A small city in the western hill country of Belize
San Ignacio is a small town in the western hill country of Belize, near the border of Guatemala. The town is clean, friendly & kind of 'quaint'. You can go hiking in the hills, caving in a number of fabulous cave systems complete with underground rivers & ancient Mayan artifacts & remains of human sacrifices, and there is also a small but impressive Mayan Temple complex nearby.
An added benefit of travelling in Belize, is that it is predominantly an English speaking country. My favorite memory of San Ignacio, is hiking through the hills & meeting up with an elderly farmer & his grandson, with whom I shared visions of life in our respective countries.
Take your own Breakfast!
My two friends and I knew that our little cabin didn't come with breakfast, so we decided to take our own. We took breakfast bars to eat for breakfast before we left for our adventures in the morning. We also took crackers for lunch, in case we didn't find somewhere to eat wherever we might be adventuring out in the wilderness :) This proved to be very helpful several days when we weren't close to much civilization during lunch time. We also bought a coke and/or bottle of water each morning at a gas station in San Ignacio because we didn't know how accessible it would be later. Our nice little pantry saved us several times! And it was a lot cheaper than buying breakfast and even lunch sometimes!
Roads in Belize vary in quality. In the dry season the roads aren't too bad. In the rainy season it might be more of a problem. We often saw Amish people on the various roads. They deliver farm produce, and we were also behind a delivery of a building on the Southern Highway.
When we went on the Humingbird Highway, it was only half paved, with quite ragged edges. It may have a better surface now.
Mountain Pine Ridge had unpaved roads, and some interesting signs. We decided that the dangerous curve signs didn't mean a really sharp turn, but a turn with rocks/potholes around the corner. Also saw signs which said "Pin Curve" and "Hidden Slope".
Lan Sluder writes: "A few roads, such as the newly completed Hummingbird Highway, and resurfaced sections of the Western Highway are very good indeed, among the best in all of Central America and the equal of any rural road in the U.S. or Canada. We have to remember that not too many years ago the Western Highway was unpaved, the Hummingbird was a nightmare of potholes.
MOUNTAIN PINE RIDGE ROAD ...On a recent visit, the road from San Ignacio was in better shape than the route from Georgeville, but this varies depending on when the roads are scraped. Even in good weather in a good vehicle, don't expect to average more than 20 or 25 mph on this road ... A reward: I have never seen so many butterflies in Belize as I've seen on this road, and the scenery in many spots is lovely. After a heavy rain, the limestone dirt can be very slick and dangerous, and clay areas even more so
Overall Road Condition: Fair to Very Poor
Paved Section: 0%
Gas Availability: None
On horseback through the jungle
Horseback riding in the jungle - if you are in San Ignacio, and you don't do it - you definitely miss a kind of Indiana Jones feeling !
It is thrilling, finding your way through the fast growing trees and plants - even more, if you do it with experienced riders.
I was even more thrilled to see (now, in 2005), that Charlie and her Easy Rider is still operating !!
To do this tour with her was absolutely rewarding, she knows so much, she cuts-off the way fro you, and she invites you to picknick on some of the rivers there. You don't need any specific thing to bring, she has all you need.
Ok, get sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat - and better if you wear long trousers and something long sleeved.
The good thing is that, once you book this trip, you need to pin down your weight and height, and of course, experience, so she selects the best horse for you.
For me, being on a horse whenever I can, and thus having at least some experience, it can be a nightmare, if they give you slow horses or ones, that are used only to go slowly.
Charlie had given me Mabel - and I was SATISFIED !
It was (Dec 1998) 25 $ for half day and 40$ for full day (including meals)
Update, Dec 2009:
I have exchanged the website and phone number. And Easy Rider have also a page on Facebook. Contact details are otherwise the same.
Good to see that they are still in business :-)
Mayan Ruins of Tikal across the Border
From San Ignacio, you are within an hour and a half of one of the most important Mayan cities of all. The impressive ruins at Tikal located across the border in Guatemala can be reached via an organized day tour from Eva's or Mayawalk Tours for $75 US. This includes transportation, a guide and lunch. However you are limited to only a few hours at the ruins.
I recommend staying overnight at or near the ruins so that you can spend as much time as you like exploring the site. You will also experience the cool of the early morning. The birds and monkeys of Tikal are more active at this time, and there will be less tourists about.
See my Tikal pages for more info and photos.