Moon Belize (Moon Handbooks) - Lebawit Lily Girma (2015)
With pristine coral reefs, epic mountains, and teeming rainforests, Belize is the ideal destination for outdoor adventure. Get your heart racing by exploring the largest cave system in Central America, more than 11 national parks, and numerous forest and marine reserves and wildlife sanctuaries.
Bag a Peak
Arrange a summit hike of Victoria Peak, the second-highest point in Belize at 3,675 feet. The steep three- to four-day trek (30 miles round-trip, Feb.-May only) starts from Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, near Maya Centre. You’ll be one of the few to reach the summit, where you can celebrate with a panoramic view of Belize’s coastline.
Climb a Waterfall
Thrill seekers will love rappelling their way down Mayflower Bocawina National Park’s five stunning waterfalls of varying heights—from the “smaller” Bocawina Falls, at a height of 125 feet, to the 1,000-foot Big Drop Falls. If you only venture to one, make it Antelope Falls.
In the Toledo District, take a refreshing swim in the gorgeous waterfall pool at the Río Blanco National Park—after cliff diving from the top of the waterfall.
Dive the Barrier Reef
Belize’s claim to fame is the second-largest barrier reef in the world, home to some of the top dive sites. The great Blue Hole is the holy grail of diving. This circular sinkhole, with depths of more than 400 feet, is not for novices. Prepare to roam through caverns and around stalactites and, if you’re lucky, hang out with nine-foot gray Caribbean reef sharks.
Spelunking in ancient Mayan caves is a must in Belize. Actun Tunichil Muknal tops the list, but there are numerous caves worth exploring. The Waterfall Cave, in the Cayo District, won’t disappoint. Located at Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Adventure Company and Jungle Lodge, it’s a long hike through a dry cave with low ceilings. The reward is a waterfall that topples over the rocks; the brave can climb up the rocks and jump down into the refreshing pool. While you’re there, go for your next thrill: Ian Anderson’s Black Hole Drop, an unforgettable full-day experience of rigorous hiking followed by rappelling 400-feet into the rainforest, landing at the entrance of a cave.
rappelling in Cayo
Cave tubing is as adventurous as it gets. This popular activity involves floating on a river in a large rubber inner tube as you pass through cavernous chambers and rainforest, dodging stalactites and rocks as a helmet lamp lights your way. The most exciting cave tubing experience is on the Caves Branch River, in the Cayo District.
Hike the Rainforest at Night
The thrill of a night rainforest hike is unlike any other. You haven’t experienced the rainforest until you see it come alive in the dark of night, guided only by your flashlight. Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Adventure Company and Jungle Lodge and Pook’s Hill Lodge offer nighttime hikes and tours, such as night canoeing on a lake or river—talk about an adrenaline rush!
Swing Through the Rainforest
In Cayo’s Mountain Pine Ridge, the folks at Calico Jacks challenge you to go for el columpio, the jungle swing. Grab hold of a rope from the top of a recreated Maya pyramid and swing 200 feet up in the air into rainforest oblivion.
Filled with national parks and wildlife reserves, Belize is home to an estimated 145 species of mammals, 139 species of reptiles, and at least 500 species of birds.
✵ Belize Audubon Society: In addition to managing Belize’s protected areas and wildlife reserves, they can also arrange tours to top birding hot spots like Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary (click here) and Half Moon Caye National Monument (click here).
✵ The Belize Zoo: Located outside Belize City, this delightful zoo is home to the native animals of Belize (click here).
✵ Blue Morpho Butterfly Breeding Center: Naturalist guides explain the various butterfly stages in a wonderful flight room at The Lodge at Chaa Creek (click here).
✵ Chan Chich Lodge: Located on the Gallon Jug Estate, lodge guests list their numerous wildlife sightings on a community chalkboard (click here).
✵ The Community Baboon Sanctuary: Spot howler monkeys, birds, iguanas, and armadillos at this sanctuary in Bermuda Landing, less than an hour’s drive from Belize City (click here).
✵ Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary: Increase your chance of an encounter with the jaguar, puma, ocelot, and margay, or the tapir, with a hike or overnight stay (click here).
✵ Fallen Stones Butterfly Farm: An exclusive visit here is for guests only of Hickatee Cottages (click here).
✵ Green Hills Butterfly Ranch and Botanical Collections: In the Cayo District, this butterfly breeding, education, and research center sits on Mountain Pine Ridge Road (click here).
✵ Río Blanco National Park: Beautiful butterflies flutter away in Punta Gorda’s pristine park (click here).
✵ Tropical Wings Nature Center: Located near San José de Succotz, this center has one of the highest numbers of butterfly species (click here).