Portfolio: Why you should travel to Belize
This tiny country is an incredible combination of Central American jungle and Caribbean Sea, offering culture, adventure, wildlife, beautiful beaches and a magical underwater world. Below, you will find eight photographs that we hope will inspire you to travel to this captivating destination:
Home to the ancient Mayan civilisation, Belize is dotted with archaeological sites that date from AD250-1000. The largest and most important of these is Caracol. Situated near the Guatemalan border, these ruins are all that remains of one of the most powerful cities of the Mayan world, now buried in dense rainforest. Wandering around this mysterious place is a wonderful experience.
Many travel to Belize for a taste of adventure. One such expedition is exploring Actun Tunichil Muknal (pictured), otherwise known as ATM. These huge caves, deep in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, are simply extraordinary. Here, you walk through jaw-dropping caverns and swim in turquoise lagoons, armed with torches. Along the way, you may discover ages-old artefacts, stoneware and even the skeletons of Mayan people who were once sacrificed there.
The famous Great Blue Hole (pictured) is a geological wonder. The 1,000ft-diameter submarine sinkhole lies in the centre of the Lighthouse Reef. An aerial view of this formation is spectacular: a perfect, sapphire-blue circle surrounded by miles of aquamarine Caribbean Sea. At 430ft deep, this is an exhilarating place to scuba-dive and snorkel. The chance of spotting reef sharks and the occasional hammerhead, as you descend, just adds to the thrill.
Belize’s inland national parks and protected forest areas harbour bountiful wildlife species, including tapirs, iguanas, elusive jaguars and, of course, many primates, including the cacophonous black howler monkey (pictured above).
Belize is brilliant for birdwatching, particularly in its rainforests. With about 590 avian species, ranging from tiger herons and whistling ducks to black-collared hawks and five types of kingfisher, there is a great deal to get ornithologists excited. The keel-billed toucan (pictured), also known as the rainbow-billed toucan, is the country’s national bird.
The breathtaking Caribbean beaches are a big draw. There are more than 200 cayes off the coast as well as some heavenly spots on the mainland. Our favourite of these is the Placencia Peninsula (pictured), a gloriously laid-back retreat, where you can flop on a white-sand beach beside gently lapping, crystal-clear waters.
You will find some of the world’s best diving on the Belize Barrier Reef. The second largest reef on earth (after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef) boasts 100-plus varieties of coral and some 500 species of tropical fish. It is also home to turtles, whale sharks and nurse sharks (pictured).
Belize is also a fantastic hiking destination, in particular, in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve (pictured). Founded in 1944, the park is a protected area of native pine forest, granite hills, rivers and some of the country’s best waterfalls. The landscape here is magnificent and you are bound to catch sight of many birds as you explore on foot, such as the rufous-capped warbler, the stygian owl and the eastern bluebird, as well as troops of howler monkeys.