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These pictures are extremely poor quality. They were taken by Bob with a primative point and shoot camera with no settings for exposure, and then the prints were photographed under less than perfect circumstances.
There are three entrances to the park which is twelve miles southeast of Belmopan on the Hummingbird Highway. This puts it in the Cayo District, and not in Stann Creek or Belize Districts as I would have guessed.
The Blue Hole is a popular recreational spot, where water on its way from a tributary to the Sibun River, emerges from a collapsed karst sinkhole. It is very cold water - too cold for Bob to do more than paddle his feet, but I loved it (it was a fairly hot day).
The pool, from which the park receives its name, is a beautiful sapphire blue that is about twenty-five feet deep. When we were there, the blue wasn't very prounounced, and it was way shallower than 25 feet, but Belize WAS in the middle of a drought.
I had to change into my bathing suit in the latrine because there was no other place to do it. This was quite cramped. After I finished swimming we had a picnic lunch.
After a short run through a natural jungle setting, the stream disappears into a large underwater cavern. St. Herman's Cave is also a part of this park.
Updated Nov 15, 2005
Belize, and San Ignacio as well is full of rainforest plants and animals.
Very present there, and also fun to watch are iguanas.
If you go on a canoe trip, you will most probably see dozens of them, or better have problems in recognizing them but finally spot them when there is a big splash - they are dozing in the trees, and once in a while drop off and fall into the water :-)
The one here on the picture we have seen somewhere inlands.
Updated Aug 27, 2005
In Belize's jungle, there is a vast diversity of animal life.
Whenever you step off the roads and go into the rainforest, you see all kinds of animals.
Or you hear them.
Just take some time, sit down and listen or watch.
There are quite some toucans flying around or sitting in the trees.
"flying bananas" - that's how our tour guide used to call them :-)
Updated Aug 27, 2005
The Caracol ruins are wonderful and probably the most enjoyable hiking we had in Belize. The hiking is in the jungle and the paths are gorgeous, with vines and odd trees such as the giant ceibas and mahogony trees. One warning about hiking in the jungle: TAKE BUG SPRAY. There are ticks and biting ants, and we also saw a tarantula. Caracol is an active archeological dig with scientist huts and open huts with steles and carvings in them that you can look at. The ruins are not quite as enormous and stunning as at Tikal, but they are large and impressive. Most impressive are all the carvings and the unusual structures and what appear to be residences, as well as the highlight, Caanan. Caanan is the tallest Mayan temple within Belize and it's emormous. Get a good guidebook and read about it before you go, there are good stories about Caracol. There are beautiful trails that lead to various sections of ruins as well as take you past the reservoirs they built thousands of years ago. It's a fascinating ruin site and it's well worth driving on probably one of the worst roads in the country. It's mostly a dirt road, but with a 4WD it's not a problem if it's dry out. It's a pretty drive anyway. Try to stop at Rio On pools on the way back, but make sure you know where they are! We got somewhat lost and missed them.
I would highly recommend these ruins and this trip, but it is a lot of driving. Go early in the day, and take a lunch! There is a nice picnic table area and a musem and bathrooms.
Updated Apr 3, 2005
Another great day trip from San Ignacio is a visit to the Belize Zoo. You can do this without a tour, simply by catching a local bus headed to Belize City. Ask to be dropped off at the zoo. The ride will cost 5BZ and take about an hour.
The Belize zoo features native birds and animals that have been rescued from the wild. It is very compact and is set in the jungle, be prepared for a few mosquitos. My favourite animals were the spider monkeys, you have a very close view of them without cages and they are very entertaining to watch. You will also see Belize's national animal, the tapir as well as Keel billed Toucans and jaguars.
Try to plan your visit for early in the morning or late in the afternoon since this is when the animals will be most active. The zoo is open from 9am to 430 pm and the cost of admission is $6.50 US.
Written Mar 24, 2005
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.
Written Mar 24, 2005
Wow, this place is a trip. Out in the middle of nowhere is this cave system. It's on a family farm, and their dog discovered the caves. Inside they found pottery dating back to 600 B.C. or around there. They took some of the pottery away, but put some back just as it was found. It's a hard cave to get to - you have to be in shape. I'm not kidding, it's a 30 minute hike up hill, the last 1/4 very steep. Then while in the cave itself you have to walk very carefully up and down and bend and go up ladders and rapple down a couple of ropes. It's quite the experience. I would not take little kids into this cave.
The grand climax is finding yourself in the ceremonial blood ritual room, and then turning out your lights. There are cave formations but the fun is the attentive and informative guide. We had Lucianno, a real knowledgeable talker on most every subject on the area. Cave times vary. Morning cave tours start at 9:00 and 10:30 a.m., and afternoon tours start at 1:00 and 2:30 p.m. Prices are: (Belize Dollars) $50 per group of 1-3, and $12 per additional person. Flashlights rent for $6. Our tour was only 2 people.
There is a small gift shop and a place to eat and have cold softdrinks if you need them afterwards. You may hear a howler monkey, as we did, if you get lucky.
Updated Mar 21, 2005
Phone: Ask in town for directions
Caracol is the largest Mayan archeological site in Belize. The only problem is it's a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive from San Ignacio on bumpy, dusty dirt roads that require four-wheel drive. We drove it on our own, but you can hire a guide to take you there too. Because of its proximity to just about nowhere, Caracol is not frequented by many tourists. Two or three other cars were parked in the parking area while we were there, and I think one of them belonged to an employee.
The Caana is Caracol's largest and most excavated & restored structure. At 141 feet, it is still the tallest human-made structure in Belize and the view from the top is spectacular. All of the structures at Caracol are still being actively excavated and restored. There is a small camp for the archeologists and workers that you can visit, but you are asked to stay out of the huts.
Several trails take you through the jungle and around the structures. Plan to spend at least few hours here exploring. There is no food or water available so you must bring your own. Bring at least 2 liters of liquid per person. There are several attractions on the way to Caracol, so you may want to plan on extra time to stop and check it out. Leave San Ignacio early in the morning and plan to return at around dinner time.
Admission is $5 USD ($10 BD).
Written May 27, 2003