Livingston, Guatemala

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What to See

Crocodile Pit

Check out the Crocodile Pit
by Mattfromtexas about 9 years ago
Check out the Crocodile Pit

There's a crocodile pit. Yea, that's right. A pit with crocodiles in it. It's right in the middle of the town park, between the docks and the public soccer/volleyball/basketball stadium. I think it was a fountain that wasn't maintained that someone dropped a couple of crocs into and they grew up. The residents of Livingston feed them raw chicken and stuff. The bigger one is about 9 feet long. There are no fences to keep children from falling in and no signs that say beware of live crocodiles. In fact, during the volleyball and soccer games, a ball or two will end up in the pit, and everyone gathers around until a brave sole jumps in to retrieve the ball. It's insane. Welcome to Livingston.

Siete Altares

Siete Altares waterfall, more cliff jumping
by Hacked By of youtube.com/fırlamaadam about 9 years ago
Siete Altares waterfall, more cliff jumping

From the entrance, allot about 20-30 minutes to maneuver the cascading pools to get to the main waterfall, where people cliff jump some 10-15 feet into the pool below. The water is cool and refreshing. Bring snacks, water, water shoes, and maybe a waterproof bag for your camera. The entrance fee is Q15 (or USD$2). I would make this at least a half-day trip. The pools/waterfall are a nice way to spend the day.

Save Money by Taking a Taxi to Siete Altares
by Mattfromtexas about 9 years ago

I didn't do this... I wish I had. Apparently, you can catch a taxi for Q.10 to the bridge on the way to Siete Altares. This will shave off about 45 minutes to an hour off the beach hike route. From there you cross the bridge, and continue along the beach until you see signs directing you up into the jungle (about a 30-minute walk). On the way back, you can hail a passing boat for a ride back to Livingston for Q.25 pp. The last one apparently passes by the dock around 4pm.

The Walk to Siete Altares is HORRIBLE - Take a Taxi or a Boat
by Mattfromtexas about 9 years ago
The Walk to Siete Altares is HORRIBLE - Take a Taxi or a Boat

The person who told you that you can walk to Siete Altares should have told you to take a boat. The walk to Livingston's Siete Altares is really not enjoyable. It takes about an hour and a half and the whole time you are walking along dirty sand, brown water, and a ton of plastic garbage that has washed up along the entire route. During high tide especially, you are forced to walk through this refuse leaving your mind to wonder when you are going to step on a syringe. You should take the boat 'tour' or save some money and take a taxi to the bridge (Q.10) and walk the rest of the way.

What to Do

Kayaking

Kayak and drinking on the Rio Dulce
by Malon about 9 years ago

We rented a Kayak at the Hotel La Casa Rosada (first street on the left when you come from the Docks) 100 Qz/day for a 2 to 3 person kayak. This Hotel is perfectly positioned to go easily to the river. After paddling for 2 hours on the Rio Dulce, we stopped and started to prepare the meal.

WARNING: You need to have a roommate able to make fire in the jungle unless you won't be able to cook your tortillas and eggs. (mine was a kind of Super Ranger) Bring rhum and coconuts for having drinks on the River.

And when you come back to Livingston, no need to paddle too much because of the current so let's enjoy the landscape drinking you coconut and rhum. I am waiting for your photos and feedback!

Swimming

How's the Beach in Livingston? What Beach?
by Mattfromtexas about 9 years ago
How's the Beach in Livingston?  What Beach?

There is no real stereotypical 'Caribbean Beach' in Livingston. The closest thing to one is Playa Blanca, an isolated beach only accessible by boat. I didn't make it there, so I can't speak to how nice it is. It costs Q100 for a round-trip boat ride (includes stopover at the Siete Altares), plus a small entrance fee. The beaches within walking distance to Livingston are not that nice as they play victim to the constant flow of sediment from the Rio Dulce and the current that brings a ton of plastic waste.

Where to Stay

Central

24-Hour Party Hostel in Livingston
by Mattfromtexas about 9 years ago
24-Hour Party Hostel in Livingston

Casa de La Iguana is THE party hostel in Livingston. The hostel is setup as a series of one and two-story buildings with dorms and private rooms with shared bath all situated around a main gazebo bar/restaurant. Happy hour is from 6 to 8pm, but there will be patrons and workers doing shots as early as 8am. This place has an awesome vibe. They do family-style dinners so everyone gets to know everyone else. Good music. Cool, chill people. Lots of fun. Hey Rusty, the beds and sheets could use an upgrade though. How to get there: When you get off the boat, there are 2 options... up the hill or to the left. Go to the left. It will be about 10 minutes down on the right side. It is right after you cross one of the little bridges. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you don't want to party, then you don't want to stay here. These guys bring the strong every single night. So come prepared.

What to Eat

Local Specialties

Seafood dish: ceviche with shrimps or fish/octopus
by Malon about 9 years ago

Ceviche is the best dish I ate in Guatemala. It is a kind of cold soup made of tomatoes, lemon and onion into which they add seafood such as shrimps (Ceviche Camaron) or fish/octopus (Ceviche Caracol). The seafood is cooked in this soup thanks to the acidity and takes all the flavours of the soup. You often eat it with crackers. A fresh and healthy dish that you MUST try in Livingston. I recommend the restaurant Gaby in the first street on the left when you come from the docks, 2 minutes walk. Ceviche for 50Qz and Tapado for 70Qz (you can take away the food if you prefer eatng on the beach) Enjoy.

