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#77560 - 12/27/03 01:31 AM Where Should we stay?:Tikal or San Ignacio
artspeaks Offline
Hi Everyone,

I have been lurking this board the past 2 nights. Everyones' trip reports and experiences have been very helpful. I need some expert assistance with a final decision in planning our trip.

My husband and I will be staying the majority of our time in Ambergris Caye (Banyan Bay), but before we relax at the ocean, we want to experience the ruins of Tikal and other inland, Rain Forest adventures. We are confused about where to stay. It looks as though the Blancaneaux, the Chaa Creek and the Tikal Camino Real are our #1 choices. We want to stay at a really nice resort. I was all set on the Blancaneaux, but it doesn't mention on their website that they have air-conditioned rooms. The same for Chaa Creek. The Tikal Camino Real does have A/C.

Which of these areas are nicer to use as a base in exploring the Tikal/Belize inland?

Can someone help me out here. We would fly to Tikal from Belize City if we were to choose Tikal. Does anyone know how much this will cost round-trip?

#77561 - 12/27/03 10:47 AM Re: Where Should we stay?:Tikal or San Ignacio
Diane Campbell Offline
I've stayed at all these fine resorts, and each location offers easy access to something special. In two days you cannot "do it all" so suggest you begin to pare down your itinerary a bit.

Chaa Creek is beautiful and is a great central location from which to explore Cayo Belize. It has spa facilities, is adjacent to the Panti Trail and has canoes that you can grab to expore the jungle river.

Blancaneaux is also quite wonderful - it's way into Mountain Pine - the drive in and out from the lodge to San Ignoacio is about 45 rough-road minutes. If you want to see Caracol, Rio Frio Caves and the 1,000 foot falls, then Blancaneaux is a perfect choice.

Camino Real Tikal is far less rustic than resorts in Belize. The food is excellent, the rooms are comfy, with spectacular view of Lake Peten-Itza rooms feature English-channel tv & phones.
If you are somebody for whom Tikal is a lifetime goal and you want to spend more than a few hours there, then this hotel is probably a good choice. No massages, but they do have a "mayan sauna". It's about 30 kilometers from this hotel to Tikal. If you do this, I'd recommend that you rent a car and explore on your own. It's probably going to be cheaper than paying for tours and you can to do things at your own pace.

As for Tikal VS Caracol ........... I like Caracol just a wee bit better. I think the less-restored nature of it strikes the Indiana Jones chord a bit more than the polished presentation of Tikal.

Have Fun!!!!!

#77562 - 12/27/03 04:08 PM Re: Where Should we stay?:Tikal or San Ignacio
artspeaks Offline

Thank you so, so much for the excellent information that you provided to us. I had no idea that the the Blancaneaux was so far from San Ignacio.

Thanks again - I must go figure out now what to do.

#77563 - 12/27/03 11:23 PM Re: Where Should we stay?:Tikal or San Ignacio
bill b Offline
quick question. is the airport in belizr city (bze) the same as the belize international airport?

#77564 - 12/28/03 01:28 AM Re: Where Should we stay?:Tikal or San Ignacio
Short Offline
@ bill b:
No: BZE is the International Airport, the airport in Belize City is Belize Municipal (TZA).

@ artspeaks:
You really don't want air-conditioning at these places, and no, they don't have, although I'm not sure about the new villa's at Chaa Creek.
I agree with Diane; Caracol is way more beautiful than Tikal! Caracol is a bigger site, but only a fraction is excavated, so you don't need more that one day there, while at Tikal you can spend several days.
When you would want to visit Caracol, Blancaneaux is the place to be as it is the closest.
Live and let live

#77565 - 12/28/03 11:42 AM Re: Where Should we stay?:Tikal or San Ignacio
bill b Offline
@short. thanks.

