The summer wouldn't be complete without a family vacation to Belize. This diverse country with various cultures and languages is known for its extreme biodiversity and distinctive ecosystems. In Belize, we encountered the most genuinely friendly people; their smiles and their Creole -sounding 'good mawnin's' are sincere and infectious. The Belizean locals, who have so much less than most Americans, are much happier, less stressed, and their simple lives -- focused on family, church, community -- seem to be the reason. Not to mention the sunshine that seems to put everyone in a better mood. Needless to say, when vacationing in this beautiful Central American country, it was easy to surrender to the unspoiled nature that surrounded us while re-connecting with one another!
My family, including my mom and dad, took a weeklong adventure to Blancaneaux Lodge tucked away in a pocket of the Maya Mountains and Turtle Inn a seafront hideaway on some of the most pristine beaches.
BIG ROCK FALLS
Following a trail that overlooks the creek and waterfalls, we kept a slow pace and admired the abundant brightly colored orchids that adorn the granite rock outcroppings and that thrive in the thin soils of the savannah meadows. There were many streams crisscrossing the trail as we were in awe of an ancient granite outcropping enjoyed the spectacular scenery. After a hot day of horseback riding, it was absolutely enjoyable to take a break from the saddle and play under the cascading waterfall.
Situated high on the Vaca Plateau deep in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, Caracol is the most extensive Mayan site in Belize and was only re-discovered in 1936. The site of Caracol covers over 80 square miles with 30,000 structures, and at its peak supported a population of more than 150,000 people. Situated 1600 feet above sea level with no natural body of water nearby, it remains a mystery how such a huge population was able to survive there.
BARTON CREEK CAVE
This cave was formerly used by the ancient Mayans as a burial site and for ceremonial purposes. A visit to Barton Creek Cave involves spending over an hour paddling canoes along an ancient Mayan waterway inside the mountain. Our guide pointed out skulls and artifacts as we passed between stalactites. The high ceiling, beautiful rock flows and cathedral chambers makes this a beautiful place to photograph. The cave is adorned with stalactites and stalagmites and Mayan pottery shards and bones can be observed by the guide’s spotlights.
There's not a shortage of wildlife in Belize! We came across many during our adventures like the Orependola and its upside down nest and the Howler Monkey which is the 'baboon' of Belize and the largest monkey, too!
The coral reef just offshore from Turtle Inn offers some of the best diving and scuba in the world! We spent the day exploring exotic coral species such as branching fire, rose lace and blushing star, and keep an eye out for the dazzling sea turtle, spotlight parrotfish, queen angelfish, squirrelfish and the great barracuda.
MOONLIGHT JAGUAR QUEST
As darkness covers the rainforest, the predators start to roam their kingdom in search of prey. As most of Belize’s large mammals are nocturnal, this was our best chance to actually see them in their natural habitat. At a slow and quiet pace, we searched the forest for gibnuts, armadillos, peccaries and other wildlife, including the elusive jaguar.