We were looking for an alternative to Carnival Cruise Line's tours and came across Carnival Tours Belize on TripAdvisor. Carnival Tours Belize is not associated with Carnival Cruise Line. They offer a tour which is identical to Carnival's Altun Ha Maya Site & River Wallace except that it costs less, includes lunch and is more personal that Carnival Cruise's version. One of the problems with cruise ship tours is that there are a million people going on each tour. By going to an independent tour operator, you get a much smaller group going, so you don't have to waste time waiting for so many other people to do stuff like get on and off the bus.
Our tour guide waited for us (2 kids, 2 adults, 2 seniors) patiently at the pier (all of Carnival's tenders were running late), and she took us to the waiting van. On the drive over to Altun Ha, she gave us a good balance of information and answered our questions nicely. At Altun Ha, she gave us a nice tour of the place and was mindful of the time (Carnivals' tenders were running late, so we had less time to spend in Belize). I was not expecting much with Altun Ha because I've been to larger ruins like Coba, Tulum, and Chichen Itza. Altun Ha was different enough that we enjoyed it. Our tour guide's stories of Altun Ha made the ruins come alive -- and the group was small enough so that everyone can hear her.
After the Altun Ha tour, she drove us to what looked like a private residence for lunch. The residence had a large yard that was set up with cooking facilities and outdoor tables. They gave us a typical Belize home cooked meal (chicken, rice/beans, salad and soda). The meal was VERY, VERY delicious. The bonus is that no one got food poisoning. :) The bathroom was inside the private residence, and it was interesting to see what another culture's homes looked like inside. Perhaps I'm wrong but it looked like the main entrance of the house leads directly to the kitchen, and the living room is off of the kitchen.
After lunch, we got on a boat and cruised the River Wallace. The river was very scenic and our tour guide would point out wildlife like alligators (or were they crocodiles?), iguanas and bats. I'm not sure how the tour guide does it, but she could spot wildlife even when we were cruising at high speed. When she spotted something interesting, she would tell the boat's driver to stop so that we can check it out. I think the kids enjoyed the river more as it was neater to the kids to see wildlife in a non-zoo environment. River Wallace flows out to the ocean, and once we were out of the river area, the boat took us back to the dock so that we could catch out tender.
Signing up for the tour was painless. The people there spoke clear English and were friendly. I'll post some photos when I get some more time.
I highly recommend this tour and tour operator!
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