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Jungle Fever - Can You Help With Belize Itinerary? Part 2

Jungle Fever - Can You Help With Belize Itinerary? Part 2

Old Apr 18th, 2010, 10:30 AM
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Jungle Fever - Can You Help With Belize Itinerary? Part 2

Thanks SO much for all of your help so far! I just used frequent flier miles for my ticket and half of my husbands, so airfare will cost under $300 for both of us. the dates are February 7-25. I thought I'd run my final itinerary by 'the experts" before reserving:

4 nights Trek Stop: our flight doesn't get in until nearly 4 p.m. Do you think we should travel to the Trek Stop the first night? My concern is that night will fall before we figure out the transportation system.

1 night overnight Pacz Tikal tour: Is it better to schedule over the internet, or wait until we arrive? Leave most of our luggage at the Trek Stop.

1 night Trek Stop.

Transfer to Macal River Camp for 4 nights.

Hopkins Inn: 3 nights Transfer bus to Belize City, taxi to boat taxi? is there a better way?

Caye Caulker: Mara's Place, 5 nights. do we need to return to Belize City to catch another water taxi/ I couldn't find one on-line that runs directly.

Plane home.
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Old Apr 18th, 2010, 11:11 AM
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Hello again -
Sounds like a wonderful trip!! Here are a few notes:

:: It will be dark by 6pm+/- so you won't make it to the Trek Stop before dark no matter what. You could consider D'Nest Inn north of Belize City or hire a shuttle or taxi and spend the 1st night by the zoo.
http://www.dnestinn.com/
http://belizezoo.org/

:: If you're sure of your Tikal date, I'd go ahead and reserve in advance. You won't have trouble waiting till a few days before to schedule transportation but occasionally groups sweep through and take up the lodging in the park. If you schedule ahead you might get very lucky and be able to reserve an early morning tour with archaeologist Roxy Ortiz who bases out of the Tikal Inn (my favorite of the park hotels) when she's not on a dig. She's truly phenomenal. You'd have to contact the Tikal Inn directly about that, though Pacz can (and probably should) reserve your room if you decide to stay there.
www.tikalinn.com

:: You can bus from Hopkins to Belize City, taxi to dock (not far but worth the taxi imo), then ferry to Caye Caulker. It would be more expensive but quicker to taxi or shuttle to Dangriga and fly to Caulker from there. You could also consider hiring a shuttle. That way you could stop along the way - check out the inland Blue Hole, buy a melon from a roadside stand, stop for lunch or bathroom breaks, etc.

:: I don't really get your last question - the ferries run between Caulker and the Belize City dock on a regular schedule, then you taxi from there to the airport. Or you could shell out a few more bucks and fly to the airport. An in between option is to fly to the municipal airport (cheaper) and taxi from there.

Thanks for the update - keep us posted!
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Old Apr 18th, 2010, 03:07 PM
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I think I understand the last question. Yes, you will need to return to Belize City, then catch the water taxi to Caye Caulker. No direct water transportation between Hopkins and the northern cayes.

Your trip sounds wonderful.
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Old Apr 18th, 2010, 03:16 PM
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This just surfaced on the Belize Forum and I thought it might interest you:

http://www.iica.int/Eng/regiones/cen...lan%202010.pdf

www.belizeforum.com

Happy trails!
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Old Apr 18th, 2010, 09:09 PM
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Ahh - I see what happened; I posted on the general Central America forum - twice - instead of the Belize forum! Obviously too excited to focus....

Thanks, hope and Jean - very helpful advice. You're correct, Jean; that is what I meant, and you answered my question.

Tikal sounds the most difficult to reserve, logistically. Does anyone know how Pacz handles their overnight tours? I would love to get that guide; she sounds like she makes the place come alive - no punning intended...

Both of those accommodation options sound great, thanks.If we can't catch a shuttle to The Trek Stop the first night, we'll reserve one of the two. And thanks for that fascinating article! I hope that Hopkins doesn't become over-developed. Do you think it's inevitable? And wouldn't it be great to attend that November 19th celebration?
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Old Apr 18th, 2010, 10:09 PM
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We've meet a few expats in Hopkins but have never seen another tourist there. I think most must stay in the resorts off either end of the village, which is a shame since it's the village itself that is so interesting. I don't see it becoming over developed anytime soon, but you never know.

