Dangriga for Garifuna Settlement day and avoiding Belize City
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Sep 6, 2012 4:52 PM Last Post By: misterbee
Sep 3, 2012 8:32 PM
I am hoping someone can help us piece together an itinerary for 7 days in Belize (or rather 6 as one will be spent in Tikal - I am not counting the day of arrival unless we can pull it off - and the day of departure).
We are flying down in November and just realized we will be in Belize for the Garifuna Settlement Day (Nov 19th) as well as the Toledo Fish Fest. It seems the best place to be is in either Dangriga or Hopkins for Garifuna Settlement day. My dilemma is that we are arriving late afternoon on Nov 16th and I am not sure I want to spend three days in Dangriga so I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions for could be done in during those days. I am not sure we could make it to Tikal and back in that time either (16-18). Also not sure how big of a deal the fish fest is.
Would it be possible to head to either Dangriga or Caye Caulker directly from the airport by taking a cab to the bus station or the terminal for wherever the boat leaves for Caye Caulker. Our flight gets in at 3.40pm and I really would like to avoid spending the night in Belize city I am just not sure if we could make it out of there. Does anyone know when the last bus or boat leaves?
Ideally we would like to fit in one more thing - either a visit to some of the Maya villages way down south or the ATM but I can't seem to piece it together.
Any advice or suggestions would be great!
Sep 4, 2012 12:19 AM
1If you are going to Tikal you really don't have time to do all this stuff in 7 days. I would just do Tikal and spend your remaining time on Caye Caulker. Yes, you can take a taxi to the bus station for $25US. You can go to either San Ignacio (for Tikal) the first night or maybe catch a boat to Caye Caulker but be advised the last one leaves at 4:30 or 5. I would recommend spending your first night in San Igancio, doing the ATM cave the next day and then heading for Tikal for a day or two, then going to Caye Caulker.
Sep 4, 2012 7:03 AM
2If Garifuna Settlement Day is a big interest for you, you could spend most of your time in Hopkins, which for most visitors is much more pleasant than Dangriga, and then just bus or take a taxi or drive (if you have a rental car) to Dangriga for one day.
I didn't realize that Toledo Fish Fest is in November this year. It's usually in early/mid-October. I wouldn't say it's a big deal, except for mostly local anglers participating. You could bus or drive down for a couple of days -- Punta Gorda is one of my favorite places in Belize, and there are a couple of Maya sites, Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun, easily seen from PG. Plus there are Garifuna Day celebrations in PG as well as in Hopkins.
But if you did the above with only six or seven days it would tough to also do Tikal. If Tikal is your main interest, then I would agree with Greg and suggest you split your time between San Ignacio, with perhaps just a day trip to Tikal, and Caye Caulker.
Sep 4, 2012 7:58 AM
3While I live in Belize and have been to Dangriga/Hopkins/Seine Bight/Placencia/PG, I haven't been there for Garifuna Day celebrations. Monday the 19th is a public holiday. The main activity is a recreation of the arrival of the first Garifuna in Belize -- that's usually on the 19th, but see if you find a schedule of events. Most events will be on that long weekend (Garifuna Awareness Day, people in the community will dress in the traditional clothes of the Garifuna, food, Miss Garifuna Belize Pageant, bicycle race, parade, school rallies, etc). If you want to see any of this, it looks like you'll have to get to Dangriga soon after you arrive in Belize. I'd suggest flying down with one of the Belizean airlines, and you might need to reserve accommodation in advance. If you decide to stay in Dangriga for only one day/night, I'd say the 19th would be the day to be there (I think 3 days would be too much time there). Other activities are scheduled in Hopkins, Seine Bight & Punta Gorda, so you need to find out where the activities are.
Usually, I suggest Caye Caulker at the end of a holiday. That's so your relaxing beach time is at the end of the trip, and you can easily get to the International airport on the same day as your flight without spending a night in Belize City.
There are websites wilth the water taxi schedules -- currently the last departures from BC are at 5:00 and 5:30 pm. The links to the water taxi websites can be found on the BelizeBus website -- the link to that site is on my profile page. You'll also find the links to the two Belizean airline websites where you can view schedules & fares. I can't include the links in this post because the forum police will terminate me for advertising.
If you want to go to Toledo, flying at least one way would be recommended (it's about a 6 hour bus trip from Belize City). I've been to PG, but not the Fish Fest. If you spend 1 day/night in Toledo, you could probably see a Mayan village or two and then return for the Fish Fest to finish the day.
For Tikal, are you going on your own, or are you going with one of the tour companies in San Ignacio?
Consider the express buses between Flores and Belize City, and also the Tropic Air flight.
Sep 4, 2012 9:45 AM
4Consider going to Punta Gorda for the Battle of the Drums on November 17th. I think the above suggestion to fly down is a good one. You can fly directly from the international airport to Punta Gorda and visit the local sights and Mayan villages. On the 18th you can take the bus to either Hopkins or Dangriga. Although Hopkins is by far a better place to stay, the night of the 18th is when they celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day in Dangriga and it is an all-night street party, with drumming, street food and performances by Beilze's big punta rock stars. Hopkins celebrations start early on the morning of the 19th and are low key, allowing you to get up-close and be a part of the reenactment of their arrival. Either one is good, depends on what you want. After visiting either place you can fly from Dangriga directly into the international airport for your flight home.
Sep 6, 2012 4:01 PM
5Thanks guys for all the helpful answers. So it looks like we will have to skip the south and the Settlement day and instead we will go straight to San Ignacio from the airport. Does anyone know when the last bus leaves from Belize City to San Ignacio on a Friday - and is it recommended to make a reservation in advance during November in San Ignacio? Since the 19th is a public holiday does that mean no transportation is available on those days?
Sep 6, 2012 4:52 PM
6Buses depart from the Belize City bus terminal (Novelo's) every 30 minutes until 9:00 pm. Last year, the last bus departure was 9:30 pm, but I don't know if that is still the case.
Public transport still runs on public holidays.
I'd guess that you would not need to reserve accommodation in advance in SI. It's a low tourist period, and if Belizeans travel, they'll be going to the cayes or Mexico.
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