2 weeks in Belize

Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 06:52 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,082
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
2 weeks in Belize

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...9163&k=tsdG3T4
xyz99 is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 07:45 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 4,227
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for posting about your trip! I enjoyed your photos. Maybe next time you can make it to Tikal and Glover's Atoll.
hopefulist is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 02:19 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 149
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wow!!! My lucky day today opening your trip report. Congratulations on photos, they are excellent. Here are some questions:
The variety of wildlife is present on your photos. Was it the quantity that differs from Costa Rica?
Ditto for marine wildlife. Is it the lack of corals vs. Bonaire?
There are more then usual number of technically spot on photos, specially BIF ones; could you share what equipment you've used?
Budgetwise, how Belize compares with Costa Rica?
Thanks again for both the report and photos! Happy travels we might meet somewhere once!
xelas is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 02:33 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 149
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Spot on = spot-on = sharp.
Bad luck I missed your visit in Slovenia.
xelas is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 06:20 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,082
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
hopefulist – I really hope so too; thanks for all the help in planning this trip. I think next one will be Tikal, Chan Chich, Glover and Placencia. What do you think?

xelas – I was searching for wildlife, and had to do so more in Belize. In Costa Rica, wildlife (and birds especially) are not shy, they come close to ground, people, houses, etc. In Belize, they are not that numerous, and tend to stay up in the trees. I am not a true birder, but like to photograph them. So far away birds, that you can only see through binoculars don’t really count for me. A true birder might be satisfied…so keep that in mind.

In Bonaire, we found more abundant marine wildlife, although we did not see any turtles or rays there. There were more schools of fishes, and I think more variety (look at the Bonaire pictures to get an idea). I think the corals were better in Belize.

Budget-wise, I think they are comparable, and in both countries you can find accommodations for all budgets. Food was better in Belize, but we liked the food in CR too. People were wonderful in both countries. CR is definitely for wildlife and volcanoes, but Belize gets the nod when it comes to snorkeling, caves, and ruins.

I am using a Canon Rebel T3i.

In Belize, we used Tropic Air for all domestic flights – all flights were on time, with no problems.

Slovenia was amazing, you are very lucky to live there.
xyz99 is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 06:35 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 149
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Not when you need to shovel 1/2 m of snow early Sunday morning . If you were half as amazed by my country as I was by your travels and photos, then you really had a great time. And you haven't even seen the best parts of it!!
Me I also am not a birder but love to take photos of birds and wildlife in general. However you really knows about them, as all of them are identified. Very useful as I can get some knowledge there.
xelas is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 09:09 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,082
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
xelas, now I need to know: in your opinion, what's the best part of Slovenia? Because what I saw was amazing. Will definitely go back for Ljubljana someday, so I need to add to the list.

I don't know much about birds, but I have friends who do
xyz99 is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 09:25 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 4,227
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re: I think next one will be Tikal, Chan Chich, Glover and Placencia. What do you think?

YES!
hopefulist is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 10:27 AM
  #9  
RAC
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,951
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you like wildlife, you'll really like Tikal. Best trogon sightings we've ever had. We had toucans and aracaris buzzing the swimming pool, monkeys, crocodiles, etc.

We had a similarly excellent experience at Lamanai Outpost Lodge--you hit the nail on the head with regard to attention to detail.

The place was only at about 30-40% capacity. Nevertheless, for every meal every table was set so that guests could choose exactly which table they wanted.
RAC is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 11:09 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,082
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi RAC,
We barely had a couple trogon sightings at Lamanai, but saw other birds there (although, not as many as I was hoping for); the place though was wonderful, the management fantastic, and everything there top notch.
xyz99 is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 11:28 AM
  #11  
RAC
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,951
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
At Lamanai, we had our best wildlife sightings walking in the back way to the Lamanai ruins from the lodge--trogons, toucans, and several troops of howler monkeys. They got so close that we had to be careful once they all started dropping bombs from the trees, if you know what I mean. That's also where we saw kinkajous on our night hike.

Lamanai ruins were also good for that--we saw a lek of red-capped manakins right in front of the big temple.

The howlers at the LOL grounds we saw very habituated to people--so much so we could have touched them at some points.
RAC is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 02:24 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,318
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
x, I'm so glad you loved Victoria House and Hol Chan. We did too. I'll have to put Lamanai on our to do list. I think we'd really love it.

Now off to check out pictures!
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 02:39 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 149
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
xyz99, you have done the Big 5 in Slovenia: Bled with Bohinj, Piran, Postonjska jama and Ljubljana. And you have also taken the Vrsic Pass road. One of the best in Slovenia. I don't know how much time you spent in Soča Valley area but there are some great locations like road to Mangart, Kluže fortress and spring of Soča River, all in Trenta Valley. For culinary delights Brda area. Dolenjska region is mostly overlooked yet there are some real gems. So next time you head to Ljubljana (I am actually living in Ljubljana) give me a call (maybe using message on Tripadvisor, same screen name).
Now I am going back to SmugMug for more treats!
xelas is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 02:43 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,318
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wow, your photos area really beautiful, and you got so many great wildlife pictures. I loved the pelicans. I've never seen anything like that. Such beautiful colors.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 03:39 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,125
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Enjoyed your trip report and photos! What did you use for the underwater ones?

Your next trip plans sound great.
Patty is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 03:51 PM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,082
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
xelas, thanks for all the ideas. We have vacations plans for the next 3 years, but I'll keep these notes handy for the next trip to Slovenia.

VG - thanks. I think you'll like Lamanai. It does not compare with either BdC or VH, but it is a great place in its own right.

Patty, I used an Olympus Tough. It does not require a housing, so it was very convenient. Last year in Bonaire I used a Canon G9 with a housing, and I think I like the colors of those pictures more...it's hard to decide which one I will use next time. Convenience or nicer pictures? I will probably go with the Canon...
xyz99 is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 07:13 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,318
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Lamanai looks a bit Cano Negroish or Tortugueroish - do you think it's similar? We love those kinds of places.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 09:12 PM
  #18  
RAC
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,951
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Probably more Cano Negro than Tortuguero, though the wildlife we saw there (especially on the boat ride to there) is much better than at Cano Negro. Only place we've seen the agami heron or Jabiru.

The boat to the lodge usually leaves at a different time than the day trip boats, so you see quite a bit of stuff as no other boats have disturbed them.
RAC is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2013, 02:56 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 149
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
And i thought of myself being and advance planner!! If not a secret, which are the countries on your to go list? Mine are Panama, Namibia and Iceland.
xelas is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2013, 05:08 AM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,082
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
RAC, during the boat trip we did not see too much wildlife, but it was a gray, rainy day (they provide rain ponchos). We got a good view of a Jabiru in Cano Negro, and a poor one in Lamanai; we did not see an agami heron...but this is wildlife, not a zoo...we enjoyed what we saw, and had a great time.

VG, I did not go to Tortugero (yet), so cannot compare.

zelas, next trips are Turkey, Italy and South Africa. All your 3 are on my list, too. Happy planning.
xyz99 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:42 AM.