to the mountain tops in the mornings.

Photos taken over the course of a week spent in the Lanquín area.

Livingston hot springs and cave, reception

One of Livingston’s more interesting natural attractions are its cave systems and hot springs. There are actually plenty of caves and hot springs scattered throughout the Livingston area, but few are properly developed and regularly available to visit. The Community Project right on the Río Dulce is a different story.

Homes and trees in Livingston, Guatemala

I took a walking tour in Livingston, Izabal with a local artisan named Peachy. It cost me Q70 ($9.30), lasted a couple of hours and followed a haphazard crisscrossing pattern that covered plenty of ground. I went alone - better prices are available for groups. (Don't feel like reading? Skip to the slideshow.)

Alquimia Center for the Healing Arts, riverfront propert

Alquimia center for the Healing Arts is an interesting project along the southern shores of the beautiful Río Dulce. It’s from within this spacious and jungled property that Elisa Fusi teaches monthlong courses centered around Mayan medicine, curative and therapeutic plants, herbal remedies and intentional diets that support a healthy, present and aware lifestyle.

Elisa takes on interns for monthlong or several month courses, and arranges consultations and retreats centered around health, discovery and personal transformation. She aims for loose, adaptable methodologies, and says she helps students and guests explore the unique self-discovery options that may be best for them.

Comedor Mary in Livingston, Izabal

Livingston is a major port town on the east coast of Guatemala. It’s situated along the north side of the mouth of the Río Dulce, and serves as a jumping-off point for Belize and Honduras, as well as a port of entry into Guatemala’s Lake Izabal.

Livingston’s calle principal is lined with restaurants that serve all kinds of traditional and foreign foods, many of which are well worth a visit. Casa Nostra, which is about five minutes down your first left from the public dock, makes the best pizza for miles as well as a mean topada (seafood soup) and a variety of other dishes.

For those looking to spend a lot less - say Q20 ($2.65) or below - there are still plenty of options.

Immigration office in Livingston, Izabal

Guatemala issues ninety day visas to citizens of the United States and most western European countries, which is a good chunk of time to cruise around and see plenty of the country’s attractions.

Why extend your visa?

There are some people (myself included) who subscribe to a slow travel philosophy wherein ninety days may feel a little limiting. Truly longterm travelers who are able to find work on the road or work remotely may be in a position to stay in a foreign country for months on end or even years. So how do you deal with an expiring ninety day visa?

Las Siete Altares, Livingston, Guatemala

Livingston is hot, to say the least. Consistent, seasonal rains are restricted to May, June and a couple of weeks in December. Temperatures range between the 80’s (27° C) and low 100’s (37° C). If you’re in Livingston for more than a couple hours, chances are you’re going to want to swim.

Los Siete Altares

Los Siete Altares (the seven alters) are a series of small waterfalls about a thirty minute walk beyond the river Quehueche to the west of Livingston. The waterfalls and surrounding freshwater basins are encircled by a small park, open daily, with an entry fee of Q20. The park’s entrance features a small lounge that serves soft-drinks, beer and meals.

Casa Guatemala: three boys pose for a picture

At Casa Guatemala boys and girls from poverty stricken, rural households are given a hand up: free primary education, meals, healthcare and support. You can help.

What it is

Casa Guatemala provides free primary education, healthcare, meals and extracurricular development to some 250 underprivileged kids outside of Río Dulce, Izabal. The community, generally referred to as the Children’s Village, is made up of a full-time teaching staff and a volunteer corps of educators, medical personnel, activity coordinators and others.

Soap and key, soap reads 'hotel'

I have visited more than seventy Guatemalan hostels in the past six months, and have slept in beds running from Q25 per night to more than Q300. At each stop I speak to the owners or managers, take plenty of pictures, and ask guests about their experiences with the hospitality industry in Guatemala.

I’ve noticed a lot of common threads along the way — small, measurable details about hostels and accommodations that make an obvious impact on a guest’s experience. As a hostel it’s your reputation that matters most, and it’s your guests’ experience that builds that reputation. Winning new business today to the detriment of your reputation tomorrow is a one-way ticket to failure.

A bridge and blue water en-route the road to Parramos Grande

Parramos Grande is a beautiful area and tiny community in the mountainous highlands of El Quiché, Guatemala. It’s one of many stops identified by the book Trekking en la region Ixil, in the Schedule III four-day hike through Nebaj, Xexecom, Chortiz and Parramos Grande.

While Parramos Grande is certainly an excellent several day trekking destination, you can also make it a one-night trip from Nebaj or Acul with the help of a micro-bus / Chicken Bus (camioneta) and a little foreknowledge.


Meet The Writers

Elesha Piper
Aaron Owlex
Anna Sondergaard
Eric Toupin, blogger & web developer
Matt McGuire, blogger & photographer
Matt Wicks, traveler, writer, photographer