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  #1  
Old August 31st, 2010, 04:57 PM
ZachUK24 ZachUK24 is offline
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Default Xunantunich Carnival Excursion

Hello - I had a few questions about the Xunantunich excursion through Carnival.

How is the bus ride to the ruins? I've read it is around 2 hours long - how boring does this ride get? Any info you can give on this ride would be helpful - do you drive through any villages, see any interesting wildlife, etc? Will we be bored to death?

I also read that if it is raining or has recently rained, visitors are not allowed to climb the ruins. Has this happened to anyone? I'm a bit worried about this happening on our trip to Xunantunich and being disappointed. The view from the top of El Castillo looks amazing in the pictures I have seen. Is this excursion worth $85 pp if you aren't able to climb El Castillo?

Thanks in advance for any information you can provide!

Last edited by ZachUK24; August 31st, 2010 at 05:00 PM.
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Old August 31st, 2010, 06:44 PM
wdowns9 wdowns9 is offline
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The trip is LONG. We just looked out the window heading to the ruins because the scenary is new..Nothing spectacular,. Bring abn MP3 player along with snacks because you will need them as its a long hot day. Was the trip worth it, you decide: http://wdowns9.smugmug.com/Travel/Xu...92547985_DBVXF

I think it was. On the trip back you will be napping after lunch because you will be worn out. The climb is not bad as unlike other structures its not straight up and there are switchbacks to help. I did not rain so I am not aware if they impose a no climb rule if it is wet. Do not place a cost of the trip if you can not make the climb.
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Old November 13th, 2010, 07:57 PM
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How much time does one actually get to enjoy the ruins at Xunantunich through the Carnival excursion?
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Old November 13th, 2010, 11:05 PM
wdowns9 wdowns9 is offline
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We were on-site about 2hrs. Of course I would of liked more time but for me it was well worth it and the price along with the drive through the country side.
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Old November 14th, 2010, 03:54 PM
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wdowns9, your pictures are beautiful! Thank you for posting! My Sister and I are planning on visiting the ruins Dec 2 when we are in Belize. The hints about MP3 and snacks is a good one, Thanks. Sandra

