The first stop on our way to the Caribbean coast of Belize was El Retiro, an edenic hostel in the village of Lanquín, about an hour east of Cóban, a large city in Alta Verapaz.
Río Cahabón runs alongside the hostel. Everything is green; even the river is the color of emerald. At dawn and dusk the river valley is misty.
El Retiro is among the most popular backpacker hostels in Guatemala. We were among dozens of others from all over the world, and as we continued to travel, we’d occasionally encounter people we’d met at El Retiro.
While the riverside setting, tropical vegetation, and well-built cabinas of El Retiro add to its popularity, the hostel is best known as a base camp for exploring the region. Chief among the local attractions is Semuc Champey, the destination to which we were headed, plus some enormous caves, a white-water trip down the river, and other outdoor adventure activities.
View the entire El Retiro gallery.