First time in Belize. Read many reviews of what a poor place this is and braced myself for the worst. I was pleasantly surprised to see it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. I know this depends on the places people have been and what else they have seen. Additionally, in many cases although the first impression might be questionable, it is important to be willing to look outside or go beyond the city limits and see what the country really has to offer. My family went on an independent excursion with VIV Tours. Our guide, Javier was excellent and the tour was well organized. We were so lucky, it was only my family of 4 that was with him so it couldn't have been more personal. The zip-lining was a blast. We felt very safe and everyone was friendly. The cave-tubing was super-cool. My favorite thing about VIV Tours and Javier was that he was a naturalist. He loves his country and nature, the history and preservation yet wants to share it with visitors.
2nd time in Cozumel so generally knew what to expect from a Port-perspective. Cozumel is generally clean, safe, easy to navigate and offers many choices for activities. This time we decided to do the X-Rails which is basically like a 2-person vehicle with an exposed motor and metal cage around it. We started out questionable but ended with a bang. The tour offers a few added touches in addition to the X-Rail ride in that they take your picture with various 'wild' animals (goes to charity, purchase is optional). The tour seemed large which was a bit concerning. My family was last in line and it turned out, they didn't have enough X-Rails. We let the kids get in the last one and my husband and I stood around watching everyone get ready to go. A few minutes later we were lead to another area where 2 mechanics were feverishly working on trying to get the final X-Rail working. They finally got it to start after we watched everyone drive off. We were told we were getting a very junky one and that they would switch it out with us for a better one down the trail a ways. We finally caught up to the group. A few comments in general: there are a few types of drivers (1) those who don't want to get dirty and want to take this out for a Sunday drive (2) those who like a few bumps and can handle a little mud below the knees and (3) those who don't want to come out looking the way they came in and want to test the limits. The bigger the tour, the greater the chance these various types of people are in the tour. Because everyone rides in a neat little line, it can be very frustrating to be in the 2 or 3 category and be behind a 1. I would see people back off and let slower X-Rails just move ahead a bit only to floor it for a few seconds to get a quick thrill. The first 20 minutes of our tour was brutal as various people experienced breakdowns, including a blown tire. The guides took care of these unforeseen occurrences as fast as possible but it became frustrating after awhile to just sit and wait. We got to Jade Caverns and that was a neat place. We finally got our X-Rail replaced with a better one but we were at the very back of the line. There was a lot of dust and a lot of slowness. We finally asked the guide if we could hang back a bit and just hit the gas and catch up so we could at least feel like we were getting a good ride. He was fine with that. It turned out that since we were at the end they let us do some really cool stuff with the X-Rail because we could allow more distance without holding up anyone else. We ended up having a blast on this tour and it was the highlight of our trip. The guides were great.