Lamanai Day trip from Cay Caulker

When staying on one of the Islands of Belize with nothing but water and beach, I got a  bit lazy and slow, then again it’s their motto to “go slow” but I wanted to leave the Island and the best way to do that was to book a day trip to one of the many Mayan sites that Belize has. I chose to go to Lamanai which means submerged Crocodile. Since crocodiles are my favorite animals it was an easy pick over the other Mayan sites.

First I got on the early taxiboat from Caye Caulker to Belize city’s watertaxi terminal where a pick up was arranged by the touragency to drive me to the river bank outside Belize city where I had to take a shared motorboat with other day trip tourist towards Lamanai located at the new river lagoon. The boat trip was a bit more than 1 hour because under way the boat stops a few times to observe the wildlife. I saw many birds, turtles, manatees showing quickly their heads before going under the water and even a crocodile on the way back from Lamanai.

The departing point

On the way to Lamanai

arriving at Lamanai

spotting the Crocodile

Lamanai means submerged crocodile and got it’s name from the many crocodiles that lived here for ages in this river and still are living here until this day. I was lucky to see my favorite animal and took a picture. The Crocodile was actually real shy cause got quickly under water again when people on the boat starting making to much noise because they had probably never seen a crocodile from that close. I have, as you can see in my Zimbabwe post, so I stayed calm took a quick picture before it was to late and got it just in time. Really funny how things turn out, cause submerged means covered by water and since the crocodile went quickly under the water and covered itself from our motorboat coming closer, this whole site didn’t stole it’s name.

About Lamania itself, well what I can tell, it’s an interesting Mayan site surrounded by the jungle at the river lagoon. there are different temple on the site like the Jaguar temple, the High temple which is the highest and the mask temple, the one with the Mayan faces.
At the site our small group bumped into a snake, a boa constrictor which luckily is a non-poisonous snake. It can attack you but in a matter of minutes so many people got around the snake to take a picture that the animal quickly made it’s way out of there as it didn’t want to have all these attentions which is totally understandable from the animals point of view.

Jaguar Temple

The High Temple

View from the High Temple

View over the River from the High Temple

Mask Temple

Mask Temple

Stella Temple

meeting a boa constrictor

After walking around at the site for about 3 hours and climbing the temple stairs, it was time for lunch which together with the entrance fee of the site was included in the price of this wonderful daytrip. Some free time to do some souvenir shopping and back on the boat to Belize City.

souvenir shops

Souvenir shops

The boatride back was less then one hour because no stops are being made anymore, unless a crocodile would pop up, in that case the boat would slow down and quickly stop for picture opportunity and that’s what happened exactly at the beginning of the trip back as I mentioned above.
I really recommend this daytrip also because Lamanai is one of the best Mayan sites in Belize even though only a small part has been revealed and open for public. Many more temple complexes are still under the ground as it’s also the case for the Mayan sites in Guatemala and Mexico.

Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye

Belize and it’s islands in particular makes you feel like you are in the caribbean more than in Central America. That is if you decide to chill and relax or like they say on Caye Caulker “go slow”. Because of the heat you should take it slow, the breeze when the wind from the Atlantic ocean blows into your face is what I liked the most when I was walking down the coastline. The palm trees are a great spot to walk underneath in the shade to escape the sun while you make it down to the Split. It’s a narrow channel that splits the Island of Caye Caulker into two parts. There is a strong current passing through this narrow channel and there is no bridge, however it’s not advised to swim to the other side, for a few dollars some local can bring you to the other side on his little boat as many people own a small boat. I didn’t go to the northern side cause most of that part of the Island is still wild jungle. The southern part is where all the bars, shops, hostels and restaurants are. Also the taxi express boats that take you to Belize city on the mainland and to San Pedro on the Island of Ambergris Caye leave from there.

Caye Caulker

Map of Caye Caulker with the split of the Island

a breeze hittin the palmtrees

The Split sign before the actual split of the Island

the end of the Southern part of the Island

The split with the strong current

The northern side still a jungle

I booked a daytrip to the Temples of Lamanai and after I came back the driver took me for a trip through Belize City before dropping me of again at the taxi water express terminal from which I would take the taxiboat back to Caye Caulker where I was staying.
It was interesting to see the streets of Belize city, not many people visit it or spend alot of time cause most people go directly to the taxiboats to go to the Islands. We stopped at the Belize sign to make a few pictures, but other than that there is not much you can go visit. I do think if you would like to do more daytrips to Mayan temples that Belize City is a good place to have your base otherwise you have take the boats from the Islands to the mainalnd and back again like I did for that one daytrrip.
My time in Belize was short and I didn’t plan to visit any more Mayan Temple complexes besides Lamanai since I already have been to Copan in Honduras and have seen temples in Mexico which are all a bit similar in a way.

