After a few days on Caye Caulker of amazing Caribbean food and swimming with a variety of marine life we packed up our bags, hopped on the water taxi and ended up in Belize City. I’ve heard from a lot of people that it isn’t a safe place to stay, so we decided to leave straight away.
We walked the 10 minutes from the ferry terminal to the bus station and hopped on board our first proper chicken bus! They are the best way to travel. It cost us BZ$3 (£1) to get from Belize City all the way across the country to the awesome little town of San Ignacio.
The bus will drop you off in the middle of town where you will find an amazing market and a few places for food. A little way up the hill is Burns Avenue, a great place to find hostels, food and tours while you’re in town. We stayed at the Hi-Et Guesthouse just up the hill, cheap with basic rooms and a tiny balcony.
Of course there is another Mayan ruin to explore. Cahal Pech is very small compared to the grand temples of the Yucatan Peninsular, but it’s one you can explore inside and out. Entrance costs BZ$10 (£3.20) and includes the little museum detailing the history of the site.
It’s about a 20 minute walk up the hill up Benque Viejo Road, towards the Cahal Pech Village Resort. On your way back you should try and find the adorable little cake shop called Sweet Tings, they do amazing cookies!
Caving in San Ignacio
Actun Tunichil Muknal, or ATM, cave is a popular Maya archaeological site to explore that is full of skeletons, ceramics and stoneware. The most famous is The Crystal Maiden, the skeleton of what is thought to be a child sacrifice, that has calcified and now sparkles in the torch light. Day trips cost around US$85, not that great for people on a budget.
Barton Creek Cave
A tour to Barton Creek Cave is like the cheapskates version of the famous ATM caves, but it was great fun and I’m so glad I did it! We booked a tour from one of the agencies on Burns Avenue and they were very helpful in helping us decide which one to go for.
Our tour cost us around US$50, still pretty expensive, but was well worth it. We were picked up from the tour office, along with an American family of 4, and driven deep into the jungle to the Barton Creek Outpost.
Our guide Alex was amazing. He split us into three canoes, with the rear person paddling and the front person free to use the powerful lights provided to light up the amazing features inside the cave.
We spent an hour inside, there and back. We were forced to turn around when the stalactites were too close to the water for us to navigate past it. It was an incredible experience and one I would definitely recommend!
Getting to Guatemala
Entering Guatemala from Belize is simple; from San Ignacio take a US$5 taxi ride to the border and go through the usual procedures. There is no charge to enter Guatemala, but if you get a corrupt official they might try to rip you off. You can literally blag your way out of this; tell them you don’t have any cash and you’ll pay the fee when you leave the country.
Click here to view the full album.