Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer travels: Jungle & river (part 3)

Our journey through Guatemala continues...there was a beautiful mist covering the treetops our last morning in the Verapaz mountains...

Mist in the morning
Misty green in the morning

Dan and I made our way north to the jungle of Peten, taking a "shuttle" that involved first riding a pick-up truck through the twisty-turny, bumpy, muddy roads to Lanquin, where we switched to a van with more passengers...then we actually backtracked to Coban, which we had visited days earlier...argh! But after that, the driver went very, very fast...one of our fellow travelers called the ride "terrifying," and I would have to agree. But we arrived safely, and it was nearly dusk when Dan and I walked to the shore of Lake Peten Itza in El Remate.

Blue of Lake Peten Itza
Shades of blue

There were people swimming in the lake, and we went for a dip before dark as well...the water was quite warm.

Swimming in Lake Peten Itza
Swimmers in the lake

The next morning we went to Tikal, where walked through the jungle and climbed several tall Mayan ruins.

A pyramid at Tikal
Tall pyramid in the Gran Plaza

Other pyramids at Tikal
Pyramids in the jungle

Carol at Tikal
Atop a pyramid, more in the distance

Even more exciting, we saw toucans! One toucan turned its head from side to side, showing off its colorfull bill...it was so cute! We also saw monkeys swinging in the treetops, oscillated turkeys pecking on the ground, and many Montezuma's oropendolas with their bright yellow tail feathers and long, woven nests hanging from the tree branches.

After a big rainstorm in the afternoon, we walked along the shore of Lake Peten Itza, looking for birds and other wildlife. Other than the occasional rooster crowing and motorcycle speeding by, it is very quiet and serene.

Horses on Lake Peten Itza
Horses by the lake

Lake Peten Itza
Palapa on a pier

The next morning we headed south to Rio Dulce, near the Carribean coast. Many lodges and hotels are located along the river, where fancy boats are docked as well...we stayed in a bungalow at Tortugal.

Rio Dulce
Rio Dulce

Tortugal
Approaching Tortugal from the water taxi

The afternoon we arrived, we took a bus from town to the hot springs at Finca El Paraiso. A guide showed us the way through the forested trails to the source of the hot springs...there had been rain in recent days, so the river was silty and not a beautiful emerald green...but the hot springs were still amazing...waterfalls of hot water flowing over a cave into the cold water of the river. The guide pointed above the waterfall, where there were pools of hot water, so we climbed up the rocks over the cave to soak in the hot pools...it started to rain, and we could smell the sulfur in the air...I also heard bats squeaking in the cave...it was so fun!

Carol & Dan at Finca el Paraiso
Refreshed from the hot springs

We saw a lot of cattle and banana plantations on the bus ride back to town. Dan was reading Bananas: How The United Fruit Company Shaped the World on our trip, so it was interesting to actually see the reality...in some places, bananas as far as the eye can see.

The next morning we took a boat trip down the Rio Dulce to the coastal town of Livingston. On the way we passed Castillo de San Felipe, an island where egrets and cormorants nest, lots of water lilies, local fisherman's boats, and we soaked in another spot where hot springs flow into the river...ahhh...

Rio Dulce
Shades of green

We had lunch in Livingston, where we tried the local specialty tapado, a coconut seafood stew, with plantains, crab, fish, and big shrimp... sooo yummy!

Dan eating tapado
Big bowl of yumminess

We walked around town after lunch and saw kids playing soccer on the beach. We also got coconut bread, coconut cookie bars, and coconut popsicles...then, after the boat ride back, we cooled off with a swim outside Tortugal.

Kids playing soccer in Livingston
Soccer by the Carribean

Carol eating coconut popsicle
Yay, a popsicle shop!

Dan swimming in Rio Dulce
Dan swimming in Rio Dulce

We enjoyed Rio Dulce, but it was time to move on...next up, crossing the border to Honduras!

1 comment:

snoopyjoanne said...

ooh we saw toucans when we were in playa del carmen...so cute! i was hoping to see monkeys swinging from the trees too but alas they were hiding :( and ooh all the coconut - YUM! it all sounds so wonderful...glad you had a great time!