I don't know how Pacz handles overnight tours. If you wanted to just connect with the Tikal Inn (and Roxy) yourself, you could see what they charge for the transportation only. Tikal Inn is easy to communicate with - the manager, Michael Ortiz, speaks English well and is usually prompt to reply.

You won't have trouble arranging a shuttle to the Trek Stop, though shuttles in Belize are pricey. Let me know if you want names. Actually, the ones we used are in my travelogue and the Trek Stop folks could help, too.

Garifuna Settlement day is definitely on my list for when I retire. I could retire in June but am planning to continue to teach until my husband can retire in 2013. I've really enjoyed leading groups on language immersion trips and would like to develop a small business after I retire to take small groups to celebrations in Latin America - Settlement Day, Semana Santa in Antigua, Dia de los Muertos in the highlands of México....

Happy trails! Keep us posted!
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Old Apr 19th, 2010, 04:15 PM
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Hey ct, how are you?! What? Not going to BdC next February? No worries, you'll LOVE Belize! And maybe you and your DH and jeanh and hers can meet up. We've met all of you guys and had great fun, so surely you would enjoy one another's company! Oops, I forget, you're not going to Ambergris. . . .

I'll have to get DD to send a photo of the new baby with his little hat on--very cute! Sweet of you. Drop me an e-mail when you get a chance. Just back from FL--pooped! 6 more weeks of school.

hope, are you counting the days also? You'll probably say "no" and then I'll feel guilty!
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Old Apr 19th, 2010, 04:17 PM
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Good deal on the airfare! By the way, Hopkins and CC sound like great choices. Also Macal River Camp. Not familiar with Trek Stop, makes me think of Truck Stop, but surely it will have more nature!
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Old Apr 19th, 2010, 09:17 PM
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Shillmac! Six more weeks and then BdC? I'm thrilled for you! Look for an e-mail soon - MUCH to catch up on! Yeah, it was a torturous decision to skip our beloved BdC.

hope and jean, I e-mailed The Trek Stop; am waiting to hear back. I'll bet you get some Fodorites on your trips, hope - grand idea!

I'll be back to pester you guys for information as soon as I know more!
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 08:03 AM
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Oh no, not BdC! Maybe can talk DH into a few days at some point, but this is a "business" vacation, you know, the kind where you try to accomplish something and save money in the process! Hoping to get the construction started. We are meeting hip and her daughter at Tortuguero, and will tour about some with our granddaughter when she arrives, Flamingo, Arenal, Puerto Viejo areas.

Rest assured I'll be working on a way to get to the Osa, though! I'd like a few more days at Bosque del Rio Tigre as well. The birding was so good there.
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Old May 14th, 2010, 08:05 AM
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Well, the Trek Stop seems to be falling through, sadly. They are horrible about communicating, and seem to have lost my credit card information. So - I am now looking at Clarissa Falls as a substitute. Clarissa Falls also offers reasonable transport to/from Tikal. Hope, I am disappointed, as this place sounds like just our style!
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Old May 14th, 2010, 11:33 AM
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I'm a little sad for you but just a little. Clarissa Falls gets good reviews and it has a lovely setting. When we were staying at the Trek Stop in 2003 we floated the Mopan from the Succotz bridge to Clarissa Falls and looked around before we were picked up there. No worries - you'll be fine!

How's the rest of the trip falling into place?
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Old May 14th, 2010, 12:08 PM
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Thanks! I'm glad that we've started the process early. Seems too early for some spots, not early enough for others (Macal Camp).We really can't go too wrong hope, as we haven't yet seen any of Belize; it's all good!

I do hope that the Trek Stop isn't slipping, as it sounded great.
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Old May 14th, 2010, 04:23 PM
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The Trek Stop has 3 owners, an American couple, John and Judy, who have been stateside due to health issues for most of the last year, and a wonderful local man, Tino. I've read complaints in reviews that it wasn't clean but I stopped by on my way through last summer and it looked as laid back and beautiful as ever. I think Tino really has his hands full, though, running it by himself. Maybe it will work for you to stay there your next trip.
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Old May 14th, 2010, 05:11 PM
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The cleanliness issue was never one of my prime concerns. We're quite used to roughing it, so my expectations was for only a step up from camping.Anything over that was a plus. Bugs, heat and noisy animals are to be expected; it's a jungle out there! My concern is more with a lack of concern for customers. I guess I was expecting warm, accommodating and friendly. Perhaps Tino is overloaded.
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Old May 14th, 2010, 05:37 PM
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Quite honestly, I don't expect "warm, accommodating, and friendly" in CA, though I often find it. We've stayed some really, truly wonderful places that the quiet, hardworking local owners were either shy or not tech savvy or too busy doing everything themselves to roll out the red carpet. I understand that they lose business and, sadly, they often lose it to expats who have established a business that caters to US visitors the way they like to be catered to.

