Days 73-74: Rio Dulce, Guatemala

After Tikal, we skirted the border of Belize and continued south. I was intrigued by the guide book’s description of the Rio Dulce River as it made its way from Lago de Izabel to the Caribbean Ocean. It sounded lovely: a gorgeous azure river, towering canyon walls, tropical vegetation teeming with monkeys, birds, and other exotic critters.

And I’m sure it was lovely but the prices they quoted us upon arrival were sky high and after long days of driving I wasn’t willing to sit any longer, be it in a car or an open boat. We nixed our water tour in favor of lounging by the pool, jumping on the trampoline, and basically being very, very lazy.

We did tour the local castle, which was a a nice little gem.

Surprisingly, Guatemala has been significantly more expensive than Mexico for gas, food, and lodging. Our hotel, while nice, was the most we’ve paid thus far on the trip. It was also the off season: by the second day, we were the only guests in a lodge that can sleep hundreds.

Constructed in 1644, El Castillo de San Felipe was strategically located at a narrow bend in the river with the intention of protecting the town from marauding pirates. 

That strategy worked well until it was sacked by the above-mentioned pirates a few years later.



It was then used as a prison until it was restored to it’s former glory as a fort (and museum) in the 1950s. 


Highlight for the kids: seeing a bat! (Who was not really amused to see us.)


Also: pretending that they were defending the castle from bloodthirsty English pirates. 

Ben’s buddies back in Seattle also started the school year. Our kid was pretty glum about that event as he’s missing his friends and loves the social aspect of his class. He’s still undecided on the academic aspect of school. 🙂

And what is done by Ben must be repeated with Emma. This little girlie hates to be left behind. 

One first grader, one preschooler, one proud papa. 


And that, my dears, was our sprint through Guatemala. Next up: two long car days in Honduras.


Current Route: Here. Instagram: Here.


Lodging Details: Banana Palms Inn



  • Tom

    So, the guy in the canoe doesn’t stand a chance against that canon! Nice pic. The canoe itself is interesting, with the shape of a dugout but probably rendered in some other material?
    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a masonry cannon carriage. I’m thinking that’s historical artistic license.
    Your photography continues to amaze us, not least for your success in scoring totally sweet pictures of the kids.

  • Sonja

    I can’t comment to the canoe construction but I will concur with your assessment that artistic license was taken with the reconstruction project in the 1950s. Ben and Emma had a lovely time playing “Defenders of the Fort” and generally running amok. Fortunately the only other visitors were some very nice LDS missionaries who looked like they wanted to join in the pirate/soldier games.

    This particular harbor has been deemed (perhaps by the US Government?) as the safest spot in the Caribbean to weather (or perhaps avoid) hurricanes so there were a number of fancy watercraft, mostly of the catamaran variety. Given the number of massive hurricanes that have formed this year, perhaps seeking shelter in a protected cove isn’t a bad idea…

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