When I think of Belize, the first thought that springs to mind is beach. I imagined sandy shores and lazy days spent snorkeling or perhaps the odd dive, but not much else. I was not completely mistaken, the Belizean reef is home to fascinating marine life, but Belize also has so much more to offer…
I spent my first two nights in the highlands of Belize, staying first at Gaia River Lodge located in the Mountain Pine Ridge and then The Lodge at Chaa Creek, set on the banks of the Macal River close to San Ignacio. With stunning mountain views and lush jungle surroundings, this was a real retreat from the busy London life I’m used to.
From Gaia I was taken on a brisk morning hike to the Big Rock Waterfall before heading to Xunantunich, an ancient Mayan archaeological site, where I experienced a fascinating insight of the Mayan traditions and ways of life. At Chaa Creek I headed on an exciting RTV Safari Tour, where I sped through the jungle with my knowledgeable guide (who seemed to know every single plant and creature around) on the lookout for the resident monkeys and toucans. These action-filled days left me falling into bed with a crash, listening to the chirping sounds of the surrounding jungle.
After two nights in the jungle (not nearly enough time!) off I flew to spend a night on the sandy beach at Turtle Inn. From here I cycled 10 minutes into Placencia town, a busy seaside village with lots of local shops and restaurants, and spent the afternoon snorkeling just off-shore. There were so many fish to see even without a visit to the reef!
Excited for another jungle adventure, I flew to Punta Gorda and stayed at the wonderful Belcampo Lodge – one of my favorite properties in Belize. I spent the afternoon kayaking up the Rio Grande River watching the beautiful sunset and the howler monkeys swing through the trees above me, myself and my guide not encountering a single other person on the way. The next day I visited the farm, learning about all the jungle folk-remedies for every ailment possible! I was really surprised to learn how big the organic scene is in Belize, with produce becoming more expensive many of the locals have decided to grow the products themselves, creating a real farm-to-table culture throughout the country.
Finally, my amazing trip came to an end with two nights in Ambergis Caye, staying at Matachica (the sister property to the Gaia Lodge) and Victoria House. This was my opportunity to see the famous Hol Chan Marine reserve within the Belize Barrier Reef, which I had heard so much about! Here I snorkelled with turtles and a huge range of tropical fish; however, the highlight was a visit to Shark Ray Alley where I swam with Nurse Sharks – a truly unforgettable experience with these wonderfully gentle creatures.
After an action-packed week in Belize, I’m left with only one question – when can I go back?
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