Toledo District

For hearty souls, Toledo District is best kept secret in Belize

Anyone looking for a stunning vacation spot nestled within mountains, rivers and rainforests that is also home to a diverse population of people might consider visiting the Toledo District of Belize. This region is known as “the forgotten land” due to its status as the least visited part of Belize, but adventurous tourists have begin to discover all that this unique corner of the world has to offer.This is largely due to improvements in the local infrastructure that have made it easier to get to Toledo, and to travel to all the destinations located within the district. The years-long Southern Highway paving project is reaching completion, there are multiple commuter flights offered through two regional airports. In addition, Toledo now benefits from regular bus service, so it’s now easier than ever to explore an area that few on Earth have ever seen.

It’s perfect for those who appreciate natural history because Toledo boasts the greatest number of ancestral Maya villages in the country. The majority of Maya archaeological sites are still waiting to be unearthed, but there are tourist facilities at two Maya sites – Nim Li Punit and Lubantuun. At Nim Li Punit, which means “Big Hat,” visitors will see the remains of a royal palace, while at Lubantuun, or, “Place of Fallen Stones,” tourists will get a close-up view of partly excavated temples. To see how the Mayas used the natural slopes in the land to craft ancient ceremonial venues, tourists may visit Uxbenka, where they will also find a breathtaking view waiting for them at the top.

All three of those sites can be accessed without the aid of a guide, but sight-seers will need an expert in their company to visit one of the seven major parks and nature reserves. Each of these places has been designed to maintain the beauty of the jungles and estuaries that have thrived here, untouched, for centuries. These jewels of the landscape offer opportunities to catch a glimpse of the native wildlife, not to mention some of the region’s 2,000 varieties of flowering plants. The Columbia River Forest Reserve encompasses more than 100,000 acres of rainforest, and it represents the biggest portion of pristine land of its kind in Central America. This reserve is home to the “Little Quartz Ridge,” a pillar of rock and quartz that extends more than 1,000 meters above seal level.

For adventurers who gravitate toward the water, Toldedo offers lots of ways to spend a sunny day on its eastern coastline, where the land meets the Caribbean Sea. Whether visitors choose to explore the many coastal lagoons, swim in the crystal clear water or enjoy the view from a kayak, there is no shortage of activities that await travelers at the shore. Chartering a boat for the day opens up a whole new way to appreciate this part of the district. At the Sapodilla Cayes, see the natural wonders that lie beneath the water’s surface by booking a snorkeling excursion.

Vacationers in this rugged but beautiful place will encounter a wide range of people and cultures in this southernmost tip of Belize, with the population of roughly 30,000 residents including East Indians, German-speaking Mennonites and people with Creole roots, just to name a few. There are many options that invite visitors to get to know the country and its people. A cultural tour is one way to find out what the life of a Maya family is like. Visitors spend the excursion eating local cuisine, making traditional crafts and hearing the stories and songs upon which this centuries-old culture was built.

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  1. Ruth McDonald

    Also experience the Maya, Garifuna and Creole cultures with local family businesses like Warasa Garifuna Drum School, The Living Maya Experience, Maroon Creole Drum School.

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