San Ignacio: Land of Mayan Death Cave Tours
San Ignacio Travel Blog› entry 19 of 23 › view all entries
San Ignacio is a little strip mall of a town that serves as a base for adventure tours into the jungles Belizean Cayo district. The town itself is not much -- a series of cheap and moderate hotels, restaurants, tour companies and discount stores, with a little park and a big taxi parking lot.
There are many cab drivers in San Ignacio. I often wondered why, because the town itself is only a few blocks long, and the sites around it would be too expensive to go by taxi. I never saw anyone actually take a taxi, but you couldn't go a block without being asked if you needed one.
Outside the town and across the bridge, the countryside opens up and there are several better, more expensive hotels.
The reason to stay in San Ignacio are the tours you can book there. There are several agencies in town that take you to some really cool locations in the Cayo District. The most popular trips include:
- Caracol - Mayan site
- Cave Tubing - floating down a relaxing river in an inner tube, through caves
- ATM cave - the most hardcore cave trip, where you swim, climb and wade through a cave filled with Mayan artifacts and sacrifices
- Barton Creek Cave-- a smaller cave with Mayan artifacts and sacrifices
- Several Waterfalls that can be combined into a trip, or are sometimes included with other trips
I kind of wish I had done ATM, but it was $80, the most expensive tour, and I wasn't sure if the guy was pushing it because it really was cool or if he would make the most money off it.
Barton Creek was actually really fun. A group of Toucan Tour people were on the trip with me, and they were very nice. We went by van through Menonite/Amish farmland (Belize has a large Menonite community). All the Menonite/Amish people on the road would wave at us when we passed.
The van forded a stream, drove further down a dusty, unpaved road and we arrived at Barton Creek Caves. Right at the mouth of the cave, there is a little restaurant overrun by the pet parrots of the lady who runs the restaurant and canoe rental.
We all got into canoes (comfily shared -- I didn't even have to paddle) and glided into the beautiful, vine-draped mouth of the cave. Little fish swam in the shallow waters of the cave and tiny, adorable bats flew overhead (I don't know how, but they're even cuter when they're upside down).
We saw lots of formations, some Mayan pottery and even a human skull from an ancient sacrifice. The whole trip was very relaxing and it was nice and cool in the cave.