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Need help planning a trip to Pacencia

Fairport, New York
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Need help planning a trip to Pacencia

I just booked a week in Belize, flying into BZE and then staying at Roberts Grove in Placencia. We have rented a car....I have read many things about driving in Belize and it seems not to really be a problem to drive to Placencia from BZE. Is this true and does it take about 2 hours?

Also, while Roberts Grove offers various tours, they are pricy. Do you recommend and can one just drive places...the jaguar sanctuary, for example and find a tour guide? What about visiting Mayan ruins? Better to go on an organized tour or drive ourselves...there are 6 of us. Thanks for any thoughts or advice you can give...we are really looking forward to this trip and I like to be prepared and have some things planned....would be a shame to just go the the beach in a country that has so much to offer.

Central America
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1. Re: Need help planning a trip to Pacencia

A car will be very handy if staying at Robert's Grove because you are well outside of the main village of Placencia. Also, most of your destinations for inland tours will require traveling back up the peninsula road (which is much easier now that it is paved).

While Robert's Grove is unlikely to be your least cost option for anything, they do run an excellent operation. You are of course not bound to book their tours and can shop around. This is easier to do with a car.

You can drive to places and/or make your own tour guide arrangements, but this is hit-or-miss since you don't know the guides. You will definitely get more out of most the destinations with a guide.

Most visitors really enjoy the "Monkey River" tour which is by boat from Placencia. Also, if you want to strike out on your own it is an easy drive to Maya Center, Sittee River, Hopkins.... from Placencia.

Driving in Belize is pretty tame (certainly if compared to Mexico or Guatemala). And yes, it is relatively long drive from Belize City. The "Hummingbird HIghway" is at least scenic though. I do not suggest embarking on that trip late in the day, but leave early if you want to make it in one day and not worry about getting lost in the dark.

Fairport, New York
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2. Re: Need help planning a trip to Pacencia

Thank you so much for all the great information. Our flight into BZE arrives around 11 am so we should be on the road by 1pm at the very latest. Any places we should considering stopping at while driving to Placencia? Or would it not be safe to leave luggage in the car?

San Ignacio, Belize
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3. Re: Need help planning a trip to Pacencia

I highly recommend the Belize Zoo for a stop. They have a new rescued jaguar, Lucky Boy, that they saved there in a new...area. They don't have concrete pens there, and they only have rescued animals, and only from Belize. Also, the Blue Hole is a great stop for a dip. As far as food, Cheers is the place to stop along the way. It takes around 3 hours to drive from BC to Placencia.

With your own car, you could save a lot over taking tours from your hotel.

Happy trails!

NY, NY
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4. Re: Need help planning a trip to Pacencia

The drive from BZE to Placencia is more like 3-4 hours. The roads are well paved and it's very safe driving all through Belize, but there are lots of speed bumps so you can't drive 40-50 mph the whole way. But you should have plenty of time if you set out from BZE by noon or so. We didn't stop at the zoo, when we did this drive 2 weeks ago, but if we had time we would have,

For things to do, we loved the Monkey River boat trip - saw Howler Monkeys, crocodiles, tons of dolphins, and lots more. We booked through Avadon Divers, and highly recommend them for other snorkeling/diving trips as well. We snorkeled/dove one day through Avadon at Ranguana Caye, which was lovely, but I later heard Silk Caye might be even better. Avadon does trips there as well. We also kayaked in the mangroves with a guy who departs from Roberts Grove marina, and does individual kayak or pontoon trips at very reasonable rates. If you email me, I can give you his info. The kayak trip at sunset was lovely. We drove ourselves to Cockscomb Preserve (took about 45 mins to get to Maya Center, where the entrance to the preserve is, but another 30 mins on the access road to the main trails, because it's very pitted and you can't drive faster than 10 mph or so). we hiked the Tiger Fern trail to the two waterfalls. It was pretty, but extremely strenuous, because it's hiking uphill for 2 hours, to a pretty high elevation, so exhausting. If we had known, we'd have done the easier hikes closer to the ranger station. We didn't see much wildlife, but we did go midday, so there typically wouldn't be many animals moving around. We tried calling ahead to the Belize Audubon Society that manages the preserve to arrange for a guide, but never got an answer, and when we got to the preserve, there were no guides available. It's still worth going though, even without a guide. We also did the ATM Cave tour, which our villa host booked for us. That was very expensive ($190 US per person), but was a most unusual experience. It's a very long day though (leave at 7:30 am and return at 6:30 pm. It's somewhat taxing, but if you're up for it, it's not like anything you'll have seen before. There are reviews of it under Cayo on Tripadvisor. I definitely recommend the Monkey River, snorkeling and kayaking.

Cedarburg
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5. Re: Need help planning a trip to Pacencia

We had great experiences with Splash Dive Shop. Four members of our party are scuba divers, and they did a scuba trip. Our 10-member party did a group trip where you had the option of scuba, snorkeling or hanging out on a island for the day (that's what I did), which included lunch for everyone.

Our party also did the jaguar preserve. Not that impressive.

We made the trip via car to the Maya ruins at Lim Ni Punit, which while interesting, was not what we were expecting. None of the ruins were particularly large (it's a former village) and we were the only people there. I'm not sure the trip was worth it, but at least we can say we've visited Maya ruins.

Stillwater...
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6. Re: Need help planning a trip to Pacencia

If you are already renting a car, you can definitely do the mayan ruins on your own, if you'd still like a guide, hire one at the site. At Lubaatun, ask Santiago to take you around.

Driving is simple, just be aware of the "Pedestrian Crossings" major speed bumps!! Also, about half way between Belmopan and Placencia, there is a long stretch of bad road, lots of potholes, otherwise it is in good shape. Gas is high here, from 11.03 to 11.57BZ a gallon, but even coupled with rental car prices, a group your size can still do better on their own.

I agree with the DR., the drive from BC to Placencia is about 3 hrs. maybe a touch more if you drive slow (I'm always in a hurry to get where I'm going first). I would also recommend Cheers for a lunch spot after the airport, it's actually closer then we thought it would be. Amigos is just after Cheers, which is highly recommended, but I couldn't see doing Mexican 30 minutes into our Belizean vacation.

Fairport, New York
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7. Re: Need help planning a trip to Pacencia

Thanks for all the advice! Looking forward to our trip.

nc Coast
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8. Re: Need help planning a trip to Pacencia

Check out the zip line and river tubing in Big Falls. You can easily make the drive from Placencia and there are ruins close by. bigfallsextremeadventures.com

Monkey river trip sounds like fun but we got rained out of that one:)

9. Re: Need help planning a trip to Pacencia

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