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Santo Tomas transportation and timing


potatopants

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I've been reading some of the posts about Santo Tomas, and I'm so happy to see that there are actually things to see there! I was wondering if anyone can tell me if it's easy to find a tour guide when you get off the ship. I'm guessing there'll be several waiting at the market area I read about. I think we'd like to play it by ear as to where we go once we're there.

 

I'd like to know a couple of things before we do that, though.

 

How far is it from the port to Livingston?

How far is it from the port to Rio Dulce?

How far is it from the port to Siete Alteres (7 waterfalls)?

 

Can any of these places be seen in combination in under 5 hours? Our other days are pretty full, and I don't want to have to worry about getting back to the ship on time or tiring ourselves out too much for Belize.

 

Thanks!

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I've been reading some of the posts about Santo Tomas, and I'm so happy to see that there are actually things to see there! I was wondering if anyone can tell me if it's easy to find a tour guide when you get off the ship. I'm guessing there'll be several waiting at the market area I read about. I think we'd like to play it by ear as to where we go once we're there.

 

I'd like to know a couple of things before we do that, though.

 

How far is it from the port to Livingston?

How far is it from the port to Rio Dulce?

How far is it from the port to Siete Alteres (7 waterfalls)?

 

Can any of these places be seen in combination in under 5 hours? Our other days are pretty full, and I don't want to have to worry about getting back to the ship on time or tiring ourselves out too much for Belize.

 

Thanks!

 

Before I answer your questions, some of the answers are found a couple of posts later than yours on this same board under reviews 1/28 Sun of Santo Tomas De Castillo (also on the Norweigian board). You can also read our roll call's many messages about the research i have done. See roll call Holland America/Veendam 3/11/06.

 

The question really is not "how far" but "how long" time wise since most travelling has to be done by boat. A ferry will take an hour to get to Livingston but a small boat only 1/2 hour.

 

Since Siete Altares and Livingston can be reached only by boat, and you can get some launcha drivers to take you, you CANNOT in 5 hours get all the way to the foot of Rio Isabal which is the town Fronteras or Rio Dulce where the castle is located. You can get to Livingston and/or Siete Altares in 5 hours, however.

 

You can take a taxi to the bridge at Rio Dulce/Fronteras and get a launcha to take you back to the port, but it will take 4-5 hours just on the boat.

 

The tour that I have arranged for our group cannot disembark from Santo Tomas due to legalities, so we have to take a cab from Santo Tomas to Rio Barrios dock to get our boat which is being supplied by HotelCasaRosada.com in Livingston.

 

If we had a full boat of 7 people the charge would be the same as if we had only two. $280US, or per person as low as $40 to take us up the Rio Dulce but not to the Castle, just to the national park to see the canyon, Bird Island, rio Tatin, the hot springs/lagoons, return to Livingston for lunch at the hotel for a local dish Tapado (extra charge) or other fish, walk around Livingston and then back to Rio Barrios. We have to take a taxi from Santo Tomas to Rio Barrios, as well.

 

I wanted to be sure our guide spoke English and we'd be with him all day. Meet him in Puerto Barrios at 9:30 and return to the port no later than 3:30 or 4. That's a little longer than your 5 hour limitation, however.

 

It is the time constraint with the ship leaving at 6 p.m. that prevents us from going all the way to Lake Isabal, the castle etc.

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I was just in Guatemala, and your times are right on the mark. The fellow we went with showed us Livingston and the lower Rio Dulce in about 5 to 6 hours. It only took about twenty or twenty-five minutes to get to Livingston, so if your ship has shorter times, they will still get you back in plenty of time. The fellow we went with (Gus) was associated with Posada El Delphin Hotel in Livingston. His e-mail is eldelfin@turcios.com

The advantage maybe to Gus is he can leave right from the ship at Puerto Santa Tomas, though Puerto Barrios was very close. He also spoke perfect English, and his knowledge of the area was quite interesting.

 

Regards John

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Gus was in a booth on the right hand side, just inside the market area. He sold his tour until he had about 12 to 15 people, so it would probably be best to try to get off the ship fairly early if you were wanting to go with him. It was a wonderful day, we never felt unsafe and he was a very informative guide.

 

Regards John

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I believe it was $50 for my wife and I, and he charged half price for our 13 yr old daughter. There were I think 11 or 12 people on our tour, which still left some room on the launcha. All of the launchas in Guatemala were about the same. They are fiberglas boats with about six rows of seating that could seat 3 people per row. It has a centre console for driving the boat, and ours had a newer 100 hp outboard. The launcha is also covered with a toneau cover for shade. Hope this answers your questions.

 

Regards John

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I contacted hotel casa rosada and was quoted $350 for the day's tour, plus extra for lunch. If anyone has taken this, or will take, this, would love to hear info.

 

We have two 4 yr olds, 4 adults. He told us his maximum was 6 people.

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The boat we are going to be on is 25' in length w/75 hp motor, covered, but he said do not count on its protecting you from the sun. The photo of the hotel shows several boats, perhaps of different sizes and that is why he has limited you to 6 persons. He limited us to 10.

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  • 1 month later...

We returned Saturday from Veendam 3/11 trip. Gus was right out there greeting everyone. He understood that we'd booked with Javier at Casa Rosada, Livingston and were taking a taxi to Puerto Barrios to meet him. His hotel is next door to Javier's.

 

If time is important to you, yes, you can book with Gus at the dock. If you want to see 3 towns, Santo Tomas, Puerto Barrios and Livingston, the way to go is to taxi to PB and a launcha to Livingston, but would be better if you pre-arrange this before you leave on your cruise.

 

If you have a small group and want to stay just with them, the "private tour" with a maximum of 6-10 would be for you, rather than having a larger group with "strangers." It just depends on what you want.

 

We chose to keep our group at 6 and see 3 towns, so went with Javier.

 

The taxi to PB can be arranged at the dock. The first asking price was $130 but I told them I'd been told $10 each, round trip, so they did that . We pre-paid there at the dock and our driver was there to meet us on the return trip at 3:30.

 

Oh yes, we'd asked if we could have a van so all 6 could go together. They said the vans were only for tours booked at the pier, so we took 2 taxis, one in front with the driver, and two in the back seat.

 

Our driver, Romeo, spoke some English and I some Spanish so we did well together. I asked if the 400 year old mission church was on the way to PB and he said yes, so stopped there so we could take photos. he pointed out the school where he studies English week nights 2 hrs a night, the hospitål, etc.

 

We got off the ship at 8 a.m. and were in PB at 8:30 where Javier met us. We boarded (cushioned seats, 2 to a row) and it took about 1/2 hour to go across Amatique Bay to Livingston where we stopped at the hotel to place our lunch orders, have a cup of coffee, use the bathroom, see the gardens, hear the tropical birds in the trees etc. before setting out for Rio Dulce.

 

The Rio is gorgeous. Thought I'd found paradise! We saw the canyon, people using dugout canoes to fish or to get across the river, bird island, hot springs, lagoons, Rio Tatin, Ak Tenamet school. Having such a small group we could ask questions at will. I felt we had a very personalized tour.

 

Lunch was salad with their special dressing, with coconut bread, lobster for one and Tapado for 5. Tapado is a local soup made with coconut milk and plantains, fish and shellfish. I had a whole crab, 6 shrimp, 2 mussels, & half a fried fish in my bowl. It was delicious. We tried the dark and light Guatemalan beer, as well. Then Javier walked us around Livingston.

 

It was a totally delightful day. When we returned to Santo Tomas there was plenty of time to shop. Just like with the taxi fare, the prices will start out very high and immediately drop about half in the first transaction.

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