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Trip Report 2 weeks in Belize

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2 weeks in Belize was not enough to explore the entire country, but we got a taste of it and we know we will go back for more!

I will not go into a lot of details, but I got a lot of help from this forum planning, so hopefully this will help others in return. While we loved Belize, I had 2 big disappointments, probably because of unrealistic expectations on my side:
1) I expected the same amount of wildlife as in Costa Rica – it wasn’t there. Plus, even when there, birds were shy, not as “care free” as in Costa Rica
2) I expected amazing snorkeling – it was ok, but not as good as in Bonaire

We split the 2 weeks this way:
- 3 nights at Lamanai Outpost Lodge
- 3 nights at Table Rock in Cayo
- 6 nights at Pelican Beach on South Water Caye
- 3 nights at Victoria House on Ambergris Caye

Lamanai: We loved the boat trip to get there, the daily activities and the property, the beautiful sunsets and sunrises. Do not miss the sunset cocktail cruise and the spotlight safari, both big highlights of our trip. The ruins were interesting, but the troop of howler monkeys made our day. Too bad that the birds were shy, high in the canopy. Mosquitoes on the other hand…had not shame, and were very hungry.

Food was very good, and lots of it; coffee and warm, fresh baked muffins every morning, ready before the birding trip; then coffee and tea available all day long. There is a small gift shop with sun screen, bug repellant, Benadryl, Tylenol, etc. – great to have in the middle of the jungle.

The staff was absolutely wonderful, and the nature guides very good. The shower had hot water, with good pressure. Really, a lot of attention to detail (good pillows, comfortable beds, umbrellas available in case of rain, wi-fi by the restaurant, good bar, etc.) and all that made for a great stay. Highly recommended.

Table Rock: It is a nice property (smaller than what I hoped for, with only a few trails), but with a nice location by the river. They have kayaks that you can take up the river (about ½ hr to Chaa Creek, and maybe 1 ½ hr to DuPlooy’s), and tubes that you can float on down the river. Food was very good, but I am not sure that we were told beforehand that the meal plan does not include lunches. I just checked my email correspondence with them, and their FAQ on their web site…could not find a reference to that, but maybe I am wrong and I missed it.
What surprised me at check-out was that the meal plan also did not include the orange/lime juice in the morning, and the dessert and coffee at dinner time. I am sure that was never explained in advance… and while not a big deal, it felt like being nickeled and dimed. Out of the 3 places where we had the meal plan, it was the only one that did not offer complimentary coffee during the day.

Then, everything in the cabin was damp. The cabins do not have windows, just screens, and so you really feel in the middle of the nature, which is great, and the reason to go there. But all the blankets smell musty, and that was not pleasant. Should they be washed/dried more often? Maybe…although I understand the energy issues there. Maybe just have more blankets available, have maid service take the damp ones, dry them in the sun and bring in dry ones? I don’t know…and I wish I knew how the other lodges in the area deal with this issue.

While this is not their fault (it is the jungle after all, and it rains in the jungle), the unpleasant smell makes for a less pleasant stay :(

Pelican Beach on South Water Caye: this was a little paradise island. Everything I said is true – South Water Caye is very small, is an island (about 40 minutes by boat from Dangriga), and it is paradise. We loved our little cabin by the water, the palm trees and the general relaxed feel. Theresita and Leonard are amazing, and will do anything to make your stay there as nice as possible.

Sunsets on the island were fabulous, each day different. Food was very good, well prepared, and abundant. We had fish, lobster, conch, shrimp…really good.
And there are millions and millions of stars…

Victoria House on Ambergris Caye: wonderful property, where your every wish is anticipated and taken care of. The snorkeling at Hol Chan was great – we went twice, with trips organized by VH. We saw lots of fishes, turtles, sting rays, beautiful fan corals (these were much nicer than the ones we saw in Bonaire), huge groupers, nurse sharks, etc. Water in Belize was by far the warmest of all the Caribbeans, and we loved it.

We did not drive, and had all the transfers arranged by the 4 places we stayed at. They all worked perfectly, without any problem.

My other big regret of this trip – we did not make it to Tikal, so we need to go back. For that, and for snorkeling with whale sharks :)
And for the wonderful people of Belize.

Pictures here: http://ioana-mark.smugmug.com/Travel/2013-Belize/28064736_BgJHXS#!i=2375039163&k=tsdG3T4

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