Replies: 12 - Last Post: Nov 7, 2012 10:37 AM Last Post By: travellinfoo
Nov 3, 2012 11:29 PM
I will be travelling to Belize for the first time in just over a weeks time. I am flying into Cancun on the 13th November and planning on staying in Tulum for a few days to take some time out after the long trip from Australia. From Tulum, I will travel to Belize on the 16th, however, this is as far as I have planned.
What I was thinking of doing was:
1) going to Orange Walk and using it as base for exploring the area, visiting places such as Laminai and Rio Bravo Conservation Management Area. I was thinking 3 night in the area.
2) Catching a bus south to Belize City (probably spending a night at the Community Baboon Sanctuary on the way), changing buses and travelling to San Ignacio
3) Spending 5 - 6 nights in and around St. Ignacio. Was hoping to do an overnight tour of Tikal, some caving, and going to Maya Mountain Forest Reserve.
4) Travelling to Hopkins and spending a night ot two there. I would like to travel down the Hummingbird Highway, but I have read that it is a long trip. I've also read about flights but I am unsure where I could catch a flight to Hopkins from?
5) Caye Caulker. Is there a boat running between Hopkins and Caye Caulker? Rather than busing it back to Belize City from Hopkins.
I have to be back in Cancun on 1st of December to catch an early morning flight on the second. Essentially, I have from the 16th Nov to 1st Dec in Belize, which is just over two weeks.
Does anyone have any feedback on my itineray or advice they can offer as the best order to do things? I havent booked any accomodation so I am open to any suggestions from those that have more knowledge than myself! Do you recommend I book accomodation in advance or leave it until a day or two before I get there?
Thanks! Your help is much appreciated!
Nov 4, 2012 6:35 AM
Nov 4, 2012 6:49 AM
2Some, maybe all buses bound for placencia swing through Dangriga. There was a "hopkins special" (the ricketyest old bus ive ever ridden on) between those points. cost less than regular bus.
Nov 4, 2012 6:52 AM
3In 2003 We hopped on a bus heading from Hopkins to nearby Sittee River Village and it broke down just as it headed out of town. The helper boy (would be called an 'ayudante' in Guatemala - not sure in Belize) jumped out with an empty milk carton, filled it with brown swamp water in a nearby slough, poured it in the radiator, and we were off! Ahh, memories of Belize....
Nov 4, 2012 6:53 AM
Nov 4, 2012 8:04 AM
54) The trip from SI to Hopkins is a few hours by bus. The part along the Hummingbird Highway is only about half of that time and it's the most scenic part of the trip. Get a seat near the front of the bus for the best view out the front window.
There are no flights to Hopkins, but Tropic Air has a flight from Belmopan to Placencia.
5) The Ragamuffin ship (google it) operates from CC to Placencia.
At that time of year, you should be OK without reserving accommodation in advance. The one exception would be if you wanted to stay at Yuma's House hostel in Caye Caulker -- it's always busy.
I'm wondering about doing the trip in the other direction -- from Chetumal, get a water taxi to Caye Caulker, then get the Ragamuffin to Placencia. Bus up to Hopkins then San Ignacio & Tikal, and finish in Orange Walk. Your decision about this route might depend on the Ragamuffin schedule and your plans.
There is an overnight ADO express bus from Belize City (stops at OW on the way) to Cancun airport, but it might be a better idea to spend your last night(s) in Tulum or Playa del Carmen (closer to the airport).
Nov 5, 2012 3:36 AM
6the ado express bus from tulum to belize city is a nice, inexpensive and comfort. it runs at night, That is the only an most luxuries bus you will be on in belize.. Dangriga is much cheaper to fly out of then Placencia I usually use Maya an you do have to ask for a cash discount.
The Ragamumn is an option but you have to travel at there schedule.
Belize is small an since the roads have been completed especialy to Placencia recently it is not a bad ride. The road going to Hopkins has not been completed, and they said it no flights out of Hopkins, but it is nice when you arrive an quite. From Chetumal to Placencia it is 200miles and to San Ignacio to Placencia around 130 miles.
