Lago de Izabal is Guatemala’s largest lake. Most visitors stay at Río Dulce village, north of the bridge where Hwy CA-13, the road leading north to Flores and Tikal, crosses the lake. East of this bridge is the beautiful Río Dulce, which opens into El Golfete lake before flowing down into the Caribbean at Lívingston; the river trip was one of the highlights of my visit to eastern Guatemala. Other lake highlights include El Castillo de San Felipe (an old Spanish fortress) and the Bocas del Polochic river delta.
Lívingston is quite unlike anywhere else I have been to in Guatemala. Unconnected by road from the rest of the country (the town is called ‘Buga’ – mouth – in Garífuna, for its position at the river mouth), boat transportation is quite good here, and you can get to Belize with a minimum of fuss (in theory). Unfortunately, on the day that I arrived there was no direct boat to Punta Gorda (PG) in Belize. Thanks goes to a Garafuna, Pablo, who rang a Puerto Barrios boat to come and pick me up. Livingston is not the place you want to spend a night unless you are really desperate.
The Garífuna (Garinagu, or Black Carib) people of Lívingston and southern Belize are the descendants of Africans brought to the New World as slaves. They trace their roots to the Honduran island of Roatán, where they were forcibly settled by the British after the Garífuna revolt on the Caribbean island of St Vincent in 1795. From Roatán, the Garífuna people spread out along the Caribbean Coast, from Belize to Nicaragua. Intermarrying with the Carib people, as well as with Maya and shipwrecked sailors of other races, they’ve developed a distinct culture and language incorporating African, indígena and European elements. Lonely Planet guide to Central America.
Next stage: Belize.