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Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret…BELIZE

Belize is located on the Caribbean Coast of Central America. The climate in Belize is subtropical, with an average annual temperature of about 80 degrees F. Its small population of about 300,000 residents enjoy a relaxed pace and lifestyle. Belize is located less than two hours from the United States, with several daily flights to and from major hubs such as Miami, Houston, Dallas and Charlotte.

Some facts about Belize

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Official Name: Belize

» Location: East Coast of Central America, bounded on the north by Mexico, on the south and west by Guatemala, and on the east by the Caribbean Sea
» Capital and Major Cities & Towns: (Capital) Belmopan; (City) Belize City, (Towns) San Ignacio, Corozal, Orange Walk, Dangriga, Punta Gorda, San Pedro and Benque Viejo del Carmen
» Climate: Subtropical (dry and rainy season)
» Rainfall: Annual rainfall ranges from 60 inches in the North to 200 inches in the South
» Nationality: Belizean
» Official Language: English, however, Spanish and a Creole dialect are widely spoken as second languages. There are also a number of indigenous languages e.g. Creole, Garifuna, Mopan and Kechi.
» Density of Population: 25 persons per square kilometer
» Labor Force: approximately 90,000
» Land Area: 22,923 square kilometers or 8,867 square miles
» Belize is strategically located next to Mexico in Central America, near the United States and the Caribbean Islands.
» Belize has a fixed currency exchange rate for the last 25 years. US$1=BZ$2.
» Belize protects 60% of its tropical forests with over 500 species of birds.
» Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world.
» Belize was once a center of the ancient Mayan world.
» Belize has excellent retirement advantages.
» Title to property may be taken individually, jointly or in a corporate name.
» Belize has a low cost of living.
» Foreigners are allowed to own property in the country of Belize.
» Belize is a British Commonwealth country with a longstanding democratic tradition and independent judiciary.
» Form of Government: Democratic - Bicameral Legislature
» Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II
» Governor-General: Sir Colville N. Young Sr.
» Head of Government: Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow
» Independence Day: September 21, 1981
» Time Zone: EST -1; GMT - 6
» Country Code: 501
» Major International Airport: Phillip S W Goldson International, 8 miles WNW of Belize City.
» Business Hours: Usual business hours are 8:00 am - Noon, 1:00 pm - 5:00pm.

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Belize from Top to Bottom

 

Belize’s Economy and Business Opportunities

 Economy.pngTiming is everything...

Due to an increase in demand from Canadians and Europeans, properties in general are in high demand... in many parts of the country you will likely see real estate developers showing property to European customers.

This is partially a result of the increased value of the Euro and the Canadian dollar. The Belizean currency is tied to the U.S. dollar... two Belizean dollars are worth one U.S. dollar.

Canadians and Europeans have always been major purchasers of property in Belize, but their interest and presence in Belize has increased more recently. It is easy to see why the tropical climate and lifestyle in this stable, English speaking country is attractive. In addition, Belizean real estate prices are significantly lower than prices in many other English-speaking countries in the Caribbean.

 

Bila alba_PROS.png Your timing is right... right now  These properties are waiting to be discovered… and people worldwide have not caught onto them yet.  This is the right time to look for your property in Belize. If you wait, the demand from foreign buyers may have an impact on your purchase.

 

Here are some points regarding the Belize Economy...

Belize is noted for its natural beauty... blue water, beaches, and inland excursions, where you can explore Mayan ruins, tall waterfalls, lagoons and rivers. Until recently, Belize was rarely mentioned in the international media…but the media is now taking notice.

Tourism in Belize is up:  cruise ship tourism is way up … 300% in five years…  These figures are an indication that this tiny tropical paradise is starting to become the next “in-spot” hot destination for explorers, vacationers, expats and retirees.

The Government of this small English-speaking Caribbean haven is actively encouraging more tourists and, by later this year, there are expected to be direct flights from Europe and Canada to Belize City (until last year, Europeans and Canadians flew through the U.S.). With new flights, Belize will open up to a completely new type of real estate buyer--the European.

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More facts about the Belize Economy

The port of Belize City is the main entry for imports and exports making it an important part of the Belize district's economy. From Belize City citrus, banana and sugar are transported to North America and Europe, while consumer goods such as appliances and automobiles are entering the country.

 

 

Bila alba_PROS.pngThe city's population makes it a commercial center for businesses of all types that market to about 70,000 peopleThe streets are lined with shops and businesses offering everything from clothing to restaurants that bring people to the city from throughout the country.

Tourism is one of Belize's largest sources of revenue.  Hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts and ecotourism destinations are being built regularly throughout the country as the world becomes more aware of the natural wonders of Belize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bila alba_PROS.pngOutside Belize City, loggers still harvest tropical hardwoods within the limits imposed by the government's regulations.

The increase in tourism and growing population has required more homes, infrastructure and commercial centers, which has made the construction industry a growing and important business to the the country. Professional service sectors such as banking, accounting, insurance, medical and dental are also on the rise.

Agriculture makes up a significant portion of the economy in northern Belize. Agriculture falls into two main groups:

1. export sector, mostly sugar and

2. domestic sector, such as fruit, vegetables, dairy, produce and meat

Agriculture not only produces the most revenue and employs the most people, but also feeds the country… the Belize government assists farmers by providing incentives, export and technical assistance.

 

The main areas of the economy of northern Belize are sugar cane, livestock, logging, fisheries, tourism and the Corozal Free Zone. Sugar Cane production accounts for 60% of the country's agricultural exports. It is used for sugar production and for ethanol production. Sugar is produced at one factory operated by Belize Sugar Industries Ltd., which is supplied by more than 4,000 cane farmers.

The Mennonite community of Belize supplies the country with 90% of its poultry and eggs.

 

Belize is self-sufficient in beef, pork, poultry and eggs. Beef cattle is important for the economy of the Orange Walk District.

They produce a vast selection of dairy products as well as corn, rice and beans.

Many small farmers grow rice, corn, beans, vegetables, bananas, plantain, citrus, sugarcane and fruit and also raise cattle, pigs and poultry.

 

Forestry/logging was the country's main sector back when Belize was still a colony.

 

Years of logging has reduced the quantity of hardwoods throughout the country. The majority of Belize is forested and most of the country has been logged, but northern Belize protects much of the remaining forests.

 

Milled lumber is used locally, which includes mahogany, cedar, santa maria and pine. The Mennonites log their trees for the construction and furniture industry.

 

Fishing - The country's main fishing industry is located in small northern town of Sarteneja.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bila alba_PROS.pngThe fishing industry, which accounts for 7% of the GDP is an important part of the country's economy. Fishing, which was once only a subsistence activity has increased to a commercial activity exporting to the U.S., Europe and the Caribbean (tilapia, lobster and conch are the top exported products).

There are a variety of types of fishing boats throughout the country. Open boats are usually made of wood or fiberglass, having outboard engines. These boats usually work within a one day trip from home.

 

Sloops are generally wooden, having sails and smaller outboard engines usually for diving for lobsters and conch. You will find these boats throughout the coastal waters of the country.

 

The fishing requirements and seasons for conch and lobster are as follows:

Conch - The shell length must be longer than seven inches and the market clean weight should be greater than three ounces. The season is closed July 1 to September 30.

Lobster : The minimum cape length must be at least three inches and the minimum tail weight must be four ounces. The season is closed February 15 to June 14.

 

 

Tourism is the fastest growing sector of the country's economy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tourism in Belize is the largest part of the country's economic growth. Tourism represents 18% of the GDP and 25% of total foreign exchange earnings.  It supports one of every four jobs.

 

Bila alba_PROS.pngNorthern Belize has a great deal to offer such as nature reserves and Maya ruins and a plethora of outdoor activities including bird watching, fishing or horseback riding. In northern Belize you will probably find it less crowded with better prices and a more untouched environment.

 

The growth of the tourism industry has just started to impact the northern part of Belize.  More recently, the growth of tourism has made the fishing industry less crucial to the local economy. Many who were fishing for a living now utilize their boats for tourism related activities.

 

New service-related business start ups are being introduced to support the growing tourism industry.  New attractions, cultural productions and accommodations are being added regularly to the industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Corozal Free Zone Act is one of the newest laws governing free zones in country.

 

 

The Commercial Free Zone Act of 1994 established the Commercial Free Zone at Corozal to appeal to foreign business enterprise.

It allows entrepreneurs excellent tax free commercial opportunities. Bila alba_PROS.pngThe country's law distinguish a Commercial Free Zone as being "a geographic area in Belize designated outside national customs territory and duly restricted by controlled access, wherein the benefits created shall apply to a complex of industries."

Merchandise stored in the free zone may be sold wholesale or retail:

  • To diplomats of other countries

  • To ships that dock at ports in Belize

  • For direct export whether by sea, air or land

  • Entry into national customs territory  

The Corozal Free Zone is located at the border with Mexico. Businesses in the Zone are manufacturing, importing, exporting, retailing and a variety of services to Mexico and international customers.

 

 

 

 

Tourism

Things to do… Places to see… Ecotourism…

 

Geography.jpgBelize is known to be one of the world’s leading “ecotourism” destinations. Contained within its borders are untouched rainforest, numerous savannah and mangrove coasts, all containing a great variety of animal habitats north of the Amazon basin. Belize’s coral reef  is the best in the Western Hemisphere, second in size to Great Barrier Reef of Australia, with over 200 small islands. In addition, it contains more than 900 ancient Maya sites.

             Belizeans love to speak about the country's pristine environment and ecotourism. If you have traveled around the world and have seen exotic places you will realized you will never find another country like Belize. A country that is rich in Mayan history, a country that protects its wildlife and environment and permits visitors and its residents to coexist with and enjoy nature at its best.

 Palm Tree super.wmf   While going through our website you will live the adventure of a journey to Belize… every time you browse our website, you will relive it again… and finally, you will probably visit Belize and live your own adventure.

 1. Ecotourism…. Walk within forest trails that provide unlimited hiking and wildlife-sightings…. See the lagoons, cenotes, and rivers that hold a world full of fish and a forest full of life…. While offshore, dive the barrier reef, home to an underwater paradise. Float along an underwater mountain ridge that will amaze your senses.

2. Things to do…. there is always something to do in Belize ... a plethora of unique year-round activities such as boating, fishing, diving, snorkeling, horseback riding, bird watching, caving, canoeing, kayaking, river rafting, tubing, windsurfing, hiking, biking, swimming … with the largest barrier reef in this Hemisphere, the fishing, swimming and diving in Belize are virtually the best in this part of the world…All in a warm, sunny, tropical climate… all in an absolute unpolluted, clean, fresh air… 

3. Places to see… Exploring astonishing and mysterious Mayan sites such as Lamanai Altun Ha, Xunantunich, Cahal Pech.

 SUITCASE - DO NOT FORGET.gifBefore you come to Belize... DO NOT FORGET TO BRING:

  • Long pants and long sleeve shirts for evening hikes

  •  Hiking boots or sneakers with good treads

  • Short pants and cool cotton clothes

  • Bathing suits and sun hats, sunglasses

  • Lightweight raingear with a hood

  • Scuba diving gear with your certification card, dive log, snorkeling gear, fishing tackle (scuba diving gear as well as fishing tackle may be rented)…

  • Sun screen, sun burn cream, insect repellent…

  • Binoculars, camera, extra memory sticks or film, batteries, a waterproof flashlight or headlamp for evening hikes or caving…

  • Prescription drugs…

 …And do not forget your passport, as well as cash, credit cards and travelers' checks….

Now you are ready for your own Belize experience…

 

 ECOTOURISM…

 What makes Belize ideal for Ecotourism?.... The answer is obvious: Belize’s barrier reef, atolls, rivers, mountains and tropical forest, along with its majestic Maya ruins… 

 

 Belize offers some of the most pristine and beautiful habitats in the Central America… With a low population density (only about 300,000 people), allows Belize a combination of Government, NGO and private reserves to protect 40%+ of it’s territory.

 

 

OK_CHECKED1.wmfHow can we enjoy this natural beauty without ruining it?

 In the '80s, the Government of Belize recognized that small–scale, low impact tourism was the most ideal way to provide economic growth while still safeguarding the environment. Rather than subscribing to the mass tourism path of Cancún just 250 miles to the north, Belize has decided to follow another road  that would allow as many residents as possible to participate in the tourism industry. 

The development of a small number of up-scale lodges in the magnificent interior of the country has provided a model of sustainable tourism that has developed a group of accommodations to support this growing industry. 

Tourism is the country’s number one source of foreign revenue and with strict guidelines, education and cooperation from international conservation organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy creating a bright outlook for both country’s environment and its ecotourism industry.

Belize has a vast diversity of wildlife due to its extensive natural habitats and relatively low levels of human intrusion.

 

Lowland Broadleaf Forest

 

 

4_Before you go to Belize....wmfThe amount of rainfall is not enough to for the trees to keep their leaves year around.  Within this diverse ecosystem, which includes the mahogany, cedar and sapodilla, you may find enormous trees forming a canopy so thick that only small bands of sunlight shine through to the ground.

Most of the lowland broadleaf forests of northern Belize support a small  population of all five species of wildcat - Jaguar, Puma, Ocelot, Margay and Jaguarundi. The area of northern Belize has possibly the largest wildcat population in Belize probably because the natural prey has not been hunted out. 

ü      Two species of monkey inhabit the broadleaf forests of northern Belize. The howler monkey, a large, relatively heavy set primate (known in Belize as the "baboon") and the spider monkey, (known in Belize as the "monkey"), which also lives in the tree tops, but is much quicker than the howler monkey.

ü      The keel billed toucan, Belize's national bird can usually be heard in the thick of the forest.

Next.png Pine Ridge and Savanna

For many, the best way to experience the savanna is on a hike during the early morning and late afternoon. Bring a pair of binoculars. Walk slowly and stop frequently to listen. The sounds of insects and birds will carry a great distance. You can also walk through the savanna… the soil will be coarse, made up of quartz and gravel with clusters of grass and sedges.

 

The savanna also includes shrubs, trees and palms, but it never forms a continuous canopy. This occurs throughout northern Belize and is associated with low nutrient soils. The name for this habitat is "Pine Ridge" as the pine trees are often the most noticeable large trees visible. This ecosystem is often water-logged during the rainy season and completely dried out during the dry season.  Most of the vegetation is a resilient type that can withstand the extremes of drought and being submersed by water. The savanna supports a variety mammals, reptiles, and birds.

 ü      You’ll see birds in the savanna such as the king vulture, yellow-headed parrot and jabiru stork.

 Next.png Freshwater Rivers, Lagoons, Wetlands and Swamps

The rivers, lagoons and wetlands of Belize provide drainage from the occasional rains, as well as  transportation for wildlife and nutrients from the interior to the sea.

The forest along the rivers is called riverine or riparian forest. This vegetation plays a important role in preventing erosion of river and lagoon banks as the dense roots of bamboo and other shrubs hold soil in place and prevent water from washing away the river banks.

If you are adventurous, you may enjoy exploring the edges of the lagoons, which are are loaded with invertebrates, fish and wildlife... You can also explore the lagoons by canoe, quietly, either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. 

Next.png Mangrove and Coastal Lagoons

              The mangrove and coastal lagoons are home to a rich variety of marine species.. These are some of the most important ecosystems for the continuity of the marine coastal zone.  The animals that inhabit these underwater areas must be able to stand a wide and often sudden change in salinity. The birds, reptiles and mammals also take advantage of the protection of the mangrove trees and vegetation while the rich food source provides a perfect location for reproduction. 

ü      Many waterfowl such as heron and egret, ibis, spoonbills and white-crowned pigeons use the mangrove for nesting. These birds feed on the shrimp, crabs, worms, small fish and insects which live in and around the mud and leaf debris.

ü      Below the water, invertebrates include sponges, tunicates, anemones, oysters and barnacles supported by the red mangrove roots.

ü      Snapper, grouper, lobster and crabs begin their life in the mangrove root system before moving to deeper waters.  

Mangrove species in Belize include:

ü    Red mangrove, which can withstand salt water these best.  The roots are usually found halfway submerged along most of the shoreline of Belize.

ü      Black mangrove, which is a transition plant between land and water. The distinguishing feature is the thin root extensions, which come out of the mud.

ü      White mangrove, which grows further inland.

CLIPART - CAMERA FOT0.png Take your Camera... It’s a Bird Watcher’s Paradise…

 

Do you know that Belize has more than 570 species of birds, only one third being migrants?

 

… In all of North America and Mexico there are about 650 species. If you compare both numbers, you would understand why Belize is known as a bird watcher's paradise since Belize is a country approximately the size of Massachusetts.

With relative ease, you can see everything from blackbirds to lively banana birds.

 

The Toucan - clipart.jpgThe Toucan’s image is everywhere from billboards to T-shirts… Belizeans love this colorful bird so much they have made it the national bird. Its oversized, vibrant beak and stubby body are not that aerodynamic, but it does thrive in the country's tropical climate.

Keel Billed Toucan at the Belize Zoo

 

You cannot miss the largest bird, the jabiru stork who stands about four feet tall, with its wide wing – span… The jabiru is easily the largest flying bird in the Western Hemisphere and one of the rarest in Central America. It is most usually seen December through March in the savannahs and lowland pine ridges. If you take a trip along the Belize River or Macal River you may spot waterfowl, such as herons, kingfishers and swallows.

 

 

 

ü      8_Questions1_format mare.wmfIf you have a strong interest in birding, go birding in the early morning and late evening.

ü      Depending on where in Belize you are, you’ll be in the proximity of the following common species of birds: 

*      Coastal areas:  brown pelicans, frigate birds, laughing gulls, osprey, seagulls

*      Broad leaf forests - blue crowned mot mot, great tinamou, the country's national bird - keel-billed toucan

*     Wetlands - spoonbills, egrets, green and blue herons, northern jacana, and the Jabiru Stork

*      Grasslands and savannahs - the fork-tailed flycatcher, vermilion flycatcher, roadside hawk.

 

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ü      Nature trails, recorded species lists and viewing platforms are in many locations throughout the country.

ü      In 1998, the Belize Audubon Society sponsored the first annual Bird-Fest in October.

Bird watching enthusiasts should also visit some of the national parks such as Mountain Pine Ridge for great bird sightings.

 

 

Bila alba_PROS.pngBelize is excellent for birding because of its rich diversity of ecosystems containing forests, rivers, savanna and jungle… the birds are everywhere:  by the cayes, on the coastline, on the mainland along the rivers, within the bush and in the mountains. Birds from up north visit Belize during the winter months and birds from down south visit Belize during the summer months.

 Great opportunities for sightings are offered within the country's national parks and reserves which include:

ü      Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary (Belize District)

ü       Community Baboon Sanctuary (Belize District)

ü       Manatee Hall and Swallow Caye (Belize District)

ü       Five Blues Lake National Park (Cayo District)

ü       St. Hermans Blue Hole National Park (Cayo District)

ü       Mountain Pine Ridge (Cayo District)

ü       Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (Stann Creek District)

ü       Mayflower Bocawina National Park (Stann Creek District)

ü       The Guanacaste National Park

ü       Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve

ü       Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

ü      Shipstern Wildlife Reserve

ü      The Rio Bravo Conservation Area

ü      The Lamanai Archaeological Reserve

 

 C:\Users\Belize\Desktop\CLIPART for Belize website\Places to see_Points of interest.pngWhen visiting the Belize District be sure to check out the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, located 33 miles Northwest of Belize City and just 2 miles off the Northern Highway, iit was established in 1984 for the protection of resident and migrant birds, the sanctuary consists of a system of lagoons and waterways.

ü      The variety of habitats in the Crooked Tree area provide food and homes for a diversity of fauna: within the logwood swamps roost the nocturnal Boat-billed Herons as well as Chestnut-bellied Herons and Bare-throated Tiger-Herons; our two species of ducks, the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck and the Muscovy, nest in trees along the swamps.

ü      Over the open water you will find many birds feeding on the abundant food resources the lagoons provide: Jabiru Storks, snail kites, the beautiful Snowy and Great Egrets fishing along the shoreline, all five species of Kingfishers, as well as Ospreys and Black-collared Hawks diving toward the water's surface for a catch…

ü      Black Creek, with its large trees, provides a home for Black Howler Monkeys, Coatimundi and several species of turtles and iguanas.