Did this seem to be a popular tour? We are going to wait and book when we are on the ship.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 04:32 PM
Merv1 Merv1 is offline
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We just got back from our Carnival Glory trip yesterday, which included a stop in Belize. We booked the Xunantunich (pronounced Shoe-nan-too-nick) tour through Carnival. The tour was operated by Bak a Bush. We thought it was really good. We rarely (if ever) book through the cruiseline. But, this was a last minute decision for us (we did book prior to the cruise - there were 37 of us on the bus) and we felt our best option. None of us (ages 29-45) had ever been to a ruin site before and really enjoyed it. It is a long day. The bus was very comfortable, bathroom on board, and it was well air conditioned. We had a driver, and then two Bak a Bush employees with us. Jake was AMAZING. He narrated the entire trip to the ruin site, answering just about any question you had regarding the ruins or Belize itself. His level of knowledge was incredible, and he really seemed to have a love of all things involving nature and his country. I personally never got bored of his talking, and it seemed others did not either. Questions were numerous, and really made the trip go by fast - in my opinion. Once out of Belize City, which was interesting in it's own way, although quite poor, you are mostly in the country on well paved roads. The landscape does change from fairly flat to more hilly and mountainous. It is very pretty and all of it (trees, birds, animals, etc) are explained on the way. In the countryside you will be passing by and through small villages and towns, schools, churches, etc. You will need to pass over a river, on a hand cranked primitive ferry. It is quick, and you are outside the vehicle when you do this. Prior to getting on the ferry there is a VERY small area where some vendors are set up to sell hand crafted items and other things. If you are looking to shop, this is NOT the trip for you. Due to the length of the trip, the guides keep you on a pretty tight schedule. It is necessary. They explain early on, that there will only be time for "express" shopping...I mean, literally 5 minutes. Once over the river, you are then transported in smaller vans to the parking area of the ruins. This ride takes MAYBE 5 minutes. There are clean restrooms there and also one or two other areas to shop, but again, not much time. Once you exit these smaller vans, there is a short climb up a paved hill to get to the ruin site. The time spent at the ruins was perhaps 1 1/2 to 2 hours. In my opinion, it was enough time. You are with the guides the entire time, and this time it was Lavergne who was talking and explaining about the site and the Mayan people. As it was a beautiful day, we were allowed to climb the tallest ruin, but it is correct that on a rainy day, you would not be allowed to do so. WEAR STURDY SHOES - a good pair of sneakers would be fine. The climb down on the backside is pretty steep - there are little to no handrails, and the footing is uneven. We did not see any wildlife, although the Howler Monkey's could be heard yelling all around the ruin site. It was great! There was a little time to go through a VERY SMALL museum onsite, use the restrooms if necessary, quickly poke through the shops before heading on the little vans to the river, crossing on the ferry and then we got back on the bigger van and headed to our lunch spot. The restaurant was very nice - open courtyard style. Price of lunch was included in the $85.00. We were all served the same meal: roasted chicken, rice and beans and fried plantain. I am a vegetarian, and they substituted my chicken with potato salad. We were all hungry and the food was delicious. Again, there are clean restrooms at this site. You can also sample and purchase various hot sauces at this restaurant as well as the "famous" Cashew Wine - $10.00 a bottle. Yes, they do take American money. You can also purchase the spice blend used on the chicken - a nice sized packet for $1.00. Then, back on the bus to head back to Belize City. We were running a little behind schedule, and we were literally the last group to board the boat - late. Not an issue as we were on a cruise sponsored excursion. I thought the trip was well worth the $85.00 per person. It was educational and informative, included lunch and you really got to see a good portion of the country, both the city and countryside. Have fun if you decide to go!
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 11:20 AM
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Thanks so much for that review. I am going on RC, but I am sure it is about the same tour. I didn't know which ruin site to go to, and you just convinced me this is the one!
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 05:00 PM
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Merv1 thank you for the review. Lots of good info. Do you remember if they sold BELIZE 1 Rum anywhere you stopped. I have been asked to bring a few bottles back. Thanks
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Old November 24th, 2010, 08:08 AM
Merv1 Merv1 is offline
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Not really sure about the rum. IF it was available at all on this particular tour, I would say it would be for sale at the restaurant we stopped at, which of course I can't remember the name of! The other stops that had things for sale seemed to be handcrafted items, but again, there was so little time to shop, I really did not take notice. Good luck in finding it!
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Old December 10th, 2010, 12:25 PM
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Thank you Merv1 and wdowns9. Your information helped a lot and I booked our excursion thru Carnival today for our cruise in February. We didn't want to become nervous for not being sure to make it to the ship in time. We had that feeling about 2 years ago on a cave tubing excursion at Belize - just got the last tender boat. Never ever again.... :-)
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Old December 18th, 2010, 01:43 PM
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Default Strenuous?

I am looking to book this excursion for our cruise on 2/6/11, but I wondered...how strenuous is the walk to the ruins? I am overweight, and recently had cancer surgery. I can walk on flat land easily enough, but wonder if it's a steep climb to the ruins? If I can't make the walk up there, is there any place where I can stay while my husband walks up? I really want to do this excursion, as I love history and this just looks like so much fun! I'd appreciate any input. Thanks!
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Old December 19th, 2010, 11:40 AM
Merv1 Merv1 is offline
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When you get close to the ruins site, you have to get off the bus you came on, and walk down a small hill (like a boat-launching ramp) to get on the handcranked ferry to get across the river. When you get off the ferry, you have to walk up a very short hill to get into vans. When you finally get to the ruins site, the vans park in an area with 2 SMALL gift shops/restrooms/ and I believe a place where you can buy soda and maybe small food items (bags of chips, etc). From there, you have to walk up a hill. You are on a paved road, but I would describe the hill as long and climbing, as opposed to steep and short. You have a guide with you, and you are talking about trees/flowers, etc., so it is a leisurely walk, but still you are going uphill. My best guess is that the walk took maybe 10 minutes - again, leisurely pace, but up hill. If you are only comfortable on flat surfaces, then you should definately think about this. It will also most likely be hot and humid. Once at the top of the hill, you are at the ruins site, which involves walking (unless you just want to stand in one place and take in what you can see) and of course climbing the main site, which is VERY steep, little to no handrails, etc. Now, of course, you do not have to do that, and the grassy area that surrounds the ruins is flat, so IF you can make it up there, once there you should have no problems. Your group will easily spend 1 1/2 to 2 hours at the ruins site. The shopping area in the parking lot could probably only occupy you for 20 minutes. So, unless you wanted to bring a book and sit quietly in the shade somewhere (no seats, though) so that your husband could have the actual ruins experience, in my opinion, this may not be the trip for you. Please keep in mind (as my review above states) that since the LENGTH of this trip is very long, and you will be on a tight schedule due to your ship's time in port, and so you really have to move to keep up with the group. There is no time for shopping/excessive bathroom breaks or dawdling...or, if you are perhaps slow moving due to health issues, then again, this may unfortunately not be the trip for you. Good luck making your decision, and enjoy your trip, whatever you do!
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Old December 21st, 2010, 11:37 AM
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Default Detailed review.... :)

