Western Belize is a great base for jungle trips, caves and excursions over the border to Tikal in Guatemala. Road access is better than that of Lamanai in the north so its also a good place to view Belizean Maya ruins. It combines very well with the cayes for a ‘surf n turf’ trip.
Just 10 miles from the Guatemalan border, this is a good place in which to spend a few days. Built on the Macal river, the town focuses heavily on tourism and offers lots of day trips to surrounding landmarks. You’ll be struck by contrasts as you walk around – old versus new – modern coffee shops v traditional street food vendors, shops v market stalls, cars v Mennonite carts. But it works – rather than conflict, they seem to complement each other side by side.
(Heading west – great views from the plane)
(Which terminal are we flying into?!!)
There are plenty of small hotels in town and a good selection of restaurants and coffee shops.
The market is a big attraction, especially on Saturday mornings when Mennonites come in from the countryside and sell their produce alongside local traders.
(Not just foodstuffs…..)
(Its REALLY hot close to the cooking areas!)
(This guy covers corn with mayonnaise and then grated cheese – he couldn’t work fast enough to keep up with all his customers – very popular indeed)
(This stall was very tempting – lovely wedges of fresh fruit ready to eat)
(Coconut water anyone?)
(And orange juice of course)
To reach this Maya city, you have to cross the Mopan River on a free hand-winched ferry. So even nowadays, this site is often inaccessible in the rainy season. Once again you’ll find yourself in a place not overrun by visitors. This was a relatively minor Maya site with a short enough history ( rising to its peak and declining between 700 and 1000AD) but that does not take away from its grandeur and spectacle. Structures are grouped around plazas and, as at Lamanai, there is access to the top of some of the buildings.
(In 2016, archaeologists found a tomb here with the remains of a man accompanied by knives, pots and jewellery)
There are stunning views from the top…
And everywhere, there are mounds yet to be excavated – who knows what treasures lie beneath…
There’s a good museum on site.
Black Rock Lodge
Located about 18 km from San Ignacio, this lodge is situated in a remote canyon above the Macal River. Set in beautiful rainforest surroundings, there are great opportunities here for birdwatching, tubing and hiking. The lodge is off the grid so electricity is generated by hydro and solar power and treated with respect (power hungry appliances such as hairdryers are not permitted). Water is supplied from a nearby mountain spring and fruits and veg are grown on site.
So what does one do in a remote lodge?….
1. Check in ….the reception and dining area won’t be spotted from the distance!!
2. Find your room…
3. Meet the neighbours!
4. Enjoy the river and landscape (its a great spot for tubing but the river was too low during our stay).
5. Explore the walking and cycling trails…
6. Freshen up in the pool
7. Poke a few holes … (optional!)
9. But the highlight has to be the birdwatching.