We booked our flights after finding a deal on yycdeals.com (a Calgary specific flight deal site) but you can keep your eyes open for deals year round. Our flights were $490 USD each, round trip, with layovers in Houston. Most of the amounts in this post are in Belize currency: $1 US = $2 Belize (BZ).
Arrived in Belize City Tuesday afternoon at 4:15 pm
There was a bit of a line but the airport is small and didn’t take too long to get through. Out the front door there was a large group of transfers but we didn’t see a sign with our names. We had booked a ride to the Zoo Jungle Lodge through the zoo directly. A couple of cab driver tried calling the lodge but no one answered. They pointed out a driver who could take us there. The cost was $40 BZ each – so $120 BZ total. This was the same price we were quoted by the Zoo Lodge so we took it.
When we arrived at the lodge it was pretty quiet – we thought maybe they had shut down for renovations as there was a pile of wood in the main entrance. We saw a couple of guests who led us to the reception area. Turns out that they were in the midst of renovations (explains the wood) and the van had popped a tire on the way to get us. Our names were written on the board in reception so it looked unlikely that they had just forgotten. When the young guy who was sent to get us finally returned (sans van – as it had to be taken to a shop) he was very apologetic and in return for our ‘inconvenience’ we were offered the Jaguar excursion the next morning for free with a tour led by the director (Sharon). This was a $100 BZ value. We really weren’t too inconvenienced as the cab cost the same amount as the zoo shuttle would have.
We were shown to our rooms (Pond Houses 1 and 2, #2 is much bigger), which were pretty spacious, with nice balconies and wrap around mosquito netting. After a decent dinner of chicken and rice, we did the zoo night tour, which was interesting – feeding the animals and seeing some rarer ones was fun. Afterwards we spent the night drinking rum on our porch.
Total Cost: 125 BZ (includes cab, dinner, pond house, night tour, breakfast ~ $63 USD)
In the morning we had eggs, beans, cheese and a bun for breakfast. We headed back to the zoo for our “Jaguar Experience” this meant going in a tiny cage within the jaguar exhibit while Junior the Jaguar did tricks and jumped all over the cage. Sharon, the director, was super knowledgeable and had a good rapport with the animals, it was definitely a cool experience and even better for us since it was free! Afterwards we wandered around the zoo.
Mid-day we headed back to the Lodge – it’s a bit of a hike but we hitched a ride with a worker who was dropping off lunch from one spot to the other. He also drove us back to the bus stop, which was really nice of him and great for us since it was scorching hot out! The bus stop is right outside the entrance to the zoo. The bus to San Ignacio came 15 minutes later and cost 5 BZ each. Took about 2 hours to get to San Ignacio.
We didn’t have reservations in San Ignacio, but after wandering around for 5 minutes we saw a place that looked pretty nice. Martha’s Guesthouse was $60 BZ each per night for a large room with 2 double beds, a balcony, and a nice bathroom. We slept 2 to a room but you could have comfortably had 4 in the same room (especially if it was a family) there was a small wall between the 2 beds for privacy.
We ate a delicious and filling lunch at Koh-Ox-Han-Nah for around $12 BZ each (we were so full we hardly ate any dinner) and spent the day wandering around town. We ended up signing on with Mayawalk Tours for the ATM Cave Tour, more on that later – what an experience! We dealt with Andrew at Mayawalk – seemed like a very nice guy. The chef at the restaurant where Mayawalk is operated out of is quite a character too. His name is Jimmy and he sure had a knack for chat. Anyway, after we paid for the tour we had a nice happy hour at Serendip and walked around town for more happy hour drinks and appies.
Total Cost: 82 BZ (includes zoo entrance fee, lunch, bus, happy hour w/ appetizers, hotel ~ $42 USD)
We ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant, 10 BZ each – the food was good but really slow. Not ideal if you’re in a hurry to get to your tour. Our tour cost $90 USD each including transport, guide, lunch and a beer.
Luckily we were the only ones on said tour this day so being 10 minutes late was not a big deal. Our tour guide was great and we had an awesome time clamouring through the caves – a highlight for sure, we debated doing this but we were all really glad we did. Water shoes are highly recommended. I had Keens and fared quite well, my boyfriend only had his converse but he seemed to do fine, although he said later water shoes would have been much better. Lunch was chicken and rice, plantains and fresh veggies. It was a really yummy lunch and perfectly filling after our morning of hiking.
In the evening we took Jimmy up on his offer and ate dinner at the Mayawalk restaurant. For $110 BZ we got okay steaks and ribs and few drinks each but the sides were mediocre at best. Jimmy is quite a character – full of BS too it seems. He offered us a ride to the border, then a transfer to his ‘cousin’s car for the rest of the way to Tikal the next day for $300 BZ but we declined (at first) saying we’d make our own way.
We next went to a nice place called Fuego. Drinks were pricey but delicious, we spent about 50 BZ each. We also went back to Serendib to buy their homemade hot sauce (so spicy and delicious) 10 BZ each and they filled our empty water bottles with this delicious liquid fire.
Total Cost: $427 BZ (includes breakfast, ATM tour, steak dinner, lots of drinks, hot sauce, hotel. Our most expensive day although half was the ATM tour – totally worth it, dinner not so much worth it. ~ $213.50 USD)