The interior highlands of Belize is awash with pristine jungle, natural wonders, Maya ruins and adventure opportunities. Canoe down rivers, explore one of the largest cave systems in the world, bike or ride through thick jungle, trek through forest reserves bursting with exotic wildlife.
Belize's Western Highway leads inland to San Ignacio, the main town in the Cayo District, on the Macal river and just 20 minutes from the Guatemalan border. The surrounding rainforest has a variety of wildlife and Maya ruins, including the Xunantunich and Caracol sites (once more important than Tikal with 200,000 inhabitants - similar to Belize’s entire present-day population).
The Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve is a unique dry tropical ecosystem on Cretaceous limestone whose pine-clad hillsides are threaded with rivers, waterfalls and some spectacular caves. There are a number of lodges to choose from in this area, all of which offer excursions into caves or to Maya sites.
Maya sites can be found through the forests surrounding Gallon Jug in the northern highlands and many are still waiting to be discovered. Lamanai is one of Belize’s largest archaeological sites overlooking a lagoon and forest which contains over 400 bird species. It has approximately 720 Maya structures, most of which are still to be excavated.
Our preferred accommodation
Lodge/Hosteria - near San IgnacioThe lodge is about a 40 minute drive from San Ignacio on a bumpy road, but the surrounding scenery is beautiful. Set above the Macal river, it has excellent service and friendly staff. The restaurant and bar area overlooks the river.
Lodge/Hosteria - Mountain Pine RidgeThe main building houses the restaurant, bar and sitting areas and there are pretty gardens. The Lodge is owned by Francis Ford Coppola whose influence is evident throughout.
Lodge/Hosteria - near San IgnacioPalm thatched cottages are spread through 330 acres of grounds, falling away to the Macal River. There is an infinity swimming pool and lovely views from the hilltop Spa.
Lodge/Hosteria - Gallon JugThe lodge is constructed in the main square of a Maya site. The access road is reputed to have the highest incidence of jaguar sightings in Belize and the area as a whole is rich in wildlife. There is a pool, which is screened to minimise the risk of insect bites!
Lodge/Hosteria - LamanaiRun by Mark and Monique Howells, extremely friendly, personal service and a unique location. The jungle-shrouded Lamanai is one of the country’s largest Mayan sites.
Lodge/Hosteria - near San IgnacioThis family-run lodge is a 35 minute drive south of San Ignacio in a private 100 acre rainforest reserve next to the Macal river. There is an orange grove and small farm and they have pet donkeys and laying hens.