Livingston (Guatemala)

Harbour of Livingston

Livingston is a town in Guatemala.

Understand

The people of Livingston are a mixture of the Black Garifuna, Spanish Guatemalans and Mayan Guatemalans. A number of languages are spoken including Spanish and Garifuna, and English is also widely spoken.

Get in

There is no road access to Livingston yet (as of Feb 2012). The only access points are via the ocean or the river. By river, you take a lancha (powered boat) from Rio Dulce township located at the mouth of the lake and the Rio Dulce river (intersections of roads CA13 and 7E). This route can take as little as 1 hour or as much as 2.5. The difference is due to some lancheros offer a tour, whereas others just transportation to and from. If you visit by way of Puerto Barrios, find the Municipal dock (Muelle Municipal) and take a lancha that crosses the Amatique bay. This trip offers no tours and it is much faster--around 40 minutes.

A ferry leaves Puerto Barrios for Livingston Monday to Saturday at sometime in the morning (sometime around 11:00, but confirm first) and at 17:00. It costs 10 Quetzales. Collectivo Lanchas from Puerto Barrios to Livingston leave all day and cost 35 Quetzales (August 2011).

Another option is to visit from Punta Gorda, Belize on Tuesdays and Fridays for US$17(there is a BLZ 37.5 departure tax at the immigration office located at the dock). Boats from Punta Gorda to Puerto Barrios run daily and are the only option when it is not Tuesday or Friday. When arriving from another country make sure to check in with immigration(500 feet uphill from the dock) to get your entry stamp.

Get around

Livingston is a very small town and it does not take long to become familiar with the place. The main street running through Livingston is Calle Principal. The majority of the towns shops, restaurants and bars are situated on this road. Everything else is situated on roads directly leading from Calle Principal. Should you need a taxi, the price is Q20 (August 2011), no matter where you go. Make sure you negotiate the price in advance!

See

5km to the North of Livingston are the beautiful waterfalls known as Los Siete Altares. These are a set of seven freshwater pools and waterfalls leading into the Caribbean. There is a small restaurant with toilet facilities at the entrance selling hot food and cold beverages. You can hire a lancha at Q.25 each way for the 10minute boat journey or via a tour which will also visit Playa Blanca beach. It is possible to walk there also heading north along the beach; the walk is approximately 1.5-2hrs. This is not recommended as the beach is very filthy and polluted with accumulated trash. The best time to visit this place is on July and August. Try to avoid this place during the dry season (April, May and June).

Do

Livingston has two not very impressive beaches. The beach to the North of Livingston is unclean and is patrolled by armed police as there have been a number of recorded incidents there in the past. The central beach is pleasant enough, although grass grows into the water at various points. Children come here to fly kites most evenings and this is a friendly beach where the locals come to swim. Sometimes (usually after a period of bad weather) the beaches are full of plastic waste from Belize. The government sends out workers to collect that and clean the beaches, though.

Other beaches close to Livingston include Playa Quehueche which is a few kilometres along the Northern coast, and Playa Blanca which is 12km along the North coast.

Buy

Various shops sell tourist fare and souveniers along Calle Principal and handicraft jewellery made from shells, coconut and embroidery. A local Garifuna drink is also available to buy in small bottles called Guifiti; a rum based drink infused with various herbs and said to have medicinal properties. Do not encourage the destruction of the barrier reef by avoiding products such as coral, starfish and turtle shells.

Eat

Livingston was traditionally a small fishing town and therefore carries a good selection of seafood. Many places serve very cheap grilled shrimp. Tapado is a soup made from fish, prawn and shellfish, served with crusty bread. Cooked in coconut milk and garnished with coriander.

There are a large number of restaurants spread out around Calle Principal and the streets leading from this. These restaurants include:

Drink

The local drink here is Coco Loco. This is a coconut based drink where the top is cut off a coconut and a very generous serving of run is poured in. These are delicious and very potent.

There is live Garifuna music in many bars most nights. A local set of musicians do a tour of the restaurants playing traditional Garifuna music with traditional set up of large drums, a turtle shell, conch shell and maraccas. Words are chanting in the background which makes an interesting accompaniment to a meal.

There are many places to sit and enjoy a drink in Livingston.

Sleep

Light sleepers may wish to use ear plugs as chorus of stray dogs bark almost throughout the whole night. Worse however are two ill-timed roosters who call to each other hourly across the town well before the break of dawn.

Stay safe

The guys at the dock who make a living off the tourists coming off the boats are quite aggressive. If you arrive without having booked a hotel in advance the touts will harass you on the main street until you agree to go with them, they probably may take you only to the places where they can collect a good commission from the owners. This can refer to any of several hotels, a few of which are quite far from the center, not clean or even noisy!!. It's much better to walk into the hotels by yourself, because the proprietors will be much happier to see you without one of the street guys demanding a fee or tip from each side. If you successfully avoid them keep going and you will find many nice places with reasonably prices and clean rooms.

Sometimes the sentence "Buy me a beer or Give me a cigarette" can be heard by some guys but a polite "No" helps.

Go next

As well as the scheduled boats it is very easy to negotiate chartered boats with many captains around the marina. If there is demand you will be able to find a boat going to Puerto Barrios (35 Quetzales - 4 USD, August 2011), Rio Dulce Town or Punta Gorda, Belize.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 12, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.