San Ignacio, otherwise known as ‘Cayo,’ is the perfect base from which to explore the Mayan ruins and cave systems of Belize. The town is located close to the border with Guatemala, so visits to Tikal archaeological site are also possible. San Ignacio has its own fair share of rivers and ruins which will keep visitors occupied and if not, there are dozens of tour companies all vying to take you further afield. The town has a rough and tumble jungle feel to it that gives it a lot of energy (it’s very safe though) and sees a lot of visitors as it’s the launching point for people heading into Guatemala.
Top 5 Things to See and Do in San Ignacio
1. Visit Xunantunich
2. Float into the Barton Creek Cave
3. Cahal Pech
4. Canoe the Macal River
5. Actun Tunichil Muknal
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Spend the morning at the open-air market
If your stay includes a Saturday morning, head to the town’s open air market. Farmers from all over the Cayo District arrive to offer fresh fruit, vegetables, jams and dairy products, so this is a good place to stock up on inexpensive snacks for your outings and to get breakfast.
2. Spot wildlife at the Green Iguana Exhibit
The San Ignacio Resort Hotel runs a conservation program for the Green Iguana with the aim of creating awareness and educating visitors and locals about these colorful creatures. The resort sits at the top of a hill and is surrounded by 14 acres of rainforest encompassing 150 species of birds, various wildlife and 70 species of trees and plant life. Admission is 18 BZD and it’s open daily from 8am-4pm.
3. Medicinal Jungle Trail
Just facing the Green Iguana Exhibit is the entrance to the Medicinal Jungle Trail. The trail isn’t very difficult and lasts 45 minutes but you’ll be able to see iguanas, anteaters and the huge variety of birds within the 14-acre enclosure. The tour guides are extremely knowledgeable and it might surprise you what medicinal uses some of the plants have.
4. Green Hills Butterfly Ranch
Green Hills is the largest butterfly display in Belize. The huge 2,700 square feet flight area is a great place to get up close to the butterflies. Admission is 20 BZD and it’s open daily from 8am-4pm.
5. Relax in the Belize Botanic Gardens
Comprised of over 50 acres, these gardens have been restoratively developed over the past 10 years. The entrance fee is about 15 BZD and you can spend hours walking throughout the trees and plant life. It’s open daily from 7am-4pm.
6. San Ignacio & Santa Elena House of Culture
Located right under the Town Council building, this tiny museum has works by Belizean artists on display, and hosts classes, performances, and interactive activities. It’s open Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm.