Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part Belize series. Click here for Part 2, which covers Caye Caulker, Belize.
Belize is a Central American country that is surprisingly not on the radar of many people – yet. With its diverse ecosystem, rich culture, and official language being English, it’s hard to understand why this place isn’t flooded with tourists. However, it’s easy to see why it should be high on your “must-travel” list.
This blog post is going to introduce you to a city in Belize’s western region: San Ignacio. The western part of Belize in general is populated by rich rainforests, intriguing caves, and impressive Mayan ruins. San Ignacio in particular is in proximity to countless outdoor activities, so be sure to pack your bug spray, sunscreen, and sneakers for this portion of your trip!
Without further ado, here’s what to expect from your visit to San Ignacio:
Table of Contents
Where to Stay
There are lots of options for hotels and accommodations in San Ignacio, but we found an amazing jungle hideaway in Sweet Songs Jungle Lodge (pictures below).
If you’re planning to visit this part of Belize, it would be crazy to not take advantage of getting close to the gorgeous natural surroundings (unless you absolutely hate the jungle…?). An eco-lodge is a great way to do this, as your accommodations are immersed in the surrounding jungle and designed to leave as little of an impact on the environment as possible.
Sweet Songs in particular had a little “beach” at the bottom of the property, with swings and places to lay out and soak up the sun. You could also rent a tube to float down the river, or visit the local botanical garden. Unfortunately, we were here for such a short time that we did not get to experience those last two activities. However, I fully plan on going back one day and staying longer!
Another special aspect about Sweet Songs Jungle Lodge is the wildlife that you’re able to see – if you time it right. In the morning, the lodge will put out a bunch of fresh fruit leftovers for the local birds to feast upon. At night, if you’re lucky, you’ll see the kinkajous come down from the treetops to look for pieces of banana – provided by you, if you’re feeling adventurous! This close proximity and ethical interaction with the local wildlife was by far my favorite part of staying here.
I can’t recommend this lodge enough. The staff were incredibly friendly and accommodating in addition to the overall beauty of the eco-resort, and we couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing start to our trip.
San Ignacio is one of the best places to visit in Belize for those seeking adventure activities, and we made sure to take advantage of this! On our second day in Belize, we visited the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich and then made our way to the pitch-black caves of Xibalba (“hell”) for some surreal cave-tubing. On our last day in San Ignacio and third day overall in Belize, we went zip-lining above the tree-tops and stopped at the Belize Zoo before making our way to Caye Caulker that evening.
All of these activities were scheduled by local family-owned tour company, Vital Tours. Click here to read more about each activity that I mentioned!
I know what some of you might be thinking: you went to a foreign country and visited the zoo?! But, hear me out:
The Belize Zoo is home to native animals, and the enclosures are designed in a way that are more open and in harmony with the natural environment. Plus, the zoo only keeps animals that were orphaned, rescued, born at the zoo, rehabilitated, or sent to the zoo as donations from other institutions.
Honestly, all of us loved our visit to the zoo and our driver from Vital Tours was kind enough to provide us with some additional animal facts since he’s a native Belizean.
Check out the video below to see some of the animals that we encountered in Belize.
San Ignacio Essentials
When you visit San Ignacio, don’t forget to bring the following items! For a more exhaustive list of what I recommend bringing to Belize (and what to expect during your visit), click here.
Here are my must-have items for San Ignacio:
- Bug spray (my friends brought Off! Spray and I brought additional wipes with 30% DEET to keep the mosquitos away)
- Sunscreen (reapply it often if you’re out in the sun! I brought liquid reef-friendly sunscreen for Caye Caulker and a super-handy sunscreen stick for San Ignacio)
- Sunhat (to protect that pretty face and scalp!)
- Comfortable walking shoes (trust me, exploring Xunantunich is not the time to break out your new platform sandals)
- LIGHT clothing – both in color and material (you will sweat. A lot. Seriously. I underestimated how hard that humidity and sun would hit us)
- Reusable water bottle (Sweet Songs actually provided all of us with an aluminum reusable bottle upon arrival, which was awesome!)
- IF NEEDED: Water shoes for cave tubing (Vital Tours did offer these to rent for $3 USD, but I brought mine in case we went kayaking in Caye Caulker)
- 1-2 swimsuits (cave tubing, sunbathing, river rafting – need I say more?)
Is San Ignacio on your list for Belize? If it wasn’t before, I hope you’re convinced now. If there’s another area of Belize that you plan to visit besides Caye Caulker and San Ignacio, I’d love to know – drop the name in the comments!
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