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Travel in Belize - part of a 'grown up gap year'!

Kent, United Kingdom
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Travel in Belize - part of a 'grown up gap year'!

Hi All TA's. Were planning a grown-up gap year from October 2014 - we're a couple, from UK, late 40's, active travellers, not-quite-backpackers, perhaps one step up, and defintely not big-resort goers. We like combining 'being' in a place and travelling through it - easier said that done when you have the absolute luxury of taking a year to go anywhere! So we would seek beaches, wildlife, modern and historic culture, hiking/cycling/watersports, some secret places and we tend to stay away from resort-style areas. We have narrowed down regions and countries and are now exploring the best ways to do and combine these. We don't 'plan to plan' too much in advance, beyond first flights into/out of ?Belize/Guatamala (from/to US) and hope to travel into/out of Pananma overland from/to Columbia.

So, as part of a c. 2 month (flexible flights so can decide to stay longer if we really like it!) tour of Central America, we want to visit Belize - on the 'possible' list is also Gutamala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama (with South and North America on either end of this trip). 2 months isnt enough time to do it all. So seeking thoughts about visiting Belize in this context (and how best to combine it with some of the other countries in the region as there doesnt seem to be a "Central America" forum I am posting by country, then will whittle them down. We're thinking 2 or 3 countries in 2 months?

So I'll try to be specific so any comments suggestions will be useful at this mid-stage of planning (NB we speak internediate level spanish tho I know speak is English speaking so not really relevant here)

Q1. We'd probably be travelling Nov-Jan but could delay til Apr-Jun (doing the globe in reverse!)

Q2. Travelling in Belize - is car rental a good option vs. public/private transport?

Q3. Bearing in mind our travelling style, in a 3-ish week stay what areas should we concentrate on - bit of beach/wildlife/sightseeing?

Q4. If we do e.g. Guatamala & Belize or just Belize, whats the best way to get down to Nicaragua and south etc? Can we go overland or best to fly?

Q5. If any TA's have experience of travelling in Belize as part of a Cetral American tour or just in relation to other areas, can you advise as to how it fits in with other CA destinations in terms of what to do/see/experience? As I said I would have posted to a CA general forum but couldnt find one. We like the idea of Belize but need to think of it in context of the region aswell.

Q6. We have opted to miss El salvador and Honduras. Are we better flying into/out of Nicaragua and just doing Nic/CR/Panama as they are contiguous, and missing Guatamala/Belize?

Q7. Anything else?

Thanks so much, looking forward to any input. Also I PROMISE to post summaries and reports as we go so other can share our experiences.


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1. Re: Travel in Belize - part of a 'grown up gap year'!

Hopkins would be your best location in Belize for all your check list except the historic culture (Mayan ruins). You can get beach cabanas IN THE VILLAGE that are mom 'n' pop type operations and you would never know that there are resort hotels just a couple of miles out of he village. For the Mayan ruins, I would travel to San Ignacio for a day or two then on to Tikal and continue your trip through Guatemala. my choice would be to rent a car in Hopkins for part of the stay and either take public transport to San Ignacio or drive there and have the car during your stay in Belize and pay the extra charge to drop the vehicle off in San Ignacio before you continue on to Tikal. If you are traveling Nov-Jan you will have to make reservations in Hopkins; Apr-June, other than Easter weekend, I would only reserve for the first night and play the rest by ear.

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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2. Re: Travel in Belize - part of a 'grown up gap year'!

(Also posted in the Guatemala forum.)

Guatemala is the cultural gem of the region and not to be missed, imo. It would be easy to spend both months there but it combines well with Belize and/or Honduras for blue water time. Belize is so culturally diverse and different from Guatemala we're especially fond of that combo; diving is much cheaper on the Bay Islands of Honduras if that's important.

I agree that 2-3 countries makes sense. You might want to consider starting with a week or 2 in a Spanish school in a location you know you want to see anyway to beef up your Spanish - the more you have, the richer your travels in my experience. Guatemala is a great value place to do that; my favorite location to study and my favorite Spanish school are on Lake Atitlán.

My photos with blog, travelogue, and review links on the main page of each collection are below in case you're interested - all my recommendations are embedded there.

Happy planning!


3. Re: Travel in Belize - part of a 'grown up gap year'!

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