#77566 - 12/30/03 06:50 PM Re: Where Should we stay?:Tikal or San Ignacio
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
I've stayed at both Blancaneaux and Chaa Creek many times and have visited but not stayed at the Camino Real. It's almost unfair to compare the Guatemala hotel with the two lodges. The two Belize lodges are amazing. Truly exceptional places.

You're right -- neither has A/C, though this time of year you don't really need it, especially not a Blancaneaux where you likely will want long sleeves or a sweater at night, and the lodge usually has a fire going in the fireplace. The Camino Real is in my opinion just an international-style hotel albeit in a rather unusual location. (Francis Ford Coppola, BTW, is redoing a hotel in the Peten to add to his collection in Belize.)

As to Tikal versus Caracol, really no other site in the region compares to Tikal. To go to the area and not visit Tikal is like going to SE Asia and not visit Angor Wat. Caracol is wonderful, too, and historically was the peer of Tikal, but in terms of impact it is not the same as Tikal. What I do prefer about Caracol is the trip there -- a wonderful three-hour drive from San Ignacio through both Pine Ridge and broadleaf jungle.

--Lan Sluder
Lan Sluder/Belize First

#77567 - 12/30/03 07:36 PM Re: Where Should we stay?:Tikal or San Ignacio
patrick-e Offline
We stayed at the Westin Camino Real near Tikal two years ago. Their accomodations, food, etc is very good. Though, we have not stayed at the Belizian places mentioned, nor have we been to Caracol (yet). Our visit to Tikal was a highlight of that years trip! Tikal is a very large site and one or two days does not do it justice. I highly recommend the Camino Real property and the visit to Tikal. Other Mayan sites that we have visited in the Yucatan / Belize area are Lamanai, Coba, Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Altun Ha. Tikal, Chichen Itza and Coba are some of the better sites to see. But, which ever one you chose, you are in for a great experience. smile

#77568 - 12/30/03 09:11 PM Re: Where Should we stay?:Tikal or San Ignacio
Chris Offline
....or if you don't need total luxury try and book one of the hotels that are actually on the Tikal reserve. Jungle Lodge is the most expensive, Tikal Inn is next and Jaguar Inn is the cheapest. Expect to pay from 45US up to 100US a night depending on hotel and time of year. You'll have to book ahead of time.

There is nothing on Earth like being able to wander the ruins late in the afternoon or very early in the morning...the wildlife is out of this world at those times of the day.

#77569 - 01/01/04 05:45 AM Re: Where Should we stay?:Tikal or San Ignacio
artspeaks Offline
Hi Everyone,

You have all been very helpful. I think I have a trip pulled together. It's not a perfect one because January 3rd has become an almost impossible date to get hotel reservations. Chaa Creek, Camino Real Tikal and Jaguar Paw are all booked for that date, so it sort of limited me.
Luckily, Blancaneaux had availability so that's where my husband and I are staying this trip.

The plan now is to rent a car at the Belize City Airport. We arrive at 1:00 p.m., so that gives us plenty of time to drive to Blancaneaux instead of taking a plane. We stay at Blancaneaux for a couple of days and explore. Then we drive across the country, stop at the zoo and then drop off the car and take a flight to Ambergis.

We are staying in Ambergis for 5 nights and hopefully, one of those days, we will wake up early enough to take a day trip to Tikal.
I figure that we can always go back to see more, with some advanced planning next time.

BTW, the Camino Tikal Real is no longer owned by Westin, but the Westin in Guatamala still makes the reservations for them. I think they sold to a local outfit.

It's really difficult to pull a trip like this together in a few days, but I think this can work. I called Budget Rental Car which was recommended and they were sold out of cars. Hertz couldn't give me an answer (they said they needed 3 days), so I ended up using AVIS for a rental car. I hope that they are OK in Belize. They are not always consistent overseas.

Thanks again everyone - while this is not a perfect plan, I still think that we will have fun. The Jungle Lodges may be a bit to rugged for us - My husband and I are at an age where we feel our aches and pains. wink It's too bad that we didn't think of this trip 10-15 years ago, we might have done it differently.

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