Discover Billy Barquedier National Park in Southern Belize
Belize is blessed with an abundance of beautiful national parks filled with splashing waterfalls, colorful flora and fauna and exotic animals rarely seen outside zoos. Picking just one park to hike and explore can lead to interesting debates among folks who have limited vacation time but want to see what travel magazines have been describing since the nation became a favorite destination for nature lovers.
The answer to this dilemma is, of course, seeing as many parks as possible. A great place to start is the Bill Barquedier National Park (BBNP) where Dr. Yves, a local chiropractor, leads Bikram yoga sessions beneath the thatched roof of Jungle Jeanies on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. If you could use a little tranquility before setting off on your park tour, jump in.
If yoga isn’t your thing, there’s much to see and enjoy at the park located in Stann Creek District south of the Manatee Forest Reserve. Managed by both the Forest Department of Belize and STACA, seeing the entire 1500 acres in a single day isn’t possible unless you’ve got a jetpack strapped to your shoulders capable of propelling you through the air. But you’d have trees to dodge, so it’s best to stick to hiking boots.
Originally declared a national park in 2001, Bill Barquedier National Park is as well known for gorgeous waterfalls located in the watershed that provides several communities with drinking water as it is for huge community of animals, many of which are listed on vulnerable or endangered species lists. You may not spot them, but within park boundaries live jaguars, tapirs, ocelots and everyone’s favorite Belize characters: howler monkeys.
Look up each time you reach clearings in the park to spot a long list of migratory birds overhead. Nicely marked trails and informational signs that identify everything from a creek crossing to tree species are really helpful to trekkers curious about natural wonders they encounter as they roam hilly terrain amid this tropical evergreen forest. Once you reach the waterfall, you could feel conflicted. Will you snap photos of this picture-perfect place or jump in for a refreshing swim? Most tourists do both.
Wondering where the name came from? This is an intriguing tale. Back in the early 1960s, community members decided to name the water feature running through the park “Barquedier Creek”, a French word describing the place logs are stacked before going to the sawmill. When it came time to name the park, Barquedier Creek was a natural choice. But even environmentalists exploring park environs have no clue where “Billy” came from!
Mystery. Majesty. Mother Nature at her best. Billy Barquedier National Park is even easy to reach: Travel down Hummingbird Highway and stop at Mile 17 to start your hike. This wonderland so captured the imagination of visiting bloggers from the U.S., they posted photos on their site once they returned. If our words didn’t motivate you to visit, their photos will.