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#16378 - 03/27/03 03:30 PM 2 girls and a car...to Tikal?
beccs-Wales- Offline
Hi, please can some nice person help me :-) Ive got lots of questions im afraid!

My friend and i are planning to drive from San Ignacio to Tikal...how safe is this as i've been reading in the Rough Guide that there have been several attacks to tourists!

Can anyone recommend a really nice place to stay in or near Orange Walk?

And finally (!) i dont know where to go for the last 4 days...was thinking about Placencia? We are spending the first 5 days in Ambergris Caye, then spending some times exploring ruins and generally nosing around! We want to just relax for the last 4 days...any ideas?

thank you, lots of love bec xxx

#16379 - 03/27/03 03:57 PM Re: 2 girls and a car...to Tikal?
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
Tikal has its ups and downs in terms of safety. It's been pretty quiet of late, and there are lots of guards at the park itself. Tens of thousands of tourists go there every year without problems. It's nice to have a car to poke around. Still, I'd think twice before driving in the Peten. First, most car renters in Belize don't let their vehicles be taken into Guatemala, and even those that do, such as Crystal, aren't going to come fix the car if it breaks down in Guatemala. There's also the issue of auto insurance. Your Belize insurance isn't good in Guat and last time I checked, it wasn't possible to buy insurance for Guatemala at the Benque/Melchor border -- but maybe that's changed. I'd at least consider going by shuttle or bus or even on a tour.

As far as Orange Walk Town goes, there's not much there in terms of hotels. St. Christopher's is about the best of what there is, and the New River Hotel isn't too bad. Why do you want to stay in Orange Walk? There are some good lodges in remote areas of Orange Walk District -- Chan Chich and Lamanai Outpost for two. And also there's the Programme for Belize places.

--Lan Sluder
Lan Sluder/Belize First

#16380 - 03/27/03 04:28 PM Re: 2 girls and a car...to Tikal?
beccs-Wales- Offline
Hi Lan, thank you for your very informative reply :-) You raised a lot of issues about the car that i hadn't really considered.

Basically, i am going to be spending 3 months in Belize, on a teaching placement starting at the end of April. After the placement has finished a very good friend of mine will be flying over from the UK for about 16 days.

We have already decided that we will spend the first 5days in Ambergris Caye, relaxing etc. I was then planning on staying somewhere in the Orange Walk District, not necessarily the town itself, as i thought it may be a good base to visit Lamanai, Altun Ha etc. and also the Corozal district. We'll probably hire a car.

We definitely want to go to Tikal, but I was unsure about how to get there…after what you said about driving we may have to get a flight, but I assume this will be expensive. There are so many things to do, but I just can't decide the best course of action! Shall I end the trip in Cayo/West of Belize, or visit the South? I'd prefer to be in a location where I can go and explore, although it would be nice just to relax as well! Ahh, too many choices not enough time!

Any suggestions will be gratefully received!

P.S Has anyone got any info on Santa Cruz (Orange Walk), apparently that's where I'll be teaching!

#16381 - 03/27/03 06:27 PM Re: 2 girls and a car...to Tikal?
trina Offline
I would definetly NOT miss Tikal; hubby and i went there 2 yrs ago, and it was the trip of a lifetime. I probably would not drive...too iffy safety wise...what if your car breaks down? There are no gas stations or mechanics around.you know what I mean. I would go with a tour group. I know that's sometimes funky, but we had an excellent driver and guide. We went with another couple, but while not cheap, was a good one day trip. (from San Ignacio) I also would encourage you to go to Placencia. Totally different flavor than Ambergris; very mellow and relaxed. Good luck. Sorry, I've never been to Orange Walk...can't help ya there.

#16382 - 03/27/03 07:19 PM Re: 2 girls and a car...to Tikal?
Pedro1 Offline
I have driven to Tikal 3 times never had a problem.I am presuming that you will have spare fanbelts etc..I would stay at Flores 30 miles to the east of Tikal and visit the park during the day(probably on a bus trip).Last year people were stopped by the park guards from leaving.This was due to a dispute over pay.Flores is really cheap and the food is great -the electricity is also not turned off at 9.00pm as it is in Tikal which is expensiveto stay and eat.

