Beyond the castillo, the broad sweep of Lago de Izabal opens before you, with great views of the fertile highlands beyond the distant shores. Some 25km from Río Dulce, a hot spring waterfall in land owned by the Finca el Paraíso, 300m north of the road, is one of Guatemala’s most remarkable natural phenomena. Bathtub-temperature spring water cascades into pools cooled by a separate chilly flow of fresh river water, creating a sublime, steamy spa-like environment where it’s easy to soak away an afternoon. Above the waterfall is a series of caves whose interiors are crowded both with bats and extraordinary shapes and colours – made even more memorable by the fact that you have to swim by torchlight to see them (bring your own flashlight).

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