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Belize and Guatemala April 2019

Discussion in 'Belize' started by Ayisha, May 20, 2019.

  1. Ayisha

    Ayisha DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Toronto, Canada
    2,963
    1,250
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    Thanks to everyone's posts, we had a fabulous holiday! After we flew in to Belize city airport on a Saturday, we took Ron's Belize Shuttle Book A Belize Shuttle - Ron’s Belize Private Shuttle straight to Midas Resort Midas Belize – A Rainforest In The Twin Towns in San Ignacio, Belize. We had a pool and were a 7 minute walk to great and cheap restaurants, souvenir shopping, banks, etc. On Sunday, we did an overnight Tikal Mayan Ruins tour with Max of Maximum Adventure Tours Experience all the best San Ignacio Belize Tours with Maximum Adventure Tours. We stayed at Tikal Inn, one of a few hotels in the jungle in Tikal, part of our package with Max. We hiked 7 kms round trip on a sunset tour the first day to get to Temples 1, 2, 3, and 5, and walked up the equivalent of 27 flights of stairs (according to my friend's app), culminating in watching the glorious sun set from the highest temple in the former Mayan village. Early on Monday morning, we set out in darkness on the sunrise tour walking through the jungle, and we heard a jaguar, other big cats, and the birds and monkeys waking up the forest. We walked 4 kms round trip and the equivalent of 19 flights to Temple 4 to watch the sun rise from the second highest point. What an amazing trip! We would highly recommend it and going with Max of Maximum Adventure Tours!

    After breakfast, we headed back with Maximum Adventure Tours to Midas in San Ignacio and had the day to relax, enjoy the pool, and then go walking into town for dinner later that evening.

    On Tuesday, we did our cave river tubing with Johnny of Maximum Adventure Tours and he was amazing. Johnny maps and explores caves and after a long tree canopied walk through the jungle and cave river tubing, took us climbing far and high into a cave system where we looked at significant formations, sacrificial sites, ancient pottery, etc. He was a wealth of information.

    Our cave river tubing was at the bottom of Caves Branch river and the water didn't flow at all most of the time, requiring paddling. There had been a bit of a drought and the river was low and wasn't flowing. This was completely opposite of my first time staying at Caves Branch Jungle Lodge in 2006 and cave river tubing near the top of the river in fast flowing rapids after flooding on the mainland. Of course we enjoyed the fast moving rapids from Caves Branch Jungle Lodge much better, but can't speak to normal conditions lower in the river.

    On Wednesday, we took Ron's shuttle to Placencia Villas Placencia Villas in Placencia, Belize. What a cute little beach town. We were right at the famous sidewalk, near the famed Tutti Fruiti and Above Grounds Coffee, lots of great and cheap restaurants and souvenir shopping, and a 2 minute walk to the beach.

    On Thursday, we did 3 dives off of Glover's Reef Atoll with Seahorse Dive Shop. Their larger dive boat was being used for the whale shark dive trip (because it had a fish finder), so we were relegated to the medium boat, which made for a very rough crossing. The dives were awesome! The reef was pretty healthy and on the first dive, we descended right over a nurse shark, saw an eagle ray, stingrays, huge southern stingrays, moray eels, spiny lobsters, grouper, and tonnes of various other fish. On the second dive, we also saw a loggerhead turtle. On the third dive, we also saw 2 hawksbill sea turtles. We were off to a great start! All that was left that we wanted to dive with were dolphins and whale sharks!

    On Friday, we relaxed, went shopping, went to the beach, and restaurants.

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    On Saturday, we took Ron's Shuttle back to Belize city to the Radisson Fort George to get onto the Belize Aggressor III. Ron not only had the most reasonable prices, but was very courteous, pleasant, on time, and safe. Very highly recommended. The hotel held our luggage until it was time to check in and we went exploring and to the market. Just so you know, the market prices were quite a bit higher than the shops/grocery stores in San Ignacio and Placencia, but still reasonably priced compared to our North American pricing.

