My friend is here in Belize for 3 weeks and I’ve been DYING to get out to the Cayo District, to the San Ignacio area of the country and mostly to Chaa Creek…the well-known, amazing jungle lodge in this area. What a perfect time to do it.
Since I am firmly in the budget traveller bracket, best to head out west as cheaply as possible. I’m not great at it but I think that is how budgeting works. And the most economical way to do the 155 mile trip, aside from hitch hiking or the becoming a stowaway, is:
1. Take the water taxi from San Pedro to Belize City (via Caye Caulker). In total, the trip is about 1 hour and 15 minutes and cost $44bzd round-trip.
This ride is pretty easy. Here are some pictures as you cruise into Belize City…the cruise ship village actually.
2. Take the taxi from Belize City (the guys will approach you at the water taxi stop) to the bus station – $7bzd
3. Take the bus to San Ignacio – depending on the number of stops/express vs. local – it can be 2 to 2.5 hours – $8bzd, paid when you are on the bus
There is very little guidance at the Belize City bus station. Look for the people in the yellow Transport shirts to ask questions. Remember…you pay on the bus so there are no ticket windows.
The yellow transport employees also man the bathrooms.
The 50 cents gets you a small roll of TP. No portion of it seems to be used for bathroom maintenance or improvement.
This bus is OLD SCHOOL. I mean it literally…it’s an old recycled school bus from the states complete with severely straight backed seats of flaking vinyl, windows that slide down only and leg room designed for pre-schoolers. This bus is in NO WAY comfortable.
The driver is blasting dancehall music (which for us was the best part)…he also was wearing one of the best t-shirts I’ve ever seen…
the windows are all wide open so you can barely open your eyes with all the wind whipping in and our bus stopped (conservatively) about 1500 times.
ALL of this can be bypassed by taking your hotel transportation to your resort or even faster, taking the new relatively new Tropic Air flight to the San Ignacio/Maya Flats air strip. Both significantly more expensive but you have a big group or a low tolerance for crushed legs or loud music, it’s something to consider.
The bus station in San Ignacio is at the new tourist center area. A new restaurant has opened that is fairly fancy called Fuego. We’d heard it was good and went to check it out.
Interesting menu. A very cool spin on local classics but TOTALLY new…like Pig Tail Wontons with Coca Cola Pepper Jelly Dipping Sauce. And lots of very cool juice blends and cocktails. Pretty avant-garde…I like it. Inside with A/C was very welcome on the very hot day.
They have an outside patio with strong Wi-Fi that seems to be the new place to see and be seen for the San Ignacio elite (make sure to carry your new Samsung Galaxy S4 and newest IPad to fit in.)
Fuego’s service is very attentive and all orders are taken and entered into a small smart phone looking thing. It’s a very cool spot and very different from the rest of San Ignacio town .
Check out Fuego’s menu on their facebook page.
We next headed down to Chaa Creek’s office on Burns Ave to say hi to a friend and check out their new cafe. Just a few blocks down from the main strip, Chaa Creek is renovating a very cute Colonial house to open a cafe in town.
It is not ready yet, but the beautiful polished wood floors, the spacious back patio looking over the Macal Park, furniture made at Chaa Creek’s wood shop, Belizean antiques on display and the gorgeous breeze portend great things to come.
And if I had to guess, you are going to want to try this food when the cafe opens. The meals I’ve had at Chaa Creek are ridiculously good and use the organic vegetables and fruits farmed on-site as much as possible. The attention to detail can’t be beat.
The name is going to be Guava Limb Cafe. Put it on your list for your next visit to San Ignacio. Perhaps I can get myself an invite to the opening party…maybe.
Wait until you hear about my visit to Chaa Creek…I am here at the bar now and I NEVER want to leave.