Can you Belize it?

Can you Belize it?

Leaving Mexico behind, we were ready to embark on a new border crossing into the little known country of Belize, formerly known as British Honduras.  We later found out that Belize is a relatively new sovereign nation, having gained its independence in 1981.  After a fumigation of the van and finding Belize dollars (2:1 to the dollar), we made our way into the quaint town of Corozal for the night.

We managed to find an oceanside park with a nice flat spot for the van.  With a picnic table and space to move around, we enjoyed a wonderful sunset while eating dinner.


The following morning we continued our way south while thinking about our swiss friends in the far reaches of Placencia where we planned to meet them after a few days. Uncertain of our next move, we made a stop for the night in the capitol of Belmopan, which was moved from Belize City in 1970 after a large hurricane destroyed many of the important political buildings in 1961.  We managed to find some good Nepalese food and parked in a city park near an old school bus.


After a rainy night, we made our way back south and east towards the coast.  We made a quick stop in the coastal city of Dangriga to check out the ocean and see about a boat ride and snorkel tour.  Despite our best intentions to see the amazing reefs off of the coast of Belize, the weather wasn’t cooperating with us.  Deciding to carry on to Placencia, we hoped we would get one clear day and find a boat tour down there.img_20161103_130509

We finally arrived to Placencia where we reconvened with our swiss friends Mark and Nadine for a few days along with Mark’s father Frank.  We stayed at a nice house with close proximity to the beach filled with bars and restaurants.img_20161105_134654


We spent a night having a meal together by the beach with plans of sleeping in and doing laundry the next day.  We explored the small fishing village and managed to find a relatively cheap boat tour out to some islands to snorkel.  The weather was less than ideal, but we still managed to have a great time.





We even purchased a large barracuda from the same fisherman who took us out to the caye.  We proceeded to feast on the delicious fish at the house, baking and steaming the tender white meat.



After a night of laughs and stories, we slept well and awoke for one last day in Placencia.  With some beach time and one last drink at ‘Tipsy Tunas’ we proceeded back towards Belmopan with our new friends.  They proceeded to the border with plans to cross into Guatemala the next day while we were determined to find some rock climbing and more caves that we’d heard about.


On the way that afternoon, we made a quick stop together at the Blue Hole National Reserve where we swam in a cenote and explored one of the many Mayan caves.  The water was refreshingly cold and the cave strikingly beautiful.



The next day, we continued with our trusty Koru ready to tackle the back roads of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve on our way to the Barton Creek Cave.  We read about some bolted climbing routes above the cave and were excited to get on some rock again.  There are many famous caves and tours all throughout Belize, but we wanted to find one where we could climb and swim on our own while enjoying the natural beauty of the country.  img_20161106_134111

After turning south off of the main highway, the dirt road took us through some untouched forests, dropping us in elevation at alarming rates parts of the time.  We hadn’t seen anyone else on the drive and had heard about a river crossing.  Not thinking too much about it and reassuring ourselves that we were out to explore no matter if we turn back or not, we proceeded with much curiosity and anticipation. We soon found out why we hadn’t seen anyone until reaching the river, where we saw two expedition land rovers hauling clients to and from the Barton Creek Cave.  The drivers of the tricked out land rovers gave us perplexed looks as we approached the river.  They asked if we had 4 wheel drive and reassured we would make it across just fine.


Sarah intelligently waded through the river to make sure that Koru would have the clearance to get through the river without a catastrophic gulp of water through the intake.  Fortunately, VW gave the Syncro a higher intake than the 2wd relatives.  After the depth determination, Matt locked the rear differential and put Koru into granny gear…



With great success we had crossed the mighty Barton ‘Creek’ at its full depth at the end of the rainy season.  Once on the other side, we quickly inspected Koru and were happy to report that he was in good standing after the swim.  A few kilometers later we arrived at our intended destination, where we found some bolted routes on limestone that sees very little climbing traffic.  We later realized we were the only ones there, and since not many people come and stay in their vehicles, the manager on duty saw no problem with us staying for free, with wifi and fresh water to swim in.



As the sun set with peaceful tranquility surrounding us, and all workers having left earlier, we were completely relaxed.  Setting up our bed recounting the days events, we heard a guttural roaring yell that neither of us had ever heard before, immediately transforming our mood. Here we were, two gringos alone many miles deep in the Belizian jungle near a Mayan Cave used for rituals, no one around, with thoughts of jaguars and bears oh my!  img_20161106_183359

Sarah quickly googled what it could be, and we became enlightened to know that they were only howler monkeys, albeit right above our heads and very loud.  At ease again, we were enthralled by the magnitude of the sound coming from such a small creature.

The following day, we proceeded further through the reserve to a river and waterfall we had heard about.  We were not disappointed upon our arrival.  Reminding us of our homes in Colorado and Wyoming, we spent the better part of a day swimming and enjoying the cold mountain water of a beautiful and clear river.




Feeling great about our experiences off the beaten path thanks to our amazing chariot Koru, we began to make our way to the western edge of the country to get poised for our journey into Guatemala.  We decided to enjoy another Mayan ruin known as Xunantunich before our last night in Belize.  We had to cross a river using an old hand cranked ferry and here Sarah shows how she does work.


The ruins were great and again represented the ingenuity and hard work of the Mayan people.  We were graced with beautiful weather and minimal crowds for our day of exploration.  The frescoes seen here in this picture are fiberglass replicas of what was originally found, but they provoked visions of what the temples looked like in their heyday.



Our last night in Belize was spent in the border town of San Ignacio, where we had some Chinese food and happy hour watermelon rum drinks while playing cribbage.  Although we could have stayed in this beautiful country for months, we knew that we felt we needed to move forward.  So Guatemala, here we come!


11 thoughts on “Can you Belize it?

  1. Oh my, the rivers and waterfalls look fantastic. Glad that you took the time and effort to explore that area and get a bit off of the beaten path.

  2. So happy that you found caves. We loved the caves, the tubing in and through them and although we don’t climb much, the zip lines were fun! It is a beautiful place and your pictures were fabulous! So glad the fun goes on and all is going well!

  3. Awesome. It is so fun reading your travel stories (and of course it is so hard reading them too since I am jealous). But more fun than hard. Xander asked me to comment to let you know that he recently chose the Blue Hole as one of his own personal 8 wonders of the world for a Geography project. He thought you’d want to know. All of us Dalkes sending big love to you both! Can’t wait for next installment of stories. We spent time in Belize & Honduras ourselves (separate trips) but not Guatemala….the Mayan ruins in all are so crazy and thought-provoking…enjoy!

    1. Thanks for the comment Julie. The Blue Hole is indeed a wonder! We are having a great time on the trip and can’t believe we are only in Guatemala with so many more countries to go. We dearly miss our friends and family back in the states and we think of the Dalke clan often. We are blown away by all of the ruins, landscapes, and especially the people all over Latin America thus far. We hope you all enjoy a wonderful snowy winter!

    1. Thanks for following Maureen. We look forward to the inevitable reunion in Pinedale. So happy a bunch of the family is there now!

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