    We checked in to the Belize Aggressor III, set up and stowed our gear, and placed our belongings in our cabin. We hung out and got to know the other guests from one of our somewhat-local dive shops, had dinner and chilled for the evening with everyone, made sure our cameras were ready and everything charged for our 5 dive a day adventure. Captain Jerome, Tyrone, Daniel, and Rocke were all capable, safety conscious, awesome, fun to be with, and always working hard. Chef Ana made great and plentiful food. Stewardess Vanessa helped out everywhere. Our new friends were fun to chat with and dive with.

    I was disappointed that we were not going to be able to make it to the Elbow at Turneffe on our way to Lighthouse. I had only enjoyed Turneffe by the Elbow north of the cut in 2006 and thought the rest of Turneffe was quite average Caribbean, and I was sure it couldn't be any better now. They said that the Elbow wasn't going to be appropriate for everyone's first check-out dive on Sunday since it's deeper, and it was too far with the higher wind conditions. We did 5 dives in Turneffe and were disappointed. The reefs had some coral bleaching and were somewhat sand covered, and we saw a small number of larger critters. It was fairly typical of a lot of Caribbean reefs.

    On Monday and the rest of the week, we dove at Lighthouse and it was much better. It wasn't pristine like when I first went in 2006 when it was extremely colourful and had an abundance of large critters, but it was still better than much of the Caribbean. It was still quite healthy, quite colourful, though a little sand covered, perhaps still from the last hurricane. There seemed to be deceptively few lionfish, but they were just hiding deeper in the coral. There were definitely less sightings of large critters than my first time around, though we saw some of everything all through the week. We saw reef sharks, nurse sharks, families of eagle rays, hawksbill sea turtles, loggerhead turtles, green moray eels, spotted moray eels, stingrays, huge southern stingrays, spiny lobsters, crabs, huge tarpon, barracuda, blennies, frogfish, scorpionfish, varieties of angel fish, butterfly fish, triggerfish, blue tangs, and a host of other fish. So we had excellent dives and a fantastic time!

    We headed back to Belize city on the Friday and had a chance to explore town, then we had a cocktail party in the evening complete with hearty appetizers and birthday cake. We were all pretty full and nobody made it off the boat for a real/extra dinner. All in all, we had an amazing trip and met lots of new friends! :)

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    My pictures of each part of the trip can be found at:
    https://www.facebook.com/ayisha.hassanali/media_set?set=a.10156770053941998&type=3

    https://www.facebook.com/ayisha.hassanali/media_set?set=a.10156773544891998&type=3
     
  2. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    22,634
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    Ah, and so Tutti Fruiti gelato is still there by Rum y Vino and the Secret Garden on the main road?

    I like to stay at the SeaView myself, especially when I can score the suite upstairs but gather you were perfectly happy at Placencia Villas.

    Sounds like a great trip!
     
  3. large_diver

    large_diver Loggerhead Turtle

    2,598
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    Grear report - TIkal is a great add on and very impressive to see. Great pics - thanks for sharing them!
     
    Ayisha and chillyinCanada like this.
  4. Downing

    Downing Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Portland, Oregon
    1,882
    615
    113
    Thanks for the report. Especially the topside photos.

    Max in SI is a lot of fun.

    Glad to see you had a good time.
     
    Ayisha likes this.
  5. Ayisha

    Ayisha DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Toronto, Canada
    2,963
    1,250
    113
    Hi, yes, Tutti Fruiti is still there with a line-up out the door sometimes. Very popular.

    We were happy with the Iguana Studio at Placencia Villas. Simple, basic, clean, cheap. Close to everything. We were right near Tutti Fruiti and Above Grounds Coffee. We were across from Wendy's (not the chain), an excellent restaurant. We were just down the street from Dawn's, another excellent restaurant. We were a couple minutes walk to the marina for our dive boat. It was a great location.

    Thanks, it was an awesome trip!
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  6. Redfoot

    Redfoot Barracuda

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Detroit, Michigan
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    Thank you for the great report, sounds like an excellent trip!
     
    Ayisha likes this.

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