Thanks wdowns9 for posting those great pics and Merv1 for this detaied review, as some of our group is asking me at this moment about the walking that may be involved. Even though a long, uphill grade, it doesn't sound too awfully bad of a walk for us.

Thanks!
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 02:26 PM
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Merv...thank you for that much needed information. I will definitely have to think about this one, because I certainly don't want to hold up the group (too embarrassing!), and I'm just not sure on the hills. You were very very helpful, and I appreciate your honesty!
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 06:08 PM
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cruiselover999,it looks like we will be booking this tour also and we are on the same sailing as you guys.It should be fun.
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Old December 26th, 2010, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thesawch View Post
cruiselover999,it looks like we will be booking this tour also and we are on the same sailing as you guys.It should be fun.
Yeah, the more I think about it, it doesn't sound like the walk is THAT bad...10 minutes at a leisurely pace can't be more than maybe 1/3 of a mile. It's the steep stuff I have problems with. We may do this one yet, and see y'all on it!
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Old January 4th, 2011, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merv1 View Post
When you get close to the ruins site, you have to get off the bus you came on, and walk down a small hill (like a boat-launching ramp) to get on the handcranked ferry to get across the river. When you get off the ferry, you have to walk up a very short hill to get into vans. When you finally get to the ruins site, the vans park in an area with 2 SMALL gift shops/restrooms/ and I believe a place where you can buy soda and maybe small food items (bags of chips, etc). From there, you have to walk up a hill. You are on a paved road, but I would describe the hill as long and climbing, as opposed to steep and short. You have a guide with you, and you are talking about trees/flowers, etc., so it is a leisurely walk, but still you are going uphill. My best guess is that the walk took maybe 10 minutes - again, leisurely pace, but up hill. If you are only comfortable on flat surfaces, then you should definately think about this. It will also most likely be hot and humid. Once at the top of the hill, you are at the ruins site, which involves walking (unless you just want to stand in one place and take in what you can see) and of course climbing the main site, which is VERY steep, little to no handrails, etc. Now, of course, you do not have to do that, and the grassy area that surrounds the ruins is flat, so IF you can make it up there, once there you should have no problems. Your group will easily spend 1 1/2 to 2 hours at the ruins site. The shopping area in the parking lot could probably only occupy you for 20 minutes. So, unless you wanted to bring a book and sit quietly in the shade somewhere (no seats, though) so that your husband could have the actual ruins experience, in my opinion, this may not be the trip for you. Please keep in mind (as my review above states) that since the LENGTH of this trip is very long, and you will be on a tight schedule due to your ship's time in port, and so you really have to move to keep up with the group. There is no time for shopping/excessive bathroom breaks or dawdling...or, if you are perhaps slow moving due to health issues, then again, this may unfortunately not be the trip for you. Good luck making your decision, and enjoy your trip, whatever you do!
Thanks very much for posting this, it helps a lot in my decision.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 01:22 AM
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The bus ride was long but it was great for us! They had a tour guide explaining landmarks etc that we passed and answered any questions that we had about the culture etc... I Loved it! This has been my favorite excursion to date!!! We visited Chitzen Itza this past year but Xunantunich is still my all time favorite. I can't believe that people don't know about this place! I think it is so much better than Chitzen Itza. It's like a hidden gem! Wish I could take a shovel...even a fork and dig up the ruins that haven't been uncovered yet!!! I would definately advise anyone I know to go on this excursion! I hope to go again someday!!!!
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