Rio Dulce, meaning Sweet River, is a river in Guatemala. We stayed at a hotel called Tortugal which we accessed by boat. We stayed in bungalows that were on stilts above the river and it was just amazing. A great spot to relax, sunbathe, swim and enjoy happy hour cocktails.
A worthwhile activity to do from Rio Dulce is to visit the hot springs. I think they are called Finca El Paraiso and can be found near the small town of El Estor. From the car park it is a short ten minute hike in. The river is ‘cold’ water, by that I mean it is called cold water but is actually quite warm by the standards of a Tasmanian. The water from the waterfall however is hot, and I genuinely mean hot, close to boiling. It’s absolutely awesome to swim around and then be massaged by the falling hot water from the waterfall.
Our visit to Flores was an overnight stop on the way to Tikal. We arrived in the evening and left at 5am. We stayed in a lakeside resort with a gorgeous view. For dinner we wandered over to the town which was on another little island, we saw a beautiful sunset, some super cute little buildings and enjoyed happy hour at a roof top bar.
Tikal is another Mayan archaeological site, but compared to the others we had visited it was a great deal bigger and felt a bit more raw and natural. Each temple was a short jungle hike away from the next. We only saw about 2% of the park as it is simply enormous. The site is over 400 square kilometres and is in Guatemala, but reasonably close to the border of Belize.
Tikal is a more recent name given to the site and it means “Voices of the Spirits”. The jungle in which the site can be found makes all sorts of noises, particularly eerie are the howler monkeys. It was from these noises that it got the name Tikal. Its real name however, is Mutul.
Many people believe that the Mayans regularly made sacrifices to the gods, particularly human sacrifice. In later years and in other places human sacrifice became more prominent in the culture, however at the when Tikal was inhabited it was not very common and was only done for very special occasions. An example is when someone wins a particular type of ball game. They person who wins is honoured with being sacrificed to the gods. They are cut below the rib, then green obsidian is used to cut through everything else to make a passage to the heart. Then they reach in and pull out the heart to sacrifice, they burn it as incense and the smoke will rise up and appease the gods.
All the temples we saw were simply stunning, and it’s always such a wonder that they were able to create such large and beautiful structures with none of the tools we have today. They really were very innovative!
In addition to the stunning buildings, the jungle was just gorgeous. We were lucky enough to see spider monkeys, grey foxes and toucans. We briefly heard howler monkeys but only at a distance.