C:\Users\Belize\Desktop\CLIPART for Belize website\Places to see_Points of interest.pngThe Community Baboon Sanctuary…

 

            Within the Community Baboon Sanctuary it is possible to approach within a few feet of these primates and observe them feed, groom or howl; locally known as the baboon in English or the "Saraguate" in Spanish, the Black Howler Monkey, is the main species of interest in the sanctuary.

 

ü      This private sanctuary is home to around 1500 howlers that occupy a space of about 18 square miles in the Belize River valley that you can reach on a short day trip from Belize City, just 30 miles away. The sanctuary was created to protect corridors of broadleaf forests that grow the fruit and blossoms the howlers live on.

ü      A variety of other mammals are found in the reserve or nearby, including Baird's Tapir and the Jaguarundi. Reptiles include Iguana and the Central American River Turtle.

 

The reserve has also had a positive effect on other wildlife including the iguana, jaguar, ocelot, puma and the endangered Central American river turtle that's making a comeback here.

Bila alba_PROS.png

The sanctuary is well known for the 200 species of birds that can be spotted at various times of the year. Permanent residents include parakeets, toucans, tanagers and parrots that live in and around the roughly 100 different species of trees that also host colorful orchids and bromeliads.

 

 

 

C:\Users\Belize\Desktop\CLIPART for Belize website\Places to see_Points of interest.png”Spots to guarantee sighting” the Manatees: Manatee Hall and Swallow Caye

 

…  If you want to visit Manatee Hall and Swallow Caye, you may have a clear view of the Manatees… although manatees can be spotted almost anywhere along the coast of Belize, these two “spots” within the Belize District "guarantee" sightings.

            First is the "Manatee Hole" approximately 200 yards off the North end of Gales Point in Southern Lagoon: a bottom depression, fed by warm underground springs, attract the manatees; the manatees rise for air every 25 to 30 minutes. Some are more easily seen as they bear the tags of the local researchers. As is the case with observing any animal in the wild, it takes patience.

 

            The other location is just a 40-minute speed ride to Swallow Caye: these gentle creatures are usually found feeding or playing in a deep murky hole behind the island or inside the creeks leading into the mangrove, so it can take a little time before you see them. The population of manatees at this spot is believed to be about eighteen adults and calves.

 

Swallow Caye is one of Belize's newest protected areas and is the home for a relatively large population of the manatees, so chances of seeing the manatee is almost 100 percent.

Bila alba_PROS.png … Manatees are curious animals and most of the times they come right next to the boat good for excellent close up pictures. Manatees are also called sea cows and long ago were once believed, by sailors, to be mermaids.

                  … Turtle Grass is what attracts these ungainly yet graceful mammals to these two locations, which they feed on almost exclusively. Manatee are inquisitive animals, yet easily intimidated…

 

 

C:\Users\Belize\Desktop\CLIPART for Belize website\Places to see_Points of interest.pngFive Blues Lake National Park

 

            … Over 4,000 acres of tropical forest including caves and exotic wildlife in a magnificent karst terrain…

 

… You may come here for swimming and hiking… swimming is permitted and there are hiking trails throughout. Rarely most of us have seen something such beautiful as this: even if it is only one lake, it is known as Five Blues Lake because of the varying water depths around the lake and the different limestone rock formations under water. The water and rock reflect a different kind of blue or blue-green, or sometimes a dark green, and at different times of the day, the blues change…

… Every time you will see this phenomenon, it continues to fascinate you…

 

Situated in St. Margaret’s Village in the Cayo District, at the Eastern boundary at mile 32 on the Hummingbird Highway, Five Blue Lake it was established in 1992.

 

Bila alba_PROS.pngThe lake was formed from a collapsed cave system known as a cenote or blue hole, which runs 200 feet deep over about 10 acres.

                 Swimming is permitted and there are. There is a visitor's center with maps, picnic tables and bathrooms by the park entrance.

 

C:\Users\Belize\Desktop\CLIPART for Belize website\Places to see_Points of interest.png St. Hermans Blue Hole National Park…


            … Another 575 acres, full of forest with an abundance of flora and fauna…  Trust me, you’ll never regret doing hiking: here, there are several great hiking trails within the park, with many exotic species of birds to see along the way…

 

Blue Hole National Park (the inland Blue Hole) is located about 12 miles southeast of Belmopan on the Hummingbird Highway.

 

Bila alba_PROS.pngThe Blue Hole itself is a sinkhole filled with water that is part of the underground Caves Branch Creek tributary, which then disappears below the surface as it flows to the Sibun River.

                The collapsed karst sinkhole is about 25 feet deep and roughly 300 feet in diameter with stunning turquoise water. The main enticements are the underground streams, rivers, sinkholes and the underground caves.

 

 

C:\Users\Belize\Desktop\CLIPART for Belize website\Places to see_Points of interest.pngMountain Pine Ridge…

 

            Mountain Pine Ridge offers a scenic drive on the way to Caracol and the Chiquibul Rain Forest…To visit the reserve of Mountain Pine Ridge, you may take Cristo Rey Road from Santa Elena... on the other hand, there is another route: take Chiquibul Road from Georgeville … it’s up to you…

 

            … What you can do here, on a regular basis, are horseback riding and caving… but, with its karst limestone terrain, the Mountain Pine Ridge area is also great for hiking and biking…Don’t miss the adventure!

 

 

Mountain Pine Ridge is a 300 square mile forest reserve, South of the Western Highway in the Cayo District.

 

Bila alba_PROS.pngSome of the features include the Hidden Valley Falls (1,000 Foot-Falls), the Rio On River, the Rio On Pools, the Rio Frio Cave and Nature Trail, and many waterfalls and streams.

C:\Users\Belize\Desktop\CLIPART for Belize website\Places to see_Points of interest.pngCockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary… 

 

            … It’s hard to describe it in words without diminishing its greatness… Seen from satellite photographs, the Cockscomb Basin looks like a huge meteor crater blasted from the center of the Maya Mountains. From closer to Earth, it is a lush mountain basin, full of pristine tropical forest and riddled through with jungle streams: this is the site of the world’s first jaguar reserve…   Its rugged isolation has attracted an impressive wealth of animal species to this sanctuary, in particular the awesome jaguar, whilst Victoria Peak is drawing a growing band of hardy hikers.

 

The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is a world-renowned sanctuary, a haven for many rare and endangered species such as puma, ocelot, margay, tapir, otter and scarlet macaw.

 

Bila alba_PROS.pngEstablished in 1984 as a small forest reserve, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary soon evolved into a reserve of over 100,000 acres (40,500 hectares), and made famous by the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Alan Rabinowitz’s study of jaguars.

 

             Lodging facilities are available at the park administration center and well-maintained trails are constantly being expanded.

            Cockscomb’s network of well-marked and maintained trails offer the chance of spotting some of the sanctuary’s wildlife, whilst taking in its scenic beauties, such as delicate waterfalls spraying in the pristine jungle.

             There are short walks of less than an hour, and long hikes of several days. For the best views of the basin, follow the muscle-building Bluff Trail (a 2½-mile hike to the top of a forested ridge) to get a wholesome view of the entire Cockscomb basin.

 

             Many of the park rangers are from nearby Maya Center, which has a community guest project, medicinal plant trail and crafts shop, while villagers act as nature guides and porters for expedition trips…

 

            If you like to hike, you may do it for a several days to one of the newest trail (finished by the Trekforce Expedition) that leads through the tropical forest for several days to the jagged granite summit of Victoria Peak, a hike that is gaining popularity as one of the most adventurous challenges in the whole country…you may have the chance of spotting some of the sanctuary’s wildlife whilst taking in its scenic beauties, such as delicate waterfalls spraying in the pristine jungle…

            …If you are really adventurous, probably you’ll even want to hike to Victoria Peak, Belize’s second highest mountain and possibly its most spectacular. This demanding three-to four-day hike is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the best mountain trails in Belize…

           

3_Do not forget.jpgSome tips: the best time of year to climb Victoria Peak is in the dry season, from January to May… On the other hand, from July to September, in the wettest season, the nature is more colorful, when the flowering plants, including orchids, are in bloom...

… Oh, and if you’ll arrive here, don’t miss  taking a night walk along one of the sanctuary’s shorter trails: this  is the perfect way to meet some of its nocturnal animal residents, and admire the incredible variety of plant species of the forest … You’ll see ferns and orchids, and trees such as mahogany and ceiba…

            However, be prepared: long pants, sturdy footwear, a torch and insect repellent are recommended… 

 

            … And, by the way, don’t forget to visit the medicinal plant trail and crafts shop: your wife will really appreciate your fine gesture!

 

C:\Users\Belize\Desktop\CLIPART for Belize website\Places to see_Points of interest.pngThe Guanacaste National Park

           

            …When you’ll visit the Guanacaste National Park don’t forget to pack your bathing suit… Here where the Belize River and Roaring Creek meet, you may want to take a relaxing swim…  It will not take much convincing to cool off at this breathtaking, quiet spot!

 

The Guanacaste National Park is spectacular… With its huge specimen of guanacaste or tubroos tree, ceiba, cohune palms, mammee apple, mahogany, quamwood, and other trees, the Guanacaste National Park packs a lot in a mere 56 acres…

Bila alba_PROS.png

ü      Over 100 species of birds have been spotted in the park as well as agouti, armadillo, coati, deer, iguana, jaguarondi and kinkajou.

ü      Not too far away is the famous old guanacaste tree, over 25 feet in diameter and 100 plus years old. The spectacular tree is home to more than 35 species of exotic flora, including orchids, bromeliads, ferns, philodendrons and cacti.

ü      Just past the tree, continue your journey on the trail and you will encounter the shore of Roaring Creek, the westernmost boundary of the park. Follow the trail and you will also see birds, delicate ferns, flowers and long parades of wiwi ants (clutters).

ü      Another hot spot to look for is steps that lead down to the Belize River, to the right of the entrance. The amate fig grows plentifully on the water’s edge; it provides food for the howler monkey and, waiting patiently in the water, the tuba fish.

 

The Guanacaste National Park is located just off mile marker 47 on the North side of the Western Highway where it meets the Hummingbird Highway,

The Guanacaste National Park  it is sponsored by the Belize Audobon Society, MacArthur Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, and the Belizean Government.

The park hours are 8AM until 4PM. The resident blue-crowned motmots were among the rarer animals observed at Guanacaste. Hourly tours start at 8:30AM to 3:30PM.

 

           

C:\Users\Belize\Desktop\CLIPART for Belize website\Places to see_Points of interest.pngMonkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

 

… First, you may be attracted to Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary  by its historical “touch”: the sanctuary borders the Sibun River biological corridor and has documented remains of ancient Maya settlements and ceremonial caves.

            You will find that Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary - an of 1,070 acres of tropical forest, riverine and savanna habitats - is an environmental education center…. During your staying at the sanctuary, you may use their natural history library with over 500 impressive references…

 

Monkey Bay is located in Central Belize and is bordered by the Sibun River that flows from the Maya Mountains through the coastal savanna on its path to the Caribbean Sea.

 

Bila alba_PROS.pngIt is an environmental education center that offers experiential learning programs and training opportunities while serving as a model of conservation land stewardship. The Sanctuary consists of 1,070 acres of tropical forest, riverine and savanna habitats.

 

Specialized in hosting study abroad student groups, Monkey Bay offers a variety of experiential learning programs that are designed to meet your interests, budget and academic requirements:

ü       Environmental and cultural learning programs

ü       Tropical watershed ecology field courses

ü       A field research station and lodging facilities

ü       Individual internships and volunteer programs

ü       Village homestays and community service projects

 

Because of its central location and diverse habitats, Monkey Bay is home for a wide variety of flora and fauna.

ü      The 3300 acre protected area is home to a large number of exotic mammal species, including tapir, puma, jaguar, and Morelet's crocodile.

ü      Over 250 species of birds have been recorded.

 

 Monkey Bay offers accommodations, fresh-prepared meals and a range of learning and adventure activities throughout Belize.

 

 

CLIPART - CAMERA FOT0.png… The Belize Zoo….

           

            … For the laziest of all of us… Located just off mile marker 29 on the Western Highway on the way to Belmopan, the Belize Zoo is an oasis of ponds, forests and flowers among the sprawling 29 acres of savannah… Over 125 species of animals indigenous to Belize  are comfortably harbored in large, naturally vegetated enclosures.

 

… The Zoo may offer you the opportunity to see most of Belize's native wildlife and bird species… You may get up close to jaguar, as well as the jaguarundi, ocelot, margay and puma… Interestingly, all the animals in the zoo have been given names! Plus, you may see many hand painted signs call attention to the natural habits of each animal and its endangered status, reminding us that “Belize is their home, too!”…

 

Bila alba_PROS.pngIn 1983 upon completion of a film called "Path of the Rain Gods," the movie's production assistant, Sharon Matola, found herself with quite a few nearly tame animals that the movie had featured. Fearing they were no longer capable of surviving the wilds, Sharon set about arranging other accommodations for them… she hung signs beside the cages soliciting funds to buy feed… she visited schools around the country to raise awareness about the wealth of Belizean wildlife and its deteriorating habitat… she went outside Belize to raise many from the environmental groups….  that was happened in 1983…

                      From these humble beginnings, Matola and her staff have built a world-class zoo that is thought to be the best of its kind in the Americas, outside the U.S. Now, The Belize Zoo is probably the finest zoo in the Americas, south of the U.S. and is well known for its phenomenal conservation achievement.

 

            … Many of us were profoundly impressed by the story of the incident that helped convinced Matola she was on the right track during the zoo’s difficult founding years of the early 1980s….“A very old man showed up at the gate after closing. At the time, Matola was keeper, janitor, tour guide, and accountant rolled into one, so she let the man and gave him a personal tour. At first, the old man commented freely at each cage about well – entrenched Belizean myths – how ant –eaters kill dogs with their tongues, or that boa constrictors are poisonous during the day. Soon he grew silent. Finally, as they stood in front of a sun-lit jaguar, Matola noticed tears in the old man’s eyes…<<I’m very sorry, Miss…. I have lived in Belize all my life and this is the first time I have seen the animals of my country. They are so beautiful>>…”

 

When you visit this historic animal habitat you get the chance to see native animals of Belize at close quarters, housed in spacious enclosures identical to their natural environment.

Bila alba_PROS.pngThe zoo’s theme, “a walk through Belize,” contains a trail that takes you into the pine ridge, the forest edge, the rainforest, the lagoons and the river forest. From pinelands to the forest ridge, the rainforest, lagoons, river forest and the forest edge, visitors are able to see the animals housed in expansive enclosures that emulate their natural habitats.

ü      The most famous inhabitant is a Baird’s tapir, April, locally known as a mountain cow.

ü      All the native Belizean cats are represented, included a rarer melanistic (black) jaguar.

ü      The existing birds include toucans, macaws, parrots, jabirus, storks, a spectacled owl and several vultures. Additional spectacular animals include deer, spider and howler monkeys, peccaries, agouti (sometimes known as “gibnut” on menus), crocodiles and snakes.

 

Actively involved in conservation and preservation, the zoo also features a Tropical Education Center that offers schools and college groups various learning programs. The center has trails, observation decks, classroom facilities, a library and dormitory facilities for those on extended stays.

The Belize Zoo is open daily between 8:30AM - 5PM and costs US$7.50 for adults and US$3.75 for children.

 

            … Across the highway from the Belize Zoo you may visit The Tropical Education Center… You can walk on the self-guiding nature trails,  visit the observation decks and  admire the lagoon.

            This center is open to everyone who wishes to learn: is a school, a college and a tour guide training groups; it has a great library and comfortable dormitory accommodation… there is a great experience to spend a night or two here!

 

CLIPART - CAMERA FOT0.pngThe Nature Reserves of Northern Belize…

 

…As a visitor to Northern Belize, you may experience all the major habitats of the tropical form from the coral reefs and mangroves of Balcar Chico to the lagoons and wetlands of Shipsteren, to some of the most pristine tropical forests at Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area….

 

The Nature Reserves of Northern Belize represents an important part of the entire park and protected area system of Belize. These less visited conservation areas are every bit as rich and diverse as the more popular parks to the south, only less explored and developed….

… A bit about these conservation areas – or Nature Reserves - within Northern Belize….

 

Bar.Reef.jpg …First, is Shipstern Lagoon …

 

Located three miles South of the small fishing village of Sarteneja on the same peninsula that bears its name, jutting into the Chetumal Bay, the Shipstern Wildlife Reserve covers 22,000 acres of unspoiled, waterlogged jungle, savannah, and mangrove swamp…

            … What you may enjoy the most is your visit to the Butterfly Center on a bright, sunny day as butterflies often hide behind foliage on overcast or rainy days… It’s impressive to see almost 200 species of butterfly gathered in one place…. While there, take a self-guided hike along the Chiclero Botanical Trail (the headquarters will provide you a booklet explaining the traditional uses and medicinal value of much of the flora along the trail).

 

In 1981, the Switzerland-based International Tropical Conservation Foundation established the area as a nature reserve and named it after the abandoned fishing village of Shipstern once located on the reserve's south side.

 

Bila alba_PROS.pngSeparating the forest from the lagoon, vast belts of savannah, mudflats, and limestone hills dotted with palm trees house almost every mammal species found in Belize (save monkeys due to the reduction of large trees via storm activity).

                   Shipstern is also home to the Butterfly Breeding Center at the reserve's headquarters. The Breeding Center has supplied Great Britain, United States, Japan, and Singapore with pupae for their own man-made butterfly habitats.

 

ü      Over 200 species of butterfly accompany the 200+ species of birds swarming the skies above the Shipstern Lagoon and beyond. Many of these birds migrate from North America during the winter. Of the long list of aviators, the five species of parrot and flamboyant toucans that reside within the area often receive the most attention from visitors.

ü      The Butterfly Breeding Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Guided tours along the trails are $12.50 for groups up to four, and an additional $2.50 for each extra person. Belizeans receive a 50% discount.

ü      Night tours into the jungle can be arranged with guides in Sarteneja, but a permit from the reserve's management is needed if the trip crosses the reserve's boundaries.

 

          … If you wonder how to get here, to the Shipstern Lagoon, here are some tips:

 

ü      A bus departs at noon from Belize City for the three-hour trip to Sarteneja Village. The bus stops in Orange Walk Town on the way, so travelers can also access the Village by picking up the bus there. A direct bus from Orange Walk departs at 6 p.m. The bus returns at 3, 4, and 6 p.m.

ü      Travelers can also visit Shipstern via car by driving one hour from Orange Walk Town or two hours from Belize City. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended, as the roads are often muddy. On the way, you'll pass through San Estevan and turn right en route to Little Belize, a small Mennonite community. Continue on to Chunox and Sarteneja; the reserve is three miles before Sarteneja.

ü      Although more expensive, visitors can charter a private boat to the reserve from Corozal Town, Ambergris Caye, or Consejo Shores

                 

Now managed by the Belize Audubon Society, Shipstern Wildlife Reserve protects Belize's largest and most pristine tract of northern hardwood forest and mangrove shoreline.

 

The Belize Audubon Society hopes to create a successful, self-supporting conservation area through low-impact tourism and the controlled production of natural products, i.e. butterflies.

          The Society continues to educate local residents, especially children, in conservative practices in an effort to replace age-old destructive habits with a sustainable land use mentality. 

 Next.png … Next stop… Bacalar Chico

… Covering 130 km² of pristine Belize Barrier Reef and Rocky and Robles Points, Bacalar Chico is the only place on the mainland where the barrier reef touches the coastline… The beach front of the reef, including extensive mangrove lagoons, serves as the principal Belizean nesting area for Loggerhead and Green Turtles, breeding grounds for marine and coastal birds, and an indispensable nursery for many reef fish… Oh, the view is breathtaking… not to mention that within Bacalar Chico lie numerous Mayan sites …. And you may explore the diverse underworld on a dive?... It’s divine…

 

3_Do not forget.jpg      … If you want to go here, you have to know that the park is accessible by sea from points on Ambergris Caye, Sarteneja and elsewhere on the mainland off the Bay of Chetumal… You can choose to come from Mexico: the Mexican port town of X'calak, only about twenty-five minutes away by boat, can quickly transport you...

