San Ignacio, Belize's Jungle Gem

People | Places | Plants & Animals | Archaeology

Long popular with adventure travelers and eco-tourists, San Ignacio has been an inexpensive and charming place to stay in Belize. Now that many cruise lines have added Belize to their ports of call, San Ignacio has become more popular as an extended trip. From San Ignacio, you can reach Tikal in less than two hours. You can cross the border into Guatemala for some day shopping. Or you can stay right in San Ignacio and enjoy river rafting and swimming, caving, and hiking. And there are more easily-accessible Mayan ruins around San Ignacio than almost anywhere else in Belize.

Here on this page you can enjoy some of the sights of San Ignacio. You'll find it a charming and friendly place. And you'll find out for sure that the Maya didn't disappear from Central America when their major cities fell into ruin. They're alive and well in and around San Ignacio!

All photos copyright 1999, Mike Cuenca. All Rights Reserved. Contact: 785-691-6927 or

View a panorama of San Ignacio's old Car Park.

View a 360 panorama of the Gran Plaza of Parque Nacional Tikal.



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A backwoods farmer and his very long shotgun.

Seems like a pretty healthy smile.

Seriously cool dudes.

Doin' the dishes, jungle-style.

Feliz Neal is one of the modern Mayan boatmen who still make a living on the river -- now hauling tourists instead of goods.

The United States attacked Iraq the week before Christmas '98 and CNN was a prime source of updates.

An apple a day . . .

Taking the cat along to buy live chickens at the San Ignacio market.

The San Ignacio market is a daily source of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Carrying the wash to the river.

The blonde doll seems out of place here.

Rain-forest cab ride with William.

Headed home after a long day at school.

All dressed up for the Christmas party at school.



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The Macal River has been the source of life and the main mode of transportation for many centuries.

The Hawkesworth Bridge crosses the Macal River at San Ignacio.

One of the typically colorful homes across the border in nearby Flores, Peten, Guatemala.

Even in decay, the colors remain striking.

Farmers and shoppers fill the market area every day, especially Saturday.

Fresh citrus is among the produce available at the market.

Pineapple, too.

Don't forget the tomatoes.

There's not much you can't find at the market.

See what I mean?

An idyllic rest stop in the rain forest upriver from San Ignacio.

"Downtown" San Ignacio.

Just hope no one is coming the other way.


Plants & Animals

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Just hanging around.

Munching a leaf.

Reflecting on the big picture. (Great Blue Heron)

I'm outta here. (Immature Little Blue Heron)

Who're you staring at?


Wow again.



A Collared Aracari, one of the Toucans. (Tikal)

Guess how big they are.

Now guess again. (Growing on one of the structures at Tikal.)

An Ocellated Turkey at Tikal National Park, Guatemala.

A Black Vulture at Tikal National Park, Guatemala.

Little Blue Heron on the Macal River.

Social Flycatcher.

Aren't they cute? (Mangrove Swallows)

A Coatimundi sniffing out dinner at Tikal National Park, Guatemala.



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Plaza Axcanan at El Pilar.

Most of El Pilar remains unexcavated.

The underbrush has been cleared in El Pilar, helping to expose the jungle-covered structures.

Xunantunich is one of many Mayan sites around San Ignacio.

You have to take the hand-cranked ferry across the Mopan River to reach Xunantunich.

The massive El Castillo, "The Castle", remains one of Belize's tallest man-made structures, rising 130 feet above the jungle.

A detail of the west frieze of El Castillo at Xunantunich.

The sun rises behind Templo I at Tikal.

Picnic with the Gods.

Templos I, II, and III rising above the canopy.

A room with a view (inside Templo IV.)

See the workers at the top?


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