12 July 2011

The Intrepid Traveler: To Belize and Beyond

Lately, I have been functioning as part travel agent more than usual. As a result, I have decided to commence an on going series of posts entitled: Intrepid Traveler. The quickest way to forge relationships with strangers in my book, is talking about travel. For this first post, I am focusing on Belize and Guatemala.

If you can fathom, Belize City is just a short two hour flight from Miami and a place some people visit for a long weekend. You might feel a world's away, but there are many people who frequent it because its proximity and ease. Once you arrive, rent a car and make the 4.5 hour drive west to San Ignacio. Stay at the eco resort Chaa Creek for a true jungle experience. Since having stayed there, they have installed a swimming pool, but the main attraction for me was the blue morpho butterfly house.

Belize is considered the heartland of the Maya civilization and as such there are many ruins to explore. Xunantunich and Cahal Pech were both a short drive from the resort.

Exploring Cahal Pech, we happened to be the only ones there at the time.

In order to cross the rivers, there are these man powered floating ferries to take you across.

One of the most adventurous things I have ever done was visit the Actun Tunichil Muknal. In order to access the cave, you have to jump in the water and swim. The only light once in the cave, is from your headlamp. You work your way through the cave by climbing and wriggling your way through to keep up with the guide. We were able to witness vast amounts of ancient pottery and come close to several intact human remains.

San Ignacio is a short ten minute drive to the Guatemalan border, so we decided to walk across the border and hire a driver on the other side. Guatemala is a much poorer country than Belize, unfortunately, a slightly more dangerous one too. We bumped along the unpaved roads for hours and drove almost completely off the road to avoid the enormous pot holes. Once at Tikal, it was well worth our trouble as we explored one of the largest archaeological sites in the world. We walked up rickety stairs and experienced heat so intense we thought we might melt.

If I have one suggestion, it is to invest in a good guidebook. Study that book before you leave and then each night pour over it to refresh your mind on what you want to do. Do this and it will help you create the trip of your dreams without having to miss a thing.

We then made the five hour drive south east to Placencia. Placencia is rapidly becoming a place of enormous growth and American influx, but it does not detract from the sheer beauty of its location on the Carribean Sea. We stayed at the Inn at Robert's Grove and were pleasantly surprised with the enormous value for the price.

We wanted to end our trip on one of the islands, so we drove back to Belize City and took a flight to Ambergris Caye. We stayed at Victoria House, which was one the nicest places I have ever stayed.

If you have any additional questions, such as where to eat or what else to see shoot me an email or leave a comment.

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