Our Mission: RIOS Guatemala fosters the enjoyment, preservation and restoration of Guatemala’s wild river ecosystems primarily through sponsoring responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well being of the local people.
Long Term Goal: By 2015, we will establish the RIOS Ecological Center (REC), nearby the Sierra Santa Cruz Protected Area and Lake Izabal, and align efforts with other like-minded organizations to protect, restore and connect areas of biological diversity. The REC will serve as an example for expansion to other river ecosystems and include:
Employment and educational opportunities for local people, including five percent of gross sales contributed to the RIOS Guatemala Association project fund
An eco-lodge sanctuary built in harmony with the inspirational natural setting, serving as a focal point for the preservation of wild rivers and providing pathways in wellness, education, community development, adventure and creativity
A main lodge, pool and a restaurant supplied from a sustainable agricultural model garden
Moderately priced traveler and student housing, as well as more upscale private cabanas
Whitewater rafting, kayaking and river-boarding on six different jungle rivers
Hiking in protected rainforests reserves in the Sierra Santa Cruz, Sierra de las Minas and Cerro San Gil.
Sailing, snorkeling, and dive trips to the Sapodilla Cays
Exploration of the Caxiampon cave’s underground river
College credit classes, volunteer opportunities and photography, wellness and artist workshops
Birding, wildlife viewing and excursions to the Rio Dulce and Bocas del Polochic National Parks
Soak in the hot springs waterfall at El Paraiso, paddle between sheer jungle walls in the Boqueron Canyon, and swim in fluorescent green pools and travertine waterfalls at Las Conchas.
Visit the 17th Century Spanish fort of San Felipe, the Mayan ruins of Queriqua and Tikal, the Mayan World’s most magnificent ancient city.
Other Goals and Strategies:
Educate the public through film production; maintenance of a website; publishing articles and guidebooks; social networking; and use of other technologies to disseminate information and generate publicity.
Promote educational opportunities for local river communities to enhance their understanding of river ecosystems, the role of communities in preserving these ecosystems, and the opportunities (and issues) that can come with the development of ecotourism. This strategy focuses on children and young adults and includes scholarship funds and other means of supporting education.
Advocate for alternatives to dams and mines that would harm or destroy wild rivers in Guatemala and the communities located in these river valleys.
How you can help and get involved: Contact Paul Heesaker, RIOS Guatemala filmmaker, at
for the most recent information regarding timeshare investments and / or donations to purchase the land and build the RIOS Ecological Center. Go to the “Get Involved” page for details concerning the REC.
RIOS Guatemala Association: E-mail both Max Baldetty, at
, and Vanessa Ligorria, at
, to learn how to make donations directly to the RIOS Guatemala Association, a recently established non-profit organization recognized by the Guatemalan government. Keep in mind that Max is often in the field and may not respond promptly. In that case, contact Paul Heesaker as described above.