I would like to travel into the western part of Belize, near the border with Guatemala, in order to visit several of the Mayan ruin sites located in the area, and also Guatemala. Does anyone have recommendations, who has been there before?
Maybe seven yrs ago we took a terrific trip there, mostly Guatemala, with OAT, Overseas Adventure Travel. The organization's gotten flak lately about refunding, but we've had great trips with them. Max. 16 people, excellent guides, & off the beaten track itineraries, & adventures!, as well as the hotspots. The trip was called The Route of the Maya on their website.
We traveled there about 5 years ago. We spent 1 week in San Ignacio and 1 week in San Pedro (Ambergris Caye). I can't remember the name of the hotel in San Ignacio, but it was about a mile outside of town in the middle of the jungle. There is a huge range of hotels, from extreme budget to resort style. Ours was in the middle. The town is friendly, with a good outdoor market and several good local food restaurants. We took a tour of ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal), which was fascinating. You must take a tour with a specially licensed tour guide. It was strenuous and required a bit of swimming and crossing a small river, but totally worth it. We also hired a guide for Caracol Mayan ruins. Very interesting and strenuous (our device said we climbed up and down 50+ flights of stair), although you don't have to climb up everything. We saw a lot of wild life, including deadly snakes. There is swimming in natural pools, tubing, kayaking, ziplining, etc, and ruins in town. There is a large Mennonite population that dominates the dairy industry and sells excellent ice cream. The people in Belize speak English, are warm and helpful, and we felt completely safe. It was a great week for us.
Replying to Donna K., Thank you, that is where I was going to stay, in San Ignacio, at the Cahal Pech resort. I had to cancel at the last moment because of the virus back in March. I especially wanted to go to the Caracol ruins, it sounded very interesting, but a remote location, and said you have to join a military convoy. I would go on an organized tour to Caracol. I will just fly to Belize and get to the hotel on my own, and then sign up for tours to visit the ruins at the hotel or in town. Also I wanted to go to Tikal in Guatemala. Thanks again.
Hi. My husband and I owned a condo on Ambergris Caye for about twelve years and occasionally travelled around the mainland, twice to San Ignacio, the last time in 2014. Both times we stayed at the Midas Resort which is mid range, and has individual cabins in a jungle atmosphere without being what we would consider a real jungle resort. The first time we visited, we took the bus from Belize City to San Ignacio. We strongly advise against this option even though the cost was very low. The second time we visited, we hired a rental car which was a much better option. Taxis are also available for hire, I think they charged about $50 from the Belize City water taxi terminal to San Ignacio.
On our first visit to San Ignacio, we went on a private day tour to Tikal arranged in advance by the Midas Resort. The tour operator handled all the passports through immigration and transportation issues. The tour guide stayed with us the entire time but we needed to change vehicles at the Guatemalan border. The ride to Tikal was on paved roads and there was a military presence. Tikal was an amazing site that we are very lucky to have experienced.
On our second trip to San Ignacio, we drove ourselves to Caracol to meet up with the military escort to the site. We highly encourage you NOT to choose this option and go with a tour guide in their vehicle. We have been on many poor roads around the world, but the road into Caracol was one of the worst we have driven . The ruts were so deep that we bottomed out our Jeep on numerous occasions. We met up with the military escort and drove into Caracol in a convoy. The reason given us for the military escort was that there had been a history of bandits from Guatemala at the site. Once we arrived, the site was virtually empty except for those in our small convoy . Large tour buses do not go to Caracol. The people who worked at the site indicated that they were surprised we were not with a tour guide and sent two armed guards to accompany us around the site which was very interesting and the least touristy Mayan site we have ever visited. On the way out, we visited Rio on Pools which was a delightful stop. About six months after our visit, there was a fatal shooting at Caracol. One of the security force guards was killed , reportedly by Guatemalan bandits. We found this hard to believe because we thought the military escort was not really necessary. Apparently it was.
We enjoyed visiting the smallish city of San Ignacio and the Midas resort allowed close proximity to walk around and explore. I would definitely recommend a tour guide for both Tikal and a Caracol. Please PM me if you have any questions.
I agree that the road to Caracol was awful. I don't remember any military escort, although there were a couple of military checkpoints. Could be there was an escort, but the guide was so interesting that I didn't notice. We arranged our guide through the hotel, although there are tours for sale in small shops in town as well.