Bus travel time from Tikal to San Ignacio?

Old Apr 19th, 2002, 04:40 AM
Owen O'Neill
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Bus travel time from Tikal to San Ignacio?

Planning my first trip to belize and still deciding whether to include Tikal or leave it for some occasion when I have more time. I arrive at BZE 11:24 AM and am considering the 2:30 flight to Flores. Would then get a bus/shuttle to Jaguar Inn on the park grounds, see sunset and sunrise at Tikal and leave early-mid afternoon the next day, heading to San Ignacio where I'll do a river/cave tube trip the next day. Tube trip should return to SI at about 3:30 and I'd like to bus it to Belize City from there, taxi to hotel from bus station and take first AM flight to Cay Caulker where I'll stay for balance of trip. Is this a realistic and/or doable itinerary? I realize it's a bit ambitious and active for my first trip there but I'm traveling solo and prefer to fill up my time wiht movement and activities until I get to CC where I'll do some serious relaxing.
Old Apr 19th, 2002, 06:35 AM
Lan Sluder
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If you were driving yourself, it's only about 1 1/2 hours from San Ignacio to Tikal, but by bus, with stops, crossing the border, changing buses, etc. I'd figure three hours and it could be more. From San Ignacio to Belize City it's about 2 hours or a little more, depending on the type of bus.

So that's a pretty full day. I think I'd spend the night in San Ignacio, which is a much nicer place than Belize City anyway, and head out early the next morning to Belize City and Caulker. I highly recommend the Aguada in San Ignacio (actually next door in Santa Elena).

--Lan Sluder
Old May 6th, 2002, 08:16 AM
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Owen, If you can get to Tikal, by all means go. We were with a group, so we only had one full day and part of the next morning there. My husband and two others went into the site at 6:00AM when then opened. He said that it was one of the most magical experiences of his life. It was eerie with the sounds of the howler monkeys screaming in the dim morning light of the dawn. The site was nearly empty and that morning turned out to be the hightlight of my husband's trip.

If you only want to visit the main areas of Tikal, one and a half days will be fine. If you want to explore the more outer lying areas, like the Temple of the Inscriptions, North Complex, you will need more time.

We flew into Flores and our hotel, the Westin El Camino Real, was about 25 minutes from Tikal. We would have preferred to stay on the site itself.

I agree with Lan, Belize City has nothing to offer and I would rather stay in St. Ignacio.

In Belize, we stayed at the Pelican Beach Resort, which we would not recommend for various reasons. Our flight home was from Belize City. Our group took the tour bus, but we decided before leaving home, to fly for $45. It took the group three hours to get to the airport, we flew there in 20 minutes. Fly the short flights whenever you can. Those roads are bumpy, narrow and seem to take forever. The novelty wears off very fast. The small planes were comfortable and fun, and arrived and departed on schedule.

If you are going from SI to Belize City, see if there is a flight, rather than taking the bus. Make advance reservations on all flights, as all of the small planes that we were on, were full and the airline thought nothing of bumping people and separating couples and making them take flights that were two or three hours apart.

That one day with the tube rafting is going to be a very very long and full day. I'd rethink continuing to another destination, unless you have a lot of stamina, especially if you want to tackle Tikal. Relax overnight in SI and leave the next day.

If you are really into the Mayan Ruins, you would be doing it and yourself a disservice by rushing to and from Tikal. Save it for another trip - it's worth it.

Old May 6th, 2002, 08:57 AM
Owen O'Neill
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Thanks Nina - since my original post here I have rescheduled my flight to arrive two days earlier and may also leave a day later than originally planned. Here's the new itinerary - any comments that you, Lan or others with belize experience may have to offer will be helpful and appreciated. I do recognize that thigns don't always move on a predictable schedule there and that I'll have to accomodate but I like havign at least a working plan in advance.
Day 1 - arrive at BZE and take flight to Flores Tikal to arrive there at 3:30, then taxi or shuttle to Jaguar Inn in the Tikal park. Get a quick view of main plaza of the park and see sunset from atop a temple.
Day 2 - suunrise from the temple and explore main areas until early afternoon, then get shuttle to border and bus to Belmopan/Hummingbird Highway and make it to Ian's Caves Branch lodge for dinner.
Day 3 and 4 - If I hget lucky enough to have someone else sign up I'll do the two day Black Hole Drop overnight caving expedition, otherwise I'll do two separate one day trips. Late on day 4 I'll get a bus to Belize City, arriving after dark and taking cab direct to decent hotel.
Day 5, 6 and 7 - first AM flight to Caye Caulker. Scuba recert classes each morning and relax in afternoons - maybe snorkel and swim a bit.
Day 8 and 9 - Now having new dive card, go on a scuba trip each day - not the biggies but somethign fun and low-key
Day 10 - water taxi to BC and back to BZE to fly home