Nov 5, 2012 4:07 AM
It sounds like you have been doing your homework. It sounds like quite a nice trip and is doable in the time that you have. I have done similar trips in the past. Yes, Make it down to Tulum and relax there for a few nights. There is plenty to do, great white beaches, the ruins at Tulum and better still Coba, and tons of beautiful cenotes all around. I agree with the idea of taking the buses south and spending at least 2 nights in Orange Walk so you can take the full day trip to Lamanai. I would go with Jungle River Tours, you can book for the next day when you get there. It is a wonderful 7 hour trip up the river with a tour guide and hot lunch included for $40US. You can get lodging cheap in Orange Walk, I stayed at Akidas (sp) for $15US shared bath. Ok, when your are done you can grab a early bus south, change buses in BC and head straight for San Igancio. You can stay in town for cheap and do all of your cave/jungle trips from there through one of the local tour companies on Burns Ave. Tikal really deserves at least one overnight right in the park for the full experience. You can get there on your own, bus to border, taxi to Tikal $60US, and a night at one of the three hotels. Then reverse your route, maybe look for a shuttle back to the border. Always leave early on travel days and travel light. At this point you can see how much time you have left and can decide to go on to Hopkins or over to Caye Caulker. The ride from San Igancio to Dangriga is very nice and doesn't take more than 2 hours. From Dangriga to Hopkins, though a short ride, there are only 2 or 3 buses a day. I think there is one around 4:30 but you had better check with Mr B. Then back up to BC by bus, Water Taxi to Caye Caulker. I would spend at least 3-5 days on Caye Caulker. There is nice cheap snorkeling, good restaurants and cheap hotels. On your way back to Mexico, definitly take the water taxi, The Belize/San Pedro Express. It will cost you $37.50US and is a great 90 minute, easy ride back to Chetumal by passing Belize City entirely. Book the night before right from their office on Caye Caulker. Ok, so now back toward Cancun, either directly to the airport or stopping in Tulum for a night all on the nice ADO. You will not need any room reservations at all, just be flexible and have a few hotels in mind that you can check out on foot. Also, always book your trips the night before or even the morning of the trip. Leave room for unexpected delights or delays and you will have a great time. Let us know how it went! Greg
Nov 5, 2012 8:06 AM
8Q4) From San Ignacio by bus should be around 2 1/2 hours. You have to change buses in Belmopan, but you can catch any bus to Dangriga or Punta Gorda. As post 5 said, the scenery on the Hummingbird Highway alone is worth the price of the ride. There are two buses daily from Dangriga to Hopkins, 10:30a.m. (except Sunday) and 5:15p.m. The Placencia bus that used to go through Hopkins and Sittee River mentioned in some of the above posts no longer goes into Hopkins.
Q5) To go from Hopkins to Belize City, I would take the bus from Hopkins to Dangriga and fly into the Municipal airport. There are two airlines that make the flights and in November they usually have seat sales or a discount for walk-ins paying cash (often not advertised, you just ask). There are flights leaving every 1-2 hours.
You should not need to book accommodations in Hopkins from November 20th on. If you want to be in Hopkins November 18-19th the only accommodations available at this time would be the lower end budget rooms ($15-25US) and you should book them ASAP.
Nov 7, 2012 2:30 AM
9Golly! Thanks everyone for your input - its all very helpful!
It's good to know that my trip is doable in the time I have there - was slightly worried that I'd bitten off more than I could chew! I had thought about the Raggamuffin Tour but I read sonewhere that it was a bit of a party boat, and that Placencia was not a particularly safe place. Since I'm a young female travelling alone, I was a bit reluctant to do the tour if that was the case. But I may have misinterpreted what I read - it is a good option for travel, not to mention a nice way to spend a few days! With regards to travelling through Guatemala up the Rio Dulce - how safe is that for a solo female who doesnt speak spanish?
Will definitly let you all know how it goes! Thanks again!
Nov 7, 2012 5:00 AM
10Hi, The Rio Dulce is a nice trip but a whole different can of worms and won't fit into your timeline. The Raggamuffin Trip can be fun as it is unique. A little bit of rum never hurt anything but remember you will be camping so mind the bugs and it will be roughing it a bit. Placencia is as safe as anywhere.
Nov 7, 2012 5:05 AM
11Re: the Raggamuffin trip, note that they take the weather forecast in mind and will cancel at the last minute if significant rain is forecast, so have a back up plan. I think who else is in your group would have a huge impact on your enjoyment of the trip; seems as though most folks enjoy it if they're ready to rough it but a few reviews I've read, not so much.
Nov 7, 2012 10:37 AM
12If the Baboon Sanctuary is the one near Burrell Boom, I can highly recommend it. Signs around there refer to the Monkey Sanctuary for some reason. Anyway, it was a well spent afternoon with some very knowledgeble guides.
Also, in you're going to be in Belize in March, don't miss the La Ruta Maya Kayak race, generally held around March 7th, from San Ignacio to Belize City. The whole country goes on holiday and you can catch rides and camp along with thousands of Belizeans. Quite the spectacle. JB
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