San Ignacio Journals

A Week in the Jungle

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A January 2003 trip to San Ignacio by ShannonBrooke

The Aguada Photo, San Ignacio, Belize More Photos
Quote: In January 2003, my partner and I spent one week in the jungles of Belize, with a side-trip to Tikal in Guatemala. In that time, Belize worked its spell on me. I will definitely be back.

A Week in the Jungle

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Overview

Belizean Village Photo, San Ignacio, Belize
Quote:
Most of the adventurous activities in Belize involve water, caves, or both. I overcame some of my fears and really enjoyed floating on an inner tube through a series of caves. Other highlights were the amazing Mayan ruins that are still being uncovered. The loveliest thing about Belize, pardon the cliche, is the people. They are not out to make a quick buck off of you, and it feels as if you are friends with your tour guides, waitresses, and hotel staff. People wave to you as you walk down the street, out of pure friendliness. You are treated like just another human being, despite your differences. Belizeans will talk about their lives, and there is a sense that even in this tourist town, ...Read More

The Aguada

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Hotel

The Aguada Photo, San Ignacio, Belize
Quote:
We only stayed at one hotel for the whole week, and honestly, I would stay there again in a heartbeat. The Aguada is a family-run hotel just outside of San Ignacio. In my opinion, it is perfectly located. You are a $3 cab ride from town. You are also far enough away from the loud bars of San Ignacio to sleep at night. Unlike some of the expensive Jungle Lodges, you are still close enough that you do not have to rely on the hotel for everything. That's not to say that you couldn't. Not only does the Aguada have its own restaurant and bar, it has Lenny. Lenny is the hotel manager and can arrange any kind of tours you want for no extra cost. He can even arrange a few days out at the cayes --somet...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 25, 2003

The Aguada
P.O. Box 133
San Ignacio, Belize
(501) 804-3609

Sanny's Grill

Restaurant

Quote:
Sanny's Grill serves up delicious fish dishes, if there is any left by the time you get there. You'll find a romantic setting overlooking San Ignacio. We sat out on the dimly-lit deck.

The chef used to work for some of the fanciest restaurants in the Caribbean, and now he brings his expertise to San Ignacio. His fish dishes are delectable, although his chicken dishes are only mediocre. Best of all, this fine dining experience is comparatively inexpensive to similar fare in the States.

The chef and the waitstaff were incredibly sweet, and we ended up chatting with the chef after dinner, a common occurence in Belizean restaurants.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 25, 2003

Sanny's Grill
23rd Street
San Ignacio, Belize

Hannah's Restaurant

Restaurant | "Hannah''s"

Quote:
Hannah''s was another great recommendation. We found out about it from some other travellers we met on our cave-tubing trip. They were right about Hannah''s serving up some great food. In fact, we were pleasantly surprised by most of the food in Belize, contrary to what guidebooks had led us to believe. Hannah''s is a very small restaurant. We were lucky enough to get the last seat, a minute table by an open window. The restaurant was packed to the brim with other travellers. The owners previously lived in the United States. One of the cooks - the husband - is from Africa while the wife is Japanese. After our meal, the owner came out to talk to us. They told us about starting their b...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 25, 2003

Hannah's Restaurant
5 Burns Avenue
San Ignacio, Belize
(501) 822-3014

Serendib

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Restaurant

Quote:
Serendib is actually a Sri Lankan restaurant. Sri Lankan food is influenced by India. No dish would be complete without rice, and rice is usually accompanied by a curry. Curries are made with coconut milk, like Thai food. Until the Portuguese traders introduced the red chili pepper, most Sri Lankan curries were mild and sweet. Now you''ll find that Sri Lankan food is firy hot, and I like it that way. Serendib tones down their dishes for the taste of the local population. I''ve never had Sri Lankan food before, so I can''t say if it was authentic. It reminded me of a combination between Indian and Creole food. In particular, there was a dish that reminded me of jambalaya, savory rice pa...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 25, 2003

Serendib
27 Burns Avenue
San Ignacio, Belize
(501) 822-2302

Barton Creek Cave

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Attraction | "Cave-Canoing"

Barton Creek Cave Photo, San Ignacio, Belize
Quote:
In the latter part of the day, we were scheduled to canoe into Barton Creek Cave. It was today that I realized that I could do a lot more in one day than I expected. We had already seen one amazing ruin, and now we were on our way to a cave. Other than Lost River in NH, I had never been in a cave before. I also hadn''t canoed in years. We were picked up in a large pickup truck. It had a metal framework over the bed, which is where we joined some other travellers. This truck went over a number of dirt roads. We even had to get off the back of the truck and walk up hills. We drove through a river, just like an adventure movie. We saw a huge snake on the way --it had been tied up by some...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 25, 2003

