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Chicago, IL
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Ruins Overkill?!

I'm a solo traveler planning a trip to Belize May 7-14, 2011. I like to plan my vacations so I know exactly what I'm doing on which day. My rough draft schedule currently looks like this:

Day 2: Tikal tour

Day 3: Xunantunich (preferably with horseback riding to/from the ruins)

Day 4: Ziplining and Cave Tubing

Day 5: ATM tour AND transfer to Ambergris Caye

Day 6: Morning snorkel and afternoon spa treatment

Day 7: Altun Ha and afternoon spa treatment

I don't plan to visit Belize again (I like traveling to at least one new location every year) and it's highly doubtful that I'll see other Mayan ruins in other countries. My friend's boyfriend is a native born Belizean who said that if I see Tikal, I'll basically see the same thing with Xunantunich and Altun Ha. I was hoping to get some opinions on whether that truly is the case or if each ruin brings a different experience. If you recommend cutting out one (or two) of the ruins, which one is a MUST-SEE and what other activities would you recommend in its place?

Thanks!

Cypress, Texas
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1. Re: Ruins Overkill?!

Tikal is "must see". Xunantunich is much smaller, but very easy to visit, so I wouldn't miss that one.

The rest is just up to you. Zip lining, horseback riding, snorkeling, and spa treatments you can do most everywhere.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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327 reviews
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2. Re: Ruins Overkill?!

Xunantunich is nice and easily accessible but a very small site compared to Tikal; if you see Tikal 1st I'm thinking it won't seem that impressive to you. Altun Ha is another site that is accessible but not so big. On the other hand, a trip to Lamanai includes a wild, jungly boat trip up the New River (think crocodiles) and a jungly, interesting set of ruins on a beautiful lagoon. I'm a bit of a ruins junky and Tikal and Lamanai are 2 of my favorites. You can visit Lamanai as a (really long) day trip from Ambergris but you'd have to give up a spa treatment. Or a San Ignacio day.

You ought to be able to make it from the ATM area to the dock or airport and on to Ambergris in the same afternoon but you'd have to plan that out to be sure you're tour finishes early enough to make the last ferry or flight.

I'm a little sad you don't have more time to spend since you're unlikely to return; a few more days and a visit to Hopkins would give you another view of Belize's cultural diversity. My photos, blogs, and travelogues are linked below if you're interested. Good luck!

flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
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3. Re: Ruins Overkill?!

Tikal is in a different league than the other two sites. We saw Tikal, Lamanai, and Caracol and thought they were all worth seeing.

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: Ruins Overkill?!

I love ruins and can never get my fill. Each site is unique and has its own personality. The settings are all different and the journeys to get to the sites are all unique. I could never ever say one was better than the other. I was even impressed by "little" Cahal Pech right in San Ignacio. Each one is a significant and sacred spiritual place that, to me, would be impossible to rate, measure or gauge in terms of the visitor's experience. They are not to be simply "checked" off.

Cypress, Texas
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5. Re: Ruins Overkill?!

gatopaja............very well said!

6. Re: Ruins Overkill?!

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