Stay a few nights in the lovely lake town of Flores, where you can plan your connections and adventures. In Flores you can book buses, withdraw cash, have delicious dinner, buy souvenirs and take a boat to explore Lake Petén.
From Flores, you can book many different activities. In town, there is an ATM inside a tourist bureau by the Green Monkey Hostel, which worked well for me (make sure you withdraw from savings! Otherwise your card may be rejected). In the same office, I bought my tickets to Belize City where I was bound, but you can book buses to Lanquin, Lake Atitlan and Guatemala City.
Where to stay
I had booked a bed at the Los Amigos Youth Hostel which is a very vibrant place with Indian style interior and decoration, delicious food, air conditioning, great staff, and good beds. I did not have any issues in this hostel. There are lockers to lock valuables if you have your own lock.
There is laundry service next door although I did not use it. I ate almost all my meals in the hostel, but I can recommend the tacos at restaurant ‘Raices’.
At Los Amigos they can also help you book a one day trip to see Tikal or other popular sites in Guatemala.
I booked a lovely massage through the hostel, where the staff pick you up for your treatment. I highly recommend it, especially after a week of volunteering at the local animal rescue center (continue to the bottom of this post to read about my experience) or a long hike around Tikal.
Activities in Flores
Besides enjoying the beautiful sunset from a roof terrace bar every night and partying with other backpackers in your hostel, you can visit the city of Santa Elena, spend a day in the water at Jorge’s Rope Swing or visit the local Animal Rescue Center.
If you cross the bridge leading to Santa Elena, you can visit the local market selling fresh fruits and much, much more.
You can also find some common fast food chains and a big mall, where you can buy a SIM-card. If you are staying more than a week in Guatemala, I highly recommend setting up a SIM-card to have roaming.
Jorge’s Rope Swing
You can take a boat to the rope swing if you want a day of fun in the sun. It’s a privately owned place at the opposite side of the lake, and it’s cheaper to go there if you split the boat ride with others. Come early if you want a sunbed by the water.
To stay at the ‘beach’ at Jorge’s it costs 20Q and you can buy ice cold beer from the owner. When you take the boat from Flores you need to decide on a time for the return, and they will come back to pick you up. I went there twice because it’s an awesome place and it’s like being on the beach, with more activities like the rope swing, swimming in the lake or resting in a tube.
ARCAS Animal rescue center
Visit the local rescue center of ARCAS for a day and get to know some local wildlife, or spend a minimum one week of volunteering with rescued animals in rehabilitation!
I personally did the latter and had a great week with caring for many different animals. If you want to read about what it’s like to volunteer at ARCAS, continue reading here (to be written soon!).
If you only have a day to spare, hire a local boat to sail you to the public part of ARCAS. Here you will meet some of the animals that cannot return to the wild. You will encounter animals like puma, areas, Spider monkeys and toucans.
They do great work at ARCAS, and if you want to make a difference and contribute to a great cause, which fights to keep animals wild, I highly suggest this place a visit.
A boat from Flores to visit ARCAS costs 70Q, but if you are a group you can split the costs.
© All photos are my own and may not be used without permission.