Thursday, October 23, 2014

Belize Holiday Summary

We where lucky enough to visit Belize in early May 2014. A rare country, an island of low density population and a lot of unspoiled nature and Maya ruins. Both reef, islands and the rainforest was fantastic to see, with little traffic on the roads, as well as on the unspoiled rivers in the forest. More boats araound the popular holiday spots of course.

Our week in Belize centered around Ambergris Caye (key), where we stayed in a nice hotel in San Pedro (yes, the place Madonna fells in love with). A plcae of change though, now with some concrete in the streets, and some cars spoiling the serenity with only haveing golf carts as transportation (which still dominated totally). And further plans for improving the infrastructure, i.e. building roads to the resorts in north. All major transportation between the resorts was today by boat, from jetty to jetty.

San Pedro street along the Beach, Ambergris Caye, Belize 2014

The beaches are nice, but not as inviting in real life as on pictures. Most places the bottom is covered by sea grass. The good news is the biodiversity, mangroves and seagrass all around the island gives life to everything, birds, fish and animals. And if you want go swimming - take a boat trip to the reef! The reef (the worlds next longest) was fantastic for swimming, snorkling and diving, seeing all kind of small and large fishes, including reef sharks and moray eels.

The reef east of Ambergris Caya, the shallow water inside was always like this, Belize 2014

First and foremost we were looking for birds. And actually the island of Ambergris contributed well to my life list, better than expected for an island. But the real good birding is on the mainland of course. And this leads me to one of our best experiences ever encountered, a 12 hour daytrip from Ambergris Caye up to the Lamanai Maya ruins!

We started early in the morning, picking up co-passengers from resort-jettys south of San Pedro center, and then speedboat over the shallow lagunes for 1,5 hours to the mainland. Here we entered a river just north of Belize City, and followed it shortly upstream, actually to near the airport. From here we had a one hour ride on the Pan-American highway northbound into the Yucatan peninsula. Then, we enter speed-boat again! And a one hour unbelievable ride up a river into the rainforest, with little traces of human settlement at all!

One of  the Lamanai pyramids, partly excavated Maya ruin, Belize 2014

And then the price: the Maya ruins at Lamanai. With a history I hardly could believe - a fully settled Maya city of 50.000+ inhabitants as late as year 1800! Of course destroyed by the white man, deseases and forced "progress" brough by English timber industry... Anyway, the place was magic, totally overgrown in this short time, only five of 700 structures partly excavated, alle enclosed in a rainforest teaming with birds, animals and insects! Just one advise, try to stay here (in the ruins and it's museum) a little bit longer than we were able to. But its hard to choose, the travel both way was taking time, but was as well a fantastic experience.

Central-American Black Howler, among the Lamanai ruins, Belize 2014

Black-headed Trogon, among the Lamanai ruins, Belize 2014

A short summary is probably that it was our nicest one week holiday ever. And we've been som places. The light, the color of the shallow seas, the reef, the San Pedro athmosphere, the rainforest, Lamanai - all just great! Consider going there? Do so :-)

Here are more pictures from Lamanai:

Here are more pictures from Ambergris Caye: