San Ignacio is renowned for its close proximity to Belize’s famous Maya ruins, as well as being a hub for outdoor activities including caving, hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, and more. It is also one of the last towns in Belize before entering Guatemala, where many visitors go to visit the Tikal Maya ruins.
San Ignacio itself is really quite small and therefore easy to explore on foot. There are some good accommodation options and some excellent restaurants. San Ignacio was my favourite place in all of Belize; the people are so helpful and friendly.
Many of San Ignacio’s archeological sights lie outside of town but are easy to access on foot or by local bus. The only activity I did not participate in was a visit to the ATM cave complex. At over $100 USD it was out of the realms of my budget.
Cahal Pech, right on the edge of town, was a city of some importance from around 900 BC to AD 800. There are 34 buildings spread over 6 acres (2.4 hectares) and grouped around seven plazas. Plaza B, about 500ft (150m) from the museum building and parking area, is the site’s largest plaza and also the most impressive.
Xunantunich (shoo-NAHN-too-nich), a short bus ride from San Ignacio, is an amazing Maya site. Its name means ‘Stone Woman’, which refers to the ghost of a woman claimed by several people to inhabit the site. Apparently she is dressed completely in white, and has fire-red glowing eyes. She generally appears in front of El Castillo; ascends the stone stairs and disappears into a stone wall.
Sitting atop el Castillo, the second tallest structure in Belize at some 130 feet (40 m) tall, watching the sun rise and the jungle unfold below me, was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced.
Next stage: Crossing the border into Mexico, via Belize city.