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Old Jan 22nd, 2009, 08:24 AM
  #21  
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Too many options! I am researching all of the caye possibilities, but then we don't get the drumming and culture of Hopkins. Meanwhile, I am booking the flights and Caves Branch part of the trip today. That leaves us with 4 nights. My husband said to tell everyone that he is open to going to a cooler, mountainous environment instead of the beach.

HLester3 - How old are your kids? What is your itinerary? Where are you staying in Ambergris? Flores and Pacaya sound excellent. I spent 3 months in Guatemala (on the aforementioned backpacking trip), but I think it was before Pacaya was accessible. (We have "done" volcanoes in CR, but never with marshmallows. However, I feel as if Guatemala might be a whole separate trip.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2009, 08:47 AM
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There really isn't a "cooler, mountain environment" in Belize - it's mostly very low lying and I don't think the small elevation difference makes a huge difference temperature-wise. In my opinion - if you're wanting culture and drumming - don't go to a fancy all inclusive resort. Head to Hopkins and stay in a cute cabana place in the village, ask them to help you arrange snorkeling or diving trips, eat local food, rock out with the drummers, visit the Mayflower site and/or Cockscomb. At the end taxi to Dangriga and fly from there to BZE for your flight home. Check out http://www.hopkinsinn.com/ and let me know if you have questions I could help with. I think you have a good plan, just don't feel like you can stay in a fancy resort and really get a feel for the culture. Happy trails!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2009, 09:35 AM
  #23  
 
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Hi Crosscheck. I think that we have run into each other before planning trips on the Aisa board. I have now 7 year old boy/girl twins. I probably do things a little out of the ordinary, as we like to see as much as possible when we are someplace, instead of spending a lot of time in few places. Last summer we had a month long trip to Europe and went to 10 countries.

We have 3 weeks in Latin America

SFO-Costa Rica
3 nights Bosque del Cabo
2 nights Peace Lodge (fingers crossed it will be open by then)
2 nights - Arenal at Lost Iguana

Transfer to Nicaragua
3 nights - Morgan's Rock
1 night - Granada fly out

Fly to Guatemala City
2 nights- Fly Antigua / Pacaya

Fly to Flores
2 nights - Tikal - Tikal Inn
Fly to Belize City / Dangriga
2 nights - Thatch Caye -Dangriga
2 nigths -Ambergris ?? Changes in Latitudes

I decided I had to go to Ambergis after I saw Samantha Brown Belize and she was snorkeling with the sharks. Here instructor was holding the sharks to pet, etc. and it looked great out on the reef. Only about 6-8 feet deep they said so it would be perfect for the kids. I tracked down the snorkle company that she used an he suggested Changes in Latitudes and even said he can arrange discounts at most of the hotels. He said that the women who run Changes in Latitudes are realy great and helped him out and other people around town with there web pages so he tries to steer business to them. The got good reviews on TA, a little different than we usually stay, but I was thinking of trying it out, since is actually in town in San Pedro, so it would be convenient for eating, and you can use the pool at the yacht club next door. My other choice was more expensive, Zanadu but they have a 3 night min.

I kept trying to find the perfect Jungle Lodge in Belize, but everyone on the boards seemed to think that BDC was on par with anything in Belize, and it seemed that Chan Chich was geared more toward birders so we decided to go down to OSA again. We were there 2 years ago, but could not get reservations at BDC and stayed at Black Turtle Lodge next door to Iguana Lodge.

I have heard the hike up Pacaya is a little taxing as it is about 2 hours, but we have our hiking boots already and are getting in practice hikes before we go. I am in the process of trying to find a good company to do a private climb since the kids will be with us.

I am hoping that Tikal will be as exciting as Ankor. Since we got some great pictures there and the kids liked climbing around.

I oringinally was planning only Costa Rica and then Belize, and then after I kept reading the Boards I had to add in Guatemala and Nicaragua. I stared reading about Morgan's Rock and I had to add Nicaragua. I saw a video of people climbing Pacaya on YouTube and showed the kids and they were very excited. Where else in the world can you climb up on the lava fields and see lava.

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Old Jan 22nd, 2009, 11:19 AM
  #24  
 
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hlester3 -
If you're planning to take kids, PLEASE hire a reliable guide outfit and be flexible where Pacaya is concerned. I'm an avid hiker and survived the day but in no way would young children have been safe up there the day I made the hike - pops of steam and lava, narrow bridge crossings over molten areas, melted shoes. I climbed in the afternoon and the climb down over volcanic scree in the dark was extremely challenging. I think a reliable outfit would counsel you to stop short or pick a different day if the volcano is too active for them to safely escort children.

