San Ignacio, Belize
San Ignacio, often referred to as Cayo, is a laid back town in the western foothills of the Mayan Mountains. Located right along the Western Highway, San Ignacio is popular among travelers as it provides modern tourist amenities while retaining its authenticity. The town sits directly on the meandering Macal River and is surrounded by green rolling hills where adventure awaits.
Considered the adventure capital of Belize, there is no shortage of activities for the outdoor enthusiast. Whether it be canoeing up the Macal River, tubing through one of the area’s deep and dark caves, zip lining above the jungle, or exploring the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in search of elusive birds, tours are easily arranged by visiting one of the tour shops that line Burns Avenue, a pedestrian-only street that runs through the center of town.
San Ignacio is also an excellent base for those looking to learn about the history of the Mayan Culture. Just a few minutes from town are Cahal Pech and Xunantunich, two impressive Mayan ruin sites that date back to 1200 B.C. For those willing to venture further, San Ignacio is the departure point for full day tours to Caracol Archeological Reserve which is located far down a dirt road deep in the jungle. This is one of the largest Mayan sites in the country and is home to the tallest pyramid in Belize at 136 feet (41 m).
There are a wide variety of accommodations in and around San Ignacio ranging from budget hostels to luxury eco-lodges. Restaurants serving local and international fare are abundant, and the main streets through town are lined with fruit vendors and street food. The vibrant weekly farmers market on the edge of town runs every Saturday from the early morning through the mid-afternoon and is a lively place to experience the local way of life.
Located a mere 8 miles (13 km) from the Guatemalan border, San Ignacio is also a good jumping off point for travelers looking to explore other parts of Central America, including the ancient Mayan city of Tikal.