This past weekend we had a grand adventure up in the district of Cayo. We took an ATV tour with Hunub-Ku in Cristo Rey Village, between San Ignacio and Mountain Pine Ridge. What a wild ride! The tour took us through trails in to Elijio Panti National Park and to a beautiful waterfall with a safe swimming area. The ride was exhilarating, muddy, and a bit dicey in parts but that’s what makes it an adventure. Here’s what to expect from Hunub-Ku‘s ATV and Waterfall adventure:
I was really excited for this excursion, anticipating puddles and viewing a new area I haven’t really explored yet, I hadn’t given much thought to the logistics of actually driving an ATV prior to arriving and straddling one. Ugh-oh. I looked at the vehicle and thought, “sh!t.” I never learned to drive a manual transmission and I’m hopeless when it comes to gears… when do I shift them? How? Why? I had a moment of panic in the garage while Andy Tut, our guide, gave us a brief run down of how to operate the 4-wheelers. I quickly got the hang of things and would periodically ask Andy what gear he was in and adjust my bike to match. I thought the shifting was quite easy because it was by button and there was no clutching, you simply toggled up or down. The other wonderful feature of the bikes was the storage compartments/ seat backs. Kids didn’t need to hold on to the adults, they were enclosed, comfortable and safe in their seats behind the drivers.
We took off in single file around the village of Cristo Rey to get a feel for the bikes and ensure everyone would be able to handle the journey in to the park. Hunab-Ku’s website welcomes everyone, whether “you’re a first-timer or a seasoned ATV veteran” but I’ve got to tell you the truth… if you’re a nervous nelly novice, this is not the tour for you. I’m sure they have other routes and can adjust to much slower paces but our tour was pretty darn white-knuckle, I’m not going to lie. Like so many only-in-Belize experiences, it is not your cookie-cutter, controlled and obsessively safety compliant, Disneyland sort of tour. These are powerful machine you need to be competent handling on wild and remote terrain (dumb a$$es and couch potatoes need not apply).
My first time in Elijio Panti National Park! One of the lesser know reserves in Belize, it probably doesn’t get the number of visitors that a Cockscomb does or the esteem of Chiquibul but it totals over 13,000 acres and harbors an extensive ceremonial cave system, waterfalls, medicine trails, and abundant wildlife. I can’t wait to return and explore the caves! If this waterfall looks familiar it is because it closely resembles it’s nearby neighbors, Big Rock and 5 Sisters in Mountain Pine Ridge. In fact, Andy told us if we hiked over the ridge we’d eventually reach Gaia and Blancaneaux Lodges. The swim was a much welcomed refresher and felt special in its seclusion- we had the whole place to ourselves.
Both the children and the adults in our group absolutely loved this adventure. It is completely possible to do this in a day trip from Placencia (that’s what I did) but it makes for a lot of driving so I’d recommend an overnight in San Ignacio (what our friends did), there’s loads of great places to stay and play in San Ignacio. I’m currenting planning our next exploration to Mountain Pine Ridge, can you believe we still haven’t been to Caracol?!