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While San Ignacio is the regional hub and does make a good base for side trips, the real attractions in western Belize are up the rivers and in the forests. Within a few miles of San Ignacio are several lodges set somewhat off the beaten path, where you can canoe down clear rivers past 1.2m (4-ft.) iguanas sunning themselves on the rocks; ride horses to Mayan ruins; hike jungle trails, and spot scores of beautiful birds and, occasionally, other wild animals. Out on the road to Caracol and Mountain Pine Ridge, there are more of these lodges. Except for the true budget traveler, I highly recommend that you stay at one of the lodges listed in this areawhile you're in the area. A few of the lodges can be reached by public bus from San Ignacio, though you may have up to a 20-minute walk after getting off the bus, so consider taking a taxi or arranging pickup in town. All the lodges offer a wide range of active adventures and tours to all the principal sites in the area.

In addition to the separate listings, we recommend the Rolson Hotel (tel. 824-2730; www.rolsons.com) righ in San Ignacio. It offers clean, business-class-style rooms, with televisions, air-conditioning, and free Wi-FiAnd if you're up for staying in Bullet Tree Falls, folks love Cohune Palms River Cabanas (tel. 824-0166; www.cohunepalms.com), which has a collection of thatch-roofed cabins on the banks of the Mopan River. Casa del Caballo Blanco (tel. 707/974-4942 in the U.S.; www.casacaballoblanco.com) is another good pick, with neat, cozy rooms, just on the outskirts of downtown.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.