Zoo & Shoe Questions

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Jun 18th, 2009, 01:04 PM
  #1
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Zoo & Shoe Questions

Thanks to our Fodors guidebook and some great advice by hopefulist on another site's discussion board, we have booked a 10-day trip to Belize over Christmas. We have most of our activities/tours planned (4 days in San Ignacio w/ trips to Caracol, the ATM cave, and Xunantunich and 6 days on Ambergris Caye with some snorkeling/fishing and just hanging out). I do have a question, though, about the zoo. Is it worthwhile given the short time we have? We'll be with our 2 children (13 & 15). We were thinking we could combine it with arrival. We get in at 11:30, but will have been up since about 3 AM and may be exhausted. We could also combine it with departure, as we don't leave Belize until almost 4 pm. I was just wondering if anyone knows the proximity to the airport, the ease of getting around, and how long to allow for the zoo? Also is there a place to store luggage?

After reading crosscheck's fun and informative postings, I'm also wondering about our shoe and general clothing choices. I'm bringing a pair of Keen water sandals with a closed toe. My husband swears by his Tevas and I'm not sure what we'll do about the kids (I think crosscheck mentioned, it's tough getting them to wear anything "different"). I thought that, besides water sandals, we'd each bring a pair of tennis shoes or hiking shoes and a pair of flip-flops. Should that take care of what we'll need, based on our plans? I'd like to travel light, and am thinking that some light-weight, easy drying shorts and capris, some tee-shirts and tank tops, bathing suits and maybe one pair of jeans & jacket should cover us. Does that sound about right for the jungle/beach mix in December? How cold is the water at that time of year?

Thanks for the help. I must be excited since I'm packing (virtually, at least) almost 6 months in advance!!
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Jun 18th, 2009, 04:22 PM
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Yes, the zoo is definitely worthwhile. It's not like any other zoo I've heard of. They basically carved out trails in a swath of jungle and fenced to keep the animals out of the paths and the people out of the pens. All the animals are indigenous to Belize and the signs are quirky and handpainted. An hour or 2 should be plenty. If you're too pooped to stop on your way to SI then try to fit it in at the end, but that wouldn't be as convenient. I think it's about 30-45 minutes from Belize City and you could bus there and back from the station in town, then taxi to the airport or work out a tour. If you work out a tour they'd keep your luggage locked in the van, otherwise you'd have to leave it at the zoo. We did that in 2003 but kept valuables with us since our bags were just laying in a corner of the education center. For a tour you could check out Raul Marchand [email protected] 501.628.6438 (dial 011 first from the US). I haven't used his services yet but he's been recommended highly and was good to work with setting up a few things for our visit this summer.

I just take my Keen H2Os and a pair of flipflops. My husband loves his Merrell Aquasports and our sons their Salomon Tech Amphibians (both amphibious shoes). Your kids might want to bring old, comfortable tennies and then pitch them after your inland adventure bits are over; you're unlikely to need anything but water sandals or flipflops for Ambergris.

Do pack light - you'll be so glad! My packing list is #14 in the FAQ thread of the Thorntree Forum:
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntre...28622&tstart=0

You're unlikely to need any kind of fleece, though (no highlands in Belize), but I always pack a lightweight long sleeved shirt and pants for bug and sun protection and for layering. I avoid cotton in the tropics - isn't as cool as good quality wicking clothes, takes forever to dry if you wash it out, and dries stiff. I especially avoid jeans. If you have really light weight rain coats (mine's goretex) you might take them but lots of folks just stick in dimestore ponchos. It's so warm that being wet in the rain isn't so bad.

My guess is the water temp will be in the low 80's. Happy trails!
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Jun 20th, 2009, 05:50 AM
  #3
 
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These are both helpful questions for me too. We have Keen and Soloman Amphibian shoes so that is good to hear.

As for the zoo, I hadn't thought about this before, but... Would it be plausible that my husband and I could do a short visit to the zoo while we waited for the others in our party to arrive. Our flight lands at 12:30 and theirs doesn't land until 3:30. The idea of waiting at the airport isn't overly enticing.

We will be heading to our jungle portion that day so it seems like it is on the way. (my guidebook map doesn't show the exact location but I'm guessing "30 miles west of Belize City" is in the right direction). We haven't figured out transportation yet but it seems like we could just take the bus there and if they rent a car they could pick us up en route or we could just hop on a bus together when they arrive.
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Jun 20th, 2009, 12:53 PM
  #4
 
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Great plan, jlh. To get to the zoo you can taxi to the bus station ($25/trip, not per person), then catch the next bus heading to San Ignacio. Be sure you don't get on an express bus because it won't stop at the zoo. It makes sense for you friends to meet you at the zoo and not back at the airport if you've taken a bus to the zoo since you'd have to pay the $25 taxi fare twice. You could also consider hiring Raul (contact info above) or another provider to pick you up, take you to the zoo, then pick your friends up and bring them to the zoo; you could take a bus from there (stand by the highway in the covered bus stop and, when you see a bus approaching, run up to the road to flag it down; if it doesn't stop it's full or an express bus) or you could hire the driver to take all of you to your next destination. We really enjoyed traveling by bus in Belize but will be using shuttles a few times this summer since we're staying a few places that aren't served regularly by the buses. Happy trails!
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Jun 20th, 2009, 04:48 PM
  #5
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Thanks! I've downloaded your packing list and it looks great- very helpful. As for the zoo, I think we will try to do it on the day we arrive. Your description of flagging down the bus sounds fun to me, but made me realize we'll definitely need to hire a driver, if only to save my marriage. I made my husband take buses & public transportation all over Greece and Italy with our two kids & luggage. On the last day, I finally caved in and agreed to a taxi. When the driver quoted our fare (about 5 euros more than the bus) I thought a quick divorce was in my future. In the end, though, my husband just made me agree to spring for the extra few dollars here and there and forgo the "local" experience.
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