The Cayo District is the largest in Belize with 2,061 square miles, but with a population density of about 19 persons per square mile. It's a friendly area where tourists are welcomed and the safety of it's visitors is assured. It's an area where English is spoken and the tour guides are delightful and take great pride in their knowledge of their country's resources.
Cayo is rolling hills and lush tropical woods. Extending from the Pine Mountain Ridge preserve.to the town of San Ignacio to the Mennonite farms of Spanish Lookout, you'll find an area of unsurpassed beauty. Springs of water called Mayan Eyes are scattered on many properties in this region and the Mopan and Macal rivers join to form the Belize River which flows to the Caribbean
Cayo is the place to find adventure. You might choose to hike the rainforests, explore the ruins, swim under water falls, bask in the pools of the Rio Frio, view the spectacular 1,000 foot jungle falls, see flocks of parrots and other exotic birds, fields of butterflies, and 100's of species of orchids including the rare Pine Mountain Ridge Black Orchid.
Cayo is home to many ancient Mayan Ruin sites. Here you can explore Cahal Pech, El Pillar, Caracol, Xunantunich, Tipu-Negroman, Pacbitun, and Baking Pot Ruins. Tours are available also to Tikal in Guatemala and horseback trips are available to several of the sites.
Everything is easily accessible from the Cayo area. It's an easy drive to the airports and there are daily shuttles available as well. The busses are very reliable as well as quite reasonable. Belmopan, with all the government offices, is only a half hour away . Shopping in San Ignacio you'll find almost all your basic needs. From the beautiful hardwood furniture that is crafted here to the variety of fresh produce available at the Saturday market. It's a warm, friendly place to be with good neighbors and beautiful surroundings. A great place to vacation or retire to. Please come and visit us and we'll do everything possible to make your time here a great experience.
Belize, previously known as British Honduras, lies on the East coast of Central America in the heart of the Caribbean Basin which is bordered by Mexico on the North, Guatemala on the West and South, and is flanked by the Caribbean Sea on the East.
The cayes (pronounced keys), the offshore atolls and the barrier reef are the main attractions to Belize. The 185 mile long barrier reef is the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. The cayes are islands and or mangroves that are located between the mainland and the barrier reef and on or within the reef perimeters of the offshore atolls. Although the mangroves cayes are normally uninhabitable by humans, they do provide a superior habitat for birds and marine life. Many birds, fish, shellfish and marine organisms begin their lives within the protection of the mangrove. On the other hand, the island cayes which are distinguishable by their palm trees, have provided the foundation for the development of many fine resorts catering to the water sports enthusiasts and the marine naturalists. The cayes and atolls provide superior opportunity for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, boating, sailing, sail boarding and sea kayaking, as well as habitat for both nesting birds and turtles.
The northern half of the mainland of Belize is a plain that was once the bed of a sea. The land is covered with a thin layer of soil that supports scrub vegetation and dense hardwood tropical forest. The coastal area is neither land nor sea, but a sodden, swampy transition between the two. It consists of mangrove and grasses, and it is bordered by tussock grasses, cypress and sycamore where the land separates from the water.
The central part of Belize consists of sandy soil that supports large savannas. Approximately thirty miles southwest of Belize City, the land begins to rise dramatically to between 1,500 and 3,680 feet above sea level in the enchanting Mountain Pine Ridge area and the Maya Mountains. Abundant rainfall runs off to the northwest from the highlands in a number of streams which flow into the Macal River. Ultimately, the Macal River and the Mopan River converge to provide the headwaters of the Belize River.
The southern part of Belize with its watershed to the southeast from the Maya Mountains, consists of short rivers that rush through slopes combed with overhanging ledges and caves. The rivers, carrying sand, clay and silt, have enriched the coastal belt over the years, allowing Belize to develop significant agricultural products such as citrus and bananas. Along with an annual rainfall of some 170 inches, southern Belize has a true tropical forest that is rich with ferns, palms, lianas and tropical hardwoods.
The climate is subtropical with a brisk prevailing wind from the Caribbean Sea. The county has an annual mean temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity is nicely tempered by the sea breezes.
Variation in weather features depending on elevations emphasizes the interesting differences in geology, plant and animal life. A summary high temperature seldom exceeds 96 degrees Fahrenheit while winter lows are seldom below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Annual rainfall ranges from 50 inches in the North to 170 inches in the South. Although the rainy season is usually between June and August and the dry season is between February and May, global weather changes are making historical predictions somewhat invalid. At the end of October, the weather does become cooler and from November to February, it is pleasant with showers of rain and an average humidity of 85 percent.
The Ministry of Tourism and the Environment has performed a task that should set a precedence for the rest of the world. They have set aside
thousands of acres in Belize as natural reserves. They have protected
Belize's rain forests and continue in their efforts to promote and preserve an ecological balance between fragile nature and man. Belize has the only Jaguar and Red Footed Booby Bird (Half Moon Cayes) preserves in the world.
