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  #1  
Old February 25th, 2009, 06:15 PM
janey829 janey829 is offline
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Default Xunantunich or Altun Ha for an all-day excursion?

Please, anyone who's done either of these tours could you please tell me what you thought of them? We plan on seeing ruins in Belize when we're there in April on the Carnival Glory. Since it's a long day, we're going to book an excursion through the ship. Carnival offers Xunantunich (a 2-hour bus trip each way, but provides lunch) or Altun Ha with a ride up the river (6 hours, no lunch).

There are benefits to both of them. The ruins themselves might be our deciding factor. Is one more impressive than another? Can you climb at both spots? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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  #2  
Old February 25th, 2009, 07:09 PM
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I canít give you a real comparison, as Iíve been only to Altun Ha. But I found that site quite interesting and, yes, I did climb to the top of the main structure -- there are steps at the side going almost to the top, so you can climb up without using those impossible pyramid steps. There are several ruins there, some better preserved than others. I took an independent tour that went only to Altun Ha, without the river trip; our ride there and back was really bumpy, over potholed roads. Nonetheless, I would recommend it.

Iím considering trying Xunantunich when we go back to Belize this May, but not only is that a long ride to get there, Iíve heard that the roads are not good and that there has been some crime in the areas that you pass through on the way. After that recent Celebrity accident in Dominica Iím starting to think twice about road conditions.
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  #3  
Old February 26th, 2009, 11:39 AM
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We took the trip to Xunantunich in January. It is a two hour bus ride from Belize City. We had a very good guide booked thru HAL (Greyline tours) who made the trip there and back interesting. You will pass through several of the eco zones that make up Belize with an opportunity to see the changes from Mangrove swamps to higher altitude terrain. There is one main road (well paved) that crosses Belize to the site. There is an opportunity to stop along the way for photos on the large bridge enroute. Before arriving at Xunantunich who will have to cross a small river on a small barge operated by a hand crank which is fun. On the other side of the river a van will carry you to the site but an uphill walk is necessry to reach the ruins. The ruins are impressive and it is possible to climb to the top of the main temple for excellent views of the site and the surrounding valley. It was lightly raining when we arrived but we were able to climb the sometimes narrow and worn steps.(I suggest packing light rain gear as this is a rain forest area) This may be a factor depending upon your age and physical abilities. It is not necessary to climb in order to enjoy the excursion. I hve not seen Altun Ha so I cannot offer a contrasting opinion. This more or less a full day excursion but you will have time on your return to shop in the protected area along the wharf in Belize City.
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Old February 26th, 2009, 02:06 PM
josephsschmoe josephsschmoe is offline
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Mr. and Mrs. Joseph S Schmoe (representing the Schmoes of Tallahassee) did the Altun Ha tour with Allen Dawson of Experience Belize Tours (www.experiencebelizetours.com) last Wednesday. It was a wonderful experience. We were the only ones booked so we had a personalized private tour. Allen is quite knowledgable and very patient. On our next visit, we will be sure to use his services again. The cost for the tour is $55 including lunch at the Mayan Wells restaurant which is about half a mile from the entrance to the ruins. The restaurant grounds include a botanical garden with many of the local species identified. EBT has a skype number in Brimingham AL so they are easy to contact.

The tour lasted about 5 hours which was just about right for us. Altun Ha is about 30 miles north of Belize city. Lamanaai (sp?) is quite a bit further north and requires an hour drive along with an hour boat ride. The Altun Ha ruins are substantial and you will not be disappointed if you go. Mrs. Joseph S Schmoe is adverse to climbing but she made it to the top of the major Altun Ha temple without problem.

Lamanaai is a full day affair. Also the Carnival boat leaves port half an hour earlier than the NCL boat which makes the Lamanaai trip a bit of a challenge. Allen says that he has had good results running the Lamanaai tour. On my next visit, I may do this.

At any rate, I cant speak highly enough of my experience with EBT. You can PM me if you have further questions.
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Old February 26th, 2009, 02:51 PM
simkoreb simkoreb is offline
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I did the river trip and Altun Ha a couple years ago. I loved it!! It was the perfect length, and the river really broke it up, so you weren't stuck on a bus both ways. There actually is a place yo stop, and can get lunch. You pay for it, it's a chicken and rice dish if I remember correctly. We did the river first....saw alligators, dolphins played by our boat, manatees, iguanas. Then stopped at this "village" place where my husband and I shared the chicken dish they offered. There was a little shopping you could do. We just relaxed. Then got on a nice bus to Altuna Ha. There was a ruin you could climb there.

I usually do not book Carnival excursions, but I hate the pressure of getting on the first tender for Belize. I went on it with 3 family members, and we all agreed it was great.

If you do book it, be one of the last ones on the tender. You tender to shore, and they load you into boats....our boat was only half full, which was really nice, because we were at the back! Each boat they filled to capacity except the last one.
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Old February 26th, 2009, 04:35 PM
janey829 janey829 is offline
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Thanks so much for all your advice! I think I'm leaning toward the Altun Ha/River tour, because the river ride sounds so cool and because I don't relish a 2 hour bus ride!

