Belize: A Great Side Trip

A Three Part Series: Trujillo, Honduras to San Ignacio, Belize

Part I: Honduras to Guatemala

This entry covers my 90-day visa journey from Trujillo, Honduras to San Ignacio, Belize. Just under 500 miles if you don’t get lost! As I’m sure some of you know after 90 days in Honduras you have to leave the country for one day and then return for another 90 day Visa. Some people have said it’s 4 days, but it is really only one day. Also, if you drove your car down from the US you’ll have to exit and reenter with the vehicle also—as it is stamped in your passport that you arrived with a vehicle.

But, and in Central America there is always a but, you have to cross two borders from what I call the four corners countries meaning you have to travel to Belize, Mexico or Costa Rica. So seeing as how I am at “the end of the road” in Honduras, Belize is closest.

After spending countless hours on the internet trying to find the best route to go and not finding anything more current than 2004 and lots of maps that show different roads I decide to just wing it and go. I know I have to head for San Pedro Sula, 5 hours, and then on towards Puerto Cortes. Getting close to Puerto Cortes the road splits and you take the  road to Frontera Guatemala—a very good road all the way to the Guatemalan border.

Let me say here and now, when you are traveling by car down here SAVE all the paperwork you get at each and every border crossing coming and going. They can really help when you reenter a different country.

Honduras to Guatemala.

At the Honduran border exit they don’t stamp your passport with an exit stamp, but you need to show the papers at Aduana for your car. Change your money here, as this is the last time you will be able to do so. I found this out the hard way! A ten-mile drive gets you to the Guatemala checkpoint. This is where things start getting ugly. I pick up a very nice couple from Holland at the Honda border crossing and they spoke much better Spanish than I did and probably saved my butt in this next part of my travels.

Part II: Crossing The Belize Border

This is the only legal border crossing between Guatemala and Belize. It is small and very busy as tour buses are taking people to Tikal, there are lots of semi trucks traveling back and forth and there are more chicken buses than a Mac nugget convention.

There is a point where the road merges into one lane, and you have to cross the river over a one-lane bridge. As I cross the river I remembered what the Honduran and Guatemalan border agents told me, “no stamp until Belize.” Could this be right? I drive through a five-dollar bug spray car wash and go chat with the Belize customs folks. Now if you are just doing your 90-day turnaround you have to lie a bit to the officials and tell them that you’re staying a few days in their fine country. Also if you tell them that you will be driving farther than San Ignacio you have to get car insurance. There is a police checkpoint at the city limits where the officials check for insurance, so don’t think you can just slip by unnoticed.

Belize is very easy to get into even with a vehicle. It costs you nothing to get in, but $13.00 US to get out and five more bucks for another bug spray. I wonder what this spray is doing to the paint on my Rover! There are a couple nice places to stay before you get to San Ignacio. I stayed at Windy Hill, The Log Cab-Inn is right across the road. Now let me say right now that Belize is not cheap. There are no deals as the entire country is catering to the eco-tourist industry. Lodging starts at $65.00 US and goes up from there. Food and beer are about the same as going out to a nice restaurant in the states. My travel budget is going straight down the tubes in Belize!

Part III: Returning to Honduras

Now that I drank way to many Belikans (Belize beer) and ate a great dinner last night, it’s time to head home. I have a full tank of gas, water, fig Newton’s, and Ritz crackers. I’m prepared for the trip back to Honduras, the procedures for saying goodbye to Belize are:

* Check out of Belize
* Pay the exit fee
* Get the Rover sprayed again and check into Guatemala.

While checking out of Belize, the lady wants to know why I have no exit stamp from Guatemala in my passport and I start the No Stampa mantra. This does not go over well and I am fined 200 Q for not checking out the day before. No problems except I only have Honduran Lempira in my wallet and they won’t take it at the bank on the Belize side. So I find a moneychanger that will change it for me at a very bad rate so that I can pay my fine.

Drivemeloco Lesson: always carry extra currency from each country for unforeseen fees.

Next to aduana, unfortunately the guy can’t figure out why I’m there because all my paperwork is good. A very nice Belize gentleman explains to him how I screwed up and that I was headed back to Honduras today and how sorry I was for being a stupid Norte Americano and he tells me to go home. I’m in!

No other problems through Guatemala, I get to the border and check in with my now very good friends at the Guatemalan border—ten more miles and I am in Honduras. My passport gets stamped for another 90 days—YES—and off I go to check the truck in. The girl tells me I need copies of two pages of my passport, a copy of my registration, pink slip and I have to take my license plate off and have that copied too. No problem, “where do I get these copies made,” I ask? She goes on to tell me that the girl that runs the copy machine business has gone home early today, so I have to go back to Guatemala and get the copies made there. I go into my chain-smoking-wish-it–would-rain-beer mode and head back to la frontera. The boys at the border also have no copier but they tell me of a mercado (market) that does have one just down the road. They laugh as I leave, of course. I find the store, ask the woman if I can have copies made on one of the oldest Xerox machines I have ever seen, and she says “si.” I kiss her hand and thank God in Spanish after giving her a very large tip.

I returned to Honduras and with everything I need. Interestingly, when I first came into Honduras at Agua Caliente 90 days earlier it cost me $127.00 US to enter that country. At this border crossing it cost me $38.00 US. I do believe someone has a little payola scam going at some crossings.

Drivemeloco Lesson: make multiple copies of:

* passport
* registration
* pink slip (car title)
* license plates

The rest of the trip was uneventful, just another extra night in Tella and then home three hours later.

The expanded Belize section has been submitted by our very own drivemeloco community member John Host, our man on the ground in Honduras.

Drivemeloco editors have gone through and helped do some light editing, however the wisdom and knowledge comes directly from John’s trip from Honduras to Belize with his car this month.

Thanks a million to John for sharing the love, I’d like to encourage member to submit updates to our community so that we can all have the best experience possible on our travels.

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2 Responses to “Belize: A Great Side Trip”

  1. jim at #

    i want to drive from costa rica to belize and want to know how safe it is. can you give me any useful information

  2. Gringo Guru at #

    http://www.drivemeloco.com/belize/

    We don’t have much on Belize, I’ve heard some nasty stories about traveling there.

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