I will look into a flight from SI to BC - perhaps it could get me there early enough to catch the 5 PM water taxi (I really doubt it as the caves Branch tour ends at 3:30). I realize this is a rather ambitious agenda but there are several issues
1) when I travel alone I liek to stay really busy
2) it seems like a short time at Tikal but I anticipate returning to Belize with a female companion next year and will have a much more leisurely schedule
3) I can always cut Caves Branch back to one day and take a day for travel in the middle of the trip if circumstances necessitate
4) although it is a great way to really experience the culture, I prefer to get traveling done early and late in the day when possible to maximize the time I'll have for activities
5) althoughj I've heard mixed reports about BC I'm not going there as a "destination" - it's just a place to sleep on my waye to Caye Caulker

Others have shot holes in this itinerary before I added the two days on - I'm still open to the possibility that it's unrealistic and will appreciate feedback.
Old May 6th, 2002, 09:39 AM
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Owen, Your new itinary sounds more than do-able, and it looks like you have done a lot of planning and research for this trip. If you are a fish eater, you will enjoy fabulous, fresh fish there and of course, lots of beans and rice. Sorry no creme brulee.

Your time at Tikal sounds like it will be well spent.

Don't worry about exchanging money. Although there are no ATM's, you can easily exchange dollars or traveler's checks at your hotel, or use your credit card. We found the rates to be consistant everywhere, and we never felt like we were being taken advantage of. Usually we don't exchange money in stores or hotels because of the lower rates, but in Guatemala, Belize and Costa Rica, this was not the case.

The people everywhere were very very warm and friendly.

I wish that I could be of more help, but when you take a tour as we did, most of the choices are made for you. Never, never again.... back to independent travel.

Old May 6th, 2002, 09:58 AM
Owen O'Neill
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Yes... independent is the way to go. Not only is it fun (at least for some of us) to do the planning, but prices can be way lower. I was going to stay in bunkhouse type accomodations at Jaguar Inn until I found out (by e-mailing them) that bunkhouse can't be reserved but May is already low season and I can get a single room with private bath and hot water shower for $20 per night! It appears that there are prices just as low or close to it on Caye Caulker as well. Admittedly these will be somewhat spartan accomodations but I'll save the nice places for future travels when I have a companion. I could easily live on a diet of stewed chicken, fresh fish and rice n'beans. This should be fun!
Old May 6th, 2002, 03:19 PM
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$20 for a single room with private bath and hot water, right on the Tikal site ... I'd go for that too. There were several restaurants on the site, but I don't know how late they stay open for dinner.

Flores is a nice little town to walk through and pick up some reasonably priced souveniers or to eat lunch before your departure.

We had mixed accomodations on our Central American tour. Some were plush, some were very basic. The bugs and snakes don't know the difference. The main thing is that the ceiling fans work.

We found out about the $45 twenty minute flight from Pelican Beach Resort to Belize Airport, on line. The rest of the group, rode the hot, smelly, bumpy bus for three hours. Because we did our own international flights with frequent flyer miles, the tour company was going to charge us $30 each for the bus ride. For $15 extra, look what we got instead.

Waiting for your trip report, after June 5.

Old May 7th, 2002, 10:23 AM
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hi there. my girlfriend and i just got back from belize last night. we did a day trip to tikal from san ignacio and it was definitely worth it. the mayan pyramids towering out of the dense jungle were stunning. the howler and spider monkeys clambering around the site added the final touch to a great trip. i would recommend staying the night there, though, and doing sunrise from temple #4. looks like an amazing setting for the sunrise.

we did our tour through the guest house we used in san ignacio - http://www.parrot-nest.com . it was a little more than taking the regular bus ($75 US each), but took away a lot of the hassles of the border crossing and included all the fees and permits and meals and transport. two people took the tour over to tikal, spent the night and then came back the next day with the same tour company. The tour was run by a guy named Mates who operates out of Eva's in san ignacio. Great guide - very, very knowledgeable and friendly.

Good luck and definitely go.
Old May 7th, 2002, 01:40 PM
Owen O'Neill
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Thanks Matt - I'll call or email Eva's and see if can connect with Mates. I'm flying to Flores but will need to come back by bus through San Ignacio on my way to Belmopan and Hummingbird Highway. It would be much easier to just pay for the ride back with his group if there's room as opposed to doing it all myself. Any idea which temple would be best for sunset? I should be there for both sunset and sunrise as I am arriving late afternoon and staying the night.
Old May 8th, 2002, 02:11 AM
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Matt told you already. TEMPLE #4
Old May 8th, 2002, 05:43 AM
Owen O'Neill
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Hey Yo - Matt mentioned that Temple #4 was the best one for sunrise (I have also heard this from other sources). I don't know the layout of the site and was trying to determine if #4 was also the best spot to see SUNSET or if there was some other vantage point in the park that might be better for that. I allow for the possibility that temple #4 may have a great view facing east but that some other spot at Tikal might have a better spot for facing west.
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