Welcome to Belize City

schoolbus picking up kids coming from school

one of the nicer neighbourhoods in Belize City

me standing on the Belize Sign

The last day of my stay in Belize I took the taxi express boat from Caye Caulker to San Pedro in Ambergris Caye, it was a bumpy boatride but not to bad to get seasick of. In San Pedro there are more clubs and places you can go out than in Caye Caulker. The Island is also divided, there is also a split but they don’t call it like that cause here there is a bridge. People ride on their bicycle or with golf carts over it. Golf carts are often used on this Island, you can rent one and drive it yourself but there are also taxi golf carts.

golf cart passing by

San Pedro with the San Pedro church in the back

San Pedro

The bridge that connects the South and North part of the Island Ambergris Caye

Panama City

Panama was my starting point for a new travel journey into Central America. From Amsterdam there is a direct flight to Panama City with KLM, this line is operating for many years now and it’s the best way to get to Central America from Belgium. Flight from Brussels to Amsterdam is only 30 minutes and my flight to Panama was about 11 hours which was ok.

Panama Sign in Panama City

Once in Panama City I decided to go see the old town Casco Viejo or Casco Antiguo as it’s also named sometimes. The modern part of the city where the skyscrapers are is more the centre of the City. The Panama Canal is little further away and enough ways to go there. I chose to take a  hop on hop off bus because it was the best way for me to see the different parts of the city and it includes a stop at the Panama Canal with entry ticket to the Miraflores locks visitor center. The busticket was for 2 days, thats enough time to visit every major sight that the City has to offer.

skyscrapers

The screwdriver buidling in the centre of the modern Panama City

 

Flag of Panama

First stop I got out of the bus was at the Panama Canal, There was not much movement cause at that moment there where no ships. I didn’t feel like I missed something with the ships not being there cause I already seen a cruiseship and a big cargo ship passing by in Curacao where the port is also narrow and as a child I remember being on a nilecruise with my parents where our boat also had to go through narrow locks to get to the other side. Offcourse it would have been less boring cause if it wasn’t for it’s worldfamous status I would have skipped it. There was a little musem with pictures of when and how the Canal got build, a movie theatre where they show a short movie about Panama and the history of how the country changed during the years, not much about the Canal itself, so for me that movie was irrelevant and since it was only 20 minutes I went to see it, just to be out of the heat for a while, cause the sun was burning outside.

Visitor Center

Me at the Panama Canal

Panama Canal

Panama Canal

The Canal locks

Panama Canal museum

Canal museum

Canal museum

ship simulator

map of Central America with the position of the Canal

After the Panama Canal I visited the Biomuseo which is a museum about the fauna and flora of Panama and Central America in general. There is also a big fishtank with tropical fish. The museum is open the whole week except on monday. I was there on a sunday and even though it was in a weekend it was not overcrowded. Entry ticket for adult was 18 usd.

Biomuseo entrance

inside museum fauna and flora decoration

The 2nd day I used my hop on hop off busticket to visit Ancon Hill with Mi Pueblito and Casco Viejo the old town of Panama with it’s Cathedral and colonial houses.

Ancon hill took me about 45 minutes to get to the top where the big flagpole is with the Panamanian flag and you can enjoy the view over the city between the trees. In the trees I saw some Tucans flying from one tree to to next, but they are so fast and hard to spot when they are in the trees, it was impossible to snap a picture of this beautiful bird with it’s colored beak. When I came down I walked around at Mi Pueblito which is at the foot of Ancon Hill. It’s like an openair museum of how a Typical Panamanian folk village looks like. There is a church and a souvenir shop and a snackbar selling some drinks and snacks.

Ancon Hill, view over the City

Mi Pueblito

Casco Viejo’s Colonial buildings

Casco Viejo

San Francisco church in Casco viejo

Metropolitan Cathedral Casco Viejo