help with itinerary

Old May 7th, 2018, 03:03 PM
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mad
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help with itinerary

In the beginning stages of planning a trip to Belize for next March. We are traveling with an eleven year old who's very well traveled. I'm initially thinking of a couple days at Lamanai Outpost Lodge and then 4 days at Hatchet Caye off of Placencia. Does this combo make sense? We also want to see the Belize City Zoo and do some cave tubing. I'd rather rent a car than take flights everywhere. Any recommendations on how to best organize this trip? Should we stay somewhere near Belize City for a day or two to see the zoo and cave tube? I'm assuming they'll pick us up from the airport and bring us to Lamanai and then we'll rent a car to drive to Placencia. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated before I make our reservations.
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Old May 7th, 2018, 03:26 PM
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While you can access Lamanai Outpost Lodge by road, part of the appeal for us is the jungly boat trip on the New River to the site; I'd go at least one way on the river so it seems a private driver might work better for you than a rental car for that part - I would talk to the lodge for their recommendations. The down side of a rental is either leaving it in Orange Walk town if you do the boat tour or missing the boat tour altogether.

For Hatchet Caye you'll need to make your way to Placencia which could be by road or by air or a combination; you'll arrange for the boat trip out and back from Placencia with the Hatchet Caye folks. The drive from Lamanai Outpost Lodge to Placencia would take up most of a day - 8 hours, maybe more depending on stops. You could do the Zoo part in the middle to break up the trip and might consider turning the car in at Placencia (extra fee, though) in order to fly back to BZE for your flight home.

The Belize Zoo isn't in Belize City; I would avoid staying in Belize City but staying at the zoo is a cool thing to do - you can do a night tour. It would be a good base for cave tubing but if you're adventurous sorts, I'd consider the ATM cave instead of tubing - might be the highlight of your trip:
https://www.pacztours.net/actun-tuni...ve-belize.html

My photos with blog links on the main page of each collection are below in case you're interested - all my recommendations are embedded there. Happy trails!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
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Old May 7th, 2018, 04:05 PM
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We stayed at Lamanai Outpost Lodge and loved it, did several nice tours there. We boated in like hopefulist described and saw lots of nice things along the way.
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Old May 8th, 2018, 07:48 AM
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Thanks for the info. Yes, our plan would be to rent the car after we return from Lamanai, as I don't want to miss that boat ride! Is 3 nights at Lamanai a good amount of time to spend there? Our down time will be at Hatchet Caye, so I just want to make sure there's a enough to do there for a few days. My understanding is it's a 3 hour drive from Belize City to Placencia, is it really an additional 5 hours coming from Lamanai? I thought it was more like 1 1/2 hours? We'll fly if it's that far. Lastly, is the ATM cave a doable trip with an 11 year old?
Thanks for any input!
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Old May 8th, 2018, 08:28 AM
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If I remember right, we spent 3 nights at LOL. We did a package that came with several tours - a guided hike, early morning birding, a trip to the ruins right next door, a medicine walk, and the best thing, a sunset cruise in a boat where we had our own personal bartender and snacks! There are a lot of crocs in the area. One adventure let you go out on some sort of research expedition where you could help tag the crocs, weigh them, etc. but we didn't do it. An 11 year old might like it! We saw howlers very close on the property while we were hiking. We also did a night time boat safari that was a little scary. It was in a tiny two seater boat with the guide standing up; he was driving so fast with no light on the boat. I had visions of bumping into a croc and tumbling overboard but we were fine. We also did a cooking class that was fun.
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Old May 8th, 2018, 08:56 AM
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Google maps suggests 5 hours from LOL to Placencia going through Belmopan (the coastal road makes it slower). We always figure drives in Latin America will take 1.5 to 2 x as long as google suggests, maybe more with significant stops for food, bathroom, photo ops. I haven't driven it personally but most people seem to say they drove Belize City to Placencia in 3.5 to 4 hours. Just plan for the trips to take longer than you expect and you won't be unhappily surprised.
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Old May 8th, 2018, 10:59 AM
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Thank you both for your input. Hopefulist I saw your amazing pics to ATM. Looks like an incredible trip. How much swimming was involved? Do they give life jackets? My son can swim, but just want to make sure this is a reasonable/safe trip to plan with him. Is ATM near the zoo? I'm thinking we should spend a night somewhere we can do both activities if possible. The zoo lodging is a little more rustic than I think we want. We have traveled extensively through Central America and am not sure we'll be wowed enough by a night visit at the zoo to sacrifice a good nights sleep! Any other nearby hotel options would be greatly appreciated if you know.
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Old May 8th, 2018, 11:54 PM
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LOL is grt. Much easier would be to book road/boat transfer one way (BZE to LOL 2.5 hrs) and charter flight from their airstrip to Placencia. Driving LOL to Placencia is about 5.5 hrs. Spend a night on arrival or departure in or near Belize City for the Zoo, tubing, zip, baboon, crooked tree-plenty to do in this area near the city. Just did the lagoon boat tour at Crooked Tree for the 3rd time this yr and we all loved it, birders and non birders
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Old May 9th, 2018, 02:15 PM
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Am starting to wonder if this is too much time traveling. Would we be missing out on a lot if we went to Chat Creek instead of Lamanai? Looks like we can visit ATM from there and lots of other activities.
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Old May 9th, 2018, 04:25 PM
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Do you mean Chaa Creek? If so, we stayed there and really liked it. We did a split between that and Ambergris on one of our trips, and it was great. We did a canoe trip to Barton Creek Cave from there, and it was awesome. Also did a day trip to Tikal with Pacz tours and enjoyed that.
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Old May 9th, 2018, 08:43 PM
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Yes, I'd choose a base near San Ignacio instead of Lamanai. We loved Chaa Creek's Jungle Camp and duPlooy's is another outstanding jungle lodge.
https://www.chaacreek.com/accommodat...budget-casitas
duPlooy's Jungle Lodge | Belize Vacations | Belize All Inclusive Vacation Packages

