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Day Trips & Fund Raising Trips 


"The Paradise" hot springs & Lake Izabal beach

 Jungle Trail & River Float


Difficulty: level:  Moderate with a 30 minute hike and a one-hour river float. We stop to take photos and hear stories from our Q'eqchí guides. 

Highlights: Some of the most stunning jungle scenery in Guatemala and Latin America, ceremonial cave, howler monkeys in the overhead treetops

Included: Guide, lifejacket, tube, dry bag for shoes or other clothing

Season: All year, with the exception of very high water. Alternative plans are made for an extended hike if the river is too high. 

Price: $14 (Q100) without return transport, $26 (Q200) with return transport, 2 persons minimum one way, 4 persons minimum with round trip 

Difficulty level: Easy, with a 1/2 mile hike 

Highlights: Hot springs waterfall, bat cave, limestone cave and cool stream, hot water massage, lush vegetation, Lake Izabal beach at Finca Paraíso  

Included: Round trip truck transport from lodge (1/2 hour each way), entrance fee

Not included: lunch at Finca Paraiso

Potential extensions: El Estor & the Bocas del Polochic Wildlife 

Season: All year, but best avoided on weekends

Price: $30 (Q225), minimum 4 persons

El Estor market & Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge

Difficulty: Easy, with a boat tour and casual stroll through El Estor's market.

Highlights: Visit El Estor, the major settlement on the northern shore of Lago de Izabal, Guatemala's largest lake, lunch at the Hotel Ecologico, boat tour and wildife viewing in the Bocas del Polochic, a highly biodiverse wildlife reserve. A visit here provides great birdwatching and howler-monkey observation.  If we're lucky, we will spot alligators or manatees. 

Included: Round trip truck transport from lodge, 2 hour boat tour, lunch on your own at the lakeside Hotel Ecológico 

Season: All year. El Estor's market days are Tuesday and Saturday. 

Price: $50, minimum 4 persons  Option: El Estor trip only, $25, minimum 4 persons


NINE DAY FUND RAISING TRIPS: January 15 - 23 and March 18 - 26, 2024
Arrival: Flores, Guatemala/ Group size: 10 maximum, 4 minimum  / The trip down payment will be paid via a monthly $40 tax deductible donation to the Guatemala fund for one full year, and hopefully, a continuing donation after the trip ends and you've had first hand experience with the Seacacar Cañón Natural Reserve. The total trip price is $1480, which includes the $40 monthly donation. 


Day 1: (Monday) Arrive Mundo Maya International Airport in Flores, Guatemala Both Cancun and Guatemala City have daily flights to Flores. Transfer to the Hotel Villa Maya, just 15 minutes from the airport and 45 minutes from Tikal National Park and the Mayan Biosphere Reserve.  The hotel is located within an extensive private nature reserve, on the shores of the Petenchel and Monifata lagoons, inhabited by birds of the most varied species, as well as as well as unique flowers and trees.The 56 rooms of VILLA MAYA (43 standard rooms, 3 junior suites, 10 cabins), are arranged in 10 bungalows of 2 or 3 levels each and 10 individual cabins, all linked by paths and surrounded by beautiful gardens.VILLA MAYA offers a restaurant and deck, food service to your room, souvenir shop, outdoor pool for adults and children, outdoor gym, beautiful gardens and 15km of nature trails, free Wi-Fi in public areas, bicycle rental , private natural reserve for the conservation and breeding of white-tailed deer, tepezcuintle, mountain car and scarlet macaws.

Meet Paul Heesaker, the trip leader and project founder, near the hotel reservations desk at 6:00 PM (or earlier depending on your arrival time). We will have a trip meeting and dinner at the hotel restaurant.   

