San Ignacio in Belize has a small town feel but with lots to offer. If you want a jungle experience or an adventure, you don’t want to miss San Ignacio.
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Cahal Pech Archaeological Site
Cahal Pech Archaeological Site is a worthwhile visit. It is very easy to get to if you are staying in San Ignacio as it right there without having to leave the town. It means ‘Place of Ticks’. It was founded in 1200BC and excavation took place between 1988 and 2000. It is one of the oldest Mayan sites in Western Belize.
There are not too many other visitors and this site is a little more hidden than you might expect for a tourist location. You can access this site by going through some residential roads towards the top of a hill overlooking San Ignacio and Santa Elena.
There is a parking area for your vehicle if you decide to drive in and the office is just up the stairs to the front entrance for purchasing tickets. The museum can be found just after the office which holds some artifacts that were found during excavations.
Ticket prices are $10 Belize dollars for tourists.
Xunantunich Archaeological Site
There is also the Xunantunich Archaeological Site which means ‘Maiden of the Rock’ also known as ‘Stone Lady’. It is located near a town called San Jose Succotz, about 40 mins from San Ignacio, in the Cayo District. This site was founded later than Cahal Pech in 650AD and discovered earlier in 1938.
A river needs to be crossed to access Xunantunich. There is a ferry which can move cars from one side of the river to the other, two at a time.
A well- known pyramid structure in this site is called ‘El Castillo’ and there are four main sections – A, B, C and D. Its a relatively small site, but still impresses.
It is not far from the Guatemalan border. Ticket cost is $10 Belize dollars for tourist entry.
San Ignacio Markets
If a Saturday happens to fall during your trip, you will have the added option to visit the San Ignacio markets. It is located near the Macal River and you will find the likes of farmers, vendors and many others ready for trading and showcasing their items.
There are plenty of different flavours to try, including Belizean food and gifts if you need some ideas. Locals usually crowd to the area to stock up for the week.
On one of the nights, we got takeaway for dinner since we had a big day and the kids were ready to pass out. We found a restaurant and it was called ‘Authentic Flavors’. At the restaurant, you will have views of the town of San Ignacio if you are seated near the window. You’ll have to climb up some stairs to get to the restaurant and dining area, but they cater some traditional and modern twists to Belizean food. It is delicious and a must-try.
Recino’s Bakery and Cafe
Recino’s Bakery and Cafe stocks assorted freshly baked goods. They are open from 10am till 9pm and have anything from pizzas to milkshakes. They also have some lighter options that you can have for breakfast, but if you have a sweet tooth, they have something for that too.
Mahogany Hall Boutique Resort
A notable accommodation to stay at is Mahogany Hall Boutique Resort in Bullet Tree Falls. So close to San Ignacio but far enough that you can hear the sounds of nature outside without the hustle and bustle of the town center.
It is alongside a flowing river and is soothing to listen to as you fall asleep. Some rooms are smaller than they look so it might be worthwhile double checking this feature if this is important to you. The bathrooms are designed beautifully. We booked in the last minute as we didn’t have many options, but we were lucky to stumble upon this gem.
Cahal Pech General Admission: 10 Belize dollars
Xunantunich General Admission: 10 Belize dollars
8:00am – 5:00pm – everyday including public holidays
Cahal Pech Archaeological Reserve
W. Ford Young Drive,
C.A., San Ignacio
Xunantunich Mayan Ruins
40 Park Street