Hacienda Tijax Hotel & Jungle Lodge in Rio Dulce
Cayo Grande, Guatemala
After Flores we were slightly dismayed to find that we would once again be staying in aJungle Lodge and so were not exactly excited to see our basic accomodation! I am happy to say we were wrong to prejudge!
We arrived by bus then boat to the Hacienda Tijax Hotel & Jungle Lodge in Rio Dulc, Guatemala! All of the chalets were quite large with 2 or 3 beds in a completly white room with white bedding and white mosquito drapes (the ones that look elegant, not as if you are hiding in a dirty net). We did not have ensuites but the toliets were decent with a good shower. All of the shalets were made of wood but with thatched roofs and linked to eachother and the communal area by wooden stilted pathways. There was also a lovely pool with two jacuzzies (quite cold though so only the brave went for a dip). The food was also on time and very nice, and the cocktails were large and well made for decent prices! On our first evening Adriana got a local quidxe to give us the options for the next day tours. Some people decided to go for the afternoon hike leading to a high tower to do some yoga. (not me). Then ten of us opted for a 5.30am morning Kayak trip to see the Howler monkeys living in the trees surrounding the lakes(yes it was early and i was even surprised that i agreed to this!). In the afternoon Adriana was going to take us herself to see the Hot Spring waterfalls on the far side of the lake.
We woke at 5 and went to wait for the local Mayan guide (Mayan is spokenhere which is similar to Spanish, and also basic Spanish is spoken). He spoke no english so guided us to the Kayaks. There were a rtange of single and dual Kayaks so we all hopped in and made our way out of the jetty. It was dusk at this stage so the Kayak was very enjoyable as we madeour way across the lake in the dark as the sun was slowly risig up past the surrounding mountains and trees. I have never Kayaked in the dark before and would highly reccomment this tour. As the sun was rising we approached the Howler monkey area of the lake and make our way into whacould be described as a jungle lagoon with some algae on the water surface and vines coming from the trees. We could hear the load howls of the monkeys. There were quite a lot of lake boats in this area but i have no idea how you could sleep with that noise in the background! rather them than me! As we kayaked into the shallower lagoons nearer to some locals stilt huts we could see the moneky familes swinging from the trees and playing with eachother. Definelty a high point of the trip so far!
On our retun at 7.30am we had breakfast them met the others beforfe we got the boat for 50minutes to El Paradiso . We then had totravelby tractor we we jumped on a wooden trailer and took the journey to the hot springs. In this area the land was a mix of jungle and arable land where coyboys weremoving their cattle while local Mayan women were washing their clothes in the shallow river beneath the trees. It was very warm and sunny which was brilliant! After a short walk along the riverbank whcih was hilly and covered in threesand some rounded stones we reached the springs and jumped into the pool of water infront of the waterfalls. The water falling was really warm, hotter than your average shower. We stayed here for quite a while as there are rock ledges beneath the waterfall where the water breaks. We also climbed to the top of the waterfall to get some of the sulphur mud (the smell of sulphur was actuall quite strong, very similar to rotten eggs but not as bad) and putit on ourselves for a self sevre spa treatment ahha. Wealso spend some time jumping of the rocks and just having a good time. As the area is quite unknown it was many our group and some local children. We were advised by Adriana at no point to give the children money, as they ask for it all the time and this would not help their situation. Adriana had also made us a great picnic of home made salsa,guacamole, tacos, refried beans, tuna etc! we were all very grateful for it!
All in all this was a great stay (except the couple in our group got broken into and hada bag split open and itrems such a laptop, phones, money taken which put quite adowner on the day. They had secured thir belongings as much as possible but if people really want to break in and take your stuff they wil, you canonly prevent so much). As least they have their passports and did not get harmed. The kayak and the hot springs were especially good, especially as the hot springs arenot an organised tour, she just knew about it so did it herself. I would reccomend this stay to other people!