Tours to Bacalar Chico can be arranged through local tour guides.…

            … A piece of advice: dress lightly… wear a bathing suit, comfortable shoes or sandals, sunglasses and a hat. Don’t forget the repellant and/or sunscreen!

 

Bila alba_PROS.pngOfficially opened in August 1996, and comprises a 15,000-acre marine reserve and 12,000 acres of terrestrial reserve,  Bacalar Chico has been named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It sits at the northern tip of Ambergris Caye overlooking the Bay of Chetumal and Mexico….

 

ü      Much of Bacalar Chico's wildlife resembles Yucatan endemics. At least 187 species of bird, forty mammal (including all five of Belize's cats), fifty-eight reptile, and twenty-two amphibian species inhabit the area.

 

 

ü      Bacalar Chico sits upon the limestone remains of coral reefs that once thrived in the area during times of higher sea level. Throughout the area, remnants of this reef foundation stick out, most notably at Rocky Point, where the old reef crest and back reef are exposed.

ü      Aside from an abundance of wildlife, numerous Mayan sites lie within the area….

During the height of the Mayan culture, the area served as an indispensable trans-shipment point. Merchants would paddle down from the heavily populated river valley cities inland en route to the sea beyond. Upon reaching the coast, people and goods would transfer to larger boats more seaworthy for the long trips ahead. An ancient sea wall clearly visible beneath the surface at the site of San Juan near the northwest corner of Ambergris Caye takes visitors back to a time when the beach bustled with activity. Thousands of pottery shards still litter the beach. Mayans dug out and cleared the area now known as the Bacalar Chico channel to avoid the long journey around the southern tip of the caye…

 

The Belize Fisheries Department's ranger station is located amidst the ruins of Chac-balam, another important Maya trading center fifteen hundred years ago.

 

Thanks to the foresight and management of the Programme for Belize, the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area, a 250,000-acre tract of subtropical broadleaf forest, has become a national example of sustained forestry development and conservation.

 

ü      The Programme for Belize is a private, non-profit, Belize-based organization dedicated to the preservation and management of Belize's natural resources, namely the Rio Bravo area.

ü      Programme for Belize hopes to eventually incorporate the nearby Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatamala and Mexico's Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in a tri-national "Maya Peace Park"…

 

 

Next.pngAnother stop before our travel to Great Reef…. Research Station at Hill Bank

 

            … When we are visiting Hill Bank, some of us prefer to stay at the La Milpa Field Research Station, a research center operated by the Programme for Belize… One can partake in evening lectures on natural history, conservation, and sustainable development... And, often take a   guided tours and jungle walks along trails or visit Mayan sites within the vicinity of accessible villages… There are relatively easy trails … one can easily walk through them….

            However, to arrive here, is part of the adventure: you can fly from Belize City to a private airstrip in nearby Gallon Jug…

 

11.2. THINGS TO DO…

 Palm tree.wmf … The Belize Barrier Reef … Our first destination within our adventure’s “things to-do-list”…

 

            The entire coastal zone of Belize is a treasure of sea life, pristine and yet mostly unexploited… It has been said that the coral reefs are visual poems, filling a diver’s sense of sight with form, color and patterns. If so, Belize is a master poet, and the Belize Barrier reef is an epic of colossal proportions…

            … When you will dive into the emerald water of the Belize Barrier Reef, you may imagine yourself floating along an underwater mountain ridge… below you lie a slope covered by a quilt of magnificently colored coral plates and swaying fronds… some parrotfish browse on algae while fluorescent blue chromis float above coral gardens… Life itself is serene….

 

The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world and the largest coral reef ecosystem in this Hemisphere for its size. Aesthetically and ecologically, its integrity is virtually unharmed.

 

Bar.Reef.jpgForming a nearly continuous fortification for 150 miles along the continental shelf edge, the Belize Barrier Reef provides life and security to all of Belize. The Belize Barrier Reef ecosystem has remained pristine because the small, subsistence-level population has not stressed it unduly, keeping it a diver's dream.

 

ü      Thousands of fish and reef creatures mingle amongst the coral cities and brazenly approach divers and snorkelers: the reef spans Belize’s coastline and is covered with numerous coral species and wonderfully colored fish. Around many of the keys of Belize you will find mangroves that act as a "nursery of the Caribbean.”: you will find barracuda, snapper, tarpon, bonefish and many other species primarily found in the deeper waters of Belize’s coastline.

ü      Every species of Caribbean coral grows in its offshore waters: elkhorn, staghorn, pillar, brain, and lettuce leaf coral to name a few.

 

While most diving in northern Belize is based on either Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker, snorkeling at Bacalar Chico is easily done out of Sarteneja or Corozal. The following are only some of the many popular dive sites in the area:

ü      In Central Belize you will find Rendevous Caye, and Goff’s Caye.

ü      In Northern Belize has Shark Ray Alley, Sting ray flats, The Wall, Mata Rocks, and Hol Chan.

ü      In Southern Belize you will find South Watered Caye Marine Reserve, Tobacco Caye, Silk Cayes, Sapodilla Cayes and Laughingbird Caye.

 

 

            After a two-hour boat ride off the island of Caye Caulker, Belize, you will arrive on the world’s most famous diving destination: The Blue Hole...  Almost perfectly round and visible from outer space!... More than 400 feet deep and 1,000 feet in diameter, filled with stalagmites, stalactites, and sharks....

 

The almost perfectly round "Blue Hole" of Belize, in the center of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, is one of the world’s most intriguing dive destinations.

 

The almost perfectly round "Blue Hole" of Belize, in the center of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, is one of the world’s most intriguing dive destinations. Up close, it’s filled with stalagmites, stalactites, and sharks. But step back. At more than 400 feet deep and 1,000 feet in diameter, it’s visible from outer space. Photo courtesy of www.travelbelize.org.Used to be a cave that rested atop the sea, the „ Blue Hole” was made famous by Jacques Cousteau in the 1970s. Melting ice from the end of the last Ice Age engulfed the cave, which now delves 480 feet into the sea…

 

             … Your dive may begin as you descend to a sandy beach floor about 16 to 19 feet below the surface, in a former cave. From there you wiggle your way over to the edge... You look down hundreds of feet into the dark and scary hole... What a daunting sight!.. 

            … Then, you may begin the real descent to 130 feet - the depth limit for us, the recreational divers - ... once here, you may be able to swim around massive stalactites and stalagmites, the size of which you’ve probably never seen. Even that the visibility is limited to around 25-30 feet, you may be able to catch a glimpse of the reef sharks that live and hunt in the cave.... You’ll be lucky to see them... sometimes in groups of three to five swimming just a few feet from you...

            After diving the Hole, you may head to the beach and eat a healthy lunch... fresh lobster!... Then, back to the boat for one more dive along some of the most spectacular coral reefs in the world. This time, probably you may have the chance sighting of manta rays and turtles....

Why a coral reef is so spectacular? …Short lesson of a reef anatomy …

 

 

8_Questions1_format mare.wmfThe structural framework of a coral reef is limestone. Upon this, billions of individual coral polyps form colonies, connected by living tissue.

ü      Each coral polyp essentially consists of a set of tentacles, a mouth, and a gut perched atop a limestone skeleton. The polyps have special cells on the outside of their bodies that secrete calcium carbonate.

ü      As the colony grows, polyps build their skeletons from beneath, pushing themselves up or out into a myriad of sizes and shapes. Growth rates vary with different specie sand different conditions, but coral reefs in warm, topical waters, grow only about 5 inches every century

ü      A coral reef, then, is actually a thin layer of life on top of ever-growing pieces of limestone. When an inattentive swimmer or errant boat hits or brushes against a piece of coral, the damaged piece of coral may allow disease or infection to develop. And since the entire colony is connected by living tissue, a small, seemingly inconsequential injury may eventually kill a whole colony that might have taken thousands of years to grow to its present size.

ü      Other coral groups have forsaken a hard shell for more flexible, internal skeleton. These “soft” corals come in a range of hues – yellows, to reds, and purples – and their trunks and branches create colorful underwater forests.

 

On the other hand, coral reefs do not exist in isolation… Mangroves line much of the Belizean coastline, the cayes and lower reaches of the rivers. Seagrass beds their blade swaying in the current like prairie meadows, blanket the sea bottom between reef and shore… The quiet, protected water of the mangrove roots and grass blades provides plentiful food and shelter for countless juvenile marine organisms…

The atolls are the epitome of the Belize diving experience. They are far from shore and are basically wilderness existing in pristine conditions. They are huge; each by itself is about the size of Grand Cayman or Cozumel. Being farther from land, they are bathed in the clearest water on a consistent basis. Each atoll is distinctive…. Within their waters, you may dive, snorkel, and swimming….

 … The Coral Atolls…

 

 

The almost perfectly round "Blue Hole" of Belize, in the center of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, is one of the world’s most intriguing dive destinations. Up close, it’s filled with stalagmites, stalactites, and sharks. But step back. At more than 400 feet deep and 1,000 feet in diameter, it’s visible from outer space. Photo courtesy of www.travelbelize.org.There is not one, but three offshore coral atolls within Belize waters…

The Lighthouse Reef Atoll is Belize's dive Shangri-La.

ü      It offers the best and most diverse marine life in the world.

ü      It is the outermost of the three atolls (45 to 50 miles east of Belize City) and is a universe of diving in itself; it is undoubtedly the richest and most diverse of the three atolls of Belize…

ü      The Atoll has six cayes and more than 40 incredible dive sites.

*      Set at the Southern end of Lighthouse Reef, is the famous island known as Half Moon Caye. This Belize Natural Monument is preserved and protected by the Belize Audubon Society, and home to the only nesting site of the Red-Footed Booby Bird in Belize. Half Moon Caye also has a 24-hour a day manned solar lighthouse.

*      To the north of the island of Long Caye there is a great diversity of corals, all in extremely clear water.

*      The visibility off Long Caye and throughout Lighthouse Reef is spectacular and just West of the island there are outstanding wall dive sites.

*      Silver Caves, for instance, is one of the best with its black coral, orange sponges and marine life.

ü      There are also several shipwrecks throughout the Atoll, with many believed to have lost pirate treasures.

 

The Turneffe Islands Atoll is the largest and closest to shore.

ü      Sponges of every shape and color are intertwined with Black Coral dominating the scenery with schools of snapper, grunts, spadefish and jacks milling about.

ü      It is also possible to encounter hundreds of groupers.

 

Glover’s Reef is South of both Turneffe Atoll and Lighthouse Reef.  Glover's Reef is not the farthest atoll from shore but it is the farthest (70 miles) from Belize City.

ü      The scenery above and below the sea is simply spectacular. It’s diameter is approximately 40 miles and has hundreds of shallow patch reefs in its interior

ü      The dive sites of Glover’s Reef include Parrot Fish Falls, Shark Point, Hole In The Wall, Manta Reef, Turtle Tavern, Octopus Alley, Dolphin Dance, and Gorgonia Galley

 

Many of Belize’s marine eco-systems are protected under the category of World Heritage Sites, which means these areas and their inhabitants cannot be harmed in any way.  Divers may not touch corals or increase sedimentation onto the coral.

The protected marine areas of Belize include:

ü      The Belize Barrier Reef

ü      Glover’s Reef

ü      Bacalar Chico National Park Marine Reserve

ü      South Water Caye Marine Reserve

ü      Blue Hole National Park

ü      Hol Chan Marine Reserve

ü      Laughing Bird Caye

ü      Sapodilla Caye

ü      Port Honduras

ü      Half Moon Caye

Moreover, the Belizean mysteries continue to be revealed…

 

 … A Secret Bay….

 

 

The almost perfectly round "Blue Hole" of Belize, in the center of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, is one of the world’s most intriguing dive destinations. Up close, it’s filled with stalagmites, stalactites, and sharks. But step back. At more than 400 feet deep and 1,000 feet in diameter, it’s visible from outer space. Photo courtesy of www.travelbelize.org.Jewels of evolution are continually being found…. Scientists from Smithsonian Institution’s marine lab on Carrie Bow Caye recently stumbled upon a tiny bay that may be unique not only in Caribbean, but in the world: a quirk of nature allows mangrove to grow on edge of a series of deep sink holes.

Healthy colonies of lettuce coral carpet the steep slopes of the depressions. As the slopes rise into shallow water, the scene explodes into activity, with bright oranges and reds, deep purples and blues streaming past; crionoid arms perform silent ballets between 3-ft high loggerhead sponges; star and brain corals flourish among seagrasses and mangrove trunks. Sponges, anemones and tiny barrel – shaped sea squirts cling to the prop roots, competing for the limited amount of space. The researchers have identified 43 different sea squirts in this one location, more than was previously known throughout the entire Caribbean. The fish are so abundant that they form layers, with the smaller fry near the surface, the larger ones a level down, and the fat-bodied herrings blanketing the carpet of lettuce coral.

The location of this bay will stay a secret until scientists, the government and conservation groups within Belize can agree on the proper management of this area…

 

 Swimming.wmf… Diving and snorkeling on the reef…

 After diving into the deepest Caribbean waters, a growing number of tourists, especially on Belize, decide never to leave!!!The official statistics of the Belizean Government shows that a large part of the country’s coastline has been “colonized” entirely by Americans, Canadians, British and Irish people…

In addition, a huge number of the country’s hotels and lodges are owned by foreigners, especially North–Americans, who have been able to set up ventures for far less outlay than is required by their Belizean counterparts.   

Even that the “hard“ coral begin to form a true barrier reef, there are many splintered segments of coral, separated by deep channels; through these channels, twice a day, the oxygen and plankton are carried by the Carribean Sea into the Belize coastal zone. However, billions of hungry coral polyps are fed, together with a large number of fish, attracted by the feast…. more than 460 species….

 

            In Belizean people experience, Caye Caulker snorkeling is world class! From your first glimpse underwater, you may feel in a totally different world - brightly colored fish, sponges, corals, and other creatures everywhere… 

            Another beautiful reserve where you may encounter friendly sharks and rays is in the Shark-Ray Alley… an “inspirational” name who says it all…. Here, you may do some  snorkeling and, after that, you may have a lunch stop at San Pedro, another of Belize's island communities.

 

            Spectacular dives are provided by the walls at Half Moon Caye and Long Caye: in addition to diving, you may relax within one of the biggest birds’ sanctuary created within the Half Moon Caye Natural Monument, a natural reserve who encompasses both the surrounding sea and the Caye itself.

 

            For many of the Belizean visitors, the most fabulous diving is within the Blue Hole…ancient, collapsed cave, huge stalactites  hanging like upside down trees ... the view is unrealistic… 

            … During your diving, you may encounter barracudas… they have an unnerving habit of approaching swimmers … probably they’ll approach you, too… and they’ll follow you about. Scientists believe this is pure curiosity; nobody ever heard about reported unprovoked attacks by a barracuda. They normally move away when approached. 

            You may meet eels… Probably you wish to know that it is said that eels have a nasty reputation, although they are generally non – aggressive. Anyway, you have to be cautious: eels can inflict a nasty bite if annoyed, especially the green moray eel…

             In addition, all the sharks that lives into the Caribbean Sea should be treated with caution: if molested, even the normally docile nurse shark – the laziest of the sharks – can become aggressive.  During their diving activities, some of the tourists saw very few sharks, and all were nurse sharks, probably because they will sense us long before we see them, and move away… Sometimes in route to the reef, bottle-nosed dolphins often may swim around your boat….

 

            Usually, between dives, you may go ashore  one of the four islands located nearly directly in front of Belize City; and you may  relax under a palm tree… In the afternoon, you may take along your mask, snorkel, and fins to do some fantastic snorkeling right from the beach…. On your way out, you’ll probably want to visit nearby mangrove islands and view manatee feeding in the shallow sea grass beds…. What a spectacular way to spend a normal day here, in Belize….

 

 

 3_Do not forget.jpgSergeant's Caye, Goff's Caye, English Caye, and Rendezvous Caye: four of the most important islands for diving and snorkeling (close to Belize City)… 

 

 

Palm trees, white sand beaches, and the closeness to the Barrier reef make these islands the ideal site for day diving. There are dive sites galore to be found and enjoyed.

 

On the other hand, if you do not dive and you want to enjoy the marine life, these islands are excellent for those snorkeling adventurers who want to see the reef fish and add to their life lists of fish.

 

üSnorkeling can be just as exhilarating as diving: snorkel in shallow water with brilliantly colored coral or over the deep ocean waters beyond the reef and experience the finest aquatic paradise in this hemisphere.

ü      Going at night is a good way to see a variety of nocturnal sea creatures that are entirely different than those seen during the day.

Caye Caulker snorkeling is world class!  Right off Caye Caulker you can snorkel in the world's second longest barrier reef. Or, you can chose Coral Garden snorkeling where you can see some many fish and beautiful colorful corals.. It's a once in a lifetime experience!

 Diving courses Dive certification is available for PADI, NAUII and in some areas NITROX diving.

There are different levels including

ü      refresher courses,

ü      open water diving, and

ü      advanced open water diving.

 

… There are many dive shops that have all the gear you will need, which can be purchased or rented.

In case of a dive emergency there is a hyperbaric chamber located in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye. Phone: 226-2851

 SUITCASE - DO NOT FORGET.gif Just make sure you bring a bathing suit, light cover clothing, towel, sunscreen and snorkeling equipment! Oh, some tips for keeping your wives busy while you are diving or snorkeling… in case that they won’t want to go with you…. shopping and dining is available on all these islands….

ü      For example, your wife may do some shopping (gifts, clothes, souvenirs, and t-shirts)  on Caye Caulker … this island offers nearly two dozen gift shops for her shopping pleasure…

ü      Speaking about dining… this subject is, for many of us, a favorite one …  only in Caye Caulker you can chose from  25 restaurants offering Belizean and international cuisine, including fresh seafood with lobster, Belizean beef steaks, conch and red snapper being,  fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade bread, and seasonal specialties…. Yummy!...  

ü      After a healthy meal, the best way to finish your day is a good dancing to live music…. Dancing is the favorite nighttime sport on Belize!...

 

 Many dive operators can arrange trips to the Belize Barrier Reef and the atolls.

3_Do not forget.jpgThe Belizean guides are trained to protect the corals, which are delicate, vulnerable living organisms. Please follow their instructions and do not touch, stand or walk on the coral!

… Be careful of your fins so you do not kick the coral or stir up too much sand...

 

 

http://cayobelize.com/images/ttd_img_19.jpg … Windsurfing, kiteboarding, seakayaking …

             … Go where the wind blows! Go to Belize! … Windsurfing in the Belize waters is like going to windsurfing Heaven... From the warm tropical trade winds that blow consistently every day, to the warm pale blue waters, you have found paradise!... There are very few places on this Earth where you get the consistent conditions and a climate you just can't beat. Belize ranks as one of the best Caribbean windsurfing destinations...

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            … Oh, this is such a great experience to do windsurfing in dawns or in the sunset on a deep blue sea… The waters around Belize are great for windsurfing…   Whether you're a beginner, an expert or anywhere in between, you can find a suitable location for windsurfing in Belize!....

For many of the Belizean tourists, the best place for windsurfing is nearby The Lighthouse Reef Atoll… The water temperatures average a comfortable 75 to 84 degrees F and have trade winds blowing at 6 knots to 20 knots throughout the year, and best of all the waters are clear and aqua blue!

 

            You – or probably your kids – will adore kiteboarding here in Belize, especially because of the Belizean custom-made kiteboarding trips that are very flexible…With them, you’ll catch more wind!

            … The trip to The Lighthouse Reef Atoll is usually begins in Belize City….from its airport, you may fly to one of the nearby islands, as your base. From there you can go wherever it’s blowing stronger: between the Bacala Chico and the Half Moon Caye…

            What many of the tourists enjoy the most  when hanging out for kiteboarding,  is the time they spend with the kids… or waiting for the kids.... doing instead seakayaking, paddling around the island or out to the reef…  then accompanying  by great little bars with margheritas, tacos or fresh seafoods... Oh, indeed, Belize is Heaven on Earth...

