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San Ignacio

Photo © manolo84

Travel Guide Central America Belize San Ignacio

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Introduction

San Ignacio is located in western Belize. It's usually considered to be a transit point between Belize and Guatemala. Most travelers coming here are either coming from or heading to Guatemala. The town itself though has quite a lot to offer. It's located between the Macal River and the Mopan River. You will often hear it referred to as "Cayo" which mean island in Spanish. It has a population around 20,000 people.

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Sights and Activities

There are quite a few Mayan Ruins. The big ones are:

  • Actun Chapat - This is a gorgeous cave system that is scattered with pots bones and other left-overs of the Maya. They have yet to find the end.
  • Actun Tunichil Muknal - This is probably the biggest attraction in the area. You swim in to the cave and wade through tunnels and passages until you get to a raised ledge. On top, the cave opens into a large area. The remains of human sacrifices and offerings are all around you. The most impressive thing though is the crystal maiden. She was sacrificed and has since become encrusted in glistening limes stone.
  • Cahal Pech - This site is one of the oldest sites in the area, unlike most others Cahal Pech was actually something of a villa. It is about a 30-minute walk from the centre of town along the road to Benque.
  • Xunantunich - This temple complex is smaller in area but taller than Tikal in Guatemala. You are still allowed to climb to the top. From there you can see the entire area from Guatemala to San Ignacio. Entrance is $BZ 10. You can book it as part of a tour, or visit independently. Take the bus towards Benque ($BZ 1.75) and get off at the hand-cranked ferry. Cross the river, and walk 20 minutes up the road to the site.

In addition to the Mayan ruins, a number of tours can be booked for jungle walks, jungle tours and cave canoeing. There are a number of tour companies in the centre of San Ignacio.

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Events and Festivals

There aren't really any special events that are particular to San Ignacio, but every year they hold a festival at El Pilar.

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Getting There

  • Coming from Mexico/the north - Ado buses run regularly towards Chetumal. From here, either catch a premier bus from the ADO bus station or head to the old market where you can catch a local bus. The premier bus will cost you $16 bz to Belize City. The local Belizean bus will cost you $12 bz.
  • Coming from Belize City/Belmopan - Take the Benque bus. From Belize City, the trip will cost $7 bz. From Belmopan, it will cost you $3 bz.
  • Coming from the south - Again, you'll be traveling through Belmopan first. From Punta Gorda, the bus to Belmopan is $22 bz. From Independence, $15 bz. And from Dangriga, $6 bz.
  • Coming from Guatemala - From the Melchor border, you'll have two options; take a taxi to San Ignacio (should cost you $5 bz per person) or take a taxi to the Benque bus station ($3 bz per person) and then catch a local bus heading towards Belize City from there ($1.50 bz). If taxi drivers try to charge you more than this, simply go ask another driver. These are the prices.

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Getting Around

The main part of the town is fairly compact.

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Eat

San Ignacio has probably the best selection of restaurants.

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Drink

Some note worthy bars would be Greedy's and Orleanito's. For clubs you have Blue Angel's and Fiya Wata.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Midas ResortBranch Mouth RoadHotel59
Rosa's Hotel65 Hudson StHOTEL-

There are lots of hotels. They usually range from US$10 to US$50. See here.

Budget

Unfortunately the dorm style hostel hasn't caught on here, but most hotels have rooms that will sleep more than one person so splitting a room is usually the best option.

Upscale

There are plenty of resorts. For instance Chaa Creek is pretty world renowned. There is also a place named The Parrot Nest where you can sleep in a giant tree house. You'll find all kinds.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet caf├ęs can be found at most major tourist destinations around Belize. Wi-Fi is also increasingly common, and many hotels are offering it for free. Rates at cybercafes run between BZ$2 and BZ$10 per hour.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency number is 911. The country calling code to Belize is 501 and to make an international call from Belize, the code is 00.
Belize has a standardized seven-digit phone numbering system. There are no city or area codes to dial from within Belize.

Payphones are the most common public phones and accept pre-purchased phone cards.

If you bring your own cell phone, avoid roaming charges, as the bill for internet can add up quickly. Instead, use only wifi or buy a local SIM card.
Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL) and their cellular division DigiCell have a virtual monopoly on cellular service in Belize. Luckily, DigiCell does have affordable packages for SIM card activation.

Post

Belize's postal service provides services throughout the country. Services are not very reliable though and it might take weeks for a postcard or letter to arrive at your destination. Post offices are generally open from 8:00am to 5:00pm, with a one hour lunch break starting around noon.
Most hotels will post a letter for you, and there are post offices in the major towns. It costs BZ$.80 to send a letter to the United States, and BZ$1 to send a letter to Europe. Postcards to the same destinations cost BZ$.40 and BZ$.50 respectively. If you want to send a package, it's better to use international companies like TNT, DHL, UPS or FedEx, as they are fast, reliable and not too expensive.

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This is version 12. Last edited at 8:23 on Jul 23, 14 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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