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- 09 Mar 2021, 3 nights
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Renowned for its rich Mayan history, San Ignacio is your gateway to the Cayo District in Belize. It lures intrepid visitors with the promise of adventures in its archaeological sites and ecological reserves where you can go tubing through caves and swimming in natural pools. Use this vibrant town as a base for thrill-seeking or head off on leisurely walks along the Rainforest Medicine Trail to learn about the medicinal properties of this lush country's indigenous plants.
Hostels in San Ignacio offer private rooms, group apartments and even hammocks to sleep in. Dine in style at a place opposite one of the town's most famous restaurants, or relax in lodges nestled in countryside tropical gardens. You'll find San Ignacio hostels with extras like a kitchen for self-catering, free Wi-Fi and a swimming pool. You can stay in a San Ignacio hostel a short walk from town and set on acres of green land and beside the river, creating a peaceful rural vibe.
San Ignacio's a small town that's easy to navigate on foot. Head to the Burns Avenue main street for tour companies, a Swedish massage centre and an ice cream parlour. The smaller sister town, Santa Elena, is across the river via a drivable suspension bridge. On Saturdays you can soak up local vibes at a farmers market on the banks of the Macal River, a hot spot for handmade furniture, home-produced cheeses and traditional medicines.
Topping the list of things to do in San Ignacio is exploring the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich. You can climb all over the enormous site's six plazas and more than 26 palaces and temples, including the El Castillo pyramid which stretches almost 40 metres into the sky. Visit mysterious Mayan caves like Actun Tunichil Muknal and Barton Creek and venture into the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve for majestic natural sights like the 1000 Foot Falls and Big Rock Waterfalls. An hour's drive away from San Ignacio are the clear tropical swimming waters of the Inland Blue Hole.
Buses go from Belize City to San Ignacio and take around 2.5 hours. You can also arrive from Flores in Guatemala by jumping on the daily shuttle that passes through San Ignacio on its way to Chetumal in Mexico. Limited flights from Belize City arrive at a small airstrip located around 11km from town. It's best to book a shuttle bus from the airport ahead of time for a door-to-door transfer. You can hire a car or catch taxis to get around town.