Included: Hotel double occupancy, shuttle from airport 

Day 2 (Tuesday): 6:00 AM departure and a 45-minute drive into Tikal National Park, the Mayan World’s most spectacular archeological and jungle site. Tikal encompasses 575 square kilometers of jungle and thousands of ruined structures. The central part of the ancient city alone contains 3,000 buildings and covers about 16 square kilometers. Tikal is also part of the one-million-hectare Maya Biosphere Reserve created in 1990 to protect the dense forests of the Peten, which started to disappear at an alarming rate due to population pressures, illegal logging and slash-and-burn agricultural practices. We will have a chance to see rare and endangered wildlife, such as the scarlet macaw or jaguar, howler and spider monkeys, toucans, oscillated turkeys, tapirs and scores of colorful bird species that also find habitat in Tikal and the surrounding Maya Biosphere Reserve.


Included: All transport, entrance and guided tour of Tikal National Park, lodging at the Hotel Villa Maya

Day 3: (Wednesday) 9:00 AM departure by van for the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve, a five hour drive to a traditional Q'eqchí Mayan village and the project site. We stop for lunch at Finca Ixobel in Poptun, a two hour drive from the Villa Maya. We have another three hour drive before coming to our turnoff to Seacacar. 

Depending on the road condition, we may board a four wheel drive truck for the last three mile drive into the Santa Cruz Mountains. You will be in the back of a large flatbed truck and holding onto rails for the twenty minute drive. We arrive by late afternoon and enjoy the stunning view from our riverside lodge. Keep in mind we're now off the grid and the only power in the village as supplied by solar panels at our lodge. Most rooms do not have hot water.   

Included: All transport, entry to the nature reserve, dinner, lodging (drinks excluded)

Days 4, 5 and 6: (Thursday through Saturday): Full immersion in a traditional Q'eqchi Mayan village and a protected nature reserve.  Excursions include the day trips described at the top of this page, including Jungle Trail & River Float, The Paradise hot springs and Lake Izabal beach. We will adjust our schedule depending on weather conditions. 

Included (all inclusive apart from beverages): All transport, meals, excursions and lodging

Day 7 (Sunday) 10:00 AM departure for El Castillo de San Felipe, a old Spanish fort guarding the entrance to Lake Izabal and a UNESCO World Heritage site. After lunch at a nearby restaurant, we travel by motor launch through Rio Dulce National Park and to our riverside lodge at Finca Tatin. 


Included: Breakfast, all transport, entrance to Spanish fort, lodging, family style dinner.

Day 8 (Monday) Visit Ak' Tenamit, our affiliate vocational boarding school. Ak' Tenamit is within a five minute motor launch trip from our lodge. AT provides a quality educational experience to over 500 indigenous boarding students from throughout Guatemala. Afternoon options include sea kayak rentals, a hike to a ceremonial cave or relaxation at the riverside lodge. 

Included: All transport, lunch at Ak' Tenamit, family style dinner at Finca Tatin, lodging


Included:  transport by motor launch, then taxi, to Puerto Barrios Airport

Day 9: (Tuesday) Travel day determined by individual trip participants. Options include flying to Guatemala City from the nearby Puerto Barrios Airport. Guatemala City has worldwide flights. I can provide information regarding travel extensions to Antigua, Lake Atitlan or Honduras. Another option is a motor launch to Punta Gorda, Belize, just one hour from our riverside lodge. 



Trip Style, travel conditions and weather: This is not a tour, but an experiential and shared experience among old friends and new. It is a private trip, not a commercial trip. While the trip is not physically demanding, we do visit remote locations and walk on jungle trails.  A good level of health and fitness is mandatory. This trip is for you if you want to build new or deeper friendships, make a difference and enjoy travel a bit off the beaten path. It is not for you if you are demanding, inflexible or expect an upscale resort or cruise style experience. During transit days, your driver will be courteous and helpful, but will not provide a running commentary. When we visit the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve, we will stay at a rustic jungle lodge.  The lodge is located in a remote Mayan village and has limited solar power. Most hotels we use have air conditioning, but we do not have air conditioning at our jungle lodge in the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve. While the rainy season typically ends in late November, we can expect some rain.  The average high temperatures from during the dry season (March through mid-May) are in the eighties while night lows typically drop about 10 degrees.  

