Lonely Planet Features Belize

In “Adventuring in Belize” Lonely Planet speaks about the natural wonders of Belize, the northernmost Central American country facing the Caribbean.

This diminutive country of just 330,000 people and 8,800sq miles, sandwiched between Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the south and west, proves true the old adage that “the best things come in small packages.” [. . .] Alternatively, hike, swim and spelunk your way into the heart of the four-mile-long, bat-filled Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, hidden deep within the stunning Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, near the pretty mountain town of San Ignacio. Also known as the “Cave of the Stone Sepulcher”, a journey into Actun Tunichil Muknal will eventually lead to “the Cathedral”, an immense subterranean cavern home to yet more Mayan sacrificial remains, including the “Crystal Maiden”, the skeleton of a teenage Mayan girl whose bones have calcified over the millennia to a crystalline gleam.

Next, head down the gorgeous, green Hummingbird Highway, to explore vast tracts of untouched rainforest. With more than 40% of the country designated as protected land, it is not hard to find a deserted forest trail just ripe for the hiking. Trek out to remote waterfalls at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve (whose shy four-legged inhabitants themselves stay well out of sight), watch for storks and kingfishers in the depths of the beautiful Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary further north, or take a boat trip past dozing crocodiles, to Mayan remains dating as far back as the 16th Century BC at Lamanai in the Orange Walk District.

Finally, go by boat from Belize City, the country’s largest city with a population of around 70,000, to the laid-back, ramshackle charms of Caye Caulker island. From here it is a short ride out to a plethora of pristine reefs, including the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the iconic, Unesco-rated Great Blue Hole underwater sinkhole. Here you can scuba or snorkel the day away in the company of stingrays, nurse sharks, grouper and technicolour tropical fish, before kicking back on deck with a local Belikin beer, as the sun sets on another perfect, adventurous Belizean day.

[Photo: Belize’s ocean-floor sinkhole, believed to be the world’s largest blue hole.]

For full article, see http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20111118-adventuring-in-belize

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