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“Great Tours”
Review of Pacz Tours

Pacz Tours
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Pacz Tours Belize leads daily tours Actun Tunichil Muknal, Cave Tubing and to all of the known Archaeologocal sites and quite a few unknown ones as well. Pacz Tours pride themselves on having the most experienced and knowledgeable tour guides in San Ignacio, Belize.
Reviewed February 22, 2014

We used Pacz Tours to go to ATM and Tikal. The ATM tour was one of the coolest things I've ever done and our guide Francisco was very detailed and conscientious. Just an incredible experience. Tikal was great too, especially the ease of not having to deal with the border crossing. It's a bit of a whirlwind tour, and my biggest piece of advice is to bring a snack! You stop at a restaurant after the tour and we didn't eat until 3:30 PM. Having had breakfast at 6 AM, I was ravenous at around 1:30. Overall, though, the company had good service, great guides, and made the experiences easy.

Thank spatrick57
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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in 45 reviews
"atm cave"
in 82 reviews
"day trip"
in 37 reviews
"border crossing"
in 24 reviews
"picnic area"
in 6 reviews
"great tour"
in 25 reviews
"mayan culture"
in 27 reviews
"skeletal remains"
in 8 reviews
"plantain chips"
in 10 reviews
"tikal ruins"
in 10 reviews
"cave tubing"
in 27 reviews
"overnight tour"
in 5 reviews
"dry clothes"
in 6 reviews
"tight spots"
in 5 reviews
"great company"
in 11 reviews
"private tour"
in 16 reviews
"bring socks"
in 5 reviews

287 - 291 of 480 reviews

Reviewed February 18, 2014

We enjoyed a one-day tour to Caracol. Our driver and tour guide, Bruce, was very friendly and knowledgeable on Mayan culture and history. They provided a large lunch box with plenty of good food after a morning of trekking. Also, on the return trip we stopped at a river/waterfall site for a nice cool-down swim. The passenger van was filled to capacity and it seemed a bit stuffy at times considering the rough terrain.

Thank Matthew P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 14, 2014

Hugo is the best. We loved him being our guide on the tikal trip - he is so happy and so funny and made our trip extra special

Thank leonardcohen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2014

Pacz is still one of the best for service. We recently used them to transport a large group around Belize. We didn't want to bother with renting a couple of vans, and since we knew we'd be hitting a lot of spots, including casinos and bars, we realized we needed a driver too. The van was perfect for our group, and it had super cold a/c, which was appreciated even though we had to turn it down a little sometimes since it could get too cold.

Having a driver was the right choice. He knew all the roads, was familiar with the places we visited, and drove better than any of us would've. Here's the funny part, one night we went out for food, and I got to talk with the driver for a long time, and since we'd been talking the entire time, I'd forgotten my manners, and never introduced myself. It turns out our driver was the owner of Pacz. So that explained the great driving(one doesn't want to damage their own vehicles), and him having great interpersonal skills. We made great time too, by the way, but we felt safe the entire time.

Will we use Pacz again? Yes, probably again this month.

Thank DrFeelAwesome
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 9, 2014

The ATM Cave Tour comes highly recommended on many different travel sites including Trip Advisor. ATM sounded like it could deliver an excellent experience, but it was also easily influenced by the time of year, tour company, guide, and other tour participants. Not to mention, it was also hard to gauge what kind of "adventure" experience it really was. Would it only be enjoyable if you were a hard core outdoors adventurer who likes bungee jumping, extreme skiing, snow caves, and the like? Well, my family certainly does not fit that prototype. My wife and I do occasionally enjoy 3 hour hikes of moderate difficulty in the Rocky Mountains. And, we stay pretty physically fit. So, while we are in our early 50s, this was no real issue for us. Our 21 year old daughter, on the other hand, is not much of an "outdoorsman". And, while she also stays in good shape, she's the one who's well known moniker is "Princess A-May-May". She enjoys vacations where she can get a good tan sunning herself by the pool. And, the women in my family aren't the most athletically gifted individuals (and my wife is afraid of heights). So, while my wife and I probably could have gone on the tour without our daughter, strangely, I thought she would enjoy it as well. So, with a little trepidation, I booked the tour with PACZ long before we left the States . We didn't tell our daughter.

We arranged for PACZ to pick us up at Chaa Creek (for a small extra charge) and we intended to end the trip in San Ignacio proper (allowing us to eat in town, explore, etc). We were picked up promptly in the early morning by our guide for the day - Oscar. After a brief stop in town to collect the packed lunches (we were given choices of sandwiches), we were on our way. It was clear that my family of three would be enjoying this tour by ourselves. After a couple of hours, we had arrived.

