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HEAD Belize 2

TRAVELOGUE BELIZE

  

 

 

MAYAN CARACOL AND PINE RIDGE

14.4. 2013, travel book part I.

 

Why to go to Caracol

If Tikal is the most impressive Mayan site in Guatemala then same goes for Caracol in Belize. Moreover both city kingdoms were competing for the power and influence in the Mayan empire. Tikal was conquered by the king of Caracol the Lord Water in the 6th century and the situation changed in the 7th century when the king of Tikal Lord Chocolate gained control over Caracol. The population of Caracol in the time of its biggest expansion was 150 thousand people.

An ideal base for your visit of Caracol is the town San Ignacio. You can take trips to the Mayan sites Xunantunich close to the borders with Guatemala, to sacred Mayan caves Actun Tunichil Muknal and to the nature reserve Pine Ridge see www.mayawalk.com.

 

How to get to Caracol

I got to Belize from the town Flores in Guatemala which I visited because of Tikal. I booked a bus ticket to Belize which leaves at 5 am and costs 80 QTZ. I sat down on the kerb at 4:30 am and was waiting in the dark and silence if someone picks me up, same like the day before when I took the trip to Tikal. I watched the silent sitting shadows of people waiting nearby just like me. A big bus came on time and I jumped inside. Since the Guatemalan travel agency does not have the right to operate bus service in Belize it can only stop at the borders and then in Belize City. They check the list of passengers at the borders and then again in Belize City. We got to the borders just before 7 am. I got off the bus, had my passport checked as a pedestrian and paid a fee of 20 QTZ for crossing the border from Guatemala.

I had 2 options in Belize how to get to San Ignacio which was 15km far. I could either take a taxi directly to San Ignacio for 30 USD or take a taxi to a village Benque for 6 USD weher the local bus service runs. Me and one American decided to take the second option and we split the costs. There was a bus heading to Belize City from Benque at 8 am so I got on, paid 1 dollar and reached San Ignacio few minutes later.

 

Accommodation tip

Since I got to San Ignacio early in the morning I managed a trip to Caracol on the same day and I looked for accommodation in the evening. I arranged with the manager of Mayawalk to get some tips for a place to stay. In the end I stayed on the outskirst of San Ignacio in a small room. It was nothing special but clean, with airconditioning and the price was good as well (35 USD). You can check Agoda.com or Booking.com for accommodation.

 

My experience in Caracol

We got to Benque and found a bus waiting for us at the bus stop. Even here you can see the old American school buses the only difference being they are more plain than the nicely decorated buses in Guatemala. I started talking to a black bus driver who was smoking outside before I got in. I asked him how safe Belize was and he said that except for Belize City the people are nice. When I got on the bus I realized I am the only white passenger and could already feel the Caribbean mood.

I got off the bus in San Ignacio and after 5 minutes reached the only main street where all the travel agencies and restaurants were. I saw a group of tourists waiting outside the travel agency Mayawalk so I asked them what were they waiting for. They said they were going to Caracol but they were late because the car broke down. I asked them whether they had one more space and If I could go with them. They said yes and that I only had to arrange it with the boss of the travel agency. We agreed on a price for Caracol (65 USD), Actun Tunichil Muknal (85 USD) and for accommodation. Had I not managed Caracol on that day I would go back to Benque and visit the Mayan Xunantunich.

Belize Caracol Caan

View from Caracol Caana

I made friends with a nice Indian Canadian - whose English I understood perfectly - on the way. He told me he was travelling for 4 years with short breaks and that he wanted to visit all the countries in the world with some exceptions. I was really surprised as I did hear about people who wanted to travel all over the world but I never heard about someone who wanted to actually visit every country in the world. I aksed him which country is that exception and he said that for him it was the neighbouring Pakistan.

In the end we set out to Caracol at 9 am. We first went on a tarmac road and then turned away from the civilization into the nature reserve Pine Ridge on a dirt road for another hour and a half. We passed the police check at 10:30 and continued deeper into the nature. We got to Caracol after 11 and the first thing we did was eating our lunch, the site would wait. There were about 10 jeeps at the parking place – it was strange that such a mystical place was visited so little. The visiting hours were from 9:30 – 2:00 pm but we stayed longer and we were the only ones there in the afternoon. It was only five of us, we walked around and enjoyed this mystical atmosphere which was only there for us five in that moment.

Belize Caracol Caana

On the top of Caana

I read on the internet that there used to be assaults on the dirt and deserted road from Pine Ridge to Caracol. Nowadays the security is strengthen and it should be safe. However, when I saw two civilians with huge shotguns I was somewhat taken aback. Luckily they were just guards and they only said hello and walked away.

Belize Caracol view on Plaza A

View of Plaza A

We had our eyes fixed on the tree crowns. Above our heads there was a numerous family of howler monkeys – only this time they were quiet and not howling like all the trucks in Tikal. The guide told me to keep going and not stand underneath them. I stupidly asked why but before he managed to answer me I quickly understood how silly and pointless this question was. All the monkeys started to pee and poo on us, clearly showing us that we are not welcome in their home.

It was really hot and in this scorching heat we climbed the highest structure in Belize - the Sky Place (Caana), the pyramid which is 48 metres high. From the top there was a beautiful view of the city on one side and the jungle on the other side. We walked among the invidual structures and in the A6 pyramid we saw the original part of the wooden lintel in the original colour. Nearby in the treetop there were at least 50 toucans screeching. Although it was scorching hot the Canadian was jumping from one pyramid to another like he was powered by some form of a nuclear fuel.

Belize Pine Ridge - Rio Frio Cave

Pine Ridge - Rio Frio Cave

On the way back we stopped in Pine Ridge at a huge cave Rio Frio Cave and then had a swim in Rio on Pools. Rio on Pools is a river with small pools which flows downhill. This place is also popular with the locals.

Belize Pine Ridge - Rio Frio pools

Pine Ridge - Rio Frio pools

I found the accommodation in the evening and then we all met in a restaurant Mayawalk. The boss wanted to apologize for the delay in the morning and offered everyone dinner on the house. So not only did I manage to get on this trip thanks to the morning delay but I also got dinner for free.

 

VISITED COUNTRIES

zeme 100

37

KM ON THE ROADS

km 100

48 560

DAYS ON THE ROADS

dny 100

397