our guide to rio dulce, guatemala

A strangely constructed town, nestled under a towering bridge and with a highway running through it like an artery. The contrast between the most common method of entry into Rio Dulce – an idyllic boat ride from Livingston – and the constant bellow of trucks passing at speed through the main streets belching out bilious clouds of diesel fumes is marked.

However, set against the typical Guatemalan scenes of cowboy hatted gents and be-skirted groups of Maya ladies, this gives the town a strangely alluring charm.


Great for

Lots of people will just pass through here, but it's definitely worth spending the night and crossing the bridge (if staying at the main hostel) to play with the traffic.


Avoid if

If on a tight schedule to head north and visit Flores / Tikal, then the buses leave so frequently that you can make a hasty exit without too much difficulty.


Must do

The boat ride from/to Livingston is feted as as one of the best things to do in Guatemala. Although quite stunning, it fell a little short of the hype. Our suggestion to avoid being too underwhelmed is to make sure this trip doubles up as a transit option from city to city, rather than a stand-alone day trip. Cost per person is $125 GTQ.


Getting there/away

As above for the boat to Livingston.

Buses to Flores leave regularly, however those wanting a more luxury bus have limited daily options. Cost is $65 GTQ per person (4 hours).

Top tip

 Hostel Backpackers is touted as the only budget option. Yet, with prices starting at $50 GTQ for a densely populated dorm, it doesn't provide great value.

We found a perfectly adequate motel (Hotel Cafe SOl) 5 minutes from the bus station / 10 from the ferry terminal with a private double w/ bathroom for $70 GTQ total. Make sure to request a room without TV for this rate.

Budget-breaker or maker? 

Maker. Many cheap eats are available by the river and the above accommodation lets you enjoy the city named 'Sweet River' at a sweet price.  

heading to guatemala? check out the posts below!