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2 Week Itinerary for July

Elk Grove...
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2 Week Itinerary for July

My husband and I are very seriously considering a trip to Belize this upcoming July. We live in California, and we can use some Delta “miles” to fly to Belize City from LAX for free. By saving money on the international airfare, if we choose lodging and activities wisely, I believe we will be able to stay for 2 weeks.

I borrowed a guide book from the library, and I have read many reviews and articles on the internet, but it seems the more I read, the more confused I get. I am, therefore, seeking some advice for an ideal itinerary for our 2 weeks.

We are in our mid-50’s and we very much enjoy being active on our vacations. We are not really “lay on the beach” kind of people, although we are not in peak physical condition, so strenuous hikes in humid conditions would probably not be fun for us. My husband loves to fish, and he is particularly interested in “in-shore” fly fishing, although I am sure he would also enjoy a deep sea fishing day. We are both certified divers, but it has been a really long time since we dived. Therefore, a place that could offer us a “refresher” course and some supervised diving would be great. We also both love to snorkel. I understand this is not common, but a location that has decent snorkel from shore would be nice, so I could snorkel from our hotel while Alan is fishing. We both enjoy wildlife viewing, especially birds. (Some of the river canoe trips look intriguing) Learning about local culture and foods is also high on our list. A trip to a Mayan ruin would be a “must.”

Lodging-wise, we usually prefer small local inns or vacation rentals over large, all-inclusive resorts. I don’t have to have super luxury, but I must admit I enjoy comfortable furnishings, and a/c. We do really enjoy good food, but it doesn’t have to be at a five star restaurant… just good, local ingredients creatively prepared.

We definitely want to spend some part of our vacation on one of the cayes, but we are torn between Ambergris and Caulker. We will also spend some time on the mainland, but this is where I have gotten lost in a vortex of indecision. If we were to choose one or two locales on the mainland, what would be our best choice(s)? Is it a bad idea to rent a car and drive ourselves around? It seems that domestic air transport could add up fast. Also, without a car, it seems we would need to hire guides or join escorted tours, which will clearly become costly. It would be ideal if our itinerary included both independent exploring and escorted tours as appropriate.

Well, I guess I have rambled on long enough. Any insight or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Kim

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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1. Re: 2 Week Itinerary for July

You 2 sound like doppelgängers for my husband and I so I think I can help.

You could start in Hopkins Village - nice beach, good swimming, interesting Garifuna culture (drumming!), and easy day trips to places like Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve and the Mayflower Bocawina site for waterfalls and hiking. We LOVE the Hopkins Inn and I think you would, too (no ac, but the water is right there if you need to cool off).

www.hopkinsinn.com

I haven't been diving from there but others can recommend an operator. Any outfit worth its salt can give you a refresher dive and stick close for confidence. There will be access to flyfishing guides, too.

Others would suggest Placencia instead. We liked it there and loved our little apartment but prefer Hopkins.

www.oneworldplacencia.com

Then you could head to the San Ignacio area - lots of options for lodging, both jungly (mostly no ac) and in town. Here are 2 places, 1st jungly and awesome, the 2nd a great value place nearer to restaurants and with easy pickup for tours.

www.belizecamp.com

www.aguadabelize.com

That area is a great base for caving tours and you might want to spend a day visiting the Caracol Maya site and places enroute. The links are caves that require guides. Caracol could be a tour with transportation provided or you could rent a car for the day.

www.pacztours.net/actun-tunichil-muknal/

http://www.actunchapatadventure.blogspot.com/

With your interest in birds and Maya sites I'd recommend at least 1 night in the park at Tikal, maybe 2. Or maybe 1 in the park and 1 in Flores, depending on how you plan to return to Belize (express buses and flights are both early morning affairs, leaving from Flores). I HIGHLY recommend archaeologist/naturalist Roxy Ortiz. I love her tours so much that I schedule my visits around her availability, even though I'm not usually a guided tour sort of gal. She can sometimes be a piece of your transportation plan, depending on your schedule and hers. Consider a visit to Yaxhá as well as Tikal, really amazing.

http://www.tikalroxy.blogspot.com

My favorite hotel in the park is the Tikal Inn and there are multiple good midrange choices for Flores in the 2nd link.

www.tikalinnsunrise.com

www.corpetur.com

In general we prefer Caye Caulker to Ambergris, but given your interests, consider Tranquility Bay, secluded on north Ambergris. You can snorkel from shore, there's a dive operation, and your husband can fish his brains out from shore. There's a fishing genius neighbor boy named Daniel who can set him straight for flyfishing. We had a great time there.

http://www.tranquilitybayresort.com/

Here's where we're staying on Caulker in March. We plan to love it :-) and will post a review after the trip.

http://www.colindacabanas.com/

We haven't been tempted to rent; I think if we did, it would more likely be for a day or 2 of exploring instead of the whole trip. We enjoy the experience of the local buses and fill in with private shuttles. Loads of info on transportation here:

www.belizebus.wordpress.com

One last thought. If you want to move around to see more of the country, consider starting in Punta Gorda, then moving on to Hopkins. We loved Hickatee Cottages there (sort of a jungle version of Hopkins Inn!) and are heading back in March. Our tour of Eladio Pop's jungle cacao farm was 1 of our favorite tours ever.

www.hickatee.com

My photos with blog and travelogue links on the main page of each collection are below in case you're interested - all my recommendations are embedded there. Happy planning! flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections

Elk Grove...
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2. Re: 2 Week Itinerary for July

Stacey,

Thank you VERY much for your informative reply and for the links. I really enjoyed looking at your photos and reading your blog!

I think after doing a little more research, we will likely give up the snorkeling from shore and stay on Caulker Caye. In your post you said you prefer Caulker over Ambergris. If you would take a moment to share with me why that is, I would appreciate it.

I am very intrigued by Hopkins, so if we do split our time between the cayes and the mainland, we will likely spend some time there.

We have to do some research on activity costs to see if we can afford to stay for 2 weeks. If not and we decide to stay about 10 days and sleep every night on Caulker Caye, how practical are the day trip excursions to the mainland? I am wondering how it would compare cost-wise. (Longer, more expensive tours vs. transport to and from different lodging destinations.

Kim

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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326 reviews
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3. Re: 2 Week Itinerary for July

I like your photo - I have this 1 of me in a collage in our bathroom:

flickr.com/photos/…

Even with 2 weeks I'd still split. It would just take too much time and $$ going back and forth. There are some great budget and midrange places to choose from so you can afford tours for caving, etc.

The base for restaurants, shopping, fruit stands, etc. on Ambergris Caye is the town of San Pedro. We don't care for it - narrow streets, way too many people, cars and golf carts forcing their way through, just not for me. If I loved shopping and eating out and night life, maybe the add'l options there would call to me.

Caye Caulker has plenty of options for the above to meet our needs. We prefer to have a place with a kitchen and shop and prepare most of our own meals. There are some great restaurants there and it's just more laid back.

Tranquility Bay might as well be on a private island - you take a boat from San Pedro (~20 minutes) and there's not much going on other than the people in the other cabins doing the same sorts of things you are, really laid back. The price has jumped, though, and there's a big difference between high season and low season rates.

Keep us posted!

4. Re: 2 Week Itinerary for July

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