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23. Mar, 2011

Tikal Guatemala

Tikal Guatemala

Armed with way too much accumulated luggage (we had to buy another huge bag!), we have now headed off on the overland part of the trip to reach the Pacific coast. We are meeting friends Sara & Stof for part of their adventure aboard their vessel The Takalani – more to follow! Check out www.stofnsara.com

One of our main stops en route has been the amazing ruins of the Mayan City, Tikal. Its one of the biggest ancient Mayan cities, an eerily beautiful place in the middle of the jungle with ruins dating back to as far as 700BC.

Its right on the ‘gringo trail‘ of Central America so the crowds can get intense but we sneakily planned our visits for late afternoon, and then again early the following morning and surprisingly felt like we had the place almost to ourselves! The mosquitos might have partly explained why!

We managed a 4.30am start to catch the sunrise, climbing to the top of the highest temple which was really magical (even though there was no sunrise due to a cloudy horizon!). As it starts to get light the jungle becomes alive with sounds of animals, particularly the howler monkeys (which make a sound more like a lion roar!) with different troops answering each other across the tree tops. Other animals join in the raucous and as it becomes lighter you start to see the outline of these amazing temples emerging out of the jungle below. Felt like proper Indiana Joneses! (insert soundtrack here… da da dah!)

Next stop Mexico City en route to the HillRats!

19. Mar, 2011

Sailing into the ‘sea’ of green…

Sailing into the ‘sea’ of green…

Phew… its been a blogging while, so lots to catch up on! Apart from the drama’s mentioned before we spent a wonderful few days in the beautiful and remote Sapodilla Islands far south in Belize. This area is a marine reserve and the southern end of the Belizean barrier reef, the second longest barrier reef in the world.

We were the only boat anchored off tiny islands surrounded by crystal clear waters and stunning snorkeling all around. It is an amazing feeling to be able to jump off the back of the boat and snorkel incredible reefs all around. Whenever we arrived and anchored at a new islands, we were greeted by huge majestic Spotted Eagle Rays ‘flying by’. (interested in what the anchor would bring up). They allowed us to swim with them and admire them. Its quite funny when you try and follow them, they dart off, but as soon as you turn around and pretend not to be interested (which is difficult – they are stunning!) they swim/fly along with you.


It was quite a surreal feeling as we set sail on our last voyage in Pako (our little home for the last few months) to the Rio Dulce River in Guatemala, the last stop and storage place for the boat for remainder of year.

We arrived in Livingston, the entrance to the Rio Dulce (Sweet River) early in the morning to check into Guatemala. Rio Dulce is an incredible deep river that you can sail up for over 20 miles, the only problem being an incredibly shallow river mouth bank (about 6ft) that you need to get over to get into the river. Luckily we entered with the right tide and was a beautiful drama free entry!

After all the check in formalities (and handing over of lots of money) we were ready to head up the river.

This river trip is breathtakingly beautiful. It starts in a gorge with huge cliffs covered in jungle, emerald green water, tropical birds and monkeys…such a huge contrast from the starkness of the remote Sapodilla islands.

We made our way very slowly up the river trying to take it all in. We stopped halfway in a small marina in the jungle. Rio Dulce/Livingston area is a strange place, incredibly beautiful, very remote and ….a place where people can disappear… It has no road access and it seems to be the place where dropouts, people ‘staying away’ from their countries (for various reasons!) hang out for years. We met drug-runners, Polish New York taxi drivers and very salty sea dogs with tales of surviving hurricanes to name a few!

We explored the river in kayaks, a wonderful experience to get a feel for life on the river. Small children paddled past in tiny dugouts in their school uniforms on their way to school (so sweet!)…

The big Pako pack up felt like a huge challenge in the sweltering heat on the river. In a display of ‘closure’ to the Pako adventure the cockroaches seemed to be making a reappearance much to our horror!  We turned the boat upside down, inside out cleaning and sorting out all our stuff.

We managed to handover all our excess food to a big orphanage (Casa Guatemala) on the river.

We thought we might feel relieved to arrive in Guatemala and leave Pako safely after all the boat hassles, but we were really sad to say goodbye…the end of Pako days, maybe we will see her again someday!