Hello everybody, and welcome back to my Belize: Rainforests, Reefs, and Ruins travel diary! In Part 1, we got acquainted in Belize City, climbed ancient ruins in Lamanai, and spied wildlife on a cruise through the New River. In Part 2, we swam with sting rays and sharks, and walked the streets of San Pedro. Today, we will be traveling to San Ignacio, for a grand ol’ time in the jungle!
Leaving San Pedro was a much more pleasant experience than entering. This time, the water taxi wasn’t overcrowded, and I sat between my friends instead of two overly-touchy men. The ride was pretty enjoyable; a sea breeze came in through the windows, and we had this lovely view:
After arriving on the mainland, we transferred to a bus and were on our way to San Ignacio. The majority of our day was spent traveling; we did not arrive at our hotel until after 5:00 pm. However, we did stop midway at a monkey sanctuary! Our guide led us through thick vegetation, until we found a family of howler monkeys.
These monkeys are loud! Close your eyes and listen to the second video. I swear, they sound like angry dinosaurs! How does such a big noise come out of this little animal?
We only spent about twenty minutes at the monkey sanctuary. Our guide told us that we wouldn’t be seeing any more monkeys, because these howlers had marked the area as their own. I had hoped to spend a little more time at the sanctuary, but I was really grateful we had the chance to see these beauties.
We piled back on the bus, and rode the rest of the way to San Ignacio. Tonight, we would be staying at the Cahal Pech Village Resort. When we arrived and saw the view, there was a collective gasp all throughout our group. You guys must know by now that I’m a sucker for a good view, but I don’t think anybody could turn their nose up at this.
For me, looking out at a view like this is therapeutic. I was grumpy and sore from spending the whole day on the bus, but I could feel all of my stresses seeping out of my body. Time stopped for me until the sun went down…
Once it started getting dark, we headed down to town in the bus to grab some food. I ended up getting shrimp quesadillas which were pretty standard, but one of my roommates got some pretty epic surf & turf. (thanks for the pic, Megan 😛 )
When we got back to the hotel, we were all looking forward to a nice relaxing evening. However, that was brought to a screeching halt when we realized two of the beds were infested with bedbugs. Yuck! There was also a roach in the bathroom and rat poop on the shower floor. Thankfully, we were able to switch rooms. It was a pretty big downgrade though. The first hotel room had a living room area and two bedrooms with three beds, whereas the second hotel room had two beds in one cramped little area. I wish EF had offered us a partial refund for the night, because we had obviously paid for a much nicer room than what we received.
Anyways, the new room had a crack in the door and loads of bugs were coming in the room. However, there were no bugs in the bed so we were content with that. We finally got settled in our new room around midnight, and we had to be up at 6 a.m. for breakfast… so we just went straight to bed. This was probably my least favorite day of the whole trip, because we spent 90% of it on the bus and boat, and the whole bed situation.
We arose bright and early in the morning; not entirely well rested, but ready to face the day head on. This hotel’s breakfast was better than the eggs and toast we had been getting on mornings prior. There was fruit and french toast to go along with the eggs, so I was quite a happy camper! After finishing, we piled onto the bus and headed for the Guatemala border. We had to set aside $23 USD at the beginning of the trip for this moment. It costs $20 to cross over to Guatemala, and it costs $3 to come back. Make sure you keep that in mind when you are spending cash on the trip! I don’t believe they had a card processor there. We were told to have USD prior to the trip, but I believe they also took Belizean dollars at the border.
After going through border control, we were split into two vans and rode the rest of the way to Tikal. When we got off the van, I was met with a sudden blast of hot, humid air. Guatemala is HOT! When going on this trip, make sure you bring breathable active wear for this day, because you are going to sweat your butt off. I was wearing leggings from Old Navy’s Go-Dry range (which I found on sale for 97 cents), and they worked great.
We stayed split up in the two groups, and set off in opposite directions. There was a good bit of walking on uneven ground with some uphill portions.. but not too bad at all. If you are worried about booking this trip because of the activity level, don’t worry about it. I’m not the most fit person, and I made it just fine. 🙂 Besides, the rewards were definitely worth it! We climbed a few temples, one of which was Temple IV. That one was as tall as a 20 story building! Thankfully, there were stairs on the side and it was only a 3 minute climb.
Here’s me at the top of Temple IV! The path we took didn’t really let us get a straight on view of the temple :/ Rest assured, it was quite high. So high, you can even see the other temples peeking out amongst the trees!
Fun fact: Does this view look familiar? It should.. This shot is from Star Wars: Episode IV!
After all that walking, everybody had worked up quite an appetite! Thankfully, our lunch was included on this excursion. I had chicken on the bone with zucchini and rice. Simple, but delicious. Adjusting back to a vegetarian diet at home has been weird, because I ate so much meat on this trip!
After we finished eating, we stopped at what can only be described as the ultimate souvenir shop. Dozens of shops literally filled from ceiling to floor with dolls, scarves, jewelry, magnets, carvings, and way more! I went through each store until I found the most unique souvenirs, such as a hand-painted canvas of one of the temples. And then… I left my bag of goodies on the bus, never to be seen again. 🙁 Take this as a warning: always double check you have everything before getting on or off a vehicle!!
It was evening time when we got back to the hotel, and the bus was not going out to town. So, I decided to spend the evening at the pool and to have dinner at the hotel. I had gotten spoiled by cheap Belizean dinners, so I was shocked back to reality by paying $15 USD for my Cordon Bleu. Honestly though, that’s what I would probably pay in the states so it’s all good!
After dinner, it was time to pack for tomorrow’s departure. Our trip itinerary changed, and we were now going to spend 3 nights in Hopkins. We were told that this would happen on all future trips, so keep that in mind when booking.
This post was kind of short, but stick around for a little while longer and check out this awesome video my friend made of the trip!! Make sure to watch it in HD. 🙂 I’ll be back soon with our adventures in Hopkins. More snorkeling, and lots of fun in the sun to come!