How do you start with Belize? I guess a couple of things about it were unexpected. First it was surprisingly expensive, and second, as a former UK colony, I expected English to be more widely spoken. However to be fair we spent a lot of our time in San Ignacio near the Guatemalan border, so perhaps the English expectation itself wasn’t fair, and at the end of the day didn’t really detract from anything. The expense side is probably driven by the cruise liners that regularly dock at the coast and given Belize is such a small place they tend to drive the whole economy. So it is not a place set up for travellers like us trying to go a long way on a budget. At the end of the day we found some accommodation for our stay that was really good value for money, with the help of some really lovely people.
In terms of activities there is loads to do. Apart from all the great Mayan temples. We had a great time at the Belize zoo, where we got to see our only Jaguar of the trip – Junior Buddy! We also went cave tubing, an adventure where you get into some of the ancient caves in rubber tubes and explore their beauty and history (the Mayans also used these caves as well as building temples). There was the Iguana sanctuary where we got up close and personal with some of these amazing creatures. Finally we also travelled out to the tiny island of San Pedros, for some relaxing in the pool and on the beach, but were we also went out on a trip to the worlds second largest barrier reef and swam with the Moray eels and sharks!
The temples were many and varied. From the local ones of Xunantunich, which we took a horse ride to get to, and Cahill Pech which is located overlooking San Ignacio. We took a long day trip over the border into Guatemala to see Tikal. Finally on our way to San Pedro we went north for an overnight stay to visit the amazing Lamanai by boat. Some of the most staggering things we learned about the Mayans is that they never learned to smelt metal, so all the huge constructions they achieved were all done with wood and stone tools. It was also intriguing to learn that the reason the civilisation died out was because of local overpopulation and over-farming. They were never conquered by anyone, unlike the Incas.