Guatemala vs Belize

Old Jan 18th, 2007, 12:52 AM
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Guatemala vs Belize

Just in the planning stages for an adventure/relaxation honeymoon for the last two weeks of March (soon!). Not too interested in seeing cities or towns or shopping but am very much interested in seeing nature and awesome sights while also wanting to relax some too. My boyfriend and I are early 30's and not too interested in party scenes for this trip. Getting away from big crowds of tourists would be a bonus (I know I'm one of them but I'd like a little space, you know?). We went to Peru last year and I found Cusco beautiful but a bit too overrun with travelers and tourists, though we really enjoyed the hike to Machu Picchu. I am an ex-budget backpacker who finally has at least some money to spend on this vacation, so can splurge for a few things like decent, efficient, transportation and pleasant rooms.

From what I've read, I've narrowed it down to:

1) Sailing on the Rio Dulce and Lake Izabel for 4 days. Relaxing, swimming, playing in hot steamy waterfalls. Looking at Aventuras Vacacionales.
2) Tikal. Ruins. I'm interested, but my boyfriend isn't if it's comparable to Machu Picchu. Anything else to do there? Good jungle hiking? Looking at Jungle Lodge.
3) From Guatemala, going to Belize. Either tubing Cave Branch or exploring ATM cave sounds good along with San Ignacio.
4) Visiting one of the Cayes. Which one? There are so many to choose from. I want to relax and eat and see crystal clear blue waters, my boyfriend wants to dive. I thought South Water Caye looked nice and mellow. What about Caulkers and Ambergris Cayes?

If you were flying into Belize City and had 12 days before flying out, what would you do in the above itinerary and why and how (as in transportation)?

I know, lots to ask but you never know! Thanks in advance.

kuriouskat is offline  
Old Jan 18th, 2007, 02:59 AM
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Hi - and congrats.

Here's a few thoughts. I haven't sailed on Lago Izabel (though looked at it as a possibility - hadn't enough time). What really caught my imagination was the much recommended trip from Rio Dulce to Livingston or v.v.

So with that in mind, you could maybe do a loop. And don't you just love the idea of not retracing your steps?

It would go something like this; fly into Belize City and visit one of the cayes. Make your way to Punta Gorda, and take boat to Livingston. Sample the waterfalls and the vibes; sail up to Rio Dulce; catch bus to Tikal. From Tikal take tourist shuttle to San Ignacio - and eventually back to Belize City.

check out Maya Island Air for Belize internal flights. A plan like this would depend a lot on boat schedules(you would have to research) but once you are in Livingston the trip to RD I believe is relatively short, so you could connect with the Maya de Oro lux bus that leaves Gua City at 10.30am

From memory this got to RD at about 3.30pm. Then it's c.3.5 hrs to Tikal.
From Tikal there is a daily shuttle that gets you to San Ignacio at about 11.30am - you can buy a through ticket and get on it again another day to Belize City.

Or you could skip Gua altogether. Thing is, once you have got to Livingston it is probably easier to complete the loop than wait for a boat going back the other way - cos I am as sure as anything that it is not a daily service.

Others will be along to recommend which Caye. I have only had the opportunity to visit Caye Caulker, which is VERY laid back - and is at the cheap and cheerful end of the spectrum, (but gorgeous all the same).

Happy planning and safe travels.
fuzzylogic is offline  
Old Jan 18th, 2007, 06:53 AM
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The loop sounds good, but I'd end with the island part, and, in your case, I'd choose SWC unless you have the money to spring for a resort out on Glover's (or want to really rough it at Glover's Atoll Resort). Google to find the places or let me know if you want help with that process.

Machu Picchu is still waiting on my list so can't compare. Tikal is amazing and part of the appeal is the incredible jungle that surrounds it. From the top of pyramids all you can see is jungle to every horizon but for a few other pyramids poking up. I recommend staying in the park but, with ann extra day or 2, you could explore Flores which I've heard is a nice place to visit and would give you a different taste of the region from the Caribbean aspect you'd be focussing on.

Congratulations and have a wonderful "luna de miel", whatever you decide.
hopefulist is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2007, 08:33 AM
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Personally, I love the Belize/Guatemala loop via Punta Gorda and the Rio Dulce, but if you did need to backtrack you won't have problems getting back to PG.

There is a minimum of 2 direct services each week from Livingston to PG, but on the other days it's easy enough to hop over to Puerto Barrios and catch one of the 3 daily crossings.
hickatee is offline  
Old Jan 31st, 2007, 10:11 PM
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We did the playa & maya trip last year

Based on what you said, I think you'll enjoy Tikal because it is simply a great place. You might want to add Yaxha for Mayan ruins with basically no tourists.

In Belize, we liked the San Ignacio / Mountain Pine Ridge area for the outdoor activities (we did a day trip to Caves Branch for cave tubing - we avoided the cruise ship crowds, hopefully you are as lucky) We were in SI about 12 years ago, the surrounding area has grown but the town seems the same. It has tourists but it is far from out of control.

The same can't be said for Ambergris - it was totally different from our last trip - huge growth. Based on your comments, you may prefer Caye Caulker or some place further south in Belize. That said - we did like Ambergris - it worked well for our family. My son and I did our open water certification there - Belize is a great place for diving.

I just posted some of my photos at If you look for Scott H, there are two postings - one for Guatemala and one for Belize. A picture is worth a thousand words, these may help with your decisions.

Have fun!
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