About 2 months before our arrival in Belize, I checked around for rental availability at the International airport. Even then, available choices of a small-sized 4WD vehicle were few, but I managed to book a small unlimited mileage Geo Tracker-type vehicle from Thrifty Car Rentals for a hefty 3-day price of US$281, taxes included.
After our first few days out on the northern cayes, when we turned up at the Thrifty booth outside the main airport building, our lone agent was very helpful and efficient. He did mention that there were no vehicles available in the size I had booked, so we were upgraded to a V6 Honda Passport at no extra cost (except for my fuel bills!). Not knowing the 'lay of the land' in Belize, I decided to take the very reasonable daily insurance as well, raising the total cost to US$323 for three days rental (the most expensive I have ever paid on any of my trips!).
In the end, the Passport worked very well and was quite comfortable to drive. We had virtually no rain during our entire trip and the main highways we used were in excellent condition anyway. In hindsight, we did not actually need a 4WD for what we did, but we also did not venture very far off-the-beaten track in the short amount of time we had. The large rear cargo space did come in handy for holding our combined four large backpacks when we met up with our friends from Caye Caulker! With the cheapest grade of gasoline costing US$4.66 per Imperial gallon (or US$3.91 per smaller US gallon), the 310 miles we put on the vehicle resulted in a total rental cost of US$409 (or US$1.32 per mile travelled). Ouch, thank goodness I don't do that too often!
The second photo shows the ground we covered in Belize with our SUV, with Hopkins being our most southerly destination.
We had an hour to wait and then did a mad dash for the bus, there were so many people but we managed to get seats. There is no space under the bus to put bags so we had to take then on with us and there is a space at the back of the bus to stash them. The bus was very basic, no aircon, plastic seats and crowded and it is quite a bone jarring ride, you would never imagine these big buses could go so fast as well!!
When we got to Belmopan more people got on than got off so the aisles were packed. The so-called express bus seemed to stop all along the way so we soon emptied out a bit, luckily it was very hot. The road between Belmopan and Dangriga is called the Hummingbird highway and is beautiful… mountains covered in palm forests with orange groves at the base, it was so lush and tropical.
You can stand anywhere along the road in Hopkins and the bus to Placencia will stop for you (just wave your arms around and the driver gets the message if the pack on your back isn’t and obvious sign). The scenery as you leave Hopkins is beautiful and then you get to the Sittee River whose banks are lush jungle. The road is dirt and because of the heavy rains it was very bumpy. We all managed to get seats but I had to have Sam on my lap. Not long after we got onto the main road our bus broke down. Oh Joy!! Co-incidentally we broke down outside a bar and in this area it is probably the only one… hmmm you have to wonder!