Barton Creek Cave
Upper Barton Creek Village
San Ignacio, Belize

Ultimate Jungle Experience

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Attraction | "The Ultimate Jungle Experience"

Quote:
On this day, we were scheduled to go on the Ultimate Jungle Experience, or spelunking in Actun Tunichil Muknal. If you watch National Geographic Explorer, you may have seen an episode about this cave. Only two tour companies are allowed to go through it, as it was found in perfect condition, and it hasn't been looted yet. It was supposed to be an amazing experience and it definitely lived up to the word "Ultimate". You are semi-immersed in water for most of the six-hour trip. You have to walk quite far to the remote location, trekking across three rivers. Within the cave, you are swimming, climbing, and contorting your body into strange positions to progress safely through the cave. You go in...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 25, 2003

Ultimate Jungle Experience
Actun Tunicil Muknal cave
San Ignacio, Belize

Touring Caracol

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Attraction

Touring Caracol Photo, San Ignacio, Belize
Quote:
Caracol Caracol is the largest Mayan site in Belize, but it cannot compare to Tikal. Presently, it is being uncovered by archeological teams and is a great place to learn about the process of archaeology. You might be able to volunteer here. It isn''t as impressive as Tikal, only a short distance away in Guatemala. We travelled to Caracol with Everald. W you arrive at Caracol, he is bubbling over with information. Everald works at the site during the off-season and is also a professional archaeologist. Giving tours allows him to take summers off and work at Caracol. As a result, he knows more about Caracol than most tour guides and is on good terms with the archeologists. He can tell p...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 25, 2003

Touring Caracol
Southern Belize
San Ignacio, Belize

Cahal Pech Archaeological Site

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Attraction | "Cahal Pech"

Quote:
Details Open: 9am - 4:30pm daily Located on a hill overlooking San Ignacio, Cahal Pech is the most accessible ruin from San Ignacio. We took a cab to the ruins from The Aguada. You can easily walk back to your hotel, as we did. The Cahal Pech bar and resort are located just below the site, but you'll feel miles away once you're exploring the lonely ruins. Cahal Pech has a small visitor's center, introducing one to the history of the site and Mayan culture. It costs about US$1.25 to enter, and this money goes back into preserving the site. There is a snack bar and a gift shop on the site. Description/Travelogue Cahal Pech--"Place of the Ticks" in Mayan--used to b...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 12, 2003

Cahal Pech Archaeological Site

San Ignacio, Belize

Seeing Xunantunich

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Story/Tip

Quote:
The next day, Lenny gave us a ride to Xunantunich. You have to take a ferry across, and then go up a huge hill. I was glad we got a ride up. We also decided on a whim to get a guide, and I am so glad we did. I learned so much from our guide, and besides, he was fun. Alberto was a guy about my age who had been an archaeogical student and was now working at the site giving tours. A huge cruise ship was coming through, so the guide helped us avoid them. It was neat to have one person pay total attention to just the two of us, instead of having to struggle to keep up and hear the guide as the tens of cruise-shippers had to do. The main building at Xunantunich is this huge pyramid called ...Read More

The awesomeness of cave-tubing

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Story/Tip

Quote:
The next day, we woke up and got ready for our cave tubing trip. Having no idea what this would entail, I put on a bathing suit and a pair of loose cargo capris. We had a quick breakfast of eggs & bacon. Then Carlos from Mayawalk came to pick us up. Also in the van were Jessica and her mom. Jessica is a book editor from NYC and her mom is from New Jersey. They go on mom & daughter vacations every year, and I thought that was a great idea. If I couldn't travel with Alli, I'd love to travel with my mom. At any rate, Jessica used to date someone who went to high school with Alli in NJ! It was all very strangely connected. Jessica had also recently returned from Turkey, as had we. I have ch...Read More

First Impressions

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Story/Tip

Quote:
We were picked up at the airport by Lenny of the Aguada. We drove via the Western Highway to Santa Elena. Just watching the road was fascinating for an outsider. There were lots of trucks with building materials -- this made me think that the country must be experiencing a lot of development currently. I also saw large shipments of fruit being transported, and presumably workers sitting in the back of pickup trucks. I noted with interest the speedbumps that slow down drivers rather than police. Lenny told us about the terrible accident which had occurred the day before, and how the limestone roads became quite slippery in the rain. Soon, Belize may require traffic police. Already, there is a campaign ...Read More