Blogs from Flores, Petén Region, Guatemala, Central America Caribbean

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Guatemala was my first chance to pause after a couple of months of consistent travel up from Panama (oh the woes of the modern traveller!). I headed straight for its second city, Xela, partly because it was the gateway to a two day climb of Central America's highest peak and partly because the language schools were so incredibly cheap. I enrolled with Utatlan, where USD 155 got me 20 hours of private tuition, 7 days living with a family less than 10 minutes walk from the school, and 3 meals a day with the family! It was incredible value, given that by the time I'm next in London I'm sure a round of 4 pints will probably cost about the same!! For the real penny pinchers, I saw the same package offered with some of the ... read more
Early stage of the sunrise on the walk to the Tajumulco summit
View from the roof of Central America
Lago Atitlan - just before the clouds rolled in!!!


Flores is a small beautiful island on Lago Peten Izta which you can access from Santa Elena. It didn't seem like there was a huge amount to do here apart from chill out, go for a swim in the lake, or kayaking. After a long 13 hour bus journey the day before, I decided that I wanted to take it easy and not wake up too early. Because I had extra time in bed to catch up on lost sleep, I decided that I would like to do kayaking for an hour or two in the afternoon and then do the group plan in the evening which involved drinking alcohol, chilling and watching the sunset. As I planned to go kayaking in the afternoon I had some spare time in the morning, so I walked over ... read more
View from my hotel
Me kayaking
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After eating our last breakfast burritos, we boarded the 8.30amboat to belize city. The boat was half an hour late and arrived near 10. We met up with the driver of the shuttle we had bought tickets for and were surprise to find we were the only ones on board. We stretched out in the old van and tried to sleep the 6 hour bumpy ride through country side and dirt roads. The driver stopped a few times for personal errands such as picking up bananas from a market and bulk supply of milk which he delivered at the border. We arrived at the border just after lunch time and payed our legit exit fee of belize. We then proceeded to enter Guatemala. We went up to the desk to have our passport stamped being warned ... read more
Flores
Carey and I on top of the world
Look familiar? Scene from Star Wars.


With reciepts for every part of my five day tour in my hand I get on a tourist shuttle bus (minibus) at 5am for the journey to Lanquin. I was going to stay at El Retiro Lodge. I arrived at 4pm and they did not have a bed even though it had been booked in advance but they did offer me a hammock and some blankets and showed me the ladder up above reception so I could see the hammock swinging from the rafters. I decided against the hammock option and went with some Chilian travellors (who also had no luck getting beds that night) back down the hill into the town of Lanquin and found a nice little hotel with private room for almost the same price as the hammock. I had to be back ... read more
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View from bus on journey from Lanquin to Rio Dulce
Terripins sunning themselves, Rio Dulce


After a 4-5 hour bus ride, we arrived in Flores (Flore-ess). Well just outside of Flores which is an island connected to the mainland by a 600m causeway. The mob of taxi drivers awaiting our custom informed us it was a 3km walk to the island, they seemed surprised when we said we would walk, it turned out to be about 1.5km. We ended up in a small but clean hotel room, at $60 US, one of our more expensive rooms, but the hotel had a pool which was a bonus. Flores is the gateway to the Mayan archeological site, Tikal. An early morning start the next day and we were on our way out. The archeological site is impressive, it is set in lush deep rainforest, populated by wild animals; we saw deer, monkey, a ... read more
Cuba Libres
Muscle People!
Tikal

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We hope everyone at home had an amazing Christmas. It was great to speak to those of you who we could get hold off and apologies to anyone we couldn´t. The technology on Caye Caulker was not so great so we tried our best. Christmas was lovely. We went to the beach, had a piggy breakfast and lunch and then went to a barbecue Christmas dinner party at night (we still had turkey and cranberry sauce!) On boxing day we did a full day snorkelling trip. We got to snorkel along the second largest coral reef in the world. We swam with sharks (I touched one) Stingrays (we all touched one) and sea turtles (super cute) Rum Punch was included and Mark and I made sure we got good value for money and both ended up ... read more
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Moving towards the coast! We decided to take an earlier bus from Tikal, so that meant we had to arrange a local transport instead of the prearranged bus. (Think small chicken bus.) At 11:00 (on time!) the bus arrived and we jumped right on it. We were extremely pleased to see that we were the only ones in the bus (extra-large minivan) and had our pick of the seats. We chose the first row of seats and started to get comfortable. However, one of the hotel staff approached us and said to get into the front passenger’s and middle seats. They looked small and cramped and we thought, out load but only to each other, are you nuts? The staff member assured us that we would find the smaller seats in the front much better in ... read more
Tikal Turkeys everywhere!
Casa Azul... nice.
Cool Beans!!!


Flores, Guatemala Second border crossing under our belts we arrived in the small lake town of Flores. A small island on a huge lake in northern Guatemala. Every backpackers nightmare, our reservation at Los Amigos didn't exist! Thankfully they squeezed us in, and I mean squeezed, three beds between five people for the first night in a sweltering hot room with no working fans.. Met two lovely Guatemalan girls who had had the same trouble and ended up all going for dinner together. They were both from Guatemala city, really lovely and spoke great english thank god! After no sleep that night we were ins bus to Tikal at 4am the next morning. Tikal is north of Flores and is a huge site of Mayan ruins In the jungle, I think the most impressive of the ... read more
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Flores and Semuc Champey Flores in El Peten is an island on the lake named Lago de Peten Itza which is accessed by a causeway from the adjacent much busier town of Santa Elena. The island is characterised by backpacker hostels, hotels, bars and restaurants punctuated by the occasional tourist agencies which bound the cobbled streets. On arrival we sought to spend the night in Los Amigos, a laid back yet party orientated hostel which is extremely popular with many backpackers. Unfortunately our late arrival meant we couldn’t stay there as they were fully booked. We therefore shuffled down the street to hotel Mirador Del Lago which offered rooms with an amazing view of the adjacent lake. This lake is so warm that despite my shortcomings as a swimmer I took the plunge. This was a ... read more
Star Wars Scene
Luis and His Bugs
Colonial Antigua


Samuc Champey! This town well exceeded my expectations. It was a bit difficult to get to, specially driving there at night in a middle of a storm, so instead I spent the first night in Lanquin which is about 10km away. I took the first shuttle in the morning to Samuc Champey and stayed at a place called El Portal Hostel. This place was literally in the middle of nowhere, in order to get there I had to ride in the back of a pickup truck for about 45minutes through dense jungle and mountain trails on a dirt road. Once there, I signed up for the Samuc Champey tour which consisted of a decent hike to get a panoramic view of the 16 famous turquoise pools, then hiking back down and swimming in them, followed by ... read more
Random things in the jungle
the ride to el portal hostel
The bridge to El Portal Hostel




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