           

            Belize protected coast, its Barrier Reef, three Atoll and numerous Cayes….making it the a great place to enjoy the latest water sports such as windsurfing, kiteboarding, jet skiing,  parasailing, and aqua biking

 

3_Do not forget.jpg                For most of the year, Belize has a robust east wind blowing, making it an ideal place for wind surfing. The constant trade winds, along with the variety of flat-water locations and challenging wave conditions, have made Belize one of the most popular spots on earth for windsurfers and kitesurfers…

            

 

 

 

 

 

 

               Kitesurf on flat water or wave spots! Learn new tricks or enjoy an unforgettable wave riding downwind trip! …  The Belizean Barrier Reef itself is a magic place for kiteboarders of any level: from beginners to advanced riders. Many different kiteboarding spots, warm but refreshing water with that very special and rear turquoise color and mostly side-onshore wind…

 

                Belize offers novice windsurfers and kitesurfers to take advantage of the gentler winds, abundance of rental equipment and instructors along the islands’ shore… A large number of avid wind-surfers have arranged their lives to spend several weeks or months here each year... But either an novice or an expert, you have a choice of any number of prime locations along the Barrier Reef Coast..

              Sea kayaks are available for daily rentals, especially on Caye Caulker.

 

 

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Some facts that you probably want to know prior to your trip to Belize

 

ü      The windy season is generally October through March, whereas the calmer months are generally July through September.

ü      Each winter month can offer many days with winds that are more than adequate to make for great windsurfing…

     

            … By the way, you may do what many are always doing before their windsurfing trips: 

ü      Search prior for a windsurf resort or accommodation in Belize...

ü      Hire windsurf equipment, book courses, instruction or lessons online...

ü      Learn to windsurf at the best windsurf centers and locations in the Caribbean…

 

            … And don’t forget.. Before you’ll get out for a windsurfing trip, check out the weather reports, check the wind forecast, and read reviews!  Chose wisely the spot that you like to explore….

 

 

 

 

 

 

sailing.wmf … Sailing…


            Sometimes, you may prefer a quiet, leisurely ride… than, you may take a sailboat to go snorkeling from Caye Caulker, or you may arrange an overnight sailing trip to the outer atolls, Turneffe Islands and Lighthouse Reef, or to other parts of Belize.

            … The aqua blue waters of Belize are truly a wonderful place to enjoy short or long sailing trips. Having over 170 miles of coastline and numerous cayes, make the experience even more worthwhile. 

 

 … However, if you want to sail, it’s easier for you to rent equipment from most dive operators or hotels.

ü      Be sure to have updated and detailed charts, a GPS, proper communications and a depth finder!

ü      All sailors must be aware of the fact that there are numerous shallows throughout the waters of Belize and care must always be taken! That’s why you don’t many sailboats with deep draft keels in the waters of Belize …

ü      Tours can be prearranged with local guides…

ü      Or, you may come with your own vessel… You can fuel up at any of the ports of entry... Belize City, San Pedro, Dangriga, Punta Gorda and Big Creek…. But be aware: fuel docks may not be accessible at all locations by keelboats having a deep draft.

 All vessels coming into the country must check in with the Belize Port Authority in Belize City.

 

 

Fisherman super.wmf… Fishing…

 

Before anything else, there were fishermen… There is a general agreement that Belize’s lush, pristine foliage and abundant wildlife add immeasurably to the total fishing experience… For decades, anglers have been coming to Belize seeking the excitement of jumping tarpon or seeking out the elusive permit, choosing their locale from the country’s mud flats, the rivers, or the deeper waters near the reef….

            Most fishing in Belize is catch-and-release, with a very few fish killed…. there is an increasing pressure to make this standard practice….

            When you are fishing in Belize, you may feel more like there you are on a mission… sometimes you may sit in the boat before dawn and back at your lodge only at sundown…. For many of the American passionate fishermen, the success as an angler is not measured by the number of fish brought to the boat, but by achieving a flawless cast or choosing the right lure

            The main excitement is to explore new territory… is to never knowing what may be next to attach itself to the end of you line… the thrill of hooking a 10-lb barracuda, a deep –bodied jack or a fantastic colored mutton snapper in only inches of water has to be experienced to be believed! …  

            … Is it said that last November, an American tourist caught here a 29-pound Permit… if you are a passionate angler, you know what this means… This fish is the ultimate fisherman's trophy!... The real thrill is when this large tarpon leap into the air, shaking its head violently, and, for a brief instant appear to hang in mid-air…  The Belizean countrymen dub the amazing action of the tarpon “the silver Michael Jordan”…. the tarpon keep up fighting for an hour… finally, the fisherman won… Let’s see if you can do better than he! …

 

 

Even the technique changed over the years, the passion for fishing remains the same!.. Bait fishing, once the most popular, has to some extent given way to fly fishing… a result of the fever that has taken hold of sport – fishers throughout the world… Fly fishers describe their technique as an art rather than a skill… they consider themselves to be conservationist as well as sportsmen.  They argue in favor of preserving both the fish and their natural habitats in order to ensure healthy populations in the future...

 

3_Do not forget.jpgPay attention!... A great number of the most exciting species to be taken from the shore or boats have racer sharp teeth, so it’s essential to attached lures or baits by means of a wire trace unless bite-offs are to became a way of life!

ü      The cheapest – and safest – way to search out the potential is by light tackle spinning!

ü      Arm yourself with plugs and spoons to investigate the beaches, the rocky points, the mangroves and the flats and reefs….

ü      Just make sure you bring your polarized sunglasses …they are an essential item of equipment for spotting fish in clear shallow water …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… There is great fishing year round. The cost for chartering fishing boats will vary, but it would usually be about U.S.$100 to U.S.$200 a day per person, which would usually include a meal, drinks, bait and tackle, trip to a reef and deep sea.

 

ü      Msn with fish.wmfThe inlets, estuaries and deltas to the rivers are known for their jacks, tarpon and snook.

ü      The lagoons and grass flats are popular fishing grounds for bonefish and barracuda.

ü      The coral reefs support snapper, jacks, grouper and barracuda.

ü      Deep sea fishing offers large game such as sailfish, bonito, pompano and marlin.

The coast of Belize near Belize City is a complex system of river mouths, creeks, lagoons, flats, small cayes, mangrove islands, and of course the Barrier Reef. The eco-system that exists here supports millions of crabs, shrimp, bait fish, and other aquatic life, which is why there is an abundance of game fish; Permit, Bonefish, Tarpon, Snook, Snappers, Jacks, Groupers, Cobia, and Barracudas, to name a few.

 

It is unusual to fish for very long without seeing signs of life… Fish will often be present almost always,  in the margin of the sea,  particularly at dawn and dusk…. The Reef boasts a extensive assortment of catches such as grouper, cobia, tarpon, barracuda, bonefish, triggerfish, rainbow runners, snapper, sailfish, marlin, mackerel, bonito, pompano, blue fin, and tuna.

 

ü      Most of the largest individuals of countrywide species swim in the Northern waterways: barracuda, rainbow runners, triggerfish, snappers, grouper, cobia, and tarpon frequent the waters of the barrier reef and its outer atolls.

ü      The deeper waters beyond the reef sport sailfish, marlin, wahoo, mackerel, bonito, pompano, blue fin, black fin, and albacore tuna.

According to the moon and the season, certain fish can be found in greater abundance at certain localities.

 

Spin fishing, fly fishing and trolling may be experienced throughout the year, and because of the abundance of game fish it promises to be an excellent sport.

ü      If you're looking for real excitement, check out big game fishing... Several hotels offer deep-sea fishing and the country has several tournaments annually.

ü      Just outside the Lighthouse Reef Atoll is some of the best deep sea game fishing in the Hemisphere.

 

 

Fisherman.wmf …Facts about fishing in Belize

ü      Tarpon, the silver king, is one of the most acrobatic fish sought by anglers. These fish along the coast of Belize range from 5 to over 200 pounds. The bigger Tarpon are mainly found in the months of March through July and September through November. Smaller Tarpon (5 to 60 lbs) are found year round.

ü      Bonefish within this ecosystem vary from 2 to 8 pounds, with the majority being 4 to 6 pounds. Bone fishing is year round. Bonefish are considered one of the most powerful fish, per pound for its size.

ü      The Belize coast is world known for its Permit fishing and Permit along the coast range from 5 to over 30 pounds.  These fish known as “the ghost of the flats” have been described as 10 times more elusive than bonefish… The best time to fish for Permit is October through July.

ü      The explosive Snook, saltwater's bass, can be found in sizes of 5 to 25 pounds.  Dubbed the “steak of the sea”, snook used to be standard fare at some fishing lodges, but these days more and more are being released as environmental awareness grows. There has been a marked decrease in the average size of snook, from the record of 47-lb over a decade ago to between 6 and 8-lb.  These fish are mainly caught February through November.

ü      Snappers, Jacks, Groupers, Cobia, Barracuda and a large variety of other saltwater game fish can be caught year round along the coast of Belize City. The months noted above are typically higher concentrations of those particular fish.

 

3_Do not forget.jpgBut where is the most reliable way to fish in Belize?… From  many of the fisherman’s experience, rather than simply chartering a boat, is better to go fishing through an established lodge or fishing resort that uses qualified guides… You may use the following lodges specialized in saltwater fishing: the Ambergris Caye lodges; the Turneffe atoll lodges; the South Water Caye and Glovers Reef lodges….

           

            But, if you decide that you want individual guide services, you may go to Ambergris Caye, Corozal, Caye Caulker, Placencia and Punta Gorda… As a private angler, you’ll have the option to book a fully equipped boat any time of the year. Prices vary depending on the type of fishing, size of the boat, number of anglers aboard, time of year and port of exit/final destination.

            … At Bacalar Chico experienced guides may offer you bait fishing in the deeper waters and trolling in the shallower reef protected seas for a full day excursion (half-day excursion is also available).

 

            However, if you want to fish both in river and in coastal waters, you may choose fishing resorts within Belize City, Corozal, Punta Gorda and Dangriga…

 

 

Much of Belize's marine system, from North to South, is protected, with many areas designated as World Heritage Sites. These areas and their inhabitants cannot be destroyed or harmed in any way and are protected by UN funding and regular monitoring.

 Most guides enforce catch and release fishing and stress low-impact fishing practices in all areas.

Check with your guide to see if the area you are fishing in has particular guidelines or restrictions that may apply to you.

 

 

 

River tour1.jpg… River Tours…

 … During the last couple of years, many of the American tourists have had some marvelous river tour experiences within The Belize District…

 … Your first river tour it can be on the Manatee River… Oh, it is so heavily overhung with forested growth!... However, the clear cool waters of the river at the sand beach areas are perfect for a swim...  pass huge stands of giant bamboo… beneath the forest canopy you may observe the signs of many of the inhabitants of the tropical forest: the footprints of tapirs, coati mundi, gibnuts, and other creatures.  Along the river, you may be fascinated by the sound and seeing of many bird species….

 

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… A wide deep channel, The Manatee River connects the Northeast corner of the Southern Lagoon to the Caribbean Sea and it’s the ideal place to find game fish such as tarpon and snook.

          But pay attention! Sometimes here are a few crocodiles basking in the sun on the muddy banks of the mangroves in Southern Belize!

 

On your second trip, you may take a boat through the mangrove cathedrals of Haulover Creek, the Burdon Canal Nature Reserve, you’ll pass the Sibun River and the wildness of Northern and Southern Lagoons….  You may see the wild and wonderful scenery within Cox Lagoon, with its constant flow of wildlife that includes the jabiru stork, manatees, turtles and crocodiles…

On the  Sibun and Manatee Rivers (the lower reaches of Belize river) you may observe hundreds of turtle nesting… within a realm of mangrove and sand-bars…

The Sibun is one of Belize's major river systems and, along with the Caves Branch River and Dry Creek, drains a large portion of the Northeastern section of the Maya Mountains.

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ü      Though the river travels a little over 50 miles from source to mouth, the many twists and turns translates into over 100 miles of actual river.

ü      The Sibun ends its journey to the sea just south of Belize City.

ü      The mouth of the Sibun is heavily mined for sand and dominated by mangroves… Local sailboats called "sand lighters" set out each day from Belize City for the short ride to the mouth of the river. Then anchoring the larger boats offshore, the men take smaller boats called "dories" to shore and fill the dories with sand. The dories return to the larger sailboats again and again unloading the sand. Finally as evening draws near, the sand lighters set sail for Belize City, unloading their cargo on the front streets of the city where anyone needing sand can purchase it.

ü      This is one of the largest nesting grounds for loggerhead, hawksbill, and green turtles in the Caribbean. The turtle nesting- hatching time starts in May and continues through October.

 

Your third trip it may be on Belize River Delta Probably, it will be the best place to explore the mangroves habitat so close to Belize City…  Between the red mangroves (who seemed to form a cathedral like tunnel), you may easily se  Black Hawk, herons, White Ibis, egrets, Kingfishers… and also some gorgeous butterflys…. You may recognize several species of butterflies, one butterfly in particular, because of its brown wings that have a large orange dot:  the Mangrove Skipper… Or, you may spot a blue land crab peeking out from mudholes along the banks… later on, you may observe some fiddler crabs scampered at the first hint of movement or shadows…

 

A boat trip through the back swamps of the Belize River Delta it’s the best place to explore the Magnificent Frigate Birds fly overhead … Turkey vultures and  Pelicans…

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To arrive at the destination – the Belize River Delta – you have to navigate the arrow-straight Burdon Canal, built in the 1920s as an inland waterway for cargo traveling to and from the South.

 

 

Another river trip… you may go on the Southern Lagoon, through savanna grasslands …  you’ll pass along the two most important “bird sanctuaries”: two  islands  used by nesting Ibis, Herons, Egrets, Pigeons and others. Within a small winding creek leaded into the Southern Lagoon you’ll have the chance to spot manatees! This is one of the prime spots in the whole country for seeing manatee! … You have to stop and to walk a few feet inland… You may see a multitude of wildlife tracks, from wildcats to small mammals like gibnut and agouti.

 

The Southern Lagoon is fed fresh waters from the west by the Manatee River, Soldiers Creek and Cornhouse Creek.

Salt waters flow in from the Caribbean Sea by way of the Bar River to the east of the Lagoon.

The Manatee River and Soldiers Creek are navigable by canoe and over a view of overhanging jungle, giant bamboo and numerous tropical hardwoods.

Canoeing and Kayaking, Rafting and Tubing…

If you are a canoeing fan… this is about being a witness to the wonders of nature...  this is the greatest way to see the country... Canoeing through the lush rivers, you’ll spot the ever-changing flora: plants, trees, blossoms and vines thrive along the riverbanks... you may be able to spot shy animals who can be seen living within their own private microcosms, including small underground burrows, sandy river beds and leafy branches of tall hardwood trees…. Through this unique form of sightseeing, the natural marvels of life you’ll experience amazing momentous!

Sometimes it is so quiet that you can hear a fish jump for a hovering mosquito… other times you can hear  the dramatic roar of a small howler monkey announcing its territory...

  Keep your eyes and ears open throughout your journey as you will not want to miss a thing!

 

 

 

Belize has 20 major river systems and smaller streams which provide great experiences for the adventurers that want to explore these natural waterways by canoe or kayak. It’s an excellent way to enjoy bird watching, the flora and fauna and do some fishing.  

The following is a list of rivers within the country:

ü       Belize River

ü       New River

ü       Macal River

ü       Mopan River

ü       Sibun River

ü       Caves Branch River

ü       Monkey River

ü       Cockscomb River Basin

ü       Moho River

Belize hosts the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge annually in March.

ü      The four day race follows the same route the Mayans followed from San Ignacio to Belize City and attracts many Belizeans as well as visitors from all parts of the world.

ü      The canoe race competition is open to of all ages and skill levels.

ü      It’s a great experience to watch from the banks of the Belize River and provides great photo opportunities.  

If you are a passionate of rafting, you may spend some of the most exciting and challenging rafting trips, of course while enjoying a spectacular view, while you drive through the lush forest and then raft through a 20-mile stretch of the Macal River, within the Cayo District.… You will pass through maze-like channels, drop pools and big waterfalls in class IV whitewater as you’ll travel the small, steep area…. Many of the rafting passionate had chills running down my spine

 On your journey, you will encounter striking wildlife: tapirs, iguanas and river otters, to name a few.

 

 

 

 Cannoeing.wmfSlickrock is the only outfitter in the country running such adventurous trips.

 Be sure to contact them ahead of time as these trips are not run year-round because the water level drops during certain months!

You may travel not only along the Macal River: you may do canoeing on the Mopan River, the Sibun River and the Belize River…what an exciting excursions…

The Macal River has one of the most diverse habitats in the Central America area and Chiquibul rainforest… One great stop along the river is the Rainforest Medicine Trail, where you may learn about the medicinal properties of the vegetation of the surrounding areas of my property…

 

The Macal River of the Cayo District goes through the Mountain Pine Ridge….

The river houses many endangered species such as tapirs, jaguars and numerous birds.

At certain points the river is fast and deep enough to be considered Class III through V for whitewater rafting.

Researchers Howard Hunt and Jim Tamarack have recorded 124 species of birds, 23 species of mammals and 14 species of reptiles.

ü      Jabiru storks - the largest flying birds in the Americas - wade in the marsh;

ü      Black howler monkeys roar from the tress;

ü      Baird's tapir graze in the lagoon.

ü      Routinely jaguars leave tracks on the road and call from the nearby forests.

ü      And there are crocodiles! At nights, point a light at them and their eyes fire up the dark. During dry season when fish concentrate, it is common to see them.

This is one of the best natural wildlife viewing areas in Belize.

Pay attention to the guide advices! … Water depth in Cox Lagoon itself varies as much as eight feet between dry and wet seasons.

 

 … If you like, you may paddle the waterways of northern Belize… this is one of the most relaxing activities you  may do while in Belize…. At your own leisurely pace, you’ll traverse the isolated lagoons, rivers and canals, while soaking in the sun and stumbling upon wildlife…

 Belize silently persuades you never to leave!

You’ll paddle the emerald green hue of the water of Laguna Verde, a small spring-fed lake, near Chan Chich… Its  sprawls over a large expanse about the size of a football field… The wail of howler monkeys and the bird songs  greets you as you are approaching Laguna Verde… When you’ll get tired, you will find two islands in the center of the lake that support thick foliage and assorted wildlife and make perfect pit stops.

 

A small boathouse along the shore has canoes, oars, and life jackets for rent.

 The fifteen-minute ride to Laguna Verde from Chan Chich passes through fields of sugar cane and a dense tropical forest.

Cannoeing.wmf

 

 

 

… If you like, you may paddle the waterways, the creek meanders through thick stands of reeds along the banks of Dawson Creek and the New River Lagoon… Your canoe carves a path through the dense carpet of water lilies on both sides of the creek and lagoon… suddenly it will startle the fish feeding on the insects resting on the water’s surface…. From that moment, as they thrash amongst the foliage, river wildlife and birds will announce their presence…

Visitors can access the waterway along the banks of the New River Lagoon.

The entrance to the narrow creek sits only 150 yards from Lamanai Outpost Lodge.

Cannoeing.wmf

 

 

            … The last – but definitely not the least – another trip … Traveling on your canoe, you may explore Fish Creek in Blue Creek Village, a lowland tropical creek, a bird paradise… After only an hour, you may record as many as twenty-five different species of birds….

            Other than dodging the odd fallen tree, the steady current in the creek  will makeyour  paddling an easy  job… Your two-hour journey that will begin in a large drain, will enter Fish Creek, and will wind through the Rio Bravo, can end with a swim in the green waters surrounding Blue Creek Village… Such a heavenly moment!

 

Cannoeing.wmfWithin Fish Creek in Blue Creek Village you may see: the great blue heron, anhinga, green heron, bromeliad flycatcher, red winged blackbird, night heron, pigeon, cormorant, reddish egret, kingfisher, tiger heron, agaumi heron, pygmy kingfisher, boat billed heron, social flycatcher, amazon kingfisher, and fruit bat…

 

 

 

 

            … How about the Sea kayaking? Is this your passion? If yes, you may start doing sea kayaking along Belize’s coast owing to its relatively calm, reef-protected sea…

 

Swimming.wmf… Swimming and sunbathing…

 

… If you don’t like sunbathing, it’s ok…. Probably your wife adores it … so, while she is resting, usually on the piers on Caye Caulker….you can have time only for yourself… for some swimming or snorkeling…

            Try swimming at the south end of the Caye! Many of us go there anytime we can…. in addition to swimming, snorkeling among the mangrove roots is a rewarding experience! There are so many colorful anemones, sponges, gorgonians, and large numbers of fish among the mangrove roots that you will believe you’re dreaming…

 

If you are going to do some swimming and snorkeling, don't forget your mask and snorkel!