Founder and trip facilitator: The Rios Fund, Guatemala is a mission driven social enterprise founded by Paul Heesaker, a retired high school teacher and principal. Paul also led kayaking and rafting trips to Guatemala from late 1993 until the spring of 1998. Paul's work with the Q'eqchi Mayan people of Seacacar and Ak' Tenamit has resulted in the establishment of the first ever intermediate school in Seacacar and in Guatemala's newest protected area, the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve. Paul and his wife Catherine, a school psychologist, reside in Summit County, Colorado. 

Flexibility Required: Although every effort has been made to make this trip run as smoothly as possible, road conditions, weather or other circumstances beyond our control may necessitate a change in plans.  


Lodging: Our hotels are not luxurious, but these mid-range hotels are comfortable and immediately adjacent to cultural, historic or natural attractions. The Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve is located adjacent to a remote Mayan village with no electricity. We have limited solar power in the Jungle Lodge and in our intermediate school.  While every effort has been made to make the lodge rooms as comfortable as possible, they are rustic and immediately adjacent to the natural environment.  Shared bathrooms have flush toilets and cool water showers. Consider your own health, fitness and expectations carefully before paying your deposit.


Travel: When traveling on paved highways, we travel by mini-bus. We will also use covered motorized boats while traveling on the Rio Dulce and Lake Izabal. The access to the Boquerón Cañon Project is a 30-minute drive on a rough and steep road. We often use double cab four wheel drive pick ups, but guests may be standing and holding rails on an open flatbed truck for this segment of our journey. 


Travel Medical Insurance: Our guests are required to carry travel medical insurance and sign an assumption of risk liability waiver. 

Corona Virus (COVID 19): All trip participants will be required to show proof of vaccination. 


Access to Medical Care: While we will never be further than an hour’s drive from local medical clinics, Guatemala City has the nearest advanced medical care.  There are small airports in Rio Dulce, El Estor and other communities along our route. International airports are located in Flores, Belize City and Guatemala City. 


Malaria and Immunizations: Malaria and Chikungunya are endemic to some areas we visit. Discuss travel to Guatemala with your doctor or consult the State Department of Health prior to departure to determine which immunizations are currently being recommended. 


• All transport in Belize and Guatemala. If you arrive early or depart after the trip has finished, transport to and from the airport is on your own.  Trip participants will be encouraged to arrive on the same flight.

• All hotel accommodation - based on double rooms for couples or triple occupancy for individual travelers - A single supplement of $40 daily trip (minus the departure day) will be added to the trip cost for individuals who want a single room. This option may not be available at our Jungle Lodge in the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve. At this time, our lodging capacity is somewhat limited, so single rooms may not be available.  

•  Meals as described in the itinerary

• Services of driver and Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve staff



• Flights

• Personal clothing and equipment

• Beverages, apart from our own Jungle Lodge and unless otherwise indicated, are not included with the meals 

• Alcoholic beverages

• All personal expenses


Return Policy: A $480 donation to the Rios Fund (affiliated with the Guatemala Tomorrow Fund) is required to reserve a space on the trip. The balance is due 30 days before the departure date. In case of late bookings, full payment is required at the time of reservation.  In the case of cancellations, your deposit will be donated to the US based non-profit, the Guatemala Tomorrow Fund. Keep in mind that this is not a traditional tour, but an effort to raise funds and create other support for project efforts.  Payment is in U.S dollars only. We recommend that all trip participants obtain travel insurance.


Passport Required: Passports are required for all travelers entering Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. All tourists exiting Guatemala are required to pay a departure tax, which is normally included in you airline ticket price.


Registration: After paying your deposit / donation, you will receive a registration form, sign a waiver of liability, and obtain information on how to prepare for departure. 


Remaining balance payment: We only accept personal checks and do not accept credit card payments at this time. This helps us keep our trip price as low as possible. Make your check payable to Paul Heesaker. If you live outside of Summit County, Colorado or do not have an opportunity to meet with us personally, send your check to the following address:


Mailing address:

Paul Heesaker 

355 North Chipmunk Circle

Silverthorne, CO 80498


More Information: Send an email to with your contact information and Paul will be in touch with you. Keep in mind that our budget doesn’t allow for office assistants, and that we are often out of the country.  We may not be able to connect by phone immediately. 

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