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San Ignacio (Belize)

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San Ignacio (Belize)

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San Ignacio is in Belize.

Get in

San Ignacio is easily reachable by car. The Western Highway is the best road in the country and is fully paved and free of pot-holes. There are several gas stations along the route so you have no worries there. Once you reach the sister-city of San Ignacio - Santa Elena- be aware that there are two bridges and each is a one way bridge. You will need to make a right turn, if you are heading west, and run downhill to cross the bridge into San Ignacio. Locals apparently know tourists will miss this turn and are quite aware to signal you that you have made a mistake if you try and go the wrong way.

2nd Class buses (no air conditioning or "trunk" for suitcases) run frequently from Belize City; the trip is usually less then 2 and 1/2 hours, in spite of numerous stops.

Get around

There is a Shell gas station at the intersection nearest the Hawksworth Bridge. The roads in town are quite passable and traffic is light.

There is really no reason to drive. The town is foot-scaled so walking is your best bet for getting about and really experiencing the town.

See

Cahal Pech is the main attraction in the town. The name means literally "Place of the ticks" and Cahal Pech is a smallish set of Mayan ruins that were abandoned around 800-900 AD. There is an indoor museum displaying artifacts, a site plan, and putting the ruins in a regional context. The site is open 7 days a week during daylight hours. Admission is USD $2.50 but may change. There are, allegedly, guided tours but these are most unneeded as the site is easy to traverse. The entire site should take 1-2 hours at most for a thorough exploration. Once at the ruins the site is fairly flat, but Cahal Pech is at the top of the hill overlooking San Ignacio. The walk up hill to it from the main town is quite exhausting and is difficult even from the San Ignacio Resort Hotel on the hill. If you have any disability or are in poor physical condition you will want to drive.

Belize Flowers

Many companies in San Ignacio run tours to a wide variety of interesting sights/sites, including:

  • Caracol (Maya Ruins) -- 50 miles on a mostly unpaved road that could get quite muddy in the rainy season. Security restrictions at the site generally require non-Belizeans to enter and leave acording to police escort schedules arranged at the entrance check point. This is not a problem, but generally means tourists have to leave the site by 2PM. (as of July 2007)
  • Cahal Pech (Maya Ruins)
  • Tikal (Maya Ruins in Guatemala)
  • Barton Creek Cave
  • Green Hills Butterfly Ranch
  • xunantunich (Maya Ruins)

Most of these are day trips, leaving early in the morning and returning the same afternoon. NOTE: Not all tours are available on any given day. Most tour companies require a certain minimum number of registrations before they'll make the run. Checking in the evening which tours are available is often the best option.

Do

  • Canoe or kayak on the Macal River.
  • Rent bicycles.
  • Visit the Iguana Conservation Project and the interpretive Medicinal Jungle Trail at the San Ignacio Hotel.

Buy

There is a large Saturday market.

Eat

San Ignacio is one of the more tourist-friendly towns in Belize, with a variety of restaurants keeping longer hours than in many other towns in Belize. Many of the restaurants have both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, including:

  • Eva's Restaurant, (Belizean, Mexican, etc.), 22 Burns Ave. is a great place to have breakfast or a snack, relax and have a beer, or book tours. There's an interesting mix of locals, expats, and tourists who frequent the restaurant, and if anything is happening in SI, someone at Eva's probably knows about it.
  • Hanna's Restaurant, 5 Burns Ave.
  • Serendib Restaurant, (Sri-Lankan Food), 27 Burns Ave.
  • South Indian Restaurant, Plaza del Rio Mall, West Street.
  • Cross the bridge into Santa Elena for some Barbecue.

Drink

In the JNC mall, behind on the bottom floor, it is that easy to find. Open from Tuesday-sunday(2p.m.-12a.m. All local liquors(5BZ)imported range from $6-$15BZ

PITPAN TAVERN(located behind the JNC mall): This is a small pub, full of fun! Service is great, and drinks are cheap. If you are the relaxed kind of person and want to have a drink and chat,or simply relax, this is the place in The Afternoon. The night party at Pitpan gets even better. Welcome to Belize!!!

Sleep

Since San Ignacio is the biggest town close to Guatemala, from where many tourists enter and exit Belize, the city therefore has quite a few accommodations relative to its size and attractions. Travelers are sure to find a wide range of hotels, lodges, and resorts to stay at.

Budget

  • Parrot Nest Lodge: Parrot Nest Lodge is a truly unique experience. One can sleep in a treehouse in a 100 foot tall Guanacaste tree. The lodge is surrounded on three sides by the Mopan River since it's on a penninsula. Parrots, iguanas, agouti and otters are all able to be seen on the grounds. The cabanas are in a huge garden, which, though lush and exotic, is virtually mosquito free. The Parrot's Nest is located in Bullet Tree Falls, which is just a couple of miles from downtown San Ignacio, so you don't have to endure the city noise and lights while enjoying a great night's rest. They've been in business for over a decade, yet their prices are less than $50 a night - can't beat that!
  • J&R Guesthouse: Located a couple of blocks off of the city center, a small place with four rooms. Single with shared bath ran $20Bz. Also have doubles and room with private bath. Owners are friendly and will help getting to numerous destinations.

High End

  • San Ignacio Resort Hotel: A lovely place on beautiful grounds, impeccably clean rooms with air-conditioning, a pool, and very helpful staff. Cute little extras like fresh sprigs of herbs on bathroom towels. Quite pricey by Belizean standards, at US$114/per night for two queen beds. The occasional wall of cinder block or slightly frayed rug shows this hotel is not quite up to the standards the price would imply, but they're close. Worth it if you want the creature comforts.
  • Cahal Pech Village Resort: Cahal Pech Village Resort is located on the most predominant Mayan hillside in San Ignacio. This resort offers a offers guests an amazing view of San Ignacio and surrounding local sites. The hotel has two of the best pools in the region, great for families. At less than a US $90 its a good deal.
  • Windy Hill Resort: Just a few kilometers outside of town on a hill. Ask any taxi driver. Beautiful landscaped grounds and spacious cottages. Peaceful surroundings. Nice open air restaurant. The owners offer canoe and other tours. Local experts give herb walk and bird viewing. Price is around US$100 but the taxi driver gave a promotion coupon for $30
  • Ka’ana Resort: Out of the town of San Ignacio, in a valley nestled among the Maya Mountains of Belize’s Cayo District and surrounded by lush tropical gardens. They have a nice infinity pool, and a great restaurant. A definite treat for the high end traveler.

Get out

By car, you leave San Ignacio across the Hawksworth Bridge which is the only suspension bridge in Belize. This is also a one-way bridge.

2nd class buses can reach Dangriga on the coast in about 3 hours. In the other direction, buses run to the Guatemalan border quite close by, with connections to Flores and Tikal.



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