If you are going to go for sunbathing, then remember that the tropical sun is very strong… you’ll need some sunscreen lotions…

And first, be sure to obtain permission from the owner of the pier!

 MAN AND MOUNTAIN.wmf … Hiking and relaxing…

            …Seen from satellite photographs, the Cockscomb Basin looks like a huge meteor crater blasted from the center of the Maya Mountains…. From closer to Earth, it is a lush mountain basin, full of pristine tropical forest and riddled through with jungle streams…. This is the place you may enjoy hiking, usually early in the morning… either for a short walk of less than an hour, or for a long hike of several days…

            … To get a wholesome view of the entire Cockscomb basin you may follow the muscle – building Ben’s Bluff Trail, a 2½ - mile hike to the top of the forested ridge… Cockscomb’s network of well-marked and maintained trails is offering you the chance of spotting some of the sanctuary’s wildlife, whilst taking in its scenic beauties, such as delicate waterfalls spraying the pristine jungle….

            … If you prefer a longer hike….your longest hike in Belize may be the demanding three-to-four day hike to Victoria Peak, the mountain with the best trails in Belize… Take care, though…. this hike is not for the faint-hearted… Most of the tourists did it in four days… it could be done in three days, but probably you’ll want to choose the comfortable way of allowing you one and a half day to reach the base of the peak and another half a day to get to the top…  The terrain is up and down some quite steep hills, through hot and humid jungle, and wading through numerous creeks….the final ascent is a steep climb on all fours, hauling yourself up by clutching onto trees. … Your reward at the top will be the great view of the whole sanctuary and the surrounding, undisturbed forest.

 

Hikers must register with the Belize Audubon Society.

For short walks, you may use the self-guiding maps which are available at the visitors’center….

Although the trails are well – marked, for longer walks is more suitable to hire a local guide! He will know what to do if you get in trouble…. they know how to build a temporary overnight shelters with a sleeping platform off the ground; they know jungle remedies in case of an accident…

 

 

 

ü      BOOTS.wmfPlentiful creek water en route is drinkable, but is wiser to filter it, using water-bottles with build-in filters, which are commercially available from specialist stockists. 

ü      Pack suitable footware and clothing: comfortable hiking boots, lightweight, fast-drying clothes are best as you’ll get wet a lot; tight – fitting shorts – like those worn by cyclists – have been recommended, as they also prevent chafing.

ü      Do not forget to bring insect repellent and a camera.

The best time to climb Victoria Peak is in the dry season, from January to May. 

If you are a huge fan of the campsite, it’s ok…  you can camp on Cockscomb Basin … But if you enjoy staying to a luxury resort…. From the Cockscomb Basin you may make a day-trip to the sanctuary from the nearby villages of Hopkins, Seine Bight, Placencia or even in Dangriga where you can find from cabañas to luxurious resorts…  

 

There are many hiking trails through Belize. Trails can be found in Wildlife Sanctuaries, National Parks and archeological sites throughout the country.

Some trails are through jungles of hardwood and soft tropical foliage, and some are through caves, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, villages and Mayan ruins. 

There are also knowledgeable and experienced guides to show you many of the areas.

Some of the popular places to hike include Mountain Pine Ridge, El Pilar, Blue Hole National Park, Five Blues Lake National Park and Caracol. 

  

HBR_best.wmf Ecological Nature Trails… Horseback riding….

 


           
For many of the newest residents of Belize – most of them North-Americans and British -  horseback riding is the answer to the transportation here, in Belize… of course, most of them have cars, but  they prefer to take a stroll through the wild… to explore… Belize is full of eco-trails where you can see nature thrive in pristine conditions.

 

            Every morning, you may saddle up on your small but strong horse, and you’ll start explore miles of magnificent trails having views of some of the most exotic and endangered species of flora and fauna in Belize…Definitely, horseback is a great way to see the country side… and you can rest while you are watching the view… it’s selfish, but the horse will do the job for you…

           

            On the other hand, sometimes, the terrain looks questionable, so, the horseback riding may be the solution if the area worth exploration… A sure-footed horse can easily traverse steep or muddy landscapes and give your hooves a much-needed rest.

 

Sa.wmfYou will regularly see horses around Belize. The horses in Belize are typically small, but strong.

 

 

ü      The Mennonites of Blue Creek offer a unique horseback experience;

ü      Rides to nearby Mayan ruins or more distant sites (e.g. Puntal de Cacao) can be arranged. Most rides last approximately two hours, but longer rides with a pack lunch are also available;

ü      The Chan Chich area has guided horseback rides that depart daily from the Gallon Jug stables. Trained horses lead visitors through the Gallon Jug farm area, forest roads and/or adjacent jungle trails.

Within the area there are many miles of magnificent trails having views of some of the most exotic flora in Belize. 

 

 camping- the best.wmf Camping…

Until now, you probably know a lot about the campsites in Belize, just reading our website… Following are another two great places for camping…

While stationed in the heart of the West Belize, you can camp on Clarissa Falls… is an alternative to more conventional lodging available in San Ignacio Town … 5 minutes from San Ignacio Town going further west on the way to Benque Viejo off the Western Highway is Clarissa Falls, a pleasant recreational spot … The complex has camping grounds. There are also lodging facilities consisting of several basic thatched-roof cabanas with modern bathroom facilities…. And last, but not the least, there is a restaurant where you can enjoy a refreshing drink or have some lunch under a thatched roof in an outdoor atmosphere surrounded by green fields and some wild life, mainly birds.

felinar.wmfGoing further down through the dirt road past Clarissa Falls you can enjoy some beautiful scenic views of the Mopan River.   An unusual suspension bridge gives pedestrians access to the small village located at the other side of the river…


Another accommodation area you may use to camp is within The Jaguar Preserve, in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary… Basic accommodations are available at the Preserve, including some cabins (some with solar powered energy), a dorm and conference facility for student groups, and a camping ground.

 

felinar.wmf … Consider staying at a campground or eco-tourism lodge!...

 

Belize is deeply committed to eco-tourism…. Belize has thousands of acres of beautiful protected areas, from rainforests to marine and wildlife preserves, and travelers looking to explore the natural side of Belize have plenty of options.

 

          Campgrounds may be a little harder to find than you might expect, but camping is widely allowed. Overall, camping is so widely accepted that some travelers even find places to camp in small towns in the countryside.

Much of the camping you'll find will be available for tent campers.

Some of the National Parks and preserve areas allow camping, as do many hotels. Here is a list of some campsites. Additionally some other hotels and lodges not listed will usually allow camping..

ü       Lagoon Campground, north of Corozal Town

ü       Caribbean Campground, in Corozal Town

ü       The Trek Stop, near San Ignacio, Cayo

ü       Jungle Drift Lodge, Bermudian Landing

ü       Cosmos, San Ignacio

ü       Chaa Creek, San Ignacio

ü       Mountain Equestrian Trails, Pine Ridge

ü       Clive's Campground, Placencia

 

Here are some park areas which allow camping. At some other parks, camping is permitted with prior permission.

ü       Cockscomb Preserve, Stann Creek

ü       Community Baboon Sanctuary

ü       Five Blues Lake, near Belmopan

ü       Bocatura Bank, on the Sittee River

ü       Douglas De Silva in the Pine Ridge

The Belize Eco-Tourism Association (BETA) is associated with the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) and encourages government programs that support environmentally-conscious tourism.

As a part of BTIA, BETA has the support and cooperation of the Ministry of Tourism and the Environment, the Belize Tourist Board, the Belize Audubon Society, the Belize Zoo, Center for Environmental Studies, and Programme for Belize.

 

j0401494.jpg… Caving….

… “Xibalba!”… “The place of fear!”, the entrance to the underworld… that’s how Maya people named the caves… They were particularly in awe of these underground caverns, the most extensive system in the whole of Central America… At many sites in Belize, you can see the cave-paintings, the pottery shards, the remains of fires and even occasionally sacrificial skeletons still wearing their jewelry and other finery…

 3_Do not forget.jpgBelize is a great location for caves because of its wet climate and plentiful limestone. The explanation of so many caves resides in the Belize geological structure: much of it is porous karst limestone which makes it ideal for the formation of underground caves and rivers

 

 

But for the Maya people existed another explanation: the saw the surface of the Earth on which they lived as being sandwiched between many other levels in which the souls of the dead spirits, and their gods lived. There were nine levels beneath the Earth, and caves gave a privileged if frightening access to this lower world….

Many caves have Mayan archeological importance, several of which are easy and safe to visit such as

ü      Chechem Ha Cave

ü      Rīo Frīo Cave

ü      St. Herman's Cave

ü      Barton Creek Cave and

ü      Actun Tunichil Muknal, all being in the Cayo District.

ü      The Caves Branch Jungle Lodge

ü      Cuevas Gemelas (Twin Caves)

The caves in Belize are registered archeological sites, which can be entered only with a licensed guide.  

Explore caves only with experienced tour guides that have explored the location you wish to visit!

Next.pngCaves Branch Jungle Lodge… (Cayo District)

           

            Definitely, you’ll have the privilege to visit some of the most important caves in Belize and, among them, the most impressive include the Caves Branch Jungle Lodge, located about 13 miles south of the capital Belmopan on the Hummingbird Highway.

 

            A piece of advice, though: This challenging attraction will also require some underground hiking!

 

            Here, you may take a guided tubing tour all day for about seven miles in and out of this underground river cave system….  You may float by stalagmites coming out of the water and stalactites coming down from above, and then passing a subterranean waterfall...

Next.png … The Barton Creek Cave….(Cayo District)

… Here, you may take a mile-long canoe ride along Barton Creek, an underwater cave system thought to be a used for Mayan burial purposes:  you’ll travel through a scenic Mennonite farm community to view large, multicolored cave formations and Mayan artifacts that contain pottery and skeletal remains.

Next.png  … The Rio Frio Cave(Mountain Pine Ridge) 

            This is one of the most accessible caves. Located less than a mile away from the Pine Forest headquarters in Augustine, and consists of nature trails directing you to many smaller caves, The Rio Frio Cave has the largest cave mouth with an amazing 65 foot gap… 

            There is a stream going through the cave that forms pools and waterfalls and beach area with gigantic boulders.

From the entrance to the exit is about a 1/4 mile. At the end the Cave there is another trail leading to another cave, Cuevas Gemelas, Laughing Jaw and a few other caves that are also in close proximity.

Do not forget your waterproof flashlight!

 Next.pngChe Chem Há Cave (Cayo District)

 You’ll probably be impressed by this cave, located in the Vaca Plateau not far from Benque Viejo del Carmen town. This cave was apparently used to store grain and as a religious center.

            Here you can see a large selection of pottery storage jars, intact pottery urns, and other vessels during Mayan period. 

 Next.pngSt. Herman’s Cave … 

Within boundaries of the Blue Hole National Park, St.Herman’s Cave is a sinkhole which continues underground for a quarter of mile… Here you can find stone steps cut by Mayans covered by concrete steps and a trail with markers in the cave … As you’ll climb over rocks and move through water you may see some incredible cave formations: ½ mile of stalactites and stalagmites. 

 

St. Herman’s Cave is part of the Caves Branch cave system and is about 500 meters from the Hummingbird Highway.

 St. Herman’s Cave was used by the Maya during the Classic Period. Many archeological artifacts have been discovered at the cave by the Department of Archaeology. From the entrance to the exit is approximately a 1/2 mile.

 Next.pngBlue Creek Cave… (Toledo District)

This cave system requires a swim upstream through a series of small falls. It is an extensive wet cave with high ceilings and a feeder flow gushing through a side wall most of the year.

 Next.png … Actun Tunichil Mukal Cave … (Cayo District) contains many skeletal remains.

 Next.png… Cebeda Cave…

 Located in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve is believed to be the largest cave in all of Central America. It spans 25 miles and much of the cavern remains unexplored.  You may visit this cave; You’ll drive about an hour from San Ignacio, then you’ll do a 45  minute hike  through the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve and streams.

Discovered in 1989, the Cebeda Cave it is one of the newer attractions with a variety of many Mayan artifacts.

 Though, if you want to see this cave, you must be in good physical condition… This is a challenging cave!

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Belize Real Estate Tourist LocationPLACES TO SEE…

 

 

 

 

The Ancient Maya…

 Imagine replacing the ocean of green rainforest with wide-open areas of farmland, roads and public plazas, with stone buildings plastered and painted white or in various colors… if you can, you’ll imagine a real Maya city…

 Contrary to earlier belief, Maya cities were not solitary ritual centers for peace-loving priests; they were lively centers of art, commerce and political power…. At their cultural apotheosis, the Maya cities would have looked very different from the skeletons one seen today…

In recent years, our knowledge about the Maya has increased dramatically. Great strides have been made in interpreting the stelae, other monuments and the written codices. New sites have been found and scientifically explored. 

In Belize, Maya population centers have been uncovered in the Northern Lagoons at Chac Balaam.  Here it is thought that as many as 10,000 ancient Maya lived, trading in salt and pottery with the inhabitants of other centers further North on the Yucatán coast.

           

 

mAYA BEST.wmfThe Classic Maya Society (200 BC to AD 900) developed through trade, religion and statecraft, and left its imprint in hieroglyphical texts and superb monumental architecture. Fine artwork in jade, stone and clay pottery depicted scenes from mythology, the supernatural, politics, science, and warfare and recorded events from everyday life. Etchings chronicled Maya kings’ births, coronations, marriages, conquests and deaths.  

Scientists are piecing together the spiritual and intellectual legacy left by a civilization that was ruled by living Gods from more than 50 city-states, such as Tikal, Copán, Palenque, Calakmul, and Caracol. 

If you are for the first time in the presence of the Mayan historical legacy – cities and artifacts – probably you’ll feel overwhelmed… Definitely, you feel a great pride in being an American, having a 250-year history which we all cherish and value the most…. But for a second, when you’ll visit Altun Há, you may have a  had a glimpse of having a 2500 years of history behind you... in that moment, as many of us felt, you too will feel the greatness of the Mayan people…. It is impossible not to have the utmost respect when you are in the presence of such a great nation as the Mayans…

So, before you may step where the Mayan lived, here is the unwritten story of their legacy…  Moreover, let your imagination transport you back in time as you sit atop a pyramid built thousands of years before you were born. 

The Mayan Ruins of Belize…

Belize has the highest concentration of Mayan Ruins in the World with over 900-plus sites scattered around the country…. Now, it is known to be the center of the great Mayan civilization!

Archaeologists estimate that 2,000,000 Mayans once lived in what is now Belize, which currently has a population of about 310,000.

ü      They built cities, palaces and pyramids with their own hands in the unwelcoming jungle.

ü      Their sacred colors are red, blue, yellow and green.

ü      The diverse species of tropical forests supplied the essentials. The rivers provided transportation and the limestone formations provided building blocks.

ü      Over a span of nearly 2,000 years, the Mayans developed a cosmology, an arithmetic system that included the concept of zero, a calendar system based on a comprehension of astronomy and a system of writing that included both hieroglyphics and phonetics.

 The Mayan civilizations were rediscovered by explorers in the 18th Century with more discoveries still to come by archaeologists today.

Archaeology…

 There are estimates of thousands of Maya Ruin Sites within the country. Only a small number have been found and fewer have been excavated.

Some of the most popular sites available for viewing are:

ü       Altun Ha and Yarborough Cemetary in the Belize District

ü       Lamanai and Nobul and Cuello in the Orange Walk District

ü       Santa Rita and Cerros in the Corozal District

ü       Xunantunich, El Pilar, Cahal Pech, Pacbitun and Caracol in the Cayo District

ü       Mayflower in the Stann Creek District

ü       Nim Li Punit, Uknenba and Lubaantun in the Toledo District

The Belize Museum holds artifacts that have been gathered throughout the country.

All ancient monuments, over 100 years old, are considered property of the state.

Possession, removal, destruction, buying or selling is considered illegal.

 

Belize Real Estate Tourist Location

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Altun Ha Mayan Archaeological Site…

In 1957, one of the most important rediscovery was made when a bulldozer clearing a track through the forest North of Belize City crashed into the Maya city of Altun Há. Scientific excavation of the site began in 1963, and was rewarded with the discovery of many artifacts, including the famous jade head of the sun God Kinich Ahau, now kept under strict security in vaults of the Belize Bank in Belmopan…

In 1963 a villager from an area about 30 miles north of Belize City that was known as Rockstone Pond was caught trying to sell a Mayan artifact he had found near his home.  In 1964, archeologist David Pendergast was asked to explore the site. 

Through 1970, the excavation uncovered the remains of a major Mayan city.  A stone reservoir from the Mayans survived in the area.  So, Pendergast called the site Altun Há. 

The literal Mayan translation is "Water of the Rock."  It's the closest thing in Mayan to "Rockstone Pond."

Located in the Belize District near Rockstone Pond Village, Altun Há is the most visited and most excavated Mayan site in Belize.  The entrance to Altun Ha is about one mile off Mile 32 of the Old Northern Highway. 

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 Altun Há was an important ceremonial center and trade center during the Classic Period and an essential trade center that linked the Caribbean and other Mayan centers. No one knows what the Mayans called this city. The site consists of two main plazas with 13 or so temples and residential structures.

          

Spanning a 25 square mile area roughly an hour from Belize City, Altun Ha is made up of two central plazas surrounded by towering temples that enclose the palm strewn land.The larger of the two plazas, Plaza A, is the site of a mysterious tomb discovered beneath one of the temples called Temple of the Green Tomb. Jade, jewelry, flints and skins are among the three hundred remnants that were unearthed here...

The largest of Altun Ha's temple-pyramids, the "Temple of the Masonry Altars", is 54 feet (16 m) high. It is thought to have been the focal point of the community's religious activities. A single stairway climbs the temple to an altar perched at the peak. Inside, several tombs were discovered that are believed to have kept the bodies of Altun Ha's high priests.

The site covers an area of about 5 miles (8 km) square. The central square mile of the site has remains of some 500 structures.

 

Probably the best know structure from Altun Ha is the Temple of the Sun God, Kinich Ahau…  It is also sometimes referred to as the "Temple of the Masonry Altars."

 

The carved jade head of Kinich Ahau, the Sun God was discovered in 1968 in a tomb under a giant central stair block leading to the main altar of Structure B4. The giant jade object was found on top of the right wrist of the person interred in the oldest of a series of seven royal tombs discovered in Structure B4, the Temple of the Masonry Altars. 

 

 At 15 cm high and weighing almost 10 pounds, the Jade Head is the largest jade piece to be discovered in the Mayan world.

 

It was the most spectacular discovery at Altun Há.  

 

The crypt also contained numerous other smaller jade objects, several pieces of pottery, numerous jaguar and cougar skins and clothes and other perishables.

 

In a ceremonial style typical of Altun Há, the entire burial site and the corpse was impregnated with red pigment.

 

 

            The Jade Head of Kinich Ahau was famous almost from the moment of its discovery.  It is a source of national pride in Belize and has become a national symbol.  It appears on the nation's currency. 

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  Belize Real Estate Tourist Location

 Belize Real Estate Tourist Location

Altun Há is not the easiest place to reach if you're traveling without a guide.

ü      Situated 55 miles north of Belize City, Altun Ha is accessible by bus but with some difficulty.

ü      A daily bus from Cinderella Plaza in Belize City passes the village of Lucky Strike, a two-mile  walk to Altun Ha, on the way to Maskall.

ü      A tour guide is recommended for this visit.

 Belize Real Estate Tourist Location

 Xunantunich

Pronounced Zoo-nan-two-nich and meaning "Lord of War and Fertility," Xunantunich is made up of six major plazas and more than 25 temples and palaces. Its core occupies about 1 square mile (2.6 km²).

The Xunantunich site is about 325 square yards, and is located near the western border (atop a ridge above the Mopan River, within sight of the Guatemala border) across from San Jose Succotz, about eight miles west of San Ignacio in the Cayo District.

