San Ignacio & Caye Caulker

San Ignacio

20th – 21st of December 2013

San Ignacio is a little town close to the border with Guatemala. I originally didn’t intend to go there but I was going to meet a friend on Caye Caulker on the 26th of December and I decided to add San Ignacio into my itinerary simply because I didn’t want to spend a total of nine days on a small island like Caye Caulker, first world problems, I know.

There is a variety of tours that run from San Ignacio and all of them are overpriced. Or at least it felt like that after travelling through countries like Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico. A day tour into the famous ATM cave will set you back about US$ 90 / 66,67 €, definitely too much for my liking. Luckily the guy who ran the hostel overheard a conversation I had with some other people about that and offered us a private tour to Río frio cave, Río-on pools and Big rock waterfall for BZD 80 / 29,63 € pp if we were able to get a minimum of four people together – sold!

The next day we left the hostel a bit later than we had hoped and it wasn’t clear whether we were going to make it to all three sights. The first one on the list was Río-frio cave. A huge cave which, to be completely honest, is more a tunnel then a cave. It was nevertheless spectacular and from the top of my head I can’t remember ever having visited a cave that size. The ceiling is easily 30-40m high and the cave is shaped like a curve with a small river running through it – hence the name. Apart from the odd stalactites and stalagmites there are also some beautiful chalk terraces, all in all a rather impressive cave.

The second stop was the Río-on pools, a set of small pools with water cascading down and a stunning landscape surrounding them. A little dip was of course obligatory. This would be the perfect place to hang out on a Sunday with a couple of friends, some cold beers and a nice BBQ. Sadly that won’t be happening any time soon given the distance between Germany and Belize.

The last stop on our tour was Big rock waterfall, not the most impressive waterfall I have seen on this trip but since it was part of the tour anyway, why not? We only spent a couple of minutes there, just enough for a quick swim before we headed back to San Ignacio.

Given that I did end up doing a tour in San Ignacio I’d say it is worth a visit, especially since it still left me with seven days on Caye Caulker. Other than that everyone has to decide for themselves if they are willing to spend US$ 90 / 66,67 € to go and see some human remains in the ATM cave – taking pictures inside the cave is not allowed any more. Some genius dropped his/her camera onto the skull that can be seen inside the cave and broke it. After that, no more cameras allowed inside.

Caye Caulker

22nd – 28th of December 2013

Prior to going to Caye Caulker I had heard great things about the place. A small Caribbean islands perfect for some days lying in the sun on the beach. There are only two small problems: most importantly, there are no beaches really. And on top of that the whole “lying in the sun” part turned out to be a bit of an issue, too. Especially since the entire Caribbean coast had been experiencing quite a bit of bad weather before, during and after I was there. I can’t really say that I have been unlucky with the weather on this trip – quite the opposite had been the case – but it was a bit of a shame that my friend Lena, who arrived on Caye Caulker on the 26th of December, didn’t get to experience a single day of pure sunshine on Caye Caulker. And since CC is a small island, all activities sort of rely on good weather.

Like in San Ignacio there is a variety of tours that are being offered and all of them don’t come cheap. Originally I had planned to go and dive the famous Blue Hole but US$ 250 / 185,19 € for three dives (of which only one is in the actual Blue Hole) put me off a bit, especially since I had just been diving in Honduras for a fraction of the cost. So what else to do? There is also a snorkeling tour being offered in the Shark Ray Alley at US$ 40 / 29,63 € which supposedly is quite nice but somehow I never got around to do it.

So what did I end up doing on CC? Short and simple – nothing! I literally hung out at the split (the closest thing to a beach on the island) every single day – some of those were even rather sunny – with some awesome people I had met there and that was about it. Doesn’t sound too exciting but it was one of the best times I’ve had on this trip and I wouldn’t want to miss it for anything. So I guess it is true, CC is a great place to hang out, relax, meet some great people and have a blast.

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