Discover Elijio Panti National Park in Belize
Even Mother Nature stands in awe of this modern-day Eden where gods protect the land.
Is it possible to have too many national parks in a small nation like Belize? Absolutely not. In fact, if you’re counting national parks and reach the number 13, you’re right on the money. Not bad for a nation that’s only 8,867 square miles in size.
One of the most revered and treasured is the Noj Kaax Meen Elijio Panti National Park. This 16,003-acre preserve is named for local spiritual and herbal healer Elijio Panti and dedicated to indigenous Maya people who disappeared from the land centuries ago. Panti may have died at the age of 103 in 1996, but his spirit remains.
The park is a wildlife trekker’s dream thanks to lush jungles populated by rivers, streams, medicinal plants and trails. The Maya coveted all of these treasures and created a society on what is now Panti National Park land that remains as exquisite and primeval as it was thousands of years ago.
Expect to put on your explorer’s hat if you visit, and wear clothing designed for rugged adventures. There are caves to visit, mountains to climb, Maya ruins to visit and along the way, you’ll be treated to a delightful symphony composed and performed by the birds, jaguars and other creatures that call Panti National Park home.
Of course, if you ask the direct descendants of the Maya who settled the land, you’ll likely be told that all of this glory is thanks to Ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and medicine in concert with the Itzamna Society, an organization launched by Maria Garcia in 1998 and named for an upper god and creator deity residing in the sky.
The park’s future looks bright thanks to the Itzamna Society’s Herculean efforts to keep this world pristine, healthy and devoid of elements that are polluting the earth around us. Instrumental in creating sanctions imposed on people who disrespect the park, the Itzamna Society actively protects everything within its boundaries. Poachers dare not encroach on this land, and the use of chemicals, pesticides and insecticides on plants is strictly prohibited.
But the Society isn’t the only powerful force impacting the future of this park. Programs have been put in place by farmers and volunteers dedicated to conservation techniques. They include organic and sustainable agricultural methods, replanting indigenous trees and propagating plants and herbs so species are perpetuated for generations to come.
Visitors are welcome to spend as much time as they like in the park being one with nature, but there’s fun to be had, too. Take advantage of activities that include horseback riding, cave tubing, bird watching, camping, and hiking–all under the watchful eyes of Ixchel and Itxamna, gods happy to welcome anyone seriously committed to being a steward of the earth.