Thanks also for the tip about the tender!
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  #7  
Old February 26th, 2009, 08:56 PM
wolv4life wolv4life is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simkoreb View Post
I did the river trip and Altun Ha a couple years ago. I loved it!! It was the perfect length, and the river really broke it up, so you weren't stuck on a bus both ways. There actually is a place yo stop, and can get lunch. You pay for it, it's a chicken and rice dish if I remember correctly. We did the river first....saw alligators, dolphins played by our boat, manatees, iguanas. Then stopped at this "village" place where my husband and I shared the chicken dish they offered. There was a little shopping you could do. We just relaxed. Then got on a nice bus to Altuna Ha. There was a ruin you could climb there.

I usually do not book Carnival excursions, but I hate the pressure of getting on the first tender for Belize. I went on it with 3 family members, and we all agreed it was great.

If you do book it, be one of the last ones on the tender. You tender to shore, and they load you into boats....our boat was only half full, which was really nice, because we were at the back! Each boat they filled to capacity except the last one.

Great to hear it is a good tour. We are scheduled to take this tour in a few weeks on the Glory. I can't wait...
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  #8  
Old February 28th, 2009, 01:05 PM
clueless2 clueless2 is online now
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Some pics from our January tour of Xunantunich. We enjoyed it very much. As you can see you can climb to the top of the highest temple and the view is incredible.



http://picasaweb.google.com/tco0085/...74063710099106
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  #9  
Old February 28th, 2009, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clueless2 View Post
Some pics from our January tour of Xunantunich. We enjoyed it very much. As you can see you can climb to the top of the highest temple and the view is incredible.
Great photos! But did I see guards with rifles?
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Old March 1st, 2009, 09:11 AM
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In 2004 we did a ruins tour with http://www.belizeansun.com/, did cave tubing in 06 and going with them again in April. We went to Xunantunich and then to a smaller site called Cahal Pech, we were the only one there! Our guide was amazing, knew all kinds of info about the country and the ruins. We had kids age 15, 13 and 9, all three had a great time, said this was their favorite port stop. The company has three standard tours but will change them to fit your needs, just send them an email. We chose to have snacks in the van instead of stopping for lunch and shopping, so we had more time at the ruins. We like a private tour so it's just our group in a van and not a bus load.

Great seeing all the pictures, brings back some amazing memories, I'll need to get the photo albums out and have a look!
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  #11  
Old March 3rd, 2009, 08:55 PM
clueless2 clueless2 is online now
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Originally Posted by judyzoo View Post
Great photos! But did I see guards with rifles?
There were armed guards (and I believe military as well).
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  #12  
Old April 18th, 2009, 03:38 PM
trsanfor trsanfor is offline
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Default Xunantunich and Altun Ha

I, personally, would recommend Xunantunich. You can climb to the top. It's 130 ft. up. You can see Guatamala from up top since it's only two miles away.

I've been to Altun Ha also but I would only recommend that if you'd already seen Xunantunich.

I'm going back to Xunantunich on my next Carnival cruise (Dream) on Dec. 30, 2009.

By the way, the meal that is provided on the Xunantunich excursion is really good.

Last edited by trsanfor; April 18th, 2009 at 03:39 PM. Reason: fix grammar
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  #13  
Old April 18th, 2009, 03:49 PM
trsanfor trsanfor is offline
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Default More info on Xunantunich and Altun Ha

I see your post that you're leaning toward Altun Ha and the River Wallace.

That excursion is okay, but the roads aren't bad for the bus ride to Xunantunich. "El Castillo" is very impressive. There's nothing at Altun Ha to compare. The river ride wasn't anything special.

I'm sure which ever you pick, you'll have a great time.
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  #14  
Old April 19th, 2009, 07:44 PM
1sttimeAlaska 1sttimeAlaska is offline
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Clueless2, thanks so much for the pictures! My DD and I will be cruising in May, and have chosen Xunantunich for our time in Belize. I can't wait! We chose this over Altun Ha because it appears to be the bigger of the two sites.
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Old April 22nd, 2009, 07:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1sttimeAlaska View Post
Clueless2, thanks so much for the pictures! My DD and I will be cruising in May, and have chosen Xunantunich for our time in Belize. I can't wait! We chose this over Altun Ha because it appears to be the bigger of the two sites.
1sttimeAlaska...We're doing this the week before you. Same reasons, DW wanted to see the bigger (tallest) site I'm fine with it so long as we get back in time for me to grab a Belikan Stout at Wet Lizard.

We'll compare notes we when we get back.
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Old April 22nd, 2009, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clueless2 View Post
There were armed guards (and I believe military as well).

It is very typical for this part of the country to have armed police walking around with rifles. To this culture its about the equivalent to a police officer having a handgun in a holster. It does not mean you are not safe, its just how their culture is there.
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