Trip Report - duPlooy's Jungle Lodge, San Ignacio
The first part of our 12 day trip to Belize was in the San Ignacio. We, a family of 4, 2 50’s adults, a 20 year old and a 17 year old, travelled August 25-September 2, 2010. This is definitely off-season and there were no crowds anywhere. Everything was lush, green, and beautiful.
We stayed at duPlooy’s Jungle Lodge and had activities arranged by them. They arranged pick up at the international airport. The drive to the lodge is long and the last ½ mile or so is a very rough, dirt road. Our driver and guide for most of our stay, Ferman, could spot iguanas and interesting birds and stopped often to point them out. We arrived late afternoon and had time to review our plans for the next two days and get settled into our room, the Casita. It was a wonderful, 2 story house at the end of the wooden walkway. The kids had their own floor/bathroom, we had our own. Both floors include a wrap around deck which faced both the river and the botanical gardens with a comfortable hammock and chairs on both upper and lower deck. The upstairs bathroom had a Jacuzzi tub, which was much appreciated for a cool bath on hot afternoons. Although it was hot and humid, ceiling fans and floor fans did keep the rooms comfortable. We had most meals at the Jungle Lodge restaurant and all were very good – fruit and bread for breakfast (a full menu if one wanted more), usually lunches out on our day trips, and nice choices for dinner with excellent soups and always a filling, delicious vegetarian choice. Meals at duPlooy’s were imaginative and tasty, especially soups.
We enjoy outings that allow us to enjoy birds, insects, plants and animals; not things like zip-lining or spending a day in a cave with wet feet. For us, Barton Creek Cave was far more entertaining than the descriptions of ATM. The trip to Barton Creek was very interesting because the road passes Amish farms. We were fortunate to see the Amish milling boards from logs, quite an undertaking without electricity. Their farms were well kept and much like botanical gardens – every kind of fruit tree you could imagine. Barton Creek cave was – you go with your guide by canoe and see stalactites, stalagmites, Maya pottery and a skull by flashlights attached to car batteries. Barton Creek is a perfect way to appreciate the limestone caves while remaining dry and comfortable. The short walk to the cave was full of hummingbirds, butterflies, and basilisk lizards. A short drive from Barton Creek is Green Hills Butterfly Farm. We had a picnic there (packed by duPlooy’s), at a covered picnic area surrounded by a garden full of flowers that are nectar sources for butterflies. It was beautiful – full of movement from all the different butterflies feeding from the flowers. After lunch, we went to the butterfly house and were given a tour from a young woman who works there. We all enjoyed the tour and the many beautiful butterflies raised at Green Hills. At the end of our tour, a thunderstorm began and we drove back to the lodge in the rain. It rained for a couple of hours and we enjoyed a siesta in our Casita to the music of rain and thunder.
Our second day we went to Tikal in Guatamala. duPlooy’s did an excellent job arranging the trip; there were no problems crossing the border and meeting with our driver and guide. Tikal is spectacular and duPlooy’s guide is excellent, knowledgable, and patient. We heard some majorly loud howler monkeys, were entertained by a couple of young spider monkeys, saw two snoozing howler monkeys in the trees, and got to hang out with a very tame coutamundi hoping for a handout. After our tour we had a late lunch at a small restaurant across the street from the parking lot. It was not great and I would have preferred another box lunch from duPlooy’s. Tikal is a very long and full day but well worth the effort.
Day 3 we spent at the jungle lodge. I love botanical gardens and chose duPlooy’s for it’s good TripAdvisor reviews and it’s relationship to the Belize Botanical Gardens. We thoroughly enjoyed the self-guided tour of the gardens. If you’ve never gone to botanical gardens but like birds, flowers, insects, and nature you are missing out. We are often the only people at them and can explore and enjoy at whatever pace we choose. The Belize Botanical Gardens have it all – a bird blind, fire tower, fruit trees, Maya garden, river walk, orchid house, and jungle areas. The fire tower offered a great view. After exploring for 3 hours or so, we had lunch at the lodge and enjoyed the hammocks and some reading – again to the sound of the afternoon rain. After dinner we went on a night hike with Ferman who helped us see fox, opossum, tarantulas, kinkajoos, sleeping birds, bats, frogs, toads, black orchids, and more.
Day 4 we were leaving San Ignacio for San Pedro. Ferman drove us and we went to the Belize Zoo on the way. It is a great little zoo and Ferman is very passionate and knowledgeable about the zoo and its animals. We were there with another couple from duPlooy’s who were heading back to the US. Their flight was earlier than ours and Ferman helped us get an earlier flight to San Pedro so we would not have to wait around the municipal airport for a couple of hours. He really was a gem and we are grateful to him – and duPlooy’s Jungle Lodge for connecting us to him.
I am glad we stayed at duPlooy’s in San Ignacio, it is a clean, well run place in a lovely setting. I especially recommend it for families except those with babies and young children. The wooden walkways were a challenge for adults as they were often slippery and many other safety hazards exist in the jungle. The food choices could be a challenge for picky eaters. As there is no air conditioning and the cabins are located in pretty much the same vicinity, noise is an issue. Finally, everywhere you go will require long, bumpy drives with other vacationers who may not enjoy sharing a long car ride with an unhappy toddler. As a parent who has travelled a good deal with my children, my advice is to save Belize for when your children are around 10, when they can enjoy the natural and cultural beauty AND they can remember it!