Tikal is on a whole different planet than Lamanai and is worth an overnight imo. Maybe hire a guide to meet you at the border and take you for a traditional lunch and tour of Yaxhá before dropping you at Tikal. Sunrise tours are amazing; here are my favorite Tikal guides.
Archaeologist Roxy Ortiz - she's busy but worth the effort if you are successful booking a tour with her: TIKAL ROXY'S TOURS
Marlon Díaz - great choice to provide transportation and tours combined: [email protected] a Gem Trips - Gem Trips

You could also consider a northern caye instead of Placencia/Hatchet to save even more time on the road/flights. I figure anything I miss is an excuse to return. Have a great trip, whatever you decide!
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Old May 9th, 2018, 09:51 PM
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Re: the ATM cave tour, you only have to swim about 25 feet at the start of the cave, the rest is clambering up a stream over rocks and boulders; our kids would have LOVED it when they were 11. There are also 3 rivers to cross on the walk in. You'd have to ask about life jackets - it didn't come up during our trip. I think our youngest nephew was about 12 when we did that tour with his family. Is ATM is not too far from the zoo; most tours for it leave from San Ignacio, though, and transport is provided.
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Old May 10th, 2018, 04:36 AM
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Ok, thanks this is great info.. This sounds like a more manageable itinerary so we're not in the car forever. I'll check out DuPlooy's too. Is Blancaneaux worth checking out? Also, wondering if we need a/c in mid-March? Thanks!
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Old May 10th, 2018, 06:07 AM
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It was hot when we went. Chaa Creek had a moveable fan, and I aimed it right at the bed lol.
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Old May 10th, 2018, 10:59 AM
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Depends on your personal tolerance for heat but we've traveled to Belize in January, February, March and May and the only trip where we felt AC was necessary was the one in May. And even on that trip we did fine with a fan in Cayo but when we moved to the coast, we ended up having to change accommodations because we couldn't sleep at night. Second the recommendation of duPlooys. You could stop at the zoo on your way to or from Cayo depending on the timing of your flight.

Last edited by Patty; May 10th, 2018 at 11:02 AM.
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Old May 10th, 2018, 11:27 AM
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Re: Blancaneaux, it gets strong reviews but I'd choose a more jungly location. The Mt. Pine Ridge area is interesting but I live in the Pacific NW and have larger stands of pine trees around my house than you see there. About 20 years ago 80%+ of the trees died off; replanting has made the area attractive again but no comparison to a jungly setting like Chaa Creek and duPlooy's (or Tikal!) imho.
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Old May 10th, 2018, 12:05 PM
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If I'm being honest, we probably have pretty low tolerance for sleeping in heat and humidity. may need to rethink. Unfortunately all the places with a/c seem to lack other amenities. Chaa Creek has some a/c, but it's over $1000 a night- eek! Will keep researching. thanks for all the advice.
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Old May 10th, 2018, 01:08 PM
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Guess you have to pay a price one way or another in order to sleep in a mind-blowing location. ;-)
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Old May 10th, 2018, 01:56 PM
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yes, there are worse decisions in life I can't seem to find the ideal. It's between Ka'ana with a/c or Chaa Creek without!
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Old May 10th, 2018, 02:10 PM
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When we stayed at Chaa Creek, we got a deal on Luxury Link. I don't even know if that's still around, but they listed a vacation at Chaa Creek, and I bid on it and was the only bidder. We lucked out. I can't believe it's that pricey now.
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