A Trip Report on Belize, Central America
My husband, 21 year old son and 17 year old daughter just came back from Belize. Despite the weather we had a fabulous time. A few observations first: We were all impressed at how nice and smart the Belizian’s were and while we had overcast -damp weather and no sun every day, it never interfered with our excursions- thankfully. So here is our daily itinerary:
We flew direct on Continental from Newark, NJ to Belize City. Thankfully I upgraded to first class because when we got to ther airport 1 1/2 hours earllier than the scheduled time to leave, because of the heightened security ,the Continental personnel said we should have been there 3 hours earlier, but with the Elite status we were whisked through pretty quickly. We arranged for Chaa Creek to pick us up at the airport to take us to their resort in San Inguacio. Joe Awe was our driver who was as nice as could be and certainly pointed out all the sites on our 2 hour drive and gave us a great education about Belize. Since we were going to get there around 3:00 in the afternoon we had Joe call in and arrange for massages for all of us. We were staying in the Treetop villas for 3 nights but it was unavaialble for the first night so we stayed in the Spa Villa on the first night. It was a 3 bedroom villa. Very nice and quite large. We ate dinner at Chaa Creek which was very good. Our accomodations only included continental breakfasts so we had to pay for dinners. They offer 4 course dinners which were very good. What we didn’t learn till later is that you did not have to have all 4 courses. The food was reallly good though.We went to bed after dinner as we had an early start in the morning getting to the airport and tomorrow we were getting up early to go to Tikal.
I had arranged prior to arriving in Belize the Tiakl excursion and the ATM tour with Pacz tours. As it turns out Chaa Creek uses Pacz tours as well and “belize it or not” the prices were not that different if I had booked through Chaa Creek directly when we arrived. We got up at 5:30, had breakfast and was picked up at 6:45. Our guide was Juice who was very informative. We got to the border of Guatemala, went through immigration and then we were driven 2 hours to Tikal. We toured Tikal and climbed 3 temples. It was all quite fascinating. At 3:00 we were taken to an outdoor restaurant for a very good chicken lunch. On our 2 hour trip back to the border, right before the border, we asked Juice to stop at a souvenir /art shop we had heard about- “Antigua”. We bought a hand sewn wall hanging of the Mayan calender. As it turns out we saw several versions of it else where but it was the cheapest in Guatamala. We went back through immigration and driven back to Chaa Creek. We were taken to our new room, the Tree Top Villa, overlooking the Macal River. It was amazing. We were in #9 but for the record #10 is the better tree top villa to request. We were thinking about going to Belize last year but since the Tree Top Villa was not available my husband wanted to wait another year until it was available. It is a very special accomadation. We loved it. The kids took a hot bath in the oudtside hot tub and we all got dressed for dinner. Again we really enjoyed dinner. We signed up for an 8:00PM nature hike, which was really interesting. We saw birds, torantulas, possums, and other wild life. We went to the bar after for a drink and then back to the Tree House to get a good night sleep.
We woke up, had breakfast and was picked up by Orlando of Pacz tours for our ATM excursion. After an 1 1/2 hour drive we arrived. Since I was quite nervous if I was going to be able to hike, swim, etc. I was behind Orlando the entire day and he literally held my hand the entire time!!! We hiked for about 45 minutes, 2 miles, walking through water and up and down muddy trails to the mouth of the cave. It was challenging at times but soooo fascinating. We stayed in the cave for about 3 hours and then headed back to the mouth of the cave to get out and hike back. We saw some amazing skelitons and relics. Truly fascinating. I question how long they will keep the cave open to the public??? It seems that at some point the authenticty might get comprimised. We had lunch, sandwiches and fruit when we got out of the cave and then took the 2 mile hike back to the van. When we got back to Chaa Creek we went to the internet to retrieve our e-mails since we got no reception anywhere on our blackberrys. Afer dinner we went to the bar and had lots of drinks, played some games with the other guests and headed back to the Tree House. At about 4:00AM my husband and I were woken by the howling monkeys. They really sound like dinosaurs in Jurasic Park!!!
