big blue hole in belize

White sand beaches, warm crystal blue currents from the sea, calls of a Howler monkey softly echoing though the jungle, and a Mayan civilization that beckons from a time long passed whisper to you in the mesmerizing country of Belize.

Departing the plane at Philip S.W Goldson International Airport quickens the senses for the journey that awaits in this land of unparalleled contrasts. Mountains, rainforests, and ancient pyramids diverge from the flourishing eco-system of the Caribbean Sea that encompasses the second largest Barrier Reef in the world. It all begins in Belize City, the gateway to the country. An overnight at the Radisson Fort George or The Great House to refresh before embarking on the first of many adventures either inland or sea.

Inland to the Rivers and Ruins

A view going up the river in belize

Orange Walk is a district in northern Belize 52 miles from Belize City. Drive time is 75 minutes on the paved Northern Highway. Buses leave Belize City every 30 minutes. What makes Orange Walk worth visiting is the river cruise down the scenic New River to Lamanai, a 3,000 year old Mayan archeological site.

The 26 mile boat ride to the site highlights the viewing of crocodiles sunning along the river’s edge and Howler monkeys swinging atop the trees while Toucans, Hawks, and Falcons keep watch. Nestled in the tropical forest of Lamanai are three Mayan temples: the Jaguar Temple, the Mask Temple featuring a 13 foot stone mask of a Mayan king, and the High Temple eclipsing the jungle surrounding it. For overnight accommodations to take advantage of bird watching, hiking, and horseback riding, the thatched roof Lamanai Outpost Lodge and Chan Chich Lodge offer all-inclusive rates.

the ruins in the jungle

San Ignacio is the base in the Cayo district for exploring caves, ceremonial Mayan pyramids, and cave tubing. San Ignacio is ensconced in lush jungle forests and rolling hills. On the outskirts of the city is Cahal Pech, a Mayan archeological site of 34 temple pyramids, the tallest 77 feet high, Mayan ball courts, altars, and courtyards. For the more adventurous, an hour down the road is Actun Tunichil Muknal featuring the cave of the Crystal Maiden, a skeleton of an 18 year old girl whose 1,100 year old calcified bones sparkle like crystal. Actun Tunichil Muknal, a Mayan site of sacrifice, translates to “Cave of the Crystal,” believed by the Mayans to be an entrance to hell. Touring Actun Tunichil Muknal is for the physically fit over 13 years of age.

To gain access requires an hour’s walk across a shallow river, swimming to the entrance of the cave, and then wading in water for a half mile into the inner cave. Another mile trek to the skeletons of the ritual sacrifices. While difficult to reach, Actun Tunichil Muknal is a once in a lifetime quest. A less strenuous yet exciting adventure is cave tubing through the crystal caves of the Caves Branch River. Overnight at the Lodge at Chaa Creek or the Blancaneaux is a fitting end to this truly remarkable journey.

It is time to return to Belize City for the sea adventure. A short flight to Ambergris Caye is waiting at the Belize City Municipal Airport.

Read more; http://www.theluxetravel.com/

Get a copy of The Ultimate Belize Bucket List! Written by Larry Waight, a local with more than twenty years of experience in the travel industry, the book is packed with tips, information, and recommendations about all of the best things to see and do in Belize.
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