The beautiful tropical area along the lush banks of the Lago de Izabal has plenty to keep you occupied for a few days and a genuinely relaxed atmosphere. A road around the northern shore of the lake provides a route up to the Verapaces, passing the idyllic hot spring waterfall close to the Finca El Paraíso and the towering Boquerón canyon. On the western side of the lake, the small town of El Estor is a good alternative base to explore these sights and the biodiverse wetlands of the Reserva Bocas del Polochic.
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).