Unfortunately, you cannot take pictures inside the cave anymore (and, you'll find out why when you're inside the cave). So, you might as well leave the camera at home (or in the vehicle). And, besides lunch and a pair of thick dry socks, there's little else you need. You may choose to bring a change of clothing, however, as the parking area has some nice facilities with showers. I'd also make sure you wear some quick dry clothing (bathing suit, etc) and closed toed shoes or sandals (like Keens) - ones with excellent traction. With the exception of the socks, you'll pretty much have to leave anything else outside the cave.

Next, comes the 45 minute hike to the mouth of the cave. There are several other tour companies / guides starting the trek at the same time. So, its not like you are all by yourself, but I'd say there were only 3 or 4 other groups yielding a total of around 20. The hike itself is on flat dirt trails through the jungle and it includes several "river" crossings. Now, we came in May, at the end of the dry season before the rains begin. I've read about others wading through shoulder high waters using ropes to aid their crossing. For us, the deepest water we crossed was about knee height (I am 5'9"). Along the way, we paused for a few brief animal and jungle lectures.

When you arrive at the cave, you stop for lunch. There is a spot with picnic tables and grills. Now, you do have the option to either eat before or after visiting the cave; however, your lunch will hang on a hook in the jungle heat for 2 and half hours if you decide to wait. The microbiologist (my wife) suggested we eat the perishables before entering the cave. We also were pretty hungry - so, we ate first. The downside of eating (and drinking your water) before hand is that this is also your last chance to go to the bathroom. A rough outhouse is available as well as an abundant jungle. At this time we strapped on our helmets, hung our lunch remnants on the hook, and wandered down to the cave opening. Then, we were given some instruction along with some head lamps and we were ready to go.

The swim into the cave is the longest you'll make all day. Its about 60 feet or so. I'm not a good swimmer (the women are), so this was my only concern. But, it turned out to be fairly easy and once inside, you're on your way. Now, I'm not going to give you a blow by blow description inside the cave - that would rob you of some of the awesome experience that is the ATM cave. However, I will give some of my general observations.

First, the guides are very careful with their guests. They make sure you understand exactly what to do and what to expect - "three steps and then a drop off to your right ...". This keeps you "always on". You never feel like your in any sort of peril, but it does make you very attentive - you feel "alive". I'll call the whole experience "orienteering light".

Second, you will have to swim a little bit inside. Some of the time you'll tread on dry surfaces. At others, you'll wade through ankle to knee high water. There are also times were you nearly get dry - only to get wet again and start the process all over. The closed toed shoes are a must as I bumped into a couple rocks while traipsing around in there. The cave never felt "cold", but the water isn't warm (its not too cold either) and there were certainly times when you were damp and a bit chilled.

Third, you will have to climb and clamber and navigate a few narrow spaces. There are big expanses of cave as well, but if you are claustrophobic, this tour could be a problem. And, there are times when you are informed to avoid touching the walls - as crystalline structures are near. In fact, Oscar mentioned that he thought in a few years, all visitors would be required to wear gloves - to minimize the damage caused by oils on the hands.

Fourth, when you do get far enough into the cave, you will remove your shoes and use the dry socks ported by your guide to finish your journey. You will walk over some fairly rocky ground. Its not too bad, but I'd suggest some thickly padded socks (we used hiking socks). Or, toughen up the soles of your feet beforehand :-)

Last, there is plenty to see - both from a geological and historical view point. It is beautiful. And, this is the place where the guides really shine. Some guides provided a very in depth historical perspective (we could hear them as they were sometimes just around the corner - and at other times, we were all in the same massive chamber). While other guides provided a more mystical experience. Oscar gave us a bit of both - delivering just enough history to make us understand the importance of the cave along with some very magical, almost ethereal, moments. His use of lighting (both his, ours, and occasionally the caves) was exceptional.

The path back out of the cave was similar, but varied. A few slightly different paths were taken and the experiences delivered on the way out were also new. We swam back out and reveled in the experience we just enjoyed together. We grabbed what remained of our lunches and packed them out. The trek back to the parking area was a bit quicker. All of the different tour participants co-mingled and shared their experiences. When we got back to the vehicle, we showered, changed, and then took off for San Ignacio.

When we arrived at the PACZ office we lamented not having any photos of the cave. They were kind enough to copy some of there stock photos onto our camera's memory card. They also arranged a ride back to Chaa Creek for later that evening. We met the driver and told him when we'd be back. Everything went smoothly when we returned.

So, if you've made it this far, I'll finish with a few final thoughts. If this was America, you probably wouldn't be allowed into the cave at all. At a minimum, the tour would be highly controlled and most of the historic relics would be removed. As for the "difficulty" of this tour, we had no issues. Again, we went in May when water levels were likely at their lowest, so your mileage may vary. And, everyone, especially my daughter, absolutely loved this tour. In the end, you leave just grinning from ear to ear over the adventure you just had. I'd say this was easily one the very best tours we have ever taken and Oscar, along with the fine people of PACZ, were simply the icing on the cake.

Thank kidnme
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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