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what ruins/jungle resort would you recommend in Belize?

what ruins/jungle resort would you recommend in Belize?

Old Jan 18th, 2010, 10:08 AM
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PMJ
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what ruins/jungle resort would you recommend in Belize?

My husband, two daughters, and son-in-law are planning a trip to Belize next December. We all want to see Mayan Ruins, but can't decide which ones/where. If we're only going once, and probably to just one, which would you recommend? Any nearby jungle resorts you would recommend? We are hikers, zip-liners, cave- explorers, etc. Plan to spend a few days in the jungle, then hit the beach.
Thanks!
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Old Jan 18th, 2010, 10:17 AM
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Tikal, in Guatemala, is the king of the Mayan Ruins. However, Xunatunich (sp?) in the Cayo District is very impressive and near a lot of the activities you mention. We stayed at Chaa Creek and highly recommend the property. However, there numerous other places in the same general vacinity. Enjoy
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Old Jan 18th, 2010, 10:20 AM
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We haven't been yet, but I have been doing a lot of research since we had to get our FF mile seats 331 days in advance (and we got them for next November!) The forum on Trip Advisor is much more active than this one. The search function works well there. Search for Cayo, jungle lodge, etc. Many of the people posting stay at Chaa Creek, especially for a honeymoon. It is too expensive and "manicured" for us so we are going to DuPlooy's. There are all sorts of places for different budgets and in town (San Ignatio) or in the jungle. The big daddy of ruins is in Guatamala--Tikal--and the lodges run day trips there (very long--over 2 hours each way on bumpy roads so we are going to spend the night and then fly out to the beach). There are other ruins with their own appeal (some prefer the smaller Belizian ruins to the huge Tikal one for different reasons) and there is no reason you can't go to more than one except you might run out of time. Hopefully someone who has actually been there will reply, but in the meantime you can limit the forum to just Belize and then there are a few trip reports and thread there to check out. Happy planning!
Sally in Seattle
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Old Jan 18th, 2010, 10:42 AM
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PMJ - Check out my blog, starting with the September entries for our Belize trip. My husband and I went this past year for the first time and loved it.

http://tripspicsandtales.blogspot.com/

We stayed at Chaa Creek and also did a split in Ambergris Caye, at Portofino. I'd have to somewhat disagree with SnR, about Chaa Creek - sure it's beautiful, and landscaped, but to discount it because of that would be a huge mistake. They offer some great packages - we did a package, their inland package I belive that came with some tours and our meals and it made the stay there very affordable, in comparison to other lodges. We did the day trip to Tikal and did not find it to be too long or find that we missed out on anything by only doing a day instead of an overnight. Of course you could always stay longer - but we had hours at the ruins and an incredible guide. The ride through Guatamala wasn't too bad, they're in the process of paving the road so only part of it is "bumpy" - however you'll find that many of the roads in Belize are bumpy as well.

If I had to plan my trip over, I wouldn't change a thing. Tikal for sure - I believe we left Chaa Creek around 7 or so in the morning, after breakfast and we were back before dinner. Definitely the ATM cave. This was by far one of the most amazing excursions you can do. We also did Barton's Creek Cave. This is a smaller cave that you canoe into. It's nice as well. I would defintely stay at Chaa Creek again. The food was wonderful, as was the service. The rooms were spacious and they had a pool, which I really enjoyed - it was nice to come back from a day out in the heat and cool off talking to other guests. They also had some nice trails to walk on - a small butterfly house and they're very ecological. We didn't get a chance to ride their horses or see their garden - but I hear both are wonderful.

Good luck planning! I'm sure you'll have a great trip!
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Old Jan 18th, 2010, 11:06 AM
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I agree that Tikal is amazing - huge, majestic ruins and surrounded by an active jungle; when you climb to the top of 1 of the pyramids all you can see to the horizon in every direction is the top of the jungle with the other pyramids poking up. You can do it as a day trip but an overnight is highly recommended; it's less stressful and way more amazing to visit during the cooler evening and early morning hours when wildlife is active and you practically have the place to yourselves.

Xunantunich is lovely and easily accessed; it sits near the Guatemala just outside San José Succotz Village a few miles west of San Ignacio.

Cahal Pech is just a taxi ride up the hill from San Ignacio proper; there's a nice small museum and the ruins lack pyramids but contain stairs and chambers and the setting is wooded and pretty.

I have not been to Caracol, another long day trip from San Ignacio. It's a huge site and less excavated than the others.

Lamanai is north of Belize City and can be visited on a long and likely expensive day trip from Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye. After the drive north to Orange Walk you get in a boat for the trip up the New River (crocodiles, monkeys, lots of birds). The ruins are surrounded by jungle (black howler monkeys, toucans, tarantulas) and the setting, on the shore of a lagoon, is stunning.

Altun Ha is much smaller closer to BC; I haven't been there, either, nor to ruins in southern Belize. There are others sprinkled about as well.

Not a ruin but an incredible natural and cultural adventure - check out the ATM cave trip:
http://www.pacztours.net/pages/tours/ATM.html

We've stayed 5 places in the Cayo during 2 trips and loved them all for different reasons. If you let me know your general budget level and amenity needs I can advise you better. I can highly recommend Macal River Jungle Camp for it's incredible setting, great food, sweet tent-cabins, helpful host, access to hiking and canoing:
www.belizecamp.com

It's the jungly cousin of Chaa Creek (which is beautiful but far too landscaped to be considered a jungle lodge in my opinion) so you have access to the pool, museum, spa, butterflies, internet, and tours there.

If you're into adventure, then Caves Branch Loddge is a great, though spendy, choice:
www.cavesbranch.com

We've loved everything we've done and every place we've stayed in Belize. My blogs and detailed travelogues are linked on the main page of each photo collection here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
There are Tikal sets in the Belize 2003, Guatemala 2007, and Guatemala 2009 collections.

I recently updated my Trip Advisor collection if you'd like to see where we've stayed and what we thought about them:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/members-reviews/hopefulist

That will get you going! If you come back to us with more specifics we'll see what else we can do for you. Happy trails!
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Old Jan 18th, 2010, 11:15 AM
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Bookmarking.
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