The population of approximately 250,000 people consists of a mixture of Creole, Garifuna, Spanish, Maya, English, Mennonite, Lebanese, Chinese and Eastern Indian. Due to racial harmony and religious tolerance, all of these different elements have mixed and blended successfully and Belize has gained a widespread reputation for its friendly people.
English is the official language of Belize although Spanish, Creole, Garifuna and Mayan are widely spoken throughout the country.
Commerce & Industry:
The Belize Dollar (BZ$) has a fixed rate of exchange of BZ$2 to US$1. Most hotels, resorts, restaurant and tour operators will accept US currency, traveler's checks or credit cards. When using your credit cards in Belize, most establishments will add a 5% service charge to your bill. Always make sure that you understand which dollar rate is being quoted. Is it Belize Dollars or US Dollars?
Although most of the electricity is provided by diesel generator equipment, power is stable at 110 volts AC, which is the same as in the United States.
There is a well staffed hospital and several private doctors in Belize City. Towns and larger villages throughout the country also have hospitals or clinics and in addition to standard modern medical services there are also alternative services available such as herbal and holistic.
In addition to a clinic and doctors' office in San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye, there is also a Hyperbaric Chamber available for persons who experience a decompression accident while scuba diving.
Portable water is available in most areas of Belize but it is advisable to ask. If in doubt, drink boiled or bottled water.
There are no serious epidemic diseases in Belize. No inoculations are required for entry, however anti - malarial tablets are recommended for extended stays in the jungle.
Postal rates to the United States are BZ60c for letters and BZ30c for postcards. Postal rates to Europe are BZ75c for letters and BZ40c for postcards.
|Taxes & Service Charges|
Airport Security Fee:
Taxis are available in towns and resort areas and they are easily recognized by their green license plates. Unless specific arrangements are made prior to your arrival at Belize International (P.S.W. Goldson), taxis are available at the entrance to the main terminal.
Although there are no meters on the taxis, drivers do charge somewhat standard fares but it is always important to understand what your fare will be prior to hiring a taxi.
Belize Telecom, LTD provides telephone, direct dial and internet connection services.
When in Belize, dial:
Time observed year round is GMT-6, which is the same as United States Central Standard Time. Daylight Savings Time is not observed in Belize.
A valid passport and visa (if required) is necessary for entry into Belize. Visitors are permitted to stay in Belize for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days. Extensions may be granted upon application to the Immigration Office, corner of Pickstock and North Front Streets, Belize City, at a cost of BZ $25.00. Travelers should exhibit that they have sufficient funds for their visit (US $50.00 per person per day) as well as a ticket to their onward destination.
United States citizens and Nationals of the European Economic Community member nations do not require visas. Visas are required for the Nationals of the following countries:
China, Colombia, Cuba, India, Libya, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa and Taiwan.
To obtain a visitor's permit, an application must be submitted to the Belize Immigration and Nationality Department, Belmopan, Cayo District, Belize, Central America (Telephone: 501-8-22423 or FAX: 501-8-22662). Since visas requirements are subject to change, please contact the Belize Embassy for up to date information.
|What to Wear|
Belize is a very informal country with a very casual life style. Unless you are invited to a Government function, please leave your "After Five" attire at home.
Leave your expensive jewelry at home because you will not need. If you must have a watch, bring an inexpensive one that is suitable for diving and hiking.
If you are visiting the Cayes and the barrier reef, bring your shorts, T-shirts and bathing suites, as well as some comfortable tennis shoes or deck shoes. As the sun is probably more intense than what you are used to at home, bring a cap to protect your head from the tropical sun when you are boating and or fishing. In addition to protecting your eyes from both the sun and the reflective glare off of the water, a pair of "polarized" sun glasses will also enhance the variable colors of the coastal waters of Belize.
Loose fitting, light colored cotton pants and campaign shirts along with a comfortable pair of hiking shoes or boots are appropriate for exploring the mainland or trekking through the rain forest. When visiting the Maya ruins or traipsing through the jungle, a hat with a wide brim will provide shade from the tropical sun as well as provide protection from a tropical shower.
Be aware that water, beverages and snacks are not always readily available while sightseeing - so a day pack to carry a water bottle, snacks, energy bars, camera, film, binoculars, poncho, hand towel, etc., is a welcomed accessory. A hiking staff can prove to be a valuable aid when climbing ruins, crossing streams or walking up or down steep trails.
|What to Bring|
Passport, visa (if applicable), prescription drugs, personal items, spare eye glasses, sun glasses, sun tan lotion, sun screen, sun burn cream, insect repellent, camera and film, batteries, cash, travelers' checks and credit cards.
Personal equipment such as scuba diving gear with certification card and dive log, snorkeling gear, binoculars, fishing tackle, etc.
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