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1. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3546 posts) 47w

As all seasoned travelers know when one trip ends a new trip must be planned... I have a number of destinations l need help to narrow them down:
Costa Rica
Belize & Guatamala

So tell me what l need to know to help me decide?!?

I've got two Asian destinations in the mix too! 😱

2. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru 2432 posts) 47w

Quoting Purdy

As all seasoned travelers know when one trip ends a new trip must be planned... I have a number of destinations l need help to narrow them down:
Costa Rica, Belize & Guatamala...

Why not do all three?


3. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3546 posts) 47w

Only have 14 days to play with unfortunately, so don't want to rush anywhere and have a bit of relaxing time too!

4. Posted by katzgar (Full Member 178 posts) 47w

what do you want to do when you get there? no clue as to your location but asia is a bit far for 14 days if you are in N America. I really like Belize, very friendly people and great local beer, wine, chocolate, caving, cave tubing, it is close to tikal, Lots of festivals and Garifuna culture is interesting. Belize is the best diving,snorkeling in the area. Lots of national park hiking and river kayaking. there are no colonial buildings in belize.

5. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru 2432 posts) 47w

No one can offer any real suggestions when you give no clue regarding your interests, likes/dislikes, budget, travel style, etc.

That said none of those destinations are exotic or off the beaten path so they're all very easy to research.


6. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3546 posts) 47w

Sorry l am being vague - lm not budget or back packer. I just want a sense of the things to do in the countries how difficult is it to travel between locations?

I want to see natural beauty understand the local culture the Mayan ruins, eat amazing local food as well as not as being rushed or try to cram too much in, 14 days travelling from UK.

Not bothered about spending too much times in cities just to transit through.

I've literally only got home from trip on Fri so proper research hasn't begun l just want to gauge opinion - lve got a list of 7 potential destinations and trying to narrow them down is difficult l keep changing my mind!!! This makes researching more difficult!!!!

7. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4817 posts) 47w

Hey Purdy! Long time no see!
I was in Belize last March/April. Wasn't impressed. (Knew I wouldn't be impressed going in, and was there to visit friends, but my expectations were still too high.)

What I liked:
Travelling around by bus. It's amazing how a bright color of paint, a loud radio, and a breeze through the open windows can transform an uncomfortable ride by an old US school bus into an enjoyable experience. It helps that the conductors of these busses were invariably friendly and helpful, and of course that you can communicate because English is the official language. Such a difference from the sterile, locked up feeling, Mexican bus transport system with its grouchy security guards at every bus station which we came from. It seems like total chaos, and there's no information available about times other than photographs of handwritten notes on some expat's blog, but getting around the country was still a breeze (the few times we did this independently; we mostly traveled by local transport provided by the above mentioned friends, and there's a lot of worthwhile places where I think you can only get with your own car).
Birdwatching at a far too early hour in a little motorized boat at Crooked Tree. (The north is entirely avoidable, and I wish we hadn't spent time there, but having a guide putter us about at the lake and keep up an incessant string of bird names was the one highlight. Wouldn't recommend going out of your way for this unless you fancy yourself a birder, but even for us non-birders it was fun.)
The Maya sites (we visited Lamanai, Altun Ha and Xunantunich). You need a lot of imagination, and/or a good guide, and after the first they all start to look the same, so after three we didn't even feel any desire to still include Tikal (already had decided to forego it based on logistics, but so in the end I didn't mind too much). The really interesting thing about the buildings is that they have an interior, but that's completely off limits. So yeah, cool to look at all these temples and the like from the outside, and marvel at the difference between a unrestored one (which is just a hill) and a fully restored one, and to stand on top of the highest one and overlook the area, and take a couple of hundred photos - but then you're 2-3 hours further on, and you've pretty much seen it all. (Machu Picchu it ain't.) I specifically liked Lamanai for the boat ride (with bird spotting) to get there, but hated the tour group feeling which resulted from then being in a 20+ group of people with one guide, and I liked Xunantunich best as a site. In general, you can climb all over most structures, though for the most popular ones they tend to rope off the main stairs.
The wildlife. Besides the birds, you'll also be almost guaranteed to hear groups of howler monkeys, and have very well camouflaged iguanas pointed out at you. We personally also encountered Agoutis and Yucatan Squirrels.
The swimming. Our favorite part of the country was the Mountain Pine Ridge area. High up, cooler air, and very interesting waterfall-fed swimming holes, with barely a handful people there, and at times even completely abandoned. The perfect way to spend a day. Also lots of tiny fish to nibble on your toes. ^_^

What I didn't like:
The costs. Seriously. Both for food and accommodation, anything even remotely nice starts at very expensive, and goes up in cost at least ten times beyond that. Almost all expat-run. (If you have the money to spend, some of these eco-lodges did look really good, though; we did lunch at one which had gorgeous botanic gardens to stroll through, as well as a private stretch of river for swimming in, and I can imagine life being quite good when staying there.) There's no comfortable middle, and what's priced in that range tends to be a complete dump, with collapsing ceilings and full of mosquitos.
The food. Rice and beans. That's about it, unless you stay at one of the crazy expensive resorts, then they might have one or two dishes on offer next to rice and beans.
The climate. Hot and humid. (This was at the beginning of the 'dry season'.) I guess it was more us than the temperatures, but we really never managed to adjust to it. This also means that the few interesting looking hiking options we found were only explored for a very short time, simply since the temperatures made it all a horrid experience.
The lack of destinations. Besides the Maya sites, there's water activities, the zoo, and ... erm, well, that's about it. Next rung down you get to "Joe's rickety glasshouse where he farms butterflies and has put up two information signs about them; Joe also conducts cave tubing expeditions and runs the local diner serving rice and beans and hamburger (not in stock this week)."

We never explored the coast or the cayes (beach life isn't our thing, and costs were prohibitive), but stuck to the Cayo district after an initial venture through the north (orange walk and crooked tree), so our impression of the country is almost certainly not complete. Hope you'll find this useful!

[ Edit: Edited on 22-Nov-2015, at 04:34 by Sander ]

8. Posted by TeflonCDN (Full Member 124 posts) 47w

Basic difference between those 2 choices. Guat andBelize = Mayan Ruins. Costa Rica, adventure packages = white water rafting, zip line, rapelling.

Placentia Village in Belize has a cool little groove to it and the Garufuna as very close by and it is a grt place for scuba.

Both areas have lots of nature and relaxing will be easy.

Have seen Mayan ruins in El Salvador, Hondouras, Belize and I don't get tired of them... I suppose if you have a passing interest in Mayan culture then it is all the same after a few... Xuna was best in Belize.

Sadly, Machu is still on bucket list. However, as Sanders says, I am sure it blows the rest of the sites away....

9. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3546 posts) 47w

You guys are helping a lot!!

It's narrowing my choices down and Sri Lanka and Costa Rica are starting to take a lead!

10. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3546 posts) 47w

Oh and HI SANDER hope all is well!