We woke up and were driven down the road to Chaa Creek’s horse stables. We met the owner Mick. His story of how he and his wife came to purchase Chaa Creek was really very interesting. Having spoken to him for a while it became apparent why everyone who works at Chaa Creek is so nice and accomadating becuase they all love workng for Mick and his wife. As our driver Joe said, he was amazed at how Chaa Creek tolerated him for the past 10 years!!! They are all thankful to be employed there and it really shows, in every way. Our guide Robert guided us through the woods and it was a truly beautiful ride. When we got to the top we dismounted and Robert, who is studying archeology, showed us some very interesting artifacts that he has picked up while riding through the 365 acres that Chaa Creek owns. At the top was also a great view of the Kunantunich temples. Since my son used to ride hores often years ago he asked Robert to take him for a while to cantor, which Robert gladly did and my son loved it. My daughter uesd to ride too and used to love to clean and brush the horses so Robert had her stay on and said he would take her back in a while so she could meet us for lunch after she helped him clean the horses. We ate lunch and then went to the water and took canoes down the Macal River around 2 hours to the town of San Inguacio. While we were in our canoes there was another canoe with a guide and 2 women. The guide actually rode down the river with us and pointed out iguanas, bats, monkeys and other wildlife to us as well. We returned our vests and paddles to Eva’s as instructed by Chaa Creek. We shopped around town for a while. It took all of 1/2 hour!!! We ate an early dinner at Hannah’s which was a good local cheap Belizean restaurant. Chaa Creek picked us up there exactly at 6:00 as we had asked. Again we went to the bar , had some drinks and played some games with some of the other guests.
We slept in a little and had breakfast. They actually had finished serving breakfast but accomodated us anyway. We took a 7 minute walk to the tent camp that Chaa Creek owns. I must say for relatively no money one can stay at the camp,public showers and toilets , but be in an upscale resort. While it is not for me it was a really beautiful camp site. At the bar we met a few of the young couples staying there and they all loved it. Apparently the home cooked meals up there are great!!!! We went back to the Tree House to finish packing and took some pictures of monkeys and iguanas that were in the trees right outside our villa. We were being picked up by Turtle Inn at 1:00 so we sat by the pool and read for an hour until our transportaion arrived. We were sad to leave Chaa Creek as we really felt at home there. I recommend it highly to anyone going to San Inguacio. Our driver, Theo, was an older gentleman who was the 3rd person in all of Belize licensed to be a tour guide and proud of it!! He was very knowledgable. We asked him if he could stop at the Orange gift shop on the way to Placnecia. He was happy to stop. It is quite large and we did buy a few things. I think their prices are a little higher than the other places we went to but they had a great selection.We had a 3 hour ride to Placnecia where we were scheuleded to take a boat for the last 20 minutes of the transport, although Turltle Inn appreantly never told Theo that, so he had to arrange for the boat on our way up to Placencia??? At one point Theo put the van in neutral and the van went in reverse, He called it the Hill of Mystery- a magnetic hill??? At the Hokey Pokey boat place we were picked up and taken to The Turtle Inn. We did see dolphins on our ride to the resort. We were taken to our 2 bedroom 2 Bath with 2 outdoor showers Sea Side Villa which was right on the beach. The women who took us was somewhat disinterested, she barely showed us around, which was a bit annoying as we were paying allot of money to stay at Coppola’s property on the beach, Oh well??? The Villa was beautifull. We changed and took a taxi to town and had dinner at the Secret Garden. It was delocius.It is owned by a Canadian couple who really created a charming setting with very good food. After dinner we went across the street to the Placencia Ice Cream place, because Tutti Frutti was closed, which serves soy milk ice cream. It was actually pretty good. We got back to the resort and the kids went to the bar for drinks and we went back to sleep.