To visit from San Ignacio take Benque Viejo Road to San Jose Succotz. From there, a hand-cranked ferry will take you across the Mopan River and then there is about a mile walk to the entrance.

The ruins are open daily from 8AM to 4PM.

One of its structures, the pyramid known as "El Castillo," is the second tallest structure in Belize, after the temple at Caracol, at some 130 feet (40 m) above the main plaza, and has panoramic views of the Cayo District and Guatemala.

 

Archeological excavations have revealed a number of fine stucco facades on some of the ancient temples of this site. Evidence of construction suggests the temple was built in three stages in the 600s AD, 700s AD, and 800s AD. The fine stucco or "frieze" are located on the final stage.

Most of the structures date from the Maya Classic Era, about 200 to 900.

The ancient name is currently unknown; its modern name means "Stone Woman" in the Maya language (Mopan and Yucatec combination name).The "Stone Woman" refers to the ghost of a woman claimed by several people to inhabit the site, beginning in 1892. She is dressed completely in white, and has fire-red glowing eyes. She generally appears in front of El Castillo; ascends up the stone stairs and disappears into a stone wall.

One of the best preserved ancient stelae is a large stela dated within the period 200 BC to 150 AD that depicts a Mayan figure facing left. The figure is striding and clothed only in armbands.

The artifact is housed in a small weatherproofed building for conservation purposes.

There is evidence that an earthquake damaged some structures while they were occupied; this earthquake may have been a reason for the site's abandonment.

 Belize Real Estate Tourist Location

Belize Real Estate Tourist Location

Lamanai…

The Submerged Crocodile” is the translation of this Mayan Center modern name, Lamanai.  Named for the endangered crocodile population, Lamanai's main structures and excavated artifacts exhibit many representations of the famed reptile.

Lamanai thrived for nearly three millennia and it is known for the longest continually occupied site in Mesoamerica

Lamanai is located on the New River in Orange Walk District.

The initial settlement of Lamanai occurred during the Early Preclassic. It was continuous occupied up to and through the colonization of the area. Some of Lamanai's ruins are one of the oldest in Belize dating back to 700 B.C.

ü      Looming over the west bank of the New River Lagoon, Lamanai is off the beaten track-perhaps the reason why it thrived for over 3000 years.

ü      The city of Lamanai began its regional supremacy around 1500 B.C. Extending from the formative years of the Mayan world to the preaching friars of Spanish colonists, Lamanai flourished and supported a vast community of farmers, merchants, and traders.

ü      During the Spanish conquest of Yucatán, the conquistadores established a Roman Catholic Church at Lamanai, but a native Maya revolt drove them away. The extant remains of the church are still standing today. 

With a population exceeding 35,000 at the height of the city's power, Lamanai's trading influence extended over the borders of present-day Guatamala, Honduras, Mexico, and Belize…

Even that the site has received more attention than other archaeological sites in the country, of the 700 buildings within the complex, less than five percent have been excavated and explored. Aside from the central pyramid, thick forest has consumed many of the limestone mounds that housed the thousands of Mayan inhabitants.  

Lamanai is also a botanical and wildlife reserve and showcases many native exotic birds and plants used for medicinal and commercial purposes.

ü      Most trees are labeled along the trails for easy identification.

ü      The Lodge that overlooks the New River Lagoon combines education, relaxation and exploration in a habitat rich in history and ecology.

           

This research center, a Belize non-profit organization has been active since 1992.

 It offers the largest inland body of fresh water in Belize, several endangered species, over 350 species of birds and over 700 Mayan structures making it a wonderful research and educational site for many scientific disciplines.

 

Belize Real Estate Tourist Location

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Visitors can arrange boat trips through local hotels, travel agents, or tour operators at a moment notice or as a pre-planned package. Although Lamanai is accessible by road, most visitors prefer to travel by boat along the New River and witness the same flora and fauna ancient Mayan traders observed on the way to the city.

Belize Real Estate Tourist Location

 Caracol…

"The supremacy of Lord Water” in English or “The snail” in Spanish, or Caracol: an ancient city that had much importance and was large, advanced and hidden from the world by rain forest.

The Caracol Archaeological Reserve, includes the Mayan ruin of Caracol, the largest Mayan site in the country

Caracol is located in Western Belize, in the Chiquibul Rain Forest and is surrounded by rich flora and fauna.

Near the border with Guatemala and within the Belizean part of the Peten rainforest, the ruins of Caracol are located in the Vaca Plateau of the Cayo District.

Next to the ruins is Caracol Camp, located at about Mile 46 of the Chiquibul Road.

The city was an important player in the Classic period political struggles of the southern Maya lowlands: while allied with Calakmul (Campeche, Mexico), Caracol is known for defeating and subjugating Tikal. 

Re-found in 1938, The Caracol Archaeological Reserve includes:

ü      the largest pyramid in Caracol, "Canaa" meaning Sky Place ; with its 143 feet high, Canaa is the tallest man-made structure in Belize.

ü      Several pyramids,

ü      Three plazas,

ü      An Astronomical Observatory and

ü      Many smaller buildings.

Today, Caracol encompasses 30 square miles of high canopy tropical rain forest, which is populated by various species of birds, cats and howler monkeys.

In addition, the excavation and reconstruction is ongoing and there is a new visitor's center with photographs and diagrams of the site, as well as artifacts and a ceremonial altar.

          

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Belize Real Estate Tourist Location

 

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 Cahal Pech…

"Place of the Ticks" or Cahal Pech was a palacio home for an elite Maya family…

 Today, this Mayan ceremonial site sits on a hill overlooking the town of San Ignacio in the Cayo District of Belize. … On two acres there are 34 structures with temples and two separate ball courts.

The site was populated until 800 AD… The site was though most major construction dates to the Classic period; evidence of continuous habitation has been dated to as far back as far as 900 BC during the Early Middle Formative period (Early Middle Preclassic), making Cahal Pech one of the oldest recognizably Maya sites in Western Belize.

The name  Cahal Pech  or "Place of the Ticks" it was given because it was used as a cow pasture in the 1950's. 

Today, Cahal Pech is an  archaeological park… the artifacts from various ongoing excavations. are kept into a small museum…  

From San Ignacio, it is about a 20 minute walk to the site, which is just off Buena Vista Road.

Cahal Pech is open daily from 9AM to 4:30PM with a caretaker to answer questions and give tours. A tour takes approximately 45 to 60 minutes.

There is also a visitor's center with artifacts and a model of the site, which is open from Monday through Saturday.

 

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 El Pilar…

With over 25 plazas and covering around 50 hectares. El Pilar is the largest site in the area.

 It is a Mayan ruin site with several buildings 50 to 70 feet high, with a central plaza having temples, palaces, housing, water reservoirs and ball courts.

Little archaeological work has been undertaken, but there is a series of trails allowing access to the site. Many buildings are in the beginning of excavation.

The site has five trails which display its architecture, three archaeological trails and two natural trails. 

El Pilar is located seven miles past the Bullet Tree Falls. The ruins of this ancient Maya city in Belize are located in the Cayo District straddling the Belize-Guatemala border, 12 miles (19 km) north-west of the town of San Ignacio.

To visit the site from San Ignacio, take the Bullet Tree Road, cross the Mopan River bridge in Bullet Tree, an you will then see signs for the picturesque El Pilar Road.

In 1997 El Pilar was listed on World Monument Fund's 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World. It is managed as an Archaeological Reserve for Maya Flora and Fauna.
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Actun Tunichil Muknal…

Actun Tunichil Muknal is notable for its skeletons, ceramics, and stoneware.

There are several skeletons in the Main Chamber of the Actun Tunichil Muknal. "The Crystal Maiden" is the most famous of the human remains: it is the skeleton of a teenaged girl, probably a sacrifice victim, the bones of which have been completely covered by the natural processes of the cave, leaving them with a sparkling appearance.

The ceramics at Actun Tunichil Muknal are significant partially because they are marked with "kill holes", which indicates they were used for ceremonial purposes.

The Actun Tunichil Muknal cave is also an important tourist site.

Discovered in 1989, Actun Tunichil Muknal is one of the newer attractions with a variety of many Mayan artifacts. 

It is about an hour drive from San Ignacio, and then a 45 minute hike through the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve and streams.

ü      Its hallenging cave requires that you are in good physical condition.

ü      Take with guided tours.  

 

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Chechem Ha…

This site was used by the Maya to store grain and as a religious center for performing ritualized ceremonies.

The site is located at the Mile 8 turnoff on Hydro Dam Road out of Benque Viejo. Drive into the Vaca Plateau area and then there is a 20-minute hike up the mountainside to the entrance.

The cave has several levels with many artifacts, such as painted pottery.

ü      We  can hike about 25 minutes to the Macal River to find Vaca Falls or we can swim at Chechem Hah Falls, which is only about a five minute walk from the site's entrance.

mAYA BEST.wmfChau Hiix…           

Today, the much smaller site at Chau Hiix is under excavation by a team from the University of Indiana.

ü      Located 2 miles from Crooked Tree Village, the site includes a number of burial mounds and structures.

ü      An observation tower gives you the opportunity to get a bird's eye view of the whole site

 Guides at Crooked Tree Village are available to walk us through the site at Crooked Tree Village.

   

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Cerros

Initially served as an important jade and obsidian trading center (during its heyday from 400 B.C. to 100 A.D.),  Cerros suffered in early decline sometime after 250 A.D and it was possibly abandoned due to the economic growth of the inland cities.

Today, Cerros covers fifty-three hillside acres beside the Bay of Chetumal (although now partially underwater).

Accompanied by two ball courts and a pyramid cluster within a central plaza, the main temple rises sixty-four feet above ground level.

ü      Stuccoes and painted masks still visible through years of erosion show representations of the sun and Venus.

ü      An ancient canal system utilized for terraced agriculture encircles the site.

 

 

Cerros is a waterfront destination; therefore, it is best accessed by boat via the New River.

ü      A pedestrian and auto ferry carries visitors across the river for free between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. every day.

ü      3_Do not forget.jpgTo access the ferry, take the Northern Highway fifty-five miles from Corozal Town to Orange Walk Town. The ferry landing sits two and a half miles inland.

ü      From the ferry, cars and visitors disembark five and a half miles to Progresso Village and Cerros.

ü      Without a car, guests can hitch a ride from here on a bus from Orange Walk to Progresso and Cerros.

ü      A faster, though more expensive route, is by boat from Corozal Town.

ü      By boat, the trip will take fifteen minutes.

 

 

 

 

mAYA BEST.wmf… Lubaantun…

            Sometimes spelled Lubaantún, Lubaantun is a Pre-Columbian ruined city of the Maya civilization who’s distinguishing feature is the large collection of miniature ceramic objects found on site. These detailed constructs are thought to have been charmstones or ritual accompanying acoutrements.

 

 

3_Do not forget.jpgLubaantun is located in Belize's Toledo District, about 26 miles northwest of Punta Gorda.

 

The city dates from the Maya Classic era, flourishing from the 730s to the 890s AD, and seems to have been completely abandoned soon after.

"Lubaantun" is a modern Maya name meaning "Place of Fallen Stones"; The ancient name of the site is currently unknown.

 

The architecture is somewhat unusual from typical Classical central lowlands Maya sites.

ü      Lubaantun's structures are mostly built of large stone blocks laid with no mortar

ü      Several structures have distinctive "in-and-out masonry"; each tier is built with a batter, every second course projecting slightly beyond the course below it.

ü      Corners of the step-pyramids are usually rounded, and lack stone structures atop the pyramids; presumably some had structures of perishable materials in ancient times.

 

 

            The centre of the site is on a large artificially raised platform between two small rivers; it has often been noted that the situation is well suited to military defense.



 

mAYA BEST.wmf … Nim Li Punit…

 

Nim Li Punit is sometimes known as Big Hat or Top Hat … the name is Kekchi Maya language for "Big Hat", referring to the large elaborate head-dress on a stela sculpture found on site depicting one of the site's ancient kings.

 

Located 40 kilometres North of the town of Punta Gorda,Nim Li Punit is a Maya Classic Period site,  medium sized, in the Toledo District of Belize.

ü      Nim Li Punit consists of structures around three plazas, including several step-pyramids, the tallest being 12.2 meters high.

ü      The site has a number of carved stelae illustrating the ancient city's rulers. Several stelae are in an unfinished state, suggesting a sudden halt to work.

The site is near Belize's Southern Highway and is open to visitors subject to an admission charge.

 

mAYA BEST.wmf … Another important center that has yielded its secrets is La Milpa, which is thought to have rivaled the famous city of Tikal in Northern Guatemala during the Classic Period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belize from top to bottom … You better Belize it!

Squeezed in between its larger Central American neighbors, tiny Belize is bursting with cultural and natural wonders… It’s a different world…

 

           

… Most plans of buying property in Belize start from a vacation spent in this magnificent – both pristine and heavenly peaceful – country, years ago… Since then, many tourists who discovered Belize… now are living in Belize … Here is their story…

 

            Daily, we read about our world in our newspapers, and we see it on CNN or other TV newscasts… financial crises, unemployment, out-of –control health care costs, airplane crashes, murders… Politics, wars…   But there is another part of the world...one you can't find out about by reading the paper, certainly not by watching TV… It’s Belize… It is a world of delightful opportunities... romantic discoveries... adventure… fun... pleasure... financial security and profits... a world less costly than you pay to live in now!

 

OK_CHECKED1.wmf"Sure enough, there you are lounging on your deck, a cocktail in hand, the quiet waters of Progresso Lagoon spread out before you… relaxing in your flower-filled yard where lavender bougainvillea tumbles over stucco walls, while the sweet perfume of nature fills the air at dusk… and wondering: where have you been until now? … You’re getting younger by the minute…”

... A gentle breeze, the Caribbean trade winds comes drifting in from the Lagoon, clean and refreshing, as your housekeeper brings you breakfast in bed… The sky is a rich azure blue … The sea is a deeper blue, sparkling with sunlight… For a moment, you’ll think you have died and gone to Heaven… But this Paradise is real. And affordable. In fact, it costs only half as much to live this dream lifestyle...

LEISURE.wmf

Paradise does exist... and is here, in Belize…. where just a little over $1000  a month will buy you a comfortable home in a beautiful setting, pay for your food and utilities …a gardener, a cook, or housekeeper… community dues...and even leave you with money left over for entertainment and travel! All for less per day then you would spend to fill up your car…or for two movie tickets…or a romantic dinner at  in a modern priced restaurant… You could retire in your own overseas paradise, while at the same time save thousands and thousands of dollars…

           

You can live better, for less, overseas… in Belize!  Belize is one of the best—and still largely undiscovered—retirement havens in the world… In this undiscovered, peaceful, charming country, we buy groceries for less than $300 a month…. You can do it, too…

 

            We offer you not only a piece of prime real estate, but a LIFESTYLE OF LEISURE within a Tropical Paradise in one of the world's few remaining profitable property markets...travel to an exotic, foreign lands... start your own successful online international business... or simply, enjoy life!

 

The most well-known T-shirt sold in Belize reads: OK_CHECKED1.wmf"Where in the Hell is Belize?" And on it's back: "If you are good and say your prayers when you die you will go to Belize."

Why wait until you die? Come to Belize now …you may live longer...and you may learn:

ü      How to live in a warm, sunny, tropical climate with unpolluted, clean, fresh air

ü      How to enjoy a healthy, outdoor lifestyle: year-round activities such as hiking, horseback riding, fishing, diving, boating, bird watching, caving, canoeing, kayaking, river rafting and tubing… outdoor barbeques.

ü      How to live as though you had several times the income and without touching your savings, in comfort and style on just a little over $1000  a month, including a nice home, groceries, utilities,  community dues, even entertainment and travel...

ü      How to enjoy a healthy and organic dietfresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and poultry – and how to cut your grocery bills up to 50%...

ü      Where you can find dinner for two at an excellent restaurant for $15, including wine… Where you can take a taxi across town for $3,0...get a sandwich and a soda for $4...

ü      … Or simply, learn how to really live….within less than two hours flight distance from U.S….

 

True, Belize is the most exotic but not the least expensive place to live in Caribbean; but overall, it’s an excellent value for a remarkable quality of life!

ü      For a better quality of life; to live happier, healthier, and with less stress!

ü      For spending more time with your family, and more luxuriously than you ever could at home, for a fraction of the cost!

ü      For absolutely great weather, where you never again have to shovel snow, scrape ice from your windows, or heat your house!

ü      To put yourself on the ground in a place that is about to boom, and in doing so, position yourself for the rewards to come!

ü      For reinventing yourself completely and for the adventure of it: make new friends, explore a new and fascinating world!...

8_Questions2_for mat mare.wmf  Probably, right now, you probably are thinking: Wow… I would like to live in Belize, but I don’t know anything about moving overseas, living outside the country. How do I buy a property, how do I build a house, and do all the things that I need to do to live abroad? … With the right guidance and advice, it isn’t that hard to do… It’s just a matter of taking the first, critical steps.  Just read the information on our website and you’ll know! And if you want to share your thoughts with us, call us anytime at 1-888-999-5114 or 1-561-859-2121 …. We’ll be here for you

 

Many North Americans and Europeans are looking to the future with anxiety, even fear. And with reason. But not in Belize….  Wouldn’t it be nice to know that while most Americans are feeling pinched, you can relax and breathe easy?

SEARCH_READ CAREFULLY.wmfBelize  is a place where you can have the quality of life you’ve come to expect and appreciate… you can luxuriate on a palm-lined beach… or relax in the comfort of your own flower-filled courtyard… or enjoy a country lifestyle in village where you can sample great  Belize cultural offerings… Because if you know where to look, you can make your dreams a reality for pennies on the dollar…. In this heaven of peace you’ll find  the comfort and security that’s likely to elude many folks here at home in the years to come…  you’ll  live with the good feeling that your  security isn’t dependent on an economic rally back home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Climate

 

j0382594.jpgShould you will decide to join many of the Americans who bought properties in Belize, you will enjoy great weather … Belize enjoys a subtropical climate, tempered by brisk prevailing trade winds from the Caribbean Sea.

           

            There is a misconception that the dry season is from October through May and rainy season June through September; however, this is incorrect.

 

Belize have four seasons wet, dry, wet, dry but not of equal length.

ü      The major dry season is from February through May.

ü      The rainy season brings small squalls from June into August.

ü      Then there is a short dry season called the mauger season that lasts two to six weeks.

ü      The rains from September through January are from two sources: tropical depressions and cold fronts.

 

            Although, you should know that this is a flexible division, and tropical rains can occur at any time of the year….

           

soare.wmfWhat is the climate in Belize?

 

            The climate in Belize is subtropical, tempered by trade winds. The average annual rainfall in Central to Northern Belize is approximately 60 inches. Southern Belize can experience over 200 inches of rainfall per year. The temperature in Belize ranges from 50°F in the mountains to 95°F in the western districts with a mean annual temperature of 79°F. Traditionally, November to January are the coolest months having an average of 75°F. May to September are the warmest months averaging 81°F.

 

 

 

 

ü      December and January are the coolest months, but the temperature rarely falls below 55°F (13°C) at night.

 

ü      Coastal temperatures can reach 96°F (36°C).

 

ü      The steamiest part of Belize tends to be on the flatlands around the capital, Belmopan.

ü      The mountainous area South of San Ignacio, while hot during the day, can actually be quite cool at night, getting down to around 50°F (12°C) in winter;

 

Average maximum temperatures are near 85 °F and the mean lows are in the low 70's. Summers are about 8 degrees warmer than winters.

           Meanwhile, during the day, the mean low temperature along the coast of Belize is moderated by the sea breezes.

ü      For example, minimum temperatures in the interior are about 5 degrees cooler than those at coastal locations.

ü      The mountainous regions are also cooler, exhibiting a fall in temperature of 10 °C per km (5°F/1000 ft.).

 

Humidity hovers around 80% throughout the year, although somewhat lower during the months of the dry season.

termometru.wmf

 

 

j0354676.gifWhen does it rain the most in Belize?

The rainy season is usually from June through October. The most pleasant months are December to May.

ü                                                                                                  The transition from dry to the rainy is very sharp.

ü                                                                                                  Mean annual rainfall across Belize ranges from 60 inches in the North to 200 inches in the South.

