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Belize trip report-Chaa Creek, Tikal Inn and Xanadu (long)

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Well, I guess I'm just about recovered from my vacation. We spent 8 nights in Belize and Guatemala- 2 nights Chaa Creek, 1 night Tikal Inn, 2 more nights Chaa Creek and 3 nights Xanadu on Ambergris Caye. We used Belize Discount Shuttles and Tours for pickup for BZE to Chaa Creek and again from Chaa Creek to the municipal airport- the price ($100 each way for 2 people) was the best we found for a private shuttle and our drive Abraham was on time and very nice.
Chaa Creek is very beautiful and the bathroom in Cottage 19 is one of the nicest we've had anywhere. I must admit I was a little surprised at how hot is was during the mid day, this was certainly remedied by spending some time at the pool. Our activites included ATM, overnight to Tikal, early morning, late night nature hikes and canoeing to San Ignacio- I'll go into my tours a bit later.The food is a bit overpriced and I would have liked to have seen more Central or Latin American offerings, who wants beef stroganoff in Belize? We got the Luxury Link deal which included breakfasts and we had dinner in town after our ATM tour and lunch in town after canoeing(I recommend Erva's and Flayva's). The staff at Chaa Creek are fantastic, standouts for me were Mariano at the bar and David for the early morning bird walk and nighttime wildlife hike. For me Chaa Creek wasn't as wild as I had hoped, I guess I was hoping of somewhat of a repeat of my trip to Bosque del Cabo. We did see a lot of birds (not nearly as many as Costa Rica), some howler monkeys, a couple kinkajous as well as the creepy-crawlies. While the other guests were nice enough it was not as close knit as I had hoped either. Overall Chaa Creek is a beautiful resort but I think next time for me I'll stay in a smaller property like Table Rock or Black Rock.
We booked ATM and overnight to Tikal through Maximum Adventure Tours. For ATM he contracts out to Gonzo with River Rat Expeditions- Gonzo was awesome! He is a local archeologist and has an absolute love of the outdoors and Mayan History. We had a fairly small group and we had 2 guides(Gonzo and Carlos), equipment was in great condition and safety was paramount. We had a fairly young and in shape group (we were the oldest being in our mid 30s) so they took us into some of the less visited chambers- we spent just under 5 hours in the cave and I think the typical tour is about 3 hours. After ATM a few of us hung out with Gonzo for happy hour at Mr. Greedy's. One- note- they no longer allow cameras into ATM due to a tourist recently dropping his camera onto one of the skulls causing some damage. ATM was certainly a highlight for us and I consider it a must do when in Cayo.
The next day Max picked us up at 1100 am for our overnight to Tikal, his price was $230 pp and wasn't much more than pricing everything out separately. The price included all meals, tours, park fees and lodging-the only thing not included was the fee crossing the border from Belize to Guatemala ($18 pp). Max will certainly keep you well fed, he brought a cooler with a bunch of local fruits, granola bars and some Cinnamon rolls(those we enjoyed the next morning atop Temple 4). He also stopped at a local Guatemalan place on the way to Tikal for lunch. For me I think Tikal deserves an overnight, there is so much to see! Watching the jungle come to life from the top of Temple 4 was amazing. Dinner and Breakfast at Tikal Inn was decent but I was shocked and sad that they had run out of corn tortillas at breakfast. Rooms at Tikal Inn were pretty spartan, electricity is only on 6-8 am and 6-10pm which meant no ceiling fan at night. It did get a little stuffy sleeping at night. On the was back to Belize Max stopped in the town of Melchor for us to peruse the market. Aside from being very friendly with us I was impressed that Max stopped to check on any other motorists that looked like they may need assistance.
Tropic Air flights to and from AC were prompt and efficient. While the diving a snorkeling was great on AC I can't say I was a huge fan of the island. It seemed like unless you were on an organized tour it didn't seem like there was much to do on your own. Xanadu was about a mile south of town which we walked to for all of our meals. Favorite restaurants here were Wild Mango's (awesome salads!), Waruguma's(great papusa), Estelle's for breakfast( don't miss the fry jacks) and Georges Kitchen( great prices, yummy stew chicken). I know AC is paradise for some but it just wasn't my paradise.

Overall I enjoyed my trip to Belize and I learned a lot. I would definitely return to Cayo, maybe Caulfer or Placencia would be more my speed for the beach.

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