Old Government House
Finishing up in San Ignacio, the Trek Stop shuttle delivered us to Belize City for our last night in the country. The tour I most enjoyed in BC was of old Government House, maybe because we did not have time to check out the Fort George area due to limited time combined with most attractions being closed on Sunday. This old building really is an antique, built almost 200-years ago, between 1812-14 to serve as the official residence of the Governor of the colony, the Queen's representative in this backwater outpost. We took a walk around the grounds (2nd photo) and, although a few bits have blown off it over the years, I am amazed that a large wooden structure like this is still standing on these hurricane-prone shores! In fact, it was the devestation caused to Belize City by Hurricane Hattie in 1961 that prompted a new capital to be built inland at Belmopan, and that was the beginning of the end of the 'official' use of this building. After several years of neglect, the structure has been rehabilitated in recent years, and now also serves as a museum of sorts (the House of Culture), where various things Belizian are displayed.
For our US$5 per person entrance fee, we enjoyed wandering through the mansion, viewing it's antique furniture (3rd photo) and reading various plaques on the walls detailing the history of the Colony and it's various Governors down through the years. A stroll on the seaward grounds revealed a monument to Baron Bliss, an eccentric British aristocrat who was one of the main benefactors of this backwater. He sailed into the harbour for the first time in 1926 aboard his yacht 'Sea King', but was too sick with food poisoning to ever actually set foot on shore before dying several months later. Even so, he had been so impressed by his welcome, that his will bequeathed $2 million to be used for the benefit of the citizens of Belize! His small tender which allowed his crew to travel between the yacht and shore, is now mounted on the seaward grounds of Government House.Related to:
Clear Beautiful Water
Snorkeling in Belize is excellent. The reef is one of the wonders of the world - just a bit smaller than the famous one in Australia. One place to go is Hol Chan which has now been a Marine Reserve for 12 years, so the fish have had time to grow very large, especially the groupers.
Because of the reef, the beaches are not large, so snorkel trips are usually done from small boats. You can rent all your equipment, but it is best to bring your own mask and snorkel so that you can be sure it fits. You should also take sun protection and water. In addition check and be sure if you will have lunch provided - if not, bring lunch.Related to:
- National/State Park
- Diving and Snorkeling
Just Chill Out
After our various activities on Caye Caulker, we spent two nights on the nearby and busier Ambergris Cay. After a short stroll around San Pedro on our first day, Sue and I returned to the Hotel del Rio to spend a few hours just relaxing in our new surroundings. The del Rio has a beautifully treed area just off the beach (2nd photo) where guests can relax under a thatched roof shelter with a large table with several chairs and hammocks available if you want to watch the beach activities or just chill out.
We were reading our books there when Ruth, the lady who runs the place for the absentee American owners (her husband did the paperwork as we checked in), came over and sat down beside us for a chat. It was interesting to hear her story, having emigrated from Guatemala 13 years ago because of all the civil unrest at the time. She and her husband have complete control of the running of the hotel and, not having any children, she has taken on a couple of cats as permanent guests. One of them took a liking to Sue, and it ended up asleep on her lap (3rd photo).This cat had its jaw broken some months before after an attack by one of the many roaming beach dogs, but Ruth and her husband had forked out quite a bit of money to have a vet fix the cat up so the jaw is still useable. The afternoon passed quickly in conversation instead of reading, and we got some useful tips from Ruth regarding bicycle rentals and good local restaurants!
We finished the afternoon off with further conversations with other guests (all American) as they joined us on returning from their various day-trip excursions to both the mainland and other parts of Ambergris.Related to:
A Quiet Little Village
After recovering from our boating excursion, we struck out by foot later in the afternoon to have a closer look at Crooked Tree village itself.
It was a pleasant walk, since we were in no hurry, but we soon noticed the different heat effect of the afternoon sunshine once we were away from the cooling influence of the lagoon! There were hadly any people about, but it was nice to just take in the sights of the quaint houses dotted among the many small pastures (2nd photo). One of the ponds we passed had a crocodile laying as still as a log while on the other side of a wire fence passing through the pond was a herd of pigs!
Although most of the buildings in Crooked Tree village were rather weather-beaten, they also had a rustic look that made them quite appealing to look at. We were amused by their Police station (3rd photo), located very close to where the causeway from the mainland arrives on the island. As we strolled past in both directions on our mid-afternoon walk along the village's single dusty road, we never saw any sign of life in the building. Back in Canada, one of my sons-in-law is a Mountie looking for a new posting, so I thought I had better bring this one to his attention! Perhaps he would like to apply for the the position of police chief in Crooked Tree!
Close to where the causeway arrives on the island, we again bumped into two of the village ladies who had earlier visited us at lakeside (4th photo). After a short chat, we turned for the walk back - I could hear a cold Belikin beer calling!Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Cave tubing is a ton of fun, but I would avoid going on "cruise ship day" (the caves get quite crowded). During the dry season the water levels are lower in the caves, and many times we had to pick up out tubes and walk through the caves. Nevertheless, it was very interesting to see all the crystal formations throughout the caves!
