We drove through the green and scenic countryside to Rio Dulce a town on a lake near the Caribbean coast of Guatemala. We parked at Bruno's hotel which was set right on the water and was used as a Marina for yachts. Supposedly this is the safest place to moor in the hurricane season. It was a lovely sunny day for a change so after a walk in town the girls took advantage of the pool. We also decided to buy tickets for the boat trip the following day to Livingston on the coast.
When we woke up the next morning the rain was back. Undeterred we still went for the boat trip. The rain just got heavier. Still the boat did the 2 hour cruise in the rain. We could see that on another day it would have been very pretty but instead we were just getting wet. Along the way there was a fort, great wildlife and some hot springs but it all got a bit lost in the rain.
Fortunately the boat had plastic tarpaulins and we were able to wrap ourselves in these to keep a bit dry.
When we arrived in Livingston it was still raining so with 2 hours to kill we headed straight to a restaurant for some lunch where we tried the local speciality Tapado.
After that it was another wet ride back to Rio Dulce. Arriving back at the truck we changed ourselves out of our wet clothes and locked ourselves away in the truck for the rest of the day watching movies.
The next day we had a long drive to Antigua. As we left the coast and headed up into the highlands the clouds cleared and the sun came out. We also took the opportunity to have the truck washed to get rid of all the mud as there were young lads with power washes along the side of the road.
In Antigua everyone camps in the grounds of the Tourist Police. There are not many facilities and it is a bit run down but it is right in the middle of town and it is free. When we arrived in Antigua we were stopped by the police from entering the town as it is an old colonial town with cobbled streets so they do not want big trucks driving around. However they only wanted to take down our details and then we were given a police escort to the campsite.
At the campsite there were a number of other overlanding vehicles including our Brazilian friends Andre, Marcia and Olivia. The kids were soon playing happily with each other whilst we were catching up on each other's trips.
Antigua is a beautiful old colonial town surrounded by volcanos. It used to be the Spanish capital in Guatemala but was largely destroyed by an earthquake. It has been restored and whilst it is a bit touristy it is nice to spend some time where there is plenty to do as well as having a lot of home comforts and good food to hand. It is at over 1500 m in the highlands so is a bit cooler, however more importantly it is sunny and dry and biting insect free. This immediately lifted our moods and we knew we would enjoy our next few days in Antigua.
The next morning we set out to discover the town. We spent a pleasant morning wandering around the old cobbled streets, looking at the churches, many still half destroyed from earthquakes and having lunch in a nice cafe.
Guatemala is famous for its colourful old buses and we saw many of these on the streets of Antigua.
That evening we went out for sushi with our Brazilian friends to say good bye as they were leaving for El Salvador the next morning.
As for us we had to be up at 5 the next morning as we had a volcano to climb. A minibus picked us up from the campground at 6 and whilst initially it was nice to have someone else do the driving for a change I think I prefer driving myself as it's much safer. We traveled to Volcano Pacayu where we hiked for about 2 hours to over 2250m up to the lava field. You can not go right to the top as it is still smoking. Along the way we had fabulous views of the other volcanos nearby.
The girls did a great job hiking and we hardly slowed the group we were with down at all. At the top there were vents with hot air coming out so it was possible to toast marshmallows in them.
After the exertions of climbing a volcano before 9 in the morning we spent the afternoon relaxing. We have great views from the top of our truck at the campsite of the volcanos around Antigua.
Even if the campsite views themselves leave a little to be desired.