In Belize’s Cayo District, San Ignacio is conveniently located near caves, Maya ruins, and a forest reserve with beautiful waterfalls. With a 3-day stay, you’ll have time to explore several of these sites, and even cross over into Guatemala. Here are some ideas for your itinerary.
Head to the San Ignacio Resort Hotel to tour the Green Iguana Conservation Project, where you’ll learn all about the country’s iguanas while observing them in their on-site habitat. Then, walk along the property’s nature trail to see native Belizean plants, many of which have medicinal properties. In the afternoon, walk or take a taxi to Cahal Pech, an archaeological site known for bird watching—the ruins are about a mile (1.6 kilometers) up a steep hill. Alternatively, look for the majestic blue morpho at one of Cayo’s butterfly farms, and wander around the Belize Botanic Gardens. In the evening, return to town to grab a drink and dinner. San Ignacio’s nightlife scene is pretty quiet, with the bars generally catering to a backpacking crowd.
Venture into the surrounding rain forest and hike along the foothills of the Maya Mountains, admiring waterfalls and swimming in natural pools filled with crystal clear water. Or, canoe down the Macal River to town. Later, hop in a bus or taxi to the border town of Benque Viejo del Carmen (just a few minutes away), and make your way to Xunantunich, one of Belize’s top archeological sites. Climb 130-foot-tall (40-meter-tall) El Castillo for views of the jungle canopy. Cave tubing at Caves Branch River is another option.
Don’t miss the chance to visit Tikal, in Guatemala, about two hours from San Ignacio. This Maya archaeological site is a must for travelers interested in ancient civilization. It can be tricky to cross the border, so book a group tour to eliminate some of the stress. Alternatively, if you’re up for an Indiana Jones–type adventure, journey to Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, accessible only with a guide. Hike through a rain forest to the cave, which you’ll need to swim through at times. (This activity isn’t recommended for people with claustrophobia.) Inside, you’ll spot ancient ceramics and human bones—including the skeleton of a young girl who was sacrificed thousands of years ago.