ü                                                                                                  Except for the Southern regions, the rainfall is variable from year to year.

 

j0432587.png… Weather Check in Belize….

ü                                                                                                              Regular weather reports are broadcast on LOVE FM 95.1 and other local radio stations.

ü                                                                                                              Many resorts and tour operators have a daily weather report on their websites, often with a current satellite image of the area.

ü                                                                                                              Otherwise, check the Belize Meteorology Department website: www.hydromet.gov.bz

ü                                                                                                              or www.wunderground.com for current or forecasting weather.

 

 

furtuna - palmieri cu ploaie.wmf… During the Hurricane Season…

            Tropical storms and hurricanes are not a frequent occurrence in Belize. The South and East coast of the United States have far more hurricane activity than Belize.

     

            Monitoring the weather can be important during the hurricane season, which officially begins on June 1st and runs through until the end of October.

ü                                                                                                              Should you wish to check the weather before you arrive, daily updates are available by e-mail at www.naturalight.com

ü                                                                                                              Also check the Weather Channel’s “Tropical Update” broadcast during the hurricane season. 

 

 

Places to see_Points of interest.png...Belize Topography...

 

ü      Most of the Northern half and much of the Southern third of the country, plus the entire coastal area and all the islands, are flat and low-lying.

ü      Large sections of the coastline have an elevation of less than 1 meter to a distance of several miles inland.

ü      In the North, topography of the land rises to a maximum of approximately 250 meters above sea level in the Western part of the country.

ü      The central part of the country is dominated by the Maya Mountain/Mountain Pine Ridge massif, rising to 1120 meters (3,688 ft) at its highest point..

 

Belize is best described as a low lying shelf protected by an 180 mile long coral barrier reef. Much of the Southern half of the country is over 3000 feet, forming the Maya Mountains.

Draped off the north and south flanks of the Maya Mountains lie rugged limestone territory, while further north the topography is dominated by flat limestone beds dotted with mounds of eroded soils. Most of these coastal and northern soils are derived from the erosion of the Maya Mountains.

 

Geologists have pieced together a theory of how the topography of Belize today was formed.

ü      The Maya Mountains consist mostly of dense and very old granite, quartz and shales. Some 60,000,000 years ago, the entire upland area was covered by sea and several hundred feet of limestone were deposited by the shells of billions of primeval crustaceans. As sea levels dropped, this mantle of limestone began to erode and streams cut deeply into the granite and shales. This continual process of erosion has formed the shape and lay of the land in Belize today.

 

In simple terms, Northern Belize is dominated to the west by a series of escarpments, cut by rivers which once originated from the ancient uplands of the Maya Mountains. East of these escarpments lie flat ancient limestone which gently sloped down into the Caribbean Sea and the Belize Barrier Reef.

j0432588.png…Humidity

ü      The mean annual humidity in Belize is only 83%, and because of the prevailing trade winds even high humidity days go unnoticed. And in the north, average humidity is a good deal lower than the national average.

ü      The overall climate of Belize is basically sub-tropical. Humidity is rarely oppressive for long, and even less so in the Northern regions of the country.

Ø      Northern Belize has a subtropical climate with an annual rainfall of 60 inches.

Ø      Southward, the climate becomes increasingly tropical and annual rainfall increases to 200 inches.

belize-annual-rainfall-chart.gif

 

The climate is characterized by a marked wet and dry season separated by a cool transitional period.

 

umbrela verde.wmfThe rainy season begins in the south in the middle of May and arrives in the north in mid June.

 

It continues through to November but most locations experience about a to day drier period in August.

Ø      Some 60% of annual precipitation occurs during this season, produced primarily by tropical systems.

 

The cool transition period occurs from November through February.

Ø      Rainfall declines and approximately 12 cold fronts cross the country during these months.

 

The true dry season is from February to April and is produced by strong anticyclones in the Atlantic that generate a persistent stable south-easterly airflow across the country.

ü      The dry season is from November to May with April as the driest month.

ü      The dry season can be subdivided into:

Ø      a cool transition from November to February, as a result of the incursion of frontal systems; and

Ø      a warm dry period from March to May when high pressure systems in the Atlantic produce stable and windy south easterlies.

 

 

 

furtuna - palmieri cu ploaie.wmfWinds and tropical storms

 

            … The prevailing easterly winds make Belize such a paradise! With an average speed of a gentle 10mph, these "trade winds" blow intermittently between February and September, reaching their greatest constancy during the month of July.

Ø      The basic patterns of the daily winds begin with light breezes during the early morning, gaining strength with onshore breezes during the afternoon and evening, before weakening late at night, sometimes switching to off-shore breezes before sunrise.

Next.png        … From October to January, northerly or northeasterly winds predominate. Called "Northers", these strong winds are a result of the southward extension of the North American cold fronts. These "Northers" can last a few days and bring overcast skies, strong northerly winds and cold, damp air into Belize.

            ... Tropical storms and hurricanes are not a frequent occurrence in Belize, even though Belize lies marginally within the hurricane belt. Historically, tropical storms and hurricanes have affected the country only once every three years.  

 

Next.png… In addition there are cold fronts that progress southeastward from the Continental USA into the Northwest Caribbean.

Ø      The effect of frontal activity on rainfall distribution and therefore climatic conditions begins in October and ends in April peaking through December and January.

Ø      A cold front moves across Belize about once every 10 days.

… Other features include upper level troughs and cold core lows to lesser degrees; these sometimes interact with surface low level troughs resulting in the enhancement of precipitation.

 

The last storm of any size to hit Belize was Iris in 2001. Before that it was Keith in 2000 and Greta in 1978.

 

j0439800.pngStorms in the western Caribbean tend to veer off north or south of Belize. The heart of the hurricane season in Belize is traditionally from late September to the  

                          end of October.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. History… before and after the European Contact

 

Belize’s sheer obscurity had been the country’s defining trait for centuries: fist settled by English and Scottish pirates in the 17th century, it soon became a secret haven for loggers and their African slaves who operated under the noses of the Spaniards. By the 19th century, British Honduras – the name Belize was only taken in 1973 – had become the ultimate backwater, an English – speaking outpost in Central America.

8_Questions1_format mare.wmfIn Belize city, you may buy a T-shirt – probably the best selling T-shirt – stating: “Where the Hell is Belize?”… Until the 17th century, almost no one – except the Mayans - knows where Belize was on the world’s map… except the pirates! Do you remember Captain Blackbeard?  "Shiver me timbers!" and all that, what could possibly be more lucrative, or more fun, than being a pirate?  

 

Bila alba_PROS.pngWell into the 17th century, when Spanish rule had been ruthlessly stamped on the rest of Central America , authorities were only barely conscious of the region that now goes by the name of Belize… Spanish explorers avoided its coral reefs, and few conquistadors or missionaries ventured South of the Yucatán. Those that did reported none of the cities of silver and gold that would excite a conqueror’s imagination. Nor were the local Maya inhabitants friendly…

… But the Maya of Belize got much better with a few motley Britons who turned up along the Bay of Campeche in search of logwood. The British were out simply to remove a few trees and make money, and showed not the slightest interest in taxing or converting anyone.

Next, the barely inhabited coastline of Belize began to attract another kind of British entrepreneur: the buccaneer. It was a perfect hideout for a Caribbean freebooting operation: once inside the Belizean reef, with its low water. treacherous coral heads and mud flats, they were safe.  One of these “Gentleman of the Coast” was Captain Peter Wallace, who, in 1634, sailed his ship – the Swallow – into the shallow harbor that would eventually become Belize City….

The “Who’s Who” of the 17 century villainy were all – at one time or other – involved in the trade within Belize: the legendary Blackbeard  (who spent a good deal of leisure time hiding out on Ambergris Caye), “Admiral” Benbow, William Dampier, Edward Low, and the list is long…

3_Do not forget.jpgBelize history before the European Contact… Maya spiritual and intellectual legacy

ü      The area now comprising Belize was originally inhabited by the Maya. The Maya civilization rose in the Yucatán Peninsula to the North, spreading to Belize between the 16th century BC and the 4th century AD. Today, scientists are piecing together the spiritual and intellectual legacy left by a civilization that was ruled by living gods from more than 50 states, such as: Tikal, Copán, Palenque, Calakmul, and Caracol.

ü      The Classic Maya society – 200 BC to AD 900 – developed through trade, religion and statecraft, and left its imprint in hieroglyphical texts and superb monumental architecture.

Bila alba_PROS.pngFine artwork in jade, stone and clay pottery depicted scenes from mythology, the supernatural, politics, science, and warfare and recorded events from everyday life.

Etchings chronicled Maya kings’ births, coronations, marriages, conquests and deaths.

 

ü      The Classic period sites flourished until about the 13th century, and suggest that the area had a much denser population in that period than it has had since. Post-Classic sites continued until contact with Europeans. Belize contains the archeological remains of cities such as Altun Ha, Caracol, Cahal Pech, Lamanai, Lubaantun, Nim Li Punit, Santa Rita, and Xunantunich.

Map of ancient Mayan regionsThe ancient Maya Civilization area spread over the entire Yucatan peninsula and as far south as northwestern Honduras, El Salvador and the northern portions of Nicaragua, all of Guatemala and Belize and portions of Chiapas and Tabasco in Mexico.

 

This huge area is generally divided into three sub-regions:

ü      the Southern Highlands extending from Chiapas through Guatemala El Salvador and into Nicaragua;

ü      the Central Lowlands encompassing northern Chiapas, the Department of Peten in Guatemala and much of Belize; and

ü      the Northern Lowlands represented by the flat, featureless shelf of the Yucatan Peninsula.

 

The chronology or cultural sequence of the Maya area is traditionally divided into six major periods: Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Preclassic, Classic and Postclassic. The Preclassic, Classic and Postclassic are further divided into four phases each. Northern Belize posses evidence of human habitation from all major periods of Maya cultural development.

 Basically, the Maya Civilization progressed from:

ü       Hunter/gathers

ü       Agricultural communities

ü       Chiefdoms

ü       Expansion of Trade

ü       Growth of major cities

ü       Wide spread Warfare

ü       Decline of cities

ü       Conquest

3_Do not forget.jpgBelize History after the European Contact….

            The early exploration and settlement of Belize can be pieced together from the journals and letters of Spanish explorers, though identifying landmarks and villages mentioned in these accounts is often difficult. Probably the first Europeans to see the Cockscomb Range in the Maya Mountains were the Spanish explorers Pinzón and De Solis in 1506 or 1508.

First European contact

ü      European contact began in 1502, when Christopher Columbus sailed along the coast of Belize but did not land on shore.

ü      In 1511, the first Europeans set foot on what is now Belize: a small crew of shipwrecked Spanish sailors, who landed in what is now northern Belize. The group's galleon had run aground on the Alacranes reef near Cabo Catoche. Twenty people were washed ashore, and most of those were immediately captured by the Mayas and later sacrificed or taken as slaves. One of the prisoners, Gonzalo Guerrero, later defected to the Mayas, and married into a noble Mayan family. Guerrero married the daughter of Nachankan, the chief of Chetumal, and assumed the Mayan way of life. He and his wife had three children, who were the first mestizos (mixed Amerindian-European ethnicity)

ü      Though tradition has it that European settlement began in 1638, there are no historical records of Europeans staying year-round in the area until the 1670s. These early "Baymen" were drawn by the large stands of logwood, a valuable tree whose sapwood was widely used in Europe to dye clothing. In the early 1700s, mahogany also became a valuable export. Over the next 150 years, more English settlements were established. This period also was marked by piracy, indiscriminate logging, and sporadic attacks by Indians and neighboring Spanish settlements.

The Arrival of the British

ü      The Spanish Empire granted the United Kingdom rights to establish logging camps in the area, but not to set up a colony on this land, which the Spanish Crown wished to maintain theoretical sovereignty over. While not an official British colony, British use and occupation of the area increased. In 1798, the United Kingdom and Spain went to war, and the Spanish Governor-General of Yucatán sent a fleet of 32 ships to seize the British settlements. From September 3 through September 10 a series of battles was fought around the islands and reefs off the Belizean coast, after which the Spanish forces withdrew. This is known as The Battle of St. George's Caye, and is celebrated as a national holiday each September 10.

Bila alba_PROS.pngWhat could possibly be more lucrative, or more fun, than being a pirate? Well how about logging the incredibly rich forests of Belize's interior, floating the logs down a big river and into the waiting hulls of European ships sitting in the pretty blue Caribbean… Fabrics needed dyes, respectable furniture demanded mahogany, and money was money. Still is.

 

But the Spanish and British weren't friends and couldn't agree on who needed the trees more, or who the whole place belonged to, and they weren't asking the Maya. So they battled and they feuded until on September 10th, 1798 a small group of former pirates, now called Baymen, and one British Schooner along with a sizable contingent of slaves and fishermen took on and put down an attacking armada of 32 Spanish ships.

The Spanish limped off to their hammocks on one of the nearby cayes, buried their dead, downed a couple of rum and coconut cocktails and hit the high seas for home with the bad news. The Baymen returned heroes, forever to be regaled in books, movies and websites just like this one.

 

And so began the land of the free by the Caribe Sea. Sort of.

 

The Creoles are so many mixtures of mixtures from which come a people whose ancestors are both slave and slave owner, oppressor and oppressed, white and black.

 

 

 

 

Examples of Buccaneer Ships

Buccaneer Ships

 

ü      The United Kingdom first sent an official representative to the area in the late 18th century but Belize was not formally termed the Colony of British Honduras until 1840. It became a Crown Colony in 1871.

 

ü      In second half of the 19th century, many refugees from the Caste War of Yucatán settled in the northern part of the colony.

 

ü      According to the 1904 census of British Honduras, the principle towns of the colony at the time had the following populations: Belize City: 9969; Stann Creek Town: 2459; Corozal Town: 1696; Orange Walk Town: 1244; Punta Gorda: 706; San Ignacio Cayo: 421; Monkey River: 384; and Mullins River: 243.

 

ü      In the 20th century, several constitutional changes were enacted to expand representative government. Full internal self-government under a ministerial system was granted in January 1964. The official name of the territory was changed from British Honduras to Belize in June 1973.

 

3_Do not forget.jpgBelize Independence … Independence finally came in 1981 with the promulgation of a new Constitution and Belize's induction into the Commonwealth as an independent state.

 

ü      The government of Guatemala long claimed that Belize was rightfully Guatemalan territory, supposedly inheriting rights to the land from the Spanish Crown. Fear of invasion by Guatemala long delayed the independence of Belize. Finally the United Kingdom agreed to defend Belize from invasion if necessary after independence; this agreement led to full official independence granted on September 21, 1981, under the leadership of long time Prime Minister and independence advocate George Price. Guatemala finally recognized Belize as a nation in 1991 and today peacefully coexists with its neighbor.

 

ü      Belize City was hit badly by a hurricane in 1931, and suffered more severe damage from Hurricane Hattie in 1961. This resulted in the creation of two new towns. The first was Hattieville, just inland from Belize City, which was originally intended as a temporary shelter for those made homeless by the hurricane, but which grew into a permanent town. The second was Belmopan, a community planned as the new capital of Belize, well inland and near the center of the country. The building of Belmopan began in 1962, and in 1971 the Belizean House of Representatives began meeting there. Although no longer the capital, Belize City remains the nation's largest city and main port. In the 1990s a new sea port was built at Big Creek, which soon became the second most important port after Belize City.

 

ü      Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bila alba_PROS.png History artifacts nearby/in the vicinity of our Development…

Map of Progresso lagoon and Mayan Settlements

ü      Progresso Lagoon and Mayan Settlements : The Maya created island and lagoon shore communities in rural jungle settings. Confronted with the opportunity to create their society anew with the collapse of mighty cities of the Classic period, Maya villagers in northern Belize discarded some of the fancier trappings of divine kingship like large monumental buildings and stelae that commemorated the deeds of boasting rulers. These Postclassic villagers reorganized a society focused on economic production and mercantile exchange that resulted in greater affluence for all its members.

 

ü      Temple at Lamanai:  Although the lowland populations where greatly reduced at the start of the Postclassic period, there were still Maya living in Belize during the first contact of the Spanish. The site of Lamanai, is among the few examined sites of this period that exhibits continuous occupation from the Classic through the Postclassic periods. Not only did the people of Lamanai continue to build and trade with their neighbors, but they also continued to live around the center until around 1675. The Spanish founded a mission at Lamanai in 1570 that was abandoned by the Spanish during a revolt of the Maya in the 1630s. The foundations of the old church are still intact.

 

ü      Old Spanish Church at Lamanai: Northern Belize was the focus of this social restructuring, beginning in the early 9th century A.D. throughout the subsequent Postclassical period (A.D. 1100 - 1500). During Colonial times, Belize was known as the "resistance frontier," an unconquered zone where rebel Maya successfully rejected Spanish dominance and retained their own beliefs and governance for almost 200 years.

 

Mural from Santa Rita Site in Corozal

 

 

 

9. Culture, language and festivals

msn cu inimioare.wmf.. Get acquainted

-         Mornin! ..“Good morning!”…Weh di go aan? "What is going on?"…

      If you are traveling to Belize, you will probably hear this greeting at your arrival in this pristine country….  They are the Belizeans…. Speaking English  with some Jamaican “flavor”… In fact, they are not only a Commonwealth member, but a Caribbean country, too…

j0437339.jpg

 

English is the official language of Belize and spoke throughout the country!

 

v     However, English Creole is spoken and remains a part of everyday conversations for some Belizeans.

v     Spanish is also common and is taught in primary and secondary schools in order to further develop bi-lingualism.

v      

English is the sole language of instruction in its school systems. Over 80% of the population is literate in English and as much as 90% of the population is able to speak some English.

 

 

Belizeans are informal and friendly in greeting one another

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s considered impolite to greet by first names

v     It is considered rude not to greet even a slight acquaintance, the clerk or receptionist when entering a place of business.

v     msn cu inimioare.wmfA simple nod of the head or saying “Hi!” is acceptable when passing someone on the street..

v     Acceptable greetings are handshakes, combinations of palms and fists touching thumbs locking and slaps on the back, or even a kiss on the cheek for someone to show great appreciation and trust.

v     Formal situations call for use of titles and surnames;

v     Children are expected to address their  elders with Miss/Mister and answer “Yes, ma’am” or “No, sir” when asked questions but not often do.

 

When a friend visits them, the Belizeans generally take care to make even unexpected guests feel at home. However, arranged visits are more commonly practiced; arriving without previous notice at a friend’s home may be seen as impolite or dangerous.

 

 

For most Belizeans, the presence of many different ethnic groups in the country is as much a national treasure as the barrier reef or Maya ruins.  Belize is not so much a melting pot of cultures as a salad where each element lends a certain flavor to the mix.

 

 

 

masca carnaval.wmfBelizean have long describe them as “a Caribbean nation in Central America”, for they have more in common with the distant islands of the Caribbean than their next – door neighbors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

msn cu inimioare.wmf... Etiquette code.... or How do the people of Belize dress?...

 

Casual Western attire is the general rule... Don’t forget, Belize's past as a colony of Britain, and its geographical proximity to the U.S.


Belize is in the Tropics, thus most folks use loose fitting clothes.

v     Blue jeans and slacks are as common, as shorts.

v     The Mexican Guayabera is popular and this dress shirt, in the long sleeve version, is even used in place of a suit for men.


Dress for men in the office workplace, especially air conditioned buildings, consists of slacks, long sleeved shirts and a tie - no jacket.

Women usually wear skirts, blouse and jacket in offices.

 

 

j0236514.gifOut on the Cayes, men and women tend to wear light colored shorts and T shirts. And because of the sand, many residents walk barefoot or use flip flops.

 

v     Some ethnic groups, for example the Maya, have their traditional dress. For women this is a long and colorful skirt.

v     There are several Mennonite communities in Belize and these groups favor very conservative dress. For men this is usually blue jeans or coveralls, suspenders and a white long sleeved-shirt. Women wear ankle length dress, long sleeves and bonnets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

msn cu inimioare.wmf… Culture and festivals…

 

            Cultural connections are still strong: Belizean youth look to Jamaica in particular as a source of musical inspiration, often sporting the colors of gold, green and red.

