Punta Gorda, Belize
Punta Gorda, Belize

I just received the newest version of The Toledo Howler, a newsletter dedicated to the promotion of Belize tourism in the southern-most district of the country, based out of Punta Gorda, Belize. It’s been a long time since I received a copy of The Howler, but I am so happy to see they are still publishing. This is always a very comprehensive and varied collection of articles put together by Rob Hirons, the owner of The Lodge at Big Falls, located just outside of Punta Gorda town.

Belize is divided into districts (think states or counties), and Toledo is the least-visited and most-like-the-way-Belize-used-to-be. Those of you who have read this blog in the past know that I am always talking up Toledo. I love Toledo.

This issue has articles on:
-A conclusion of the reminiscences of Don Owen-Lewis who first arrived in Toledo from England in 1953
-The health and healing properties of ginger in Arzu Mountain Spirits
-An introduction to the new zipline canopy course at Blue Creek
-The 9th Annual Chocolate Festival of Belize (May 22-24th)
-Commercial overfishing in Belize, and other threats to the coral reef ecosystem
-An interview with Bruno Kuppinger, owner of Toledo Cave and Adventure Tours
-2014 Belize Christmas bird count results
-Craft markets of Punta Gorda
-Training Toledo tour guides
-Developing local artisans of Toledo

Not to mention these handy documents:
-Recipe: Banana Cream Pie
-Book Review: How to Cook a Tapir
-Detailed maps of Punta Gorda town and of the Toledo district
-Punta Gorda bus schedule table

If you are planning to explore Belize’s most remote district, don’t leave home without it!

By guest writer Park Wilson

If you crave adventure in an exotic setting, Belize could be the place for you. With gorgeous tropical beauty, near-perfect spring-like weather, and so many things to see and do, tourists and expats alike flock to the shores of this Caribbean jewel more each year while touring Belize.

So whether you are looking to slow down and relax on the beach or to pack your days with adventurous activities, Belize has something to suit every taste.

Go Canoeing While Touring Belize

touring Belize by canoe. Photo by Claire Rowland
Photo by Claire Rowland

This is sightseeing at its finest. Climb aboard a canoe and see the wonder of Belize the way the ancient Maya once did. Float past the lush flora growing on the riverbank and observe exotic wildlife in its natural habitat while touring Belize.

And if a canoe is a little too slow-paced for you, consider touring Belize by booking a rafting trip offered by one of the many tour groups in this little country.

Slice through class IV whitewater and navigate through drop pools, channels, and waterfalls all at the hand of your seasoned guide.

Take a Hike

touring Belize on foot. Photo by Marilyn M.
Photo by Marilyn M.

If you want to get up-close and personal with nature, but would rather do it from dry land, spend some time hiking through the diverse landscapes Belize has to offer.

And because 40% of the country is protected by law, hikers can experience true, untouched beauty while touring Belize, complete with stunning trails, lush vegetation, and awe-inspiring views that are definitely worth the trek.

A land of national parks, spend some time hiking through the many protected reserves including: Shipstern Wildlife Natural Reserve, Half Moon Caye National Monument, and Blue Hole National Park.

Try Fishing

A fisherman’s paradise, Belize offers 240 miles of Caribbean coastline and some of the best sport fishing in the western hemisphere.

Of course if you choose to fish while touring Belize, be sure to get yourself a fishing license before you cast your line (unless you’re a resident).

Try your hand at fly fishing on the flats or reef fishing along the Belize barrier reef, but keep in mind, the best months to fish are May, June, and July.

Explore a Cave

Exploring caves while touring Belize. Photo by Clonny
Photo by Clonny

Belize is filled with thousands of caves, that when explored, range anywhere from an easy walk to a challenging hike depending on which cave you choose.

These natural wonders are sprinkled throughout the country, so get in as many as you can.

Don’t miss out on the Hokeb Ha cave at Blue Creek, a mere 20 minute hike from the village. Experience true wonder as you pass by a 10 foot waterfall to the entrance of the cave. Inside archaeologist found ancient Mayan ceramics and alters which led them to believe that this particular cave was once used for Mayan ceremonies of some sort.

For more cave adventures, you might also stop by Tiger Cave, outside of San Miguel or Laguna Cave outside of Laguna Village.

Rent a Kayak

Sea kayak along smooth, crystal blue waters and relax as soft tides and currents push you along the sea. And if you plan to visit the Belizean cayes, make sure that kayaking is on the top of your to-do list.

When you’re out at sea on a kayak, you will be able to navigate your vessel through the giant mangrove roots while looking down at the marine life as it darts in and out of sight beneath you.

Then, once you reach the outer edge of the reef, you just might spot sea turtles, dolphins, or even sharks.

Diving and Snorkeling

Diving and snorkeling while touring Belize. Photo by Wojtek Ogrodowczyk
Photo by Wojtek Ogrodowczyk

Home to the world’s second largest barrier reef (next to Australia), Belize annually attracts visitors from all over the world who come to experience the world renowned diving.

Known for its incredible diving and snorkeling sites, there are hundreds of prime spots located along the cayes, atolls, and of course the massive 185 mile reef.

