9 Days in Belize – Day 3: Horse Ride to Xunantunich

This is Day 3 of a 9 day series – to view all posts from this series click here!

A day at Xunantunich and San Ignacio town

Brace yourselves, this one is a long post full of lots of photos!

I woke up at 6am ready for a full day at my favorite place in the world, Hanna Stables. Located right outside of San Ignacio, Belize in the small village of San Jose Succotz. I enjoyed a fresh cup of coffee and delicious breakfast, while I watched Xunantunich emerge from the fog.

William (one of the excellent guides at Hanna Stables), met us after breakfast and brought us over to the stables to pair us up with our horse for the ride to Xunantunich.

 

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Sweetheart was my ride for the day, and she was everything you would expect with a name like that!

 

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We left the farm on horseback, and headed into the jungle towards Xunantunich.

 

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We crossed the Mopan river, on a hand crank ferry.

 

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We finished the ride up to the parking lot, and hiked by foot up to the Xunantunich ruins.

 

 

Here’s the view from one of the back bedrooms. Wow! Yeah, who needs wifi when you have a view like this? (*sigh* me)

 

 

Make sure to ask what the signs on the East and West sides of Xunantunich mean! If you don’t have a guide or your guide doesn’t tell you, ask me about them in the comments section.

 

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We walked back down the side of Xunantunich, to take a look at the rest of the site.

 

 

An Iguana was waiting to great us on our way down.

 

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Make sure to ask your guide about the significance of these columns! They were newly uncovered during my first visit in February, 2016. It’s amazing how much changes in each of my visits!

 

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El Castillo looks so small from the opposite side of the site! At 130 feet, it’s the second tallest site in Belize. You can just barely see a couple people standing on top.

 

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We then made our way back, and my Dad cranked the ferry back across the Mopan river.

 

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William pointed out the original hand crank ferry, now retired in the ferry graveyard.

 

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We had a delicious lunch when we got back to Hanna Stables, and spent an hour relaxing before heading in to San Ignacio town for some more exploring!

We started our San Ignacio adventure, at Ajaw Chocolates. They aren’t normally open on Sundays, but we lucked out and they had a 4:15 tour that they invited us to join. With 45 minutes to wait before our tour, we started out the afternoon with some Ice Cream from The Ice Cream Shoppe. I got a scoop of Pumpkin Cheesecake ice cream in a homemade waffle cone – yum! Yep, I was being basic in Belize but it was so so delicious.

 

 

With another 15 minutes to spare, we grabbed a Belikin at the Marie Sharp tasting room. The owners let us relax on their roof top viewing area, which I had never seen.

We climbed up the staircase, not really sure what to expect.

 

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Up there was a hammock, and a lovely view of the town.

 

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…and one more staircase that we climbed up.

 

 

Here we were greeted by an even more spectacular view of San Ignacio!

 

 

On our way back to Ajaw Chocolate, we realized that there is now Rum Tasting at the same place as the Marie Sharp hot sauce tasting! Right across the road from Ajaw Chocolate. We made note to come back the following day to give the rum a try 😉

 

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At Ajaw Chocolate, Adrian gave us an excellent time teaching us about the history of chocolate. This was my 4th visit – but it was still just as great as all of the previous times!

Side Note: There was a tour guide who brought a couple people on this same tour, who I was sure I recognized. I didn’t realize till later who he was! (keep reading)

 

 

After giving us each a turn at grinding cacao nibs, Adrian’s wife expertly turned the cacao into a chocolate paste. The friction of grinding the cacao nibs on the stone heats it up enough to melt it into what Willy Wonka could only dream his Chocolate rivers would be full of.

 

 

The paste was mixed into a coconut shell bowl, and hot water and honey was added so we could enjoy the ancient Maya drink. We each had a second bowl of the same drink, but added cinnamon, alspice, and chili powder. So good!! Everyone took home a little bit of the cacao paste. (I added mine into my coffee the following morning!)

 

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We then walked back to our car, and drove on back to Hanna Stables.

 

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During dinner at Hanna Stables, the same tour guide who I had seen at the Chocolate tour arrived! That’s when we both realized we had met here earlier this year! He is a Guatemalan tour guide, who works independently as well as for Classic Tours. It was fun catching up with him! I like to joke that I’ve been here so many times even the Guatemalan tour guides know who I am 😉

This was our final night at Hanna Stables, and we talked US and Belize politics until the late hours of the night.

After we decided it was time to catch some Z’s, we all went back to our stone cottages. I don’t think I slept more than 2 hours that night, as I’m always a bit (ok, a lot) sad to leave this beautiful farm and the whole family who keeps it running so well.

 

I hope you enjoyed Day 3 of our 9 day series! To view all posts from this series as they are released click here!

 

 


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