Tikal is located in Guatemala and is a HUGE Mayan ruin site. If you go, I would recommend getting a guide. It enriches the experience and makes it more enjoyable (and educational). Our guide, Ruben, was Mayan and very knowledgable about Mayan culture. He taught us much about Mayan religion, culture, and daily life. Not only did we hike up to the top of all the ruins (something you MUST do -- the views are breathtaking!), but Ruben also led us through the jungle on a nature walk, so we were able to see many native plants and animals. At one point we were able to watch as a family of howler monkey's swung from tree to tree directly above us!
Bring lots of water and be prepared for a grueling day. I was quite sore the next day from going up and down so many steps! You can choose to make this excursion less active by opting out of hiking up the ruins, but you'll truly miss out.Related to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- National/State Park
Since most of the ruins are situated in the middle of the jungle, you will have ample opportunity to enjoy wildlife in their natural environment. I'm not much of a "birder", but those with us who are into watching birds were delighted at the plentiful amount of birds they were able to observe during their trip. During our trips into Tikal and Caracol we were able to see..MONKEYS (my favorite animals!)!! At Tikal we watched as a family of howler monkeys (mom w/baby, dad) swung through the trees directly over our heads. At Caracol, I hiked to the top of a big ruin to find a group of howler's asleep in a nearby tree.
Chechem Hah Cave
This is a privately-owned cave, so I'm not sure how accessable it is to the general public (we went with a group from our resort). It is a cave filled with untouched Mayan pottery, some of which dates to over 2000 years ago! We were guided by the person who discovered the cave, William. He led us through many different rooms, each containing wonderful Mayan artifacts.
Eventually we came to the sacrifical room -- where a Mayan stone circle was still entact and had been left undisturbed for thousands of years. There was a TINY hole -- where you could sqeeze through on your belly, climb up the inside wall, and come out through a higher hole in the wall. That was my favorite part of the cave -- although it left me quite dirty, it was a lot of fun!
See the Manatees
These curious mammals will come right up to the boat, where one can take pictures or simply view them. It is guaranteed that you will enjoy, learn and appreciate about the manatee on this trip.
It was a cloudy morning when we went out to see the Manatees so visability was not great but we did see a couple.Related to:
Belize Zoo is, I believe, one of the few Zoo's in the world that look well kept. The animals seem to be kept well.
There are plenty of animals and birds to see in the Zoo, all with fantastic colours and some just plain unusual.
The entrance to the Zoo is 8 US Dollars per person, also included is a map.
There is plenty to see in the Zoo and is well worth a visit, there is a shop on site, so you won't die of thirst.
a MUST if visiting is insect repellent, the mozzies come out in force here and will drain you dry if you don't put on spray.Related to:
- Road Trip
Caracol is the biggest Mayan city in Belize. The road to Caracol was VERY bumpy, probably the worst roads we'd encountered in Belize. It's ruins are smaller than Tikal, but still very impressive. This site also contains many stone tablets, set aside for closer viewing, that contain original carvings and designs. Caracol is in the middle of the jungle, making it great for spotting wildlife. During our visit, I saw a group of monkeys sleeping in a nearby tree branch! In addition, the bird-watchers in the group were very excited at all the interesting birds they saw.
One unique aspect of Caracol is that it's the only Mayan ruin in Meso-American to contain a slope. Our guide explained that most archeologists though it was either a garbage dump or used to carry stellas up to the top of the temple, but one particular archeologist thought it was a landing strip for alien spacecraft! Doubt it!
I'd never been kayaking before, but I gave it a try down the Mopan River! Since we were there during the dry season, the rapids and waterfalls were very mild. It was a lot of fun -- we saw many iguanas and wildlife along the way. It was also a lot of fun to see the local children playing and splashing in the water -- very cute.
Sadly, I wasn't very good at the actual kayaking -- every time I tried to paddle our kayak would head straight for the river banks! So I just relaxed and let my husband do all the work!
Neither my husband nor I are bird-watchers. But several of our group were "birders" and was delighted at the variety of birds they found at Tikal. So, bring your binoculars!!
I was excited to see a toucan - in fact, we saw several during our trip. We also saw these birds that nest in whats looks like HUGE hairy balls hanging from trees. Very amusing.
Typically I am not a big fan of zoos: I find them depressing and prison-like! However, this zoo is a refuge for abandoned animals, who could not survive in the wild on their own.
Compared to big-city zoos, the Belize zoo is very small and only contains animals native to Belize. While it was a pleasant way to spend an hour, I would not drive out of my way to see it, unless you are very interested in a close-up view of some native animals. However, it had a very natural feel to it, and I enjoyed my visit quite a bit!Related to:
View from the top
You must hike up at least one Mayan ruin for the spectacular views! Not only is it worth the effort, but you'll get a great workout (the ultimate stair-climber!). You'll be able to see several Mayan ruins set deep in the rainforest...truly a magnicant site (and a great photo-op!).
PO Box 31, Belize
Good for: Business
PARADISE. A true vacation. Fabulous scenery and beautiful diving. You feel taken care of by the...more
Negroman Road, San Ignacio, Belize
Good for: Business
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