Placencia / Stann Creek District, Belize
I enjoyed Hopkins very much for the beaches and the relaxing atmosphere. I rented from Diana,who lives in the States(323)202-5257 for $50US/night for the entire family. It was a nice beach house with two bedrooms. it was a deal and it was fun.
Dangriga is centred around North Stann Creek, which flows out of the Maya Mountains and enters the Caribbean Sea. This area of Belize was first settled by both European traders and Puritan farmers in the late 1600s and it was the Puritan custom of calling trading posts "stands" (later corrupted into "stann") that led to both this town and area being called 'Stann Creek'. However, the arrival of the many Garifuna immigrants in the 1820s eventually led to the town being renamed to Dangriga (which means 'sweet, still waters' in their language).
The Garifuna, are an interesting group of people, of African descent, who had managed to escape from intended slavery. Starting in the early 1600s, over 4 million Africans were transported to various parts of the West Indies to work as sugar plantation slaves. In 1635, one of these human cargos from Nigeria washed up on the remote island of St. Vincent, following the sinking of two Spanish ships. These Africans eventually mixed with the local Carib natives, forming the Garinagu culture over the next 100+ years. However, in the British-French wars for control of St. Vincent, the Garinagu paid a heavy price for their alliance with the French losers. At the end of the war, in 1796, the British rulers of St. Vincent forceably evicted them almost 1700 miles to the west, onto the small island of Roatan not far off the coast of Nicaragua. It was from there, over the next few decades, that the Garinagu finally reached this back-water of Belize.
We parked our SUV at the Bus Terminal, located in the centre of Dangriga beside the main bridge across North Stann Creek. This was a busy spot with busses coming and going, along with small stands set up by the locals to hawk their various wares - including a vile-looking yellowish bottled drink made from seaweed! At home, I eat seaweed called 'dulse' from the Bay of Fundy, but I don't usually drink the stuff!
Other than these nice views up and down the Creek, there is not a lot for a tourist to do in the middle of this commercial town.
After you've been to the zoo, you might want to come here to hike, camp or possibly see a jaguar. There is a large teacher's guide to the Reserve that is available for sale from the zoo. I bought one and found it helpful.
There is a visitor center with a small interpretive museum, a picnic area and several beautiful jungle trails which criss-cross the sanctuary. They are labeled as to difficulty and length. Drinking water is available for cooking and showers and you can go swimming in the streams and waterfalls.
We took one of the trails, but I couldn't figure out how I would get back out of the river if I got in, so I didn't swim - although I would have liked to - it was EXTREMELY hot.
The basin is managed by the Belize Audubon Society
The Peninsula of Placencia is a must see must stop must enjoy spot in Belize. Many will go to the outer islands like Ambergris for scuba diving and beaches- but that is not necessarily 'my thing.' Placencia is a 'one road' simple community on the coast with a number of nice and affordable guest houses and small hotels where you can 'hole up', just relax, sit by the water, read, and gaze out at the numerous islands off shore. While I was there a female jaguar had been seen nightly walking down the main road with her cubs, so you know I am not talking about a busy, night-club kind of place.
(pictures were taken at Serenity Lodge - Placencia)
Wonderful little villiage, for those who want peace and quiet. Very safe to cycle through, enjoy the many small family restaurants (little more than sheds with tables) freshly squezed lime juice and watch the world go by on the pretty beaches.
Boat trip and tour to Monkey Town from Placensia. Used a guide named Clive who was Garifuna and was excellent at finding birds, monkeys, identifying plants. Do though, take plenty of mosquito repellent cause we got chewed up.
On our one week-end of R + R we visted the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Famous for being home to the elusive jaguar. I say elusive, because we didn't catch sight of a single one!