Adventure in Belize: Explore the Cayo District

This guest post is from engineer and travel blogger, Ruth Rieckehoff.

Many go to Belize looking for the treasures its Caribbean waters may offer. Some dream of taking a dip in the warm cerulean sea; others fantasize with resting under lush palm trees while soft waves caress their feet. And there is always the opportunity to discover the abundance of color offered by the Mesoamerican reef. There is no doubt. Belize’s waters seduce with their many charms. However, if you are looking for some daring adventures, you have to move inland.

Belize travel: Cahal Pech Ruins Ruth Rieckehoff

Cahal Pech Ruins near San Ignacio in Belize, photo/Ruth Rieckehoff

Belize’s Cayo district offers options galore for thrill seekers. The action can be found around the town of San Ignacio. Most of the area tour companies operate from here. Budget accommodations can be found downtown. Take into consideration that San Ignacio is not the prettiest town. It is small and rustic. For better accommodation options, consider the hotels outside the town center.

Now, let’s take a look of what you can do using San Ignacio as your base.

Mayan Ruins

From town, you can independently reach the ruins of Cahal Pech and Xunantunich. These sites are well kept and safe. Chances are you are going to have these places all to yourself and this gives you an incredible feeling. You can spend a couple of hours climbing and exploring.

If you want to go big, you will have to visit the granddaddy of Belize’s Mayan sites: Caracol. This site contains the massive pyramid called Canaa. To this day, Canaa is the tallest structure found on Belize.  Those Mayans were something else. Caracol is located deep in the jungle; you have to take a long unpaved road to get there. This means that you will need to book an excursion with a tour operator. Besides the ruins, you will have the opportunity to encounter wildlife while walking around the structures.

Belize travel: Ancient sites photo Ruth Rieckehoff

Canaa, the tallest man made structure in Belize, photo/Ruth Rieckehoff

Spelunking

The Cayo district has many options for those interested in caves, but if you are interested in doing something amazing, you have to visit the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave. The Mayans believed caves were the entrance to the underworld. For this reason, they used to go to caves to offer the gods human sacrifices and all sort of goods. The ATM Cave is full of pottery used by the Mayans in their rituals. And that is not all. The cave contains the human remains of those sacrificed many years ago. Once there, you will have the opportunity to see skulls and the entire skeleton of the crystal maiden. This person was sacrificed in a horizontal position and the bones glitter because of the nature of the sediment which has covered the remains over the years. This place is pure magic. The walk inside the cave is challenging but any person in good physical condition should be able to do it. Ask your tour operator for specific details to see if this is something for you.

Belize travel pottery photo Ruth Rieckehoff

Maya pottery inside ATM Cave in Belize, photo/Ruth Rieckehoff

River Tubing

If you are already stressed with all the jungle trekking and spelunking described in the previous paragraphs, river tubing is an option for those who want to relax. Just imagine yourself floating over emerald and turquoise waters (while you are totally surrounded by nature). Ahhh, pure bliss.

Belize travel Take a tip in a natural pool photo Ruth Rieckehoff

Waterfall in Rio On Pools, photo/Ruth Rieckehoff

Waterfalls

Close to San Ignacio, you can find the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. This protected area is an ecosystem different from other parts of the country. Among the unique Caribbean Pines, you can find the Thousand Foot Falls (actually, 1,600 feet tall) which is considered the highest waterfall in all Central America. This is definitely a must see site. Other falls like the Chechem Ha ones can also be visited.

Tikal National Park

I know Tikal qualifies as a Mayan ruin but this magnificent site deserves its own separate mention. San Ignacio is really close to the Guatemala border which makes possible a day trip to glorious Tikal (but you should consider staying a few days in the Guatemalan side).  Prepare because the impressive temples are going to take your breath away. This is a totally different world, isolated from reality. Additionally, history and nature follow every one of your steps.

Many tour operators offer the day trip to Tikal for about the same price. Some operators include lunch and border crossing fees in their price; others include only transportation and a guided tour of the grounds. Try to go with the one offering more value for your buck (guides quality is about the same).

Belize travel: Temple of the Great Jaguar photo Ruth Rieckehoff

Temple of the Great Jaguar in Tikal in Belize’s Cayo District, photo/Ruth Rieckehoff

Well, here you have it.  Pick one or more of these options to have an unforgettable time. Belize has options for all tastes. Give the country a try!!

 Bio: Guest blogger, Ruth Rieckehoff, is the master storyteller at Tanama Tales, a blog for outstanding people wanting to share the beauty of life one story at a time. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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4 Responses to “Adventure in Belize: Explore the Cayo District”

  1. Ruth
    February 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for let me guest post at your blog. Everything looks great. Hope it is helpful to your readers.
    Ruth recently posted..Eating in the Riviera MayaMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      February 29, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

      Thank you for writing such a great post and for the beautiful photos with it. I’ve been getting comments on it on both Facebook and Twitter. Discovered people love Belize. It just went on our bucket list.

  2. Cayo Scoop
    March 1, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Had to put it on the Cayo Scoop.
    Cayo Scoop recently posted..Adventure in Belize: Explore the Cayo DistrictMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      March 3, 2012 at 8:53 am #

      Thanks for including our Belize guest post in the Cayo Scoop.

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