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Published: June 17th 2018
So sang Kermit the frog, but in Belize it turns out it ain’t easy being a Green Iguana. The problem is the local people think eating Iguana eggs is good for fertility (I’m not sure if this is for males or females) which had caused Iguanas to become critically endangered in Belize, even though as a species they are not threatened
To address this issue some enterprising folk have set up the Iguana Project in St Ignacio, housed in the garden of the St Ignacio Resort hotel. This is unquestionably the best hotel in town, so is not where we are staying, but was used by the Queen on her last royal visit to Belize in 1994. The hotel is only 5 minutes walk from the centre of St Ignacio but it’s uphill and even though we do this first thing in the morning in time for the 8am tour it’s already very hot and humid.
The guided tour is low key but interesting. The guide lets us handle the iguanas and explains a little about the work of the project. They try to breed as many females as possible and by incubating the eggs carefully at a controlled
temperature can successfully hatch a high proportion of the eggs. After hatching they aim to release them back into the wild. A major part of their work is education. Straight after our tour they have a school group arriving to learn about project.
St Ignacio is only about 15km from Guatemala so turned out to be an easy day from Flores, but we tend to be cautious with our travel days when they involve border crossings. Here it was very straightforward as the 2 immigration posts are right next to each other and the bus from Flores dropped us 100m from the border post. Unfortunately the bus station on the Belize side is 3km away so we need to take a taxi, but the buses run to a published schedule so we find we have only 20 minutes to wait and are in St Ignacio by 1pm.
There is actually plenty to do in this area, both historical and natural sights (waterfalls and caves) but most of them are inaccessible without a high clearance vehicle and organised tours are expensive. The so called ATM cave (unfortunately it’s not called this because it gives out money) is probably the
most popular but it’s a full day tour and we feel a bit pricey.
Instead we’ll push on tomorrow to the coast, but will head south to the beach town of Placencia, instead of north to Belize City which is the gateway to the main tourist area around Cay Caulker. I know there is good diving there but really we’re a little too late for the best weather and we want to limit our time in Belize to a few days at the most. We will dive in Honduras (at Utila in the Bay Islands) so I’ll consider diving in Belize to be opportunistic (ie if there I a good chance of seeing whale sharks I’ll probably do it but otherwise most likely not.)
Belize has a good feel about it and I think would make a good destination for a shorter holiday sometime in the future (diving, caves, Mayan sights, good weather) when we’re not quite so cost conscious.
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