A former British colony and the only English-speaking country in Central America, Belize is a tropical paradise situated between Mexico and Guatemala.
The interior contains large areas of protected forests and mountains, with hundreds of species of birds, howler monkeys and even jaguars, as well as rivers, cave systems and Mayan archaeological sites.
The Caribbean coast has white sandy beaches, small cayes (islands) and turquoise-blue waters. Offshore, the Belize Barrier Reef – the second largest in the world – is renowned for its spectacular snorkelling opportunities.
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Currency: Belize Dollar
Flying time from London: 10.5 hours
Official language(s): English and Spanish
Time difference: -6 GMT
Visa requirements: Visa not required for UK passport holders.
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To this day, the tallest manmade structure in Belize remains as Caana “Sky Palace” temple, which is part of the Caracol Maya archaeological site. The ancient city was founded in 900BC, and the temple itself sits at 136 foot tall. While the climb can be a slog, the view over other temples and the surrounding jungle is worth the effort.
Explore the Belize Barrier Reef
As the second largest barrier reef in the world, the Caribbean reef extends along the full east coast of Belize. Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are two idyllic islands which provide easy access to the reef, which is rich in coral and marine life. Swim and snorkel amongst nurse sharks, turtles, manatees and angel fish.
Track jaguar in the wild
The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Reserve has the highest population of jaguar in the world. As the first established jaguar sanctuary, the reserve is one of the best in the world for jaguar tracking. While the big cats are elusive and difficult to spot, you will often find remnants of their presence, from their daily kill to paw prints. If you are really lucky, you may see a jaguar in the flesh.
Look for exotic birds
The birdlife in Belize is highly concentrated for a country so small. There are around 570 species of bird, including parrots, warblers, birds of prey and hummingbirds, and there are plenty of places to see them. One of the best areas is the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, a wetland sanctuary home to over 400 species. The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve and Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Reserve also protect a large number of birdlife.
Experience diverse landscapes
For such a small country, Belize has a variety of differing landscapes. Jungle and rainforest are lush and full of wildlife, while the Caribbean coast is the perfect environment to relax and explore the Belize barrier reef. The country is also home to wetlands full of birdlife, but the Mountain Pine Ridge forest may come as unexpected – dotted with pine trees, caves and waterfalls, the area has cooler temperatures than its surrounds.
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