            Videos of the carnivals in Trinidad and Tobago also provide examples of costumes and music that Belizeans are beginning to adapt for their own September celebrations.

 

Many Americans and Europeans have relocated to the shores and forests of Belize eager to experience its cultural and ecological diversity.

The growing American and European presence within Belize in recent years reflects the emerging tourism industry within the nation.

v     Palm tree and man.wmf

A safe countryside coupled with a friendly English-speaking resident population makes Belize an attractive retreat for many foreigners.

 

 

v                 The culture of Belize is made up of a mixture of influences and people from Kriol, Maya, Garinagu (also known as Garifuna), Mestizo (a mixture of Spanish and Indian), Mennonites who are of German descent, with a blend of many other cultures from Chinese to Lebanese.

A unique blend emerged through the country's long and occasionally violent history.

 

v                 Courtesy is important to most Belizeans. It is not uncommon for Belizeans to greet each other on the street even if they have never seen each other before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

msn cu inimioare.wmf… Lesson of Belizean Demography…

 

ü      Today Belize's population is estimated to be at approximately 300,000. Males outnumber the female population only by 1%.

ü      Belize has a relatively young and growing population. Its birth rate is among the highest in the world, and there are indications that this trend will continue in the future.

ü      The 2000 census also estimated that around 70% of all Belizeans were bilingual or even trilingual.

j0436163.wmf

 

 

…Marriage and Family …

 

Belizean marriages are commonly celebrated with church weddings and colorful receptions featuring food, drink and dance.

 

*      Most Belizean families either own or rent some type of house, typically wooden or concrete, and built to withstand the natural elements.

 

wedding bands.wmfGetting married in Belize…

You have to be in the country for at least three days before you can apply for a marriage license, with one day notice.

 

You must have proof of citizenship such as a certified copy of a birth certificate, notarized, with father's name, proof of divorce, if necessary, certified copy or original of divorce certificate and a copy of the death certificate for widow or widower, if necessary.

 

You can be married by either a Justice of the Peace or Registrar General (Phone 501-227-7377) in Belize City

 

 

msn cu inimioare.wmf… Public and bank holidays…

 

j0341720.jpgStores, banks and government offices are closed in observance of the following holidays:
New Years Day - January 1
Baron Bliss Day- March 9
Good Friday
Holy Saturday
Easter Monday

Labour Day-May 1
Commonwealth Day- May 24
St. George's Caye Day- September 10
Independence Day- September 21
Columbus Day- October 12
Garifuna Settlement Day- November 19
Christmas Day- December 25
Boxing Day- December 26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

msn cu inimioare.wmf… Music in Belize…

… Is Brukdown, Garifuna, Belizean Punta rock, and, of course,  Modern music…

 

Brukdown…it is a very popular modern style of Belizean music. It evolved out of the music and dance of loggers, especially a form called buru.

 

 

Buru was often satirical in nature, and eventually grew more urban, accompanied by a donkey's jawbone, drums and a banjo.

 

j0438707.jpgThe word brukdown may come from broken down calypso, referring to the similarities between brukdown and Trinidadian calypso music; the presence of large numbers of Jamaicans in Belize also led to an influence from mento music.


In modern forms, new instruments have been added to brukdown.

ü      The "boom and chime groups" use bass guitar, electric guitar and congas, for example.

ü      Popular brukdown groups include The Tigers, The Mahogany Chips, Mimi Female Duet and Brad Pattico.

 
Garifuna music …Forms of Garifuna folk music and dance includes chumba and hunguhungu, a circular dance in a three beat rhythm, which is often combined with punta.

v     There are other songs typical to each gender, women having eremwu eu and abaimajani, rhythmic a cappella songs, and laremuna wadauman, men's work songs.

v     Other forms of dance music include matamuerte, gunchei, charikawi and sambai.

 

j0438707.jpgThe Garifuna are descended from escaped Nigerian slaves and Island Caribs who were deported from St. Vincent to Central America (especially Honduras and also Belize) in 1802) by the British when they conquered St. Vincent.

The Garifunas kept themselves apart from the social system then dominant, leading to a distinctive culture that developed throughout the 20th century.

 

 

 

Belizean Punta rock… Like calypso, and soca, Belizean punta was used for both social commentary and risqué humor, though the initial wave of punta acts eschewed the former. Lord Rhaburn and the Cross Culture Band were intergral in the acceptance of punta by Belizeans (namely Kriols) by actually doing calypso songs about punta such as "Gumagrugu Watah" and "Punta Rock Eena Babylon".

 

 

Belizean Punta is distinctive from traditional punta in that the language and concepts are more adapted to the general Belizean identity. Although most artist and bands are exclusively Garifuna, songs are usually in Kriol or Garifuna and rarely in Spanish, or English. While this style is unique, calypso and soca have had slight influences on it.

mmsn pls.chitara.wmf

 

 

 Modern music …Belize's musical base has expanded considerably in recent years with the addition of local reggae, hip-hop and jazz stars.

Belize counts among its local reggae stars Dan Marcus I and Dan Man; various hip-hop groups often open for more accomplished international stars at local concerts, and there has even been a jazz revival, with an annual jazz festival and at least three popular jazz music programs on local radio.

 

 

msn+ ipod.wmfThis surge in local music can be attributed in some ways to the international popularity of such television stations as BET and MTV, which present hip-hop as something to aspire to and admire.

 

In addition, there has been a concerted effort to promote local music among the Belizean population, who have almost never been trained to favor their own music above others.

 




 

 

 

msn cu inimioare.wmf… Overview of holidays, seasons, and other events for 2010…

 

January…

ü       Holidays: New Year's Day, January 1

ü       Historical: Self government, January 1

ü       Astronomical: Quadrantid meteor shower, January 3

 

j0437326.jpgNew Year's Day - January 1

Happy New Year's Day! The 19th Annual KREM Radio New Year's Day Cycling Classic starts early in the Corozal Free Zone, Corozal District, and races south to the finish line in Belize City. Today is a public & bank holiday.

 

Self government - January 1

On this day in 1964 - 45 years ago - the United Kingdom granted British Honduras (later renamed Belize), the right to full internal self-government, using a ministerial system that was previously introduced in 1961 and was modeled on the British Parliament.

 

Quadrantid meteor shower - January 3

Usually peaking on the 3rd & 4th, this shower starts on 28 December and lasts until 7 January. The radiant is north-northeast in the sky, in the constellation Boötes, and rises about 1:00 AM. Dark-sky Belize locations can hope to see 45-plus meteors per hour during peak times.

 

 

February

ü       Festivals: Fiesta de Carnaval, February 19

ü       Seasonal: Lobster season closes, February 15

 

j0437326.jpgThe big picture for February 2010:

v      It is the height of tourist season.

v      It is the driest of the dry season.

v      It is the coolest time of year.

v      In season: Conch; green, hicatee & loggerhead turtles; shrimp.

v      Lobster season closes on 15 February.

 

Jabiru Storks nesting - February 1

Visiting from Mexico for the months of November to June, it's during February & March that Jabiru Storks can be seen nesting with their offspring. Most nesting sites are located in the northern Belize lowlands.

 

St. Valentine's Day - February 14

Kiss your sweetheart & watch the Valentine Cycle Race! The race begins in the capital Belmopan, goes up to and then west on the Western Highway to Benque Viejo in the Cayo District - by the Guatemalan border. The riders then turn around & race for the finish line all the way back in Belize City.

 

Lobster season closes - February 15

The catching & sale of lobsters is illegal for the next 4 months - no more lobster dinners! Lobster season reopens on 15 June - join in the many festivities on cayes & coastal towns taking place then!

 

Fiesta de Carnaval - February 19

Join in the country-wide festivities during the week before Lent. From the cayes to the Cayo, join in & enjoy the music, dances, games & celebrations.

 

 

March…

ü       Holidays: Baron Bliss Day, March 9

ü       Festivals: San Jose Succotz Fiesta, March 19

ü       Sports: La Ruta Maya Canoe Race, March 6

ü       Astronomical: Vernal Equinox, March 20

 

j0437326.jpgThe big picture for March 2010:

v      There is a public & bank holiday - 9 March, Baron Bliss Day.

v      It is the height of tourist season.

v      It is the driest of the dry season.

v      It is not hurricane season.

v      In season: Conch; green, hicatee & loggerhead turtles; shrimp.

v      Out of season: Lobster.

v      There is a equinox this month.

 

Jabiru Storks nesting - March 1

Visiting from Mexico for the months of November to June, it's during February & March that Jabiru Storks can be seen nesting with their offspring. Most nesting sites are located in the northern Belize lowlands.

 

La Ruta Maya Canoe Race - March 6

La Ruta Maya is a tough four-day canoe race for both amateurs & professionals. The race starts at the Hawksworth Bridge in San Ignacio, Cayo District, and heads east along the Macal & Belize Rivers to Belize City - once the only route between the two towns. The race is held each year so that the big race finish coincides with the Baron Bliss Day celebrations in Belize City.

 

Whale Shark watching - March 7

From about 3 days before the full moon to 3 days after last quarter moon during the months of March to June, Whale Sharks can found be in the waters of southern Belize. Many fish spawn along the reef at this time, and Whale Sharks come from great distances to feed upon the eggs & larvae.

 

Baron Bliss Day - March 9

Celebrations occur across the country in the memory of the great Belize benefactor Baron Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss. The Baron fell in love with Belize upon arrival in early 1926 - 83 years ago - but unfortunately passed away after less than two short months. So enamored with the country, Baron Bliss willed the bulk of his considerable fortune to be used to - as they say now - big-up the country. Celebrated with fishing, races, harbor regatta & the big finish of La Ruta Maya canoe race in Belize City. Baron Bliss Day is a public & bank holiday.

 

Baron Bliss Day is a national holiday celebrated across Belize on or about every 9 March. (The actual day of celebration moves around to create the nearest convenient long weekend and is set by the Government.)

 

San Jose Succotz Fiesta - March 19

Taking place in San Jose Succotz, Cayo District - right beside the ruins of Xunantunich - this local fair is a celebration of village patron St. Joseph. Celebrate with rides, games, music & fun!

 

Vernal Equinox - March 20

Today is the Vernal Equinox, also known as the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, and is the first day of Spring in Belize. The length of both day & night are about equal today. Many larger Maya ruins have Group E observatories, a collection of monuments & temples arranged to visually identify today. A stunning example of architecture & light working together today is the world-famous serpent descending the staircase of El Castillo in Chichen Itza, Mexico.

 

 

April…

ü       Holidays: Good Friday, April 10; Holy Saturday, April 11; Easter Monday, April 13

ü       Festivals: San Ignacio Easter Fair, April 11

ü       Seasonal: Green & loggerhead turtle season closes, April 1; Shrimp season closes, April 15

ü       Historical: Treaty with Guatemala, April 30

 

j0437326.jpgThe big picture for April 2010:

v      There are 4 public & bank holidays - 10 April, Good Friday; 11 April, Holy Saturday; 12 April, Easter Sunday; 13 April, Easter Monday.

v      It is the height of tourist season.

v      It is the driest of the dry season.

v      In season: Conch; hicatee.

v      Out of season: Lobster.

v      Green & loggerhead turtle season closes on 1 April.

v      Shrimp season closes on 15 April.

 

Green & loggerhead turtle season closes - April 1

The season for green turtles & loggerhead turtles has closed - the catching & sale of these two turtles is illegal for the next 7 months. The season reopens on 1 November.

 

Whale Shark watching - April 6

From about 3 days before the full moon to 3 days after last quarter moon during the months of March to June, Whale Sharks can found be in the waters of southern Belize. Many fish spawn along the reef at this time, and Whale Sharks come from great distances to feed upon the eggs & larvae.

 

Good Friday - April 10

Religious observances are held today. Today is a public & bank holiday.

 

Holy Saturday - April 11

The Holy Saturday Cycling Classic goes from Belize City to San Ignacio, Cayo District & back. Caye Caulker has the Holy Saturday Regatta with both sail & powerboat races. This day is a public & bank holiday.

 

San Ignacio Easter Fair -April 11

Taking place in San Ignacio, Cayo District, this two-day Easter weekend fair features music, games, sports & fun.

Easter Sunday - April 12

Religious observances are held today.

 

Easter Monday - April 13

This day is a public & bank holiday.

 

Shrimp season closes - April 15

Once again, shrimp season has come to a close - the catching & sale of shrimp is illegal for the next 4 months. Shrimp season reopens on 15 August.

 

Treaty with Guatemala - April 30

On this day in 1859 - this year is the 150th anniversary! - the Governments of Guatemala & the United Kingdom signed the much-disputed Anglo-Guatemalan Treaty that defined the border between Guatemala and the colony of British Honduras (later renamed Belize)

 

May…

ü       Holidays: Labour Day, May 1; Sovereign's Day, May 25

ü       Seasonal: Dry season ends, May 1; Hicatee season closes, May 1; Tourism season ends, May 1

ü       Historical: Named British Honduras, May 12

ü       Astronomical: Eta Aquarid meteor shower, May 4

 

j0437326.jpgThe big picture for May 2010:

v      There are 2 public & bank holidays - 1 May, Labour Day; 25 May, Sovereign's Day.

v      Tourist season comes to an end.

v      The dry season comes to an end.

v      It is the hottest time of year.

v      In season: Conch.

v      Out of season: Green & loggerhead turtle; lobster; shrimp.

v      Hicatee season closes on 1 May.

v      There is a meteor shower this month.

 

Dry season ends - May 1

It is around this time of year that the dry season comes to an end & the wet season begins - higher temperatures, rains & increased humidity. The dry season doesn't begin again until November.

 

Hicatee season closes - May 1

The catching & sale of hicatees - a type of turtle - is now illegal. Hicatee season reopens on 1 June.

 

Labour Day - May 1

Parades, rallies, and bicycle & horse races are held throughout the country today. Today is a public & bank holiday.

 

Tourism season ends - May 1

It is around the middle of this month that the tourist season comes to an end & prices for accommodations at most establishments drop to less expensive Summer rates. The tourist season doesn't begin again until mid-December.

 

Eta Aquarid meteor shower- May 4

Usually peaking on the 4th & 5th, this shower starts on 21 April and lasts until 12 May. The radiant is due east in the sky, in the constellation Aquarius, and rises about 2:00 AM. Dark-sky Belize locations can hope to see 20-plus meteors per hour during peak times.

 

Whale Shark watching - May 5

From about 3 days before the full moon to 3 days after last quarter moon during the months of March to June, Whale Sharks can found be in the waters of southern Belize. Many fish spawn along the reef at this time, and Whale Sharks come from great distances to feed upon the eggs & larvae.

 

Mother's Day - May 10

Take your Mum to see the Mother's Day Cycling Classic! The race starts in San Ignacio, heads out to the border, turns, and races along the final stretch to the finish line in Belize City.

 

Named British Honduras - May 12

Although formally termed the Colony of British Honduras since 1840, it was on this day in 1862 - 147 years ago - that the Crown Colony of British Honduras (later renamed Belize), was officially named & declared by the government of the United Kingdom.

Sovereign's Day - May 25

Celebrated nationwide as the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II with bicycle & horse races and other festivities. This day is a public & bank holiday.

 

June…

ü       Festivals: Dia de San Pedro, June 27

ü       Seasonal: Hicatee season opens, June 1; Hurricane season begins, June 1; Wet season begins, June 1; Lobster season opens, June 15

ü       Historical: Officially named Belize, June 1

ü       Astronomical: Summer Solstice, June 20

 

The big picture for June 2010:

v      It is not tourist season.

v      The wet season begins.

v      It is the hottest time of year.

v      j0437326.jpgIn season: Conch.

v      Out of season: Green & loggerhead turtle; shrimp.

v      Hicatee season opens on 1 June.

v      Lobster season opens on 15 June.

v      There is a solstice this month.

 

Hicatee season opens - June 1

With the season now open, the catching & sale of hicatees - a type of turtle - is legal. Hicatee season doesn't close again until May, 2010.

 

Officially named Belize - June 1

On this day in 1973 - 36 years ago - the official name of the Commonwealth territory British Honduras was changed to Belize.

 

Wet season begins - June 1

It is around this time of year that the wet season begins - higher temperatures, heavy rains & increased humidity. The wet season comes to an end in October.

 

Whale Shark watching - June 4

From about 3 days before the full moon to 3 days after last quarter moon during the months of March to June, Whale Sharks can found be in the waters of southern Belize. Many fish spawn along the reef at this time, and Whale Sharks come from great distances to feed upon the eggs & larvae.

 

Lobster season opens - June 15

Lobsters are back in season! The catching & sale of lobsters is now legal and celebrations occur on many cayes & in coastal towns during the next week or two. Lobster season doesn't close again until February, 2010.

 

Summer Solstice- June 20

Today is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, and is the first day of Summer in Belize. The length of day is longest & night shortest today. Many larger Maya ruins have Group E observatories, a collection of monuments & temples arranged to visually identify today.

 

Dia de San Pedro - June 27

Taking place in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, this three-day fair is a celebration of town patron St. Peter. Watch the boat parade & join in the fiesta

 

July…

ü       Seasonal: Conch season closes, July 1

ü       Historical: Treaty with Mexico, July 8

ü       Astronomical: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse, July 7; Delta Aquarid meteor shower, July 29

The big picture for July 2010:

v      It is not tourist season.

v      It is the wettest of the wet season.

v      It is the hottest time of year.

v      j0437326.jpgIn season: Hicatee; lobster.

v      Out of season: Green & loggerhead turtle; shrimp.

v      Conch season closes on 1 July.

v      There is a lunar eclipse this month.

v      There is a meteor shower this month.

 

Conch season closes -July 1

The catching & sale of conch - a type of large mollusc - is illegal for the next 3 months - no more conch fritters! Conch season reopens on 1 October.

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse - July 7

A partial penumbral eclipse of the Moon occurs in the very early hours of today, and the entire eclipse is visible from Belize. Eye protection is not required to view this eclipse.

 

Treaty with Mexico - July 8

On this day in 1893 - 116 years ago - the Governments of Mexico & the United Kingdom signed the Boundary treaty that defined the border between Mexico and the "colony of British Honduras" (later renamed Belize). The sovereignty of British Honduras was not discussed in the treaty.

 

Delta Aquarid meteor shower - July 29

Usually peaking on the 29th & 30th, this shower starts on 14 July and lasts until 18 August. The radiant is east-southeast in the sky, in the constellation Aquarius, and rises about 8:00 PM. Dark-sky Belize locations can hope to see 15 to 20 meteors per hour during peak times.

 

August…

ü       Seasonal: Mauger season, August 1; Shrimp season opens, August 15

ü       Historical: Belmopan founded, August 1

ü       Astronomical: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse, August 5; Perseid meteor shower, August 11

 

The big picture for August 2010:

v      It is not tourist season.

v      It is the wettest of the wet season.

v      It is the hottest time of year.

v      j0437326.jpgIn season: Hicatee; lobster.

v      Out of season: Conch; green & loggerhead turtle.

v      Shrimp season opens on 15 August.

v      There is a lunar eclipse this month.

v      There is a meteor shower this month.

 

Belmopan founded -August 1

On this day in 1970 - 39 years ago - Belmopan was founded, replacing Belize City as the capital of Belize after it was terribly damaged by Hurricane Hattie in 1961.

 

Coral spawning - August 5

With today's full moon, sometime during the evening to late night hours within about the next week, corals across the reef will spawn. Various species will release clouds of sperm & eggs that float to the surface and fertilize in the sea's currents. The fertilized eggs then sink & settle on the bottom to create new colonies.

 

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse - August 5

A partial penumbral eclipse of the Moon occurs late afternoon, but the eclipse is only partially visible from Belize - the eclipse starts before the Moon has risen. Eye protection is not required to view this eclipse.

 

Perseid meteor shower - August 11

Usually peaking on the 11th & 12th, this shower starts on 23 July and lasts until 22 August. The radiant is north-northeast in the sky, in the constellation Perseus, and rises about 10:00 PM. Dark-sky Belize locations can really hope to see a maximum of about 80 meteors per hour during peak times.

 

Shrimp season opens - August 15

Shrimp season is back - the catching & sale of shrimp is legal once again! Shrimp season doesn't close again until April, 2010.

 

September…

ü       Holidays: National Day, September 10; Independence Day, September 21