Quirigua and Rio Dulce

Feb 10, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

Today the crew and guests woke up to a beautiful day alongside the dock at the port of San Tomas de Castilla. Parrots squawked overhead at the dock as our Guatemalan guides eagerly awaited our disembarkation to start what turned out to be a great day. Our first leg of the journey took us to the World Heritage site of Quirigua where everyone learned about the great K’ahk Tiliw Chan Yopaat who became the ruler in 724 AD and became powerful enough to defeat the city of Copan by beheading its ruler. Wow! Of the 17 magnificent monuments in Quirigua, 10 are dedicated to K’ahk Tiliw Chan Yopaat. These sandstone stelae and zoomorphs are only seen in Quirigua. The real star of Quirigua however was undoubtedly the very iridescent turquoise-browed motmot.

The second leg of today’s adventure was preceded by buffet lunch at a wonderful riverside restaurant where our guests marveled at some lovely and colorful Guatemalan textiles and many left smiling and happy with their purchases.

After loading into local skiffs, the passengers traveled east towards Livingston. But first, we circled the Fort, Castillo San Felipe, getting the same view that pirates in the early 1600’s got when attempting to steal the gold stashed in Bodegas, just a short ways along Lake Izabal. The ride across Golfete gave us a view of the Montanas del Mico, over 6,000 ft. high with the tops covered by low clouds. Many great egrets in breeding plumage, neotropical cormorants and brown pelicans watched as we zipped by and the green iguanas in orange breeding color shook their dewlaps at us in defensive display. Gorgeous they were!

Finally, a quick walk through Livingston, the only Garifuna Town in Guatemala and a short ride to meet the National Geographic Quest at anchor just off Livingston. A great time was had by all!

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About the Author

Luz Hunter

Cultural Specialist

Luz was born and raised in Belize City along with two brothers and six sisters. As a child she always felt the need to protect animals, both wild and domestic. Alternating summers between grandparents on the cayes and in the bush brought her very close to nature and she soon realized that the hardest part of going back to school was sitting down…indoors. One thing led to another and by 1980, Luz was “guiding” people around the reefs near Ambergris Caye and Lighthouse Reef. 

About the Photographer

José Calvo

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Nicknamed “Indio” (Indian) because of his powers of observation and quiet nature, José has almost two decades of experience working as a naturalist and photography guide; as well as being recognized as an expert birder and nature photographer in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is rich in biodiversity — over 893 bird species have been recorded in the country. Since very young José spent all of his free time in the outdoors in the forest, where he soon fell in love with the birds. He particularly enjoys listening to their calls, and watching their behavior. Oddly enough, another one of Jose’s passions is science and technology, and because of this, he was among the first in Costa Rica to experiment with digital photography. As the technology quickly improved so did his love for it.  He truly believes that nature photography is the perfect combination of both of his passions.

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