24 hours in the Cayo District, Belize
It is still early when I wake up and the relaxed sound of the waterfall fills my beautiful and comfortable cabaña. I jump out of my bed, put on my running shoes and set off for a lovely morning run in a dazzling environment. I see the surroundings awake, the birds whistle their first songs of the day and the sun gently shines through the trees. I am in the beautiful Cayo District in the inland of Belize.
Like I'm living on an island
Yesterday I crossed the border from Guatemala to Belize and ended up in a totally different world. Although Belize is stuck on the mainland, you immediately get the feeling that you are on an island. The atmosphere is relaxed, men with dreadlocks are walking through the streets and even here in the inland it seems like I'm feeling a small sea breeze. We are taken to the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in the heart of the Cayo District. Soon the driver steers us off the paved road and we continue on an unpaved road. The sun sinks quickly and turns pink and orange. After an hour we arrive at Gaïa Riverlodge, in the heart of the reserve, a breathtaking location.
When I wake up the next morning I think back to the pleasant evening. Dinner was delicious and we ended the evening in the garden of the hotel around a soothing campfire. After my morning run I walk through the garden back to my cabaña. I am surprised by the flowers in bloom and a hummingbird flying around looking for nectar. I feel wonderfully relaxed and privileged.
Special Mayan temples and caves
After breakfast it is time to explore the area. We drive to Barton Creek, one of the many caves that can be found in this region and used to be used by the Mayan people for various rituals and ceremonies. The cave is hidden in green surroundings and at the foot of a paradise pool. It is not possible to visit the cave on foot because it is a 1.5-kilometre-long meandering river. At the entrance of the cave we board our canoes, turn on our headlights and slowly start paddling towards the cave. As we paddle deeper through the cave, our guide tells us about the impressive geology, archaeology and Mayan history of these caves. For a moment we turn off all our lights and are enveloped in black darkness, knowing that this cave was used by the Mayans thousands of years ago. Extraordinary!
One of my favorite Mayan sites
In the afternoon we visit Xunantunich. This place is also dominated by the Maya. During a visit to Guatemala and Belize you can not avoid the history of the Maya's, but that is not bad at all. The history of this population group is very impressive. This archaeological site was a big surprise for me and without a doubt one of my favorite Maya sites that I have seen during my travels through Latin America. It was very quiet and the 6 large squares with 25 temples are very well maintained. We decided to climb the largest temple after which we were rewarded with a great panoramic view over the site and the surrounding Cayo District. I absorb this view well and enjoy this special area for a while, because the next day we travel further through the small paradise in Central America.
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