In general I prefer "warm, accommodating, and friendly" to "quiet, unorganized, and/or busy" but, as you dig deeper into CA and visit more, I caution you against dismissing places out of hand simply because their standard of customer service isn't to a US level. Just part of that "you're not in Kansas anymore" charm....
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Old May 14th, 2010, 07:50 PM
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Alright, dismiss 'accommodating; granted it's true that we Americans sometimes expect a level of service that is unreasonable, in my opinion. However, I believe that "warm and friendly" are traits that are universal. I have traveled to Costa Rica three times, and frankly, I have found Ticos to be, in general, friendly and welcoming.
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Old May 14th, 2010, 08:16 PM
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And,with all due respect, I do not finding repeatedly losing my information, especially credit card information, "charming".
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Old May 14th, 2010, 09:28 PM
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Yeah, losing credit card information is not good, not charming at all.

Each of us has a different level of need in terms of amenities and customer service. For example, I have you pegged as a sort of traveler who, like me, can give up certain creature comforts for the sake of a great location or cultural vibe. I guess what I'm saying (not very well) is that finding hidden gems is a highlight of travel for me and sometimes why they're hidden is because of something as simple as poor organizational skills on the part of the owner or manager.

We found Tino to be one of the warmest, friendliest people we've met on our travels. We ended up spending a day with Tino and his wife visiting area attractions and afterwards he invited me to their home in San José Succotz Village to meet their daughter and see the educational project they have going on the ground floor of their house for local kids.

We had 2 glaringly bad customer service issues on our 1st trip. Even with reserving months in advance and confirming lodging, dinner, and breakfast a week ahead at the Tropical Ed Center at the Belize Zoo, we were dropped off at the end of 24+ hours enroute to questioning looks and no food options within walking distance. They found a place for us to sleep and allowed us to use a (really filthy) kitchen and since we had packed dehydrated food for use later in the trip we were set. The grounds and wildlife were absolutely magical and we had it to ourselves - our first night in the tropics and a treasure we'll never forget.

I'd reserved a cabin in the Cockscomb Reserve 9 or 10 months in advance and when I called to confirm a week ahead, learned they'd given our reservation away months before to someone who planned to stay longer and they hadn't informed us; now all the cabins were booked. They said there was always room in the campground, so we decided to camp (even though we knew in advance the mozzies would be ferocious). When we arrived (after a fairly challenging chain of chicken buses and a scrounged taxi) we found the campground full with a huge tour group. BUT...there was a cabin available! We were just barely able to scrape together the extra cost in cash (no banks within an hour or 2) and got to stay in a really incredible reserve - waterfalls, howler monkeys, baby gray fox kits playing in the grass.

Sometimes it's the things that don't go right that bring out the beauty and uniqueness and "not USness" of a place. I think if things went perfectly on a CA trip I'd be a little creeped out.

All that said, you're smart to use your instincts when it comes to selecting a place. Other than reviews by strangers, sometimes all you have to go on is the back-and-forth communications ahead of time setting things up. If it doesn't feel right, it's probably not and you're best staying somewhere else.

Did you get it figured out to stay for 3 nights at the Jungle Camp?
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Old May 15th, 2010, 03:12 AM
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hope,I figured that was probably the case with Tino, friendly, but overworked and disorganized. He sounds like someone I would definitely have loved to meet - my loss, I'm sure.

I agree, sometimes good things happen when things go wrong! I laughed about your comment about being creeped out if everything went right in CA! I recall being stranded for an entire day at a garage in a Kenyan village when our driver's small van broke down instead of making a tour, and loving every moment. Sometimes the most important items to remember to pack for a foreign country are flexibility and your sense of humor!
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