The tapado, soup extraordinaire
by Hacked By of youtube.com/fırlamaadam about 9 years ago
The tapado, soup extraordinaire

This rich, flavorful, and hearty soup is made from coconut milk, seafood and shellfish (i.e., shrimp, fish, mussels) with plantain, herbs, and spices. We decided to try our tapado at Bahia Azul. Though they totally skimped on the seafood, we could still taste the soup's potential. A bowl of tapado can be quite sizable and probably should be shared between two people. Expect to pay about Q95 (USD$12) for a bowl.

The local shot
by Hacked By of youtube.com/fırlamaadam about 9 years ago

Gifiti (also, Guifiti), another local drink you will find in Livingston, is usually seen displayed at the front of a restaurant in a 5-liter Johnny Walker red bottle. You'll wonder what it is, walk over, unscrew the cap, and take a whiff. For Q10 more, you can actually have a taste. I found it to be quite potent and aromatic. You'll want a chaser. Gifiti is rum-based and flavored with herbs and roots. When in Rome....

The local drink
by Hacked By of youtube.com/fırlamaadam about 9 years ago
The local drink

You know you've thought about it. Maybe you've even imagined yourself doing it, cracking open a coconut and filling it up with rum. In Livingston, your dream drink is the local drink. You can find coco locos at just about any restaurant on the main drag. Be careful, though. This drink can sneak up on you! Coco locos run something like Q25-35 per coconut.

Restaurants

Garifuna deliciousness at Gamboa Place
by Hacked By of youtube.com/fırlamaadam about 9 years ago
Garifuna deliciousness at Gamboa Place

We stopped by Gamboa's after getting a recommendation from a fellow traveler. Maria, the owner, is a lighthearted and fun restaurateur who is proud of her food, and she should be because the ish is good! We had fried mackerel and jack, flitas (fried banana pancakes), and a Garifuna shrimp dish. Everything was tasty and delicious. Maria's restaurant is just one row back from the beach. Look for the Gallo-sponsored sign on the disco road along the beach.

Street Food

Late night food
by Hacked By of youtube.com/fırlamaadam about 9 years ago

The pupusa lady sets up shop after hours across the street from Bahia Azul. She makes cheese and pork pupusas for Q5-6 each. If you're looking for something cheap to hold you over, this is your lady.

Where to Party

Drinking / Bars / Happy Hours

Casa de la Iguana
by Thomas of heyweneedtotalk.wordpress.com/ about 8 years ago

Guatemala has fantastic hostels - especially party hostels - so it comes as no surprise that you'll find a ripper at Casa de la Iguana. Livingston is only accessible by boat, perched at the mouth of Rio Dulce, the small caribbean town boasts waterfalls (7 altares) & a white sandy beach (Playa Blanca). There's no shortage of things to do during the day. Livingston also acts as a transit town & you can get to & from Punta Gorda in Belize, Rio Dulce town & Puerto Barrios (where you can take busses to Honduras & El Salvador).

But enough about Livingston, the jewel in the crown is Casa de la Iguana. The staff are backpackers so turnover is fairly rapid. This is probably for the best because the staff at the Iguana go hard. Day drinking is commonplace, naked parties are regular and shots... shots are just a fact of life. The drinks are cheap and the nights are long. A family style dinner at 7pm nightly puts a solid lining in everyone's stomaches and drinking games usually kick off by 8.

Festivals & Events

Wanaragua

New Year's Day Festivities in Livingston
by Hacked By of youtube.com/fırlamaadam about 9 years ago
New Year's Day Festivities in Livingston

Wanaragua is a day-long procession that occurs every New Year's Day. Drummers, singers, and men dressed as women go from home to home performing a traditional dance. The men dress in women's clothing as a tribute to Garifuna resistance against past colonial violence. The performances today raise money for community education and food programs. If you are in Livingston during the holidays, ask around where the procession is so you can witness this unique tradition and donate to Livingston's rich but struggling Garifuna community. Note that New Year's celebrations occur mostly on New Year's Day and not New Year's Eve.

Getting Around

Boat

Ferry options to/from Livingston
by Hacked By of youtube.com/fırlamaadam about 9 years ago

If it makes sense with your itinerary, it is a lot cheaper to get to/from Livingston via Puerto Barrios. On the way in, we took the boat from Rio Dulce (Q125 or $16, 1.5hrs), a bumpy, mostly painful "tour" of the river. Boats pick up passengers under the bridge or at the Rio Bravo restaurant near the bus stop. If you can, always sit in the back of the boat and on a life jacket, which is critical for lessening the unrelenting blows to your tailbone and spinal cord.

On the way out, we ended up saving $12 by taking a boat to Puerto Barrios (Q30 or $3.85, 40 mins) and then catching a first class bus with Litegua ( www.litegua.com) back to Guatemala City (Q100 or $12.80, 6 hrs). From the Puerto Barrios port to the bus station, do not pay more than Q15 for a taxi. It's literally a 2-minute cab ride but you wouldn't want to walk it.

General Advice

History And Culture

Whose history to believe
by Hacked By of youtube.com/fırlamaadam about 9 years ago
Whose history to believe

During our stay, we learned that the commonly-accepted historical account of the settlement of Livingston (known locally as "Labuga") is actually disputed by the Garifunas. Mainly, Garifunas believe that they were not shipwrecked slaves, but rather Black Caribs who existed in the Caribbean before the arrival of the conquistadors. For a fuller account of their history, check out this site dedicated to dispelling misinformation about Garifuna history: http://www.garifunaresearch.com/index.html.