While new experiences abound, the people of the Cayo District make you feel right at home.
As host to the capital city of Belmopan, you will find an astonishing variety of eco tourism adventures at every turn. With a majestic 880,000 acres of protected land in the form of nature reserves and national parks, this district is truly a nature-lover’s dream.
The lively towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena and the quiet border town of Benque Viejo provide a glimpse into the lives of the friendly residents.
Cayo is also a base to explore pine forests, clear rivers, rocky plateaus, ceremonial caves, towering mountains, ancient Maya temples and cascading waterfalls including the spectacular Thousand Foot Falls.
Here are 7 must visit places in the Cayo Disrict:
Blue Hole National Park
Just 12 miles south of Belmopan along the Hummingbird Highway is the Blue Hole National Park with a sapphire-colored cenote and popular swimming hole. A well maintained trail system leads through the forest and into St. Herman’s Cave.
Guanacaste National Park
This 50 acre pocket of protected tropical forest is centrally located just east of the Roaring Creek Bridget at the junction of the Western and Humming Bird Highways.
At Spanish Lookout, you can encounter a modern sect of Belize’s Mennonite population residing in a landscape of rolling hills. Since arriving in 1958, Mennonite communities have become an integral part of the Belizean economy in a variety of ways –poultry and dairy farming, hardware and equipment supply.
Mountain Pine Ridge
Established in 1944, the Mountain Pine Ridge reserve is a landscape of rolling pine forest that spreads over smooth granite hillsides. One distinctive feature is Baldy Beacon, a hilltop that stands out because its soil will not support the growth of trees.
Bird watching is a popular activity within the reserve; species include the rufous-capped warbler, crossbill, pine siskin, stigeon owl and eastern bluebird.
If you visit between autumn and spring, you may also see the hepatic tanager and chipping sparrow. Raptors cruise the valleys of the Pine Ridge, and it is the most likely place in Belize to see orange-breasted falcons.
Rio on Pools
Just off the main road in the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve, before reaching Augustine Village, you will find the popular Rio on Pools. Through the expanse of pine forest, the river spills over large granite ledges and rocks, making small waterfalls and cool round pools. On the bank of the river is a picnic area to relax and watch swimmers enjoying the troughs, pools, and natural water slides made smooth by the rushing water.
About 20 minutes from downtown Spanish Lookout is a quiet retreat near the large and refreshing Aguacate Lagoon. Amenities include trails for hiking and bird watching and a thatched shed for picnicking.
Belize Botanic Gardens
Hidden in a scenic valley, the 45 acre botanical gardens are alive with plants from Belize and around the world. Here, visitors can explore environmentally sound alternatives to agricultural trends, sustainable land use options, alternative crops and organic insect control.