Getting There & Departing
By Plane -- The nearest airport to this region is in San Ignacio. Although it gets no regularly scheduled commuter traffic, there is a private airstrip at Blancaneaux Lodge and Hidden Valley Inn for charter flights to those hotels. These can be arranged with Javier’s Flying Serice ([tel] 824-0460; www.javiersflyingservice.com), and with Tropic Air ([tel]226-2626, www.tropicair.com). That being said, we don’t think the cost is worth it.
By Car -- If you're driving to the Mountain Pine Ridge area from Belize City along the George Price Highway, the first turnoff is at Georgeville, around Mile Marker 61. This is the quickest route if you're going deep into the Mountain Pine Ridge area and to Caracol. There's another turnoff in the town of Santa Elena that will take you through Cristo Rey and San Antonio villages, as well as to some of the lodges listed below. Whichever of these routes you take, the roads merge around Mile Marker 10, where you will come to the entrance to the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. The guard will ask you where you are going, and if you have a reservation, but there is no fee to enter the reserve.
These roads can get pretty muddy and slick in the wet season and are bumpy and rugged in the dry season, so I strongly recommend you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle, if nothing else for the extra clearance it will provide. Even though the distances seem relatively slight in terms of mileage, the going can be slow, so allow plenty of driving time if you plan on visiting this area.
Tip: The difference in time and distance between these two turnoffs is negligible, as they meet up about 14km (9 miles) in from the George Price Highway (19km /12 miles if you're coming via Cristo Rey Village and San Antonio Village).
By Bus -- There is no regular direct bus service to the Mountain Pine Ridge area from Belize City.
Your best bet for getting around this area is to have your own vehicle. Short of that, you can rely on your hotel or organized tours. Taxis can be called from San Ignacio and Santa Elena. For a cab, call Cayo Taxi Association at tel. 824-2196. A cab from San Ignacio to any of the hotels in this area cost around BZ$80 to BZ$120, and a cab from Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City to a hotel in this area costs between BZ$240 and BZ$300.
Once the two entrance roads join up, there is basically one "major" road leading through the Mountain Pine Forest Reserve and on out to the Caracol ruins. This rough dirt road is alternately known as the Pine Ridge Road or the Chiquibil Road. Caracol, the Río on Pools, Río Frío Cave, and Five Sister Falls, are located either right on or just off this road. Various spurs and assorted lesser roads head off towards some of the other attractions and destinations listed below. Everything is fairly well marked and signposted.
There are no major settlements in this area. The only town of any size and note is San Antonio Village, a quaint little Maya village. This is where the cement portion of the road ends.