Book snorkel and dive tours, either half or full days and immerse yourself in the underwater world of colorful coral, tropical fish, and clear turquoise water.

For the very best diving and snorkeling, try out Caye Caulker, Turneffe Islands and Lighthouse Reef Atoll.

Experience the Adventure of Belize

A Caribbean treasure full of possibility, get on board and make a trip down to Belize to see what it’s really about. Explore the country, try different activities, and find out whether or not life in Belize is truly the life you’ve been waiting for. It’s not a dream, it’s Belize.

Editors Note: Todays post was written by Park Wilson. He writes for Viva Tropical and is developing a 400 acre private island in Panama. You can reach him on Google+.

Belize Carnival shows off the culture of the countryBelize Carnival is one of Latin America’s biggest celebrations of Caribbean heritage. And unlike Carnival in most of the world, Belize Carnival happens in September. Actually, it is a huge deal, especially for Belizians. And for visitors, it is perhaps the best time to see the national culture on display.

From parades to keg contests to free concerts and table tennis championships, here is a very complete schedule of festivities during the September Belize Carnival Celebrations.

What to do during Belize Carnival

The central organization coordinating all the fun is The National Institute of Culture and History. NICH has a great website devoted to it’s primary mission. Oddly though, this year they chose to have only a Facebook page for the celebrations. And there is no section or page on their site devoted to Belize Carnival. On their Facebook page, there is one post pointing to an online catalog on the online magazine portal Issuu.  That said, the catalog is extensive and lists every event planned in every town in the country.

the authoritative catalog of Belize Carnival events

If you are heading to Belize during the month of September, schedule in some time to take in some of these events. Highlights include Sir Barry’s Belekin Bash in Belize City’s Memorial Park Sept. 6 and 7 in the evening. Also, St. George’s Caye Day ceremony followed by a huge parade throughout Belize City on Sept. 10.

More ideas on what to do in Belize

For a broader list of things to do in Belize, check our Belize info pages.

And if you are traveling to Belize in the latter part of August, be aware that some towns start the party early. Events continue throughout the last couple of weeks before Labor Day.

 

 

National Geographic Traveler

National Geographic’s Traveler Magazine June/July issue features Belize’s Turtle Inn on its cover. That huge publicity boon will likely draw attention to the country and spike visits to Belize destination websites like our Slickrock Adventures site and this blog, both of which are great resources if you are beginning your search for what to do in Belize.

Though our site does focus primarily on the tours we offer (of course) over the years we have learned so much about traveling to Belize from the US and Canada (where the vast majority of our guests are from) and all the many activities and resorts in the country that we have compiled that hard won knowledge on our site, and in brochures we give away.

Why, you may ask? For one, because many of our guests decide to spend some extra time in country, either before or after their tour with us, and we will do anything to help them make their vacation the easiest and most enjoyable that it can be. We also just simply enjoy helping others plan their Belize vacations, even if they don’t book one of our adventures for their first trip. We’ve found that once visitors go to Belize, they often end up booking one of our trips for a subsequent visit. Because once you’ve been to Belize, you just can’t get enough.

If you are heading to Belize in early March, your trip coincides with Baron Bliss Day which has developed into a national festival. So if you are going to be in the neighborhood, why not plan to spend an extra day or two taking in BBD!

In recent years the festivities have included a multi-day canoe race, the La Ruta Maya Belize River ChallengeThe route runs west to east along the Macal and Belize Rivers, once the only link between beautiful San Ignacio, in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, and the bustling port of Belize City. This is a race for everyone (not just professional racers)!

http://youtu.be/CibtbsoBF5E

The canoes will leave San Ignacio on March 8 and arrive in Belize City on March 11. The teams, which race for station prizes along the way, battle for the major cash prizes awarded at the end of the race.

We have many recommendations of what to do in Belize before or after your island trip with us. It might not occur to you to visit a zoo when you’re on a tropical vacation, but if you have extra time while in the country of Belize, a visit to the internationally famous Belize Zoo is well worth the trip. There you can see many native species, including the jaguar, the king of the jungle.

The zoo was started as a home for wild animals that had been used in making documentary films. The zoo’s creators soon realized that Belizeans were unfamiliar with their native animals and they decided to develop a wildlife education center. The zoo exhibits over 125 native animals, all were orphaned, born at the zoo, or rehabilitated pets. The enclosures are large, natural pens.

Many of the animals that are native to Belize are nocturnal, so a visit to the zoo may be the only way to see them. The zoo is located about 30 miles west of Belize City. Busses pass by regularly, and if you are comfortable standing by the side of the road waiting for the next bus on the return (as the locals do), this is the cheapest way to go. You may also take a Belize cab and ask the driver to wait for you (would probably cost $60 or so). or make a day of it and rent a car, visiting both Xunantunich ruins (west of San Ignacio) and the zoo (get an early start). Don’t miss lunch at Cheers, across the highway and down the road a little from the zoo.

And on a side note,  this morning, the zoo posted on their Facebook page that their 2 year-old tapir (the national animal of Belize), Tambo, is going to be the star of a children’s book . Here you see Tambo gracing their xmas card.