#16383 - 03/28/03 09:28 AM Re: 2 girls and a car...to Tikal?
Marie Offline
You know, you probably would be fine, but its probably not worth any risk. The flights aren't all that expensive. Do rent a car for other places in Belize, and you can rent one in Flores if you want to. Do try to do a minimum of an overnight at Tikal, two days are better. There is a hotel almost there, and I can't remember the name at this moment, but can find it for you if you wish. That's realy nice, to wake up right there. I never felt uncomfortable there, but I might be cautious of the drive through Peten. You are so fortunate that you have a good deal of time. It's not a large country. Lamani has a great lodge if you like upscale. As I recall, Miss Gonzalez had a little downscale place just down the road if finances are an issue. Check on the amenities, they are really limited. The folks at the lodge at Lamani are kind enough to give you a contact for her if you ask.

If you get a chance, do go down to Mountain Pine Ridge, too. So many beautiful things to see and do there. Then, if you have time, a trip to Caracol is SO worth it. The road was very rough last time we were there. Contact Emmory King re his road books, or Lan Sluder. His advice to you was very good. Placencia is wonderful, too, but Mountain Pine Ridge does give you a totally different side of Belize. Get Emmory Kings road book, it's a kick, Lan Sluders book, and never forget good old Lonely Planet. Then just take off, and have fun. Belize is one of the safest places I've ever felt in Central or South America.

#16384 - 03/28/03 10:02 AM Re: 2 girls and a car...to Tikal?
sarahsmile Offline
I have a friend who lives in Orange Walk and commutes daily to Belize City to the University. I will contact him to see about any info for you. As far as going to Tikal. You can take a bus to the border from San Ignacio and then there are taxis and buses I guess on the other side. The others in my group went in January on their own and spent the night in Flores. They had a wonderful time but again they were a small group. Don't know how you feel about saftey in numbers but if you were going to drive there then taking the bus shouldnt be much different.

Leave an email address so I can pass on that info or email me sweetlilbigheart@yahoo.com

#16385 - 03/28/03 10:06 AM Re: 2 girls and a car...to Tikal?
sarahsmile Offline
Oh yeah , Placencia is beautiful or you could trek down to do a Maya home stay with a Mayan family in Toledo. It is much different in the south than the north.

#16386 - 03/28/03 05:29 PM Re: 2 girls and a car...to Tikal?
evening Offline
Bec - I'm going to Tikal from Belize City next month. The flight is $151 US on Maya Island Air, return. But, I have to fit a lot in a 9 night vacation, not months like you!

My boss, who had more time, took the bus from Belize City to San Ignacio (or Orange Walk - sorry he's in Rio right now, so can't get the details!) - then connected to a bus to Flores. I think Novelos also has a bus or van from Belize City to Flores or Tikal.

I have not been to either country yet, but have good Guatemalan friends in NYC - and they tend to play down the reports of violence (my friend's brother was assasinated a few years ago, but family is politically connected and he insists Guatemala City is where most of the violence takes place)...but admit I'm a little nervous too. Then again, I live in the biggest target in the world, after Baghdad, so I'm trying to keep my fears in perspective!

#16387 - 03/28/03 06:01 PM Re: 2 girls and a car...to Tikal?
beccs-Wales- Offline
Thank you everyone for your posts, they have been really helpfull. I am getting so excited now about going away, i've only got 3weeks left and then i'll be in Belize. I expect that i'll be able to do a lot of travelling on the weekends, as i'll be teaching in the week. Hopefully i'll have done a fair bit of travelling before my friend gets out. I am still a bit worried about Tikal, but i think i'll be able to find out about tour groups when i'm out there, which should ease my saftey concerns.

Sarah, any info on orange walk, or Santa Cruz, would be excellent. My email address is bec_long@yahoo.co.uk

Thanx again everyone xxx

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