Also, please consider a trip at some point during which you expose your children to the beautiful culture and people of Central America. I can tell from teh websites that places like Morgan's Rock, Bosque del Cabo, and Peace Lodge are lovely but in my opinion they're not the "real" CA that kids can enjoy when you stay put for a few days in a village, stay in local lodging, eat at a variety of local restaurants, and allow your kids to become friends with children from different cultures. In Belize alone our kids made Maya, Creole, and Garifuna friends and enjoyed meeting and talking to several Mennonite families. Maybe after you've touched base a lot of places in CA one area will touch your heart and you'll want to return and get to know it as we have our favorite haunts in Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize. Just my 2 cents' worth...
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Old Jan 22nd, 2009, 06:37 PM
  #25  
 
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Hopefulist - thank you for your suggestions. I am trying to find a private guide for Pacaya, since safety is more important than anyone. I just read someone's review of OX Adventures I believe and I am going to contact them. I sent an e-mail to another company but they have not responded. I am not planning on going to the top, just the lowest lava field with a small amount of lava. Hopefully that wont be too bad. The way you descirbed your climb, is definitly not something I would want to attempt with the kids. Would the hike be as you described just to the 1st lava?

Thanks, Heather
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Old Jan 22nd, 2009, 07:16 PM
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In nice weather the hike to the first lava would be pleasant with kids and the views beautiful. If the kids get tired the locals will be quick to offer a horse. I've only been up there once and have no idea how typical my day was. Starting in the morning would make it easier - cooler to start, less chance of rain, daylight descent. Since 2 nights = 1 day to explore, I can't imagine transitioning every 2 or 3 days, but I hope your trip is everything you hope it will be.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2009, 09:09 PM
  #27  
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Reserved flights - (30,000 miles per ticket LAX-BZE - includes a weekend in Atlanta for me to attend a wedding!) Ready to begin some serious fine-tuning.

hopefulist, Patty, StanKase & Hoyas,
Checking out everyone's suggestions - Thanks so much. Cnsidering cayes and non-resort options (like Hopkins Inn), which is what we often do in Mexico.

HLester3 - What a trip - Fantastic! I am tempted to be like the people on the Asia board who would scold you about not staying long enough in each place, but it sounds like you know your family. I do think you might end up wanting more time in Granada and Antigua (to soak up the culture, as hopefulist suggests). And if you can, you should try to get to at least one market in Guatemala.

Where in SE Asia did you end up going besides Cambodia? I'm dying to go back to see Laos.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 06:14 PM
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Hi. I know we are going fast, but we like to see the places and then decide if we want to go back.

I really liked Aisa a lot. We flew into Tokyo for a 4 or 5 days then flew down to Bangkok. One of the things that the kids loved most was the floating market, and they really loved Tong.

From Bangkok we went up to Chaing Mai for a couple of days to the Mandarin Oriental and then went over to Siem Reap. I think it was your suggestion or KimJapan who suggested the Victoria Hotel. Madison really loved it there because she got to feed the baby alligator. This hotel and Ankor turned out to be our favorite place for the whole trip.

After Cambodia we headed to Myanmar.
We went to Yangon and to Bagan. We were there just as the monks were starting to march, so I was very happy to get out of there. We would be getting CNN at the hotel and then all of a sudden the cable would fail and we would not get any news channels except cartoons and the gov. channel.

We then flew up to Beijing and were there for a few days. It was nice, very polluted city, but unbelievable buildings.

We haven't really done much in Latin America except Costa Rica. How would you compare Aisa to LAtin America? I was very surprised how friendly everyone was when we were traveling in Aisa.

Did you take the kids up to the elephants at the hotel in Thailand that everyone raves about? I think I remember reading your trip report.

Heather
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Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 07:58 PM
  #29  
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Wow - Myanmar. You are adventurers. We went in on a day trip - Would love to return, if it becomes safe.

Yes, we did stay at the Victoria Angkor and go to elephant camp at the Anantara - It was I who wrote the "Boy Falls Off Elephant" Trip Report.

Hard to compare Asia and Latin America, especially because I speak fluent Spanish - lived in Mexico & Venezuela, worked in Cuba & Chile.
For me places in SE Asia like Bali and Cambodia w/ their rice paddies are more exotic - more surreal, spiritual vistas, though you definitely can find that in Latin America if you get off the beaten path - especially in Guatemala or Peru.

You will find that people are super friendly and love kids. Great music everywhere. Kids preferred food in Asia - more variety. That said, there is nothing like a whole fish under a palapa on the beach.

For me the best part about Latin America is that it's another world that's so close - no endless flights, jet lag or time zone issues. You can even go somewhere w/jungles and ruins and Indians and colorful markets for a long weekend.

You will have a wonderful trip and if you get hooked, it's a lot cheaper and more convenient travel habit than Asia.

To everyone else, if you have read this far:
Help! I still haven't found a good beach destination. Hopkins Inn is full, and probably wouldn't have worked for us anyway. Caves Branch people are offering me a deal and huge suite at Almond Beach, but the website is not as appealing as Hamanasi's.

Just looked at a bunch of hotels in Placencia and Ambergris and I'm beginning to think that all resorts in Belize have posted the same photo of the dock with the thatched hut on the end. And they're all shot so you can tell how wide the beach is.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 08:12 PM
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I've heard great things about South Water Caye - gorgeous beaches, great snorkeling from shore, diving, flats fishing. It wouldn't have the cultural interest of Hopkins, though. Maybe you could spend 4 nights at Caves Branch, a night in Hopkins, and 4 nights on South Water before flying home (or one in Hopkins, then taxi to Dangriga and fly to BZE and home.
http://southwatercaye.com/
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