The Belize Tourism Board (official website: http://www.travelbelize.org/) has created a six-part video series on Belize. Each of the six videos has been transcribed on request to assist our audibly impaired readers.
Part 1 – Introduction to Belize
“If the world had any ends, British Honduras (Belize) would certainly be one of them”. Aldous Huxley 1934.
Writer Aldus Huxley realized that Belize’s obscurity is it’s greatest resource. Located only two hours from the United States and the only English speaking country in Central America, today, Belize is Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret.
Belize has many secrets to discover: the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere, washed by turquoise seas and dotted with palm studded coral sand islands. Beneath the Caribbean sea lies a world full of color, movement and spectacular marine life. Where the sea meets the land, discover another secret of Belize. One composed of green earth and aerial mountains, teeming with exotic birds of all colors, shapes and sizes. Besides peaceful lagoons and jungle streams rise towering trees, draped by vines and orchids. In Belize, you can have natural wonders all to yourself: float down jungle rivers (see: Cave Tubing) or fly through the forest canopy. Under the jungle floor hides another Belize, waiting to be discovered. Full of wonder and mystery. You’ll discover Belize is a spiritual landscape, the Caribbean gateway to the ancient Mayan world: a perfect proportion between the works of man and the wild beauty of nature. In contrast to the grand lure of the ancient Maya are their humble and proud descendants of today. So many different cultures in Belize exist peacefully, side by side.
So much diversity on land, under the sea and beneath the ground. Belize inspires you to fully inhabit every extraordinary moment. As one of the last unspoilt places on earth, you’ll feel an intimate and authentic connection to a treasury of life changing experiences.
Be one with the wonder. Be one with the excitement. Be one with Belize.
Part 2 – The Sea of Belize
“…The most remarkable reef in the West Indies…” Charles Darwin “Coral Reefs”
The Belize Barrier Reef has changed little since the time of Charles Darwin. It is a world as we wish it would always be. The 185 mile long wall of coral islands and spectacular marine life is the longest in the Northern Hemisphere and has been named both a World Heritage Site and one of the seven Underwater Wonders of the World.
The crystal clear 80 degree waters and abundant marine life hint of paradise. These underwater playgrounds are a carnival of life, where thousands of characters co-exist.
It is no surprise that Belize is a magnet for scuba divers (see: Scuba Diving in Belize) and snorkelers (see: Belize Snorkeling) from around the world, discovering the beauty of the reef year-round. Just offshore lies a sapphire gem of the barrier reef, created some 12.000 years ago when an underwater cavern collapsed, descending into the majestic Blue Hole is a unique opportunity few experience.
Whether one wants to explore life beneath the surface of the sea, or unwind on a beach chair, Belize offers endless possibilities. Besides some of the worlds finest dive and snorkel spots, there is sailing, kayaking (see: Kayaking in Belize), fishing (see: fishing in Belize), kite surfing (see: kite boarding in Belize), para gliding and more. One could easily spend an entire trip probing the deep blue, igniting your inner explorer. Unforgettable adventures are made perfect by a mutual thrill of discovery and a thousand memories of a journey shared. Belize is a place that makes your senses come alive. A place to explore, or let the simple joys of a beach sweep you away.
Part 3 – The Jungles of Belize
“…An enormous forest spread out at our feet …The tree tops lay like a great carpet…” Alexander von Humboldt, 1800′s Rainforest Explorer
The slopes of the Mayan Mountains are hemmed in by Garden of Eden forests, which have almost a miraculous beauty. Tropical rainforests are famously tangled, wet, and filled with more species of plant and animals than any other habitat on earth. In Belize, this includes five different species of wild cats: those camouflaged hunters on silent paws.
Because of this rich diversity in the rainforest, it is imperative to stake your claim to territory. None do it better in Belize than the howler monkeys. 75% of Belize is covered by tropical forest and half of that is protected. You’ll discover nature in its pristine state, a poetry of creation: the magic of colors and shapes.
Exploring the tropical waterways is a great way to discover Belize. With a profusion of nature everywhere, Belize is full of astonishments. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, soar through the most gorgeous roof on earth: the forest canopy. The rainforest is truly a natural treasure. And in Belize, you can see, hear, smell and feel it. Belize: a beautiful, unspoilt and fertile wilderness in which you can wander freely and safely. And discover the unexpected.
Part 4 – The Ancient Maya
“…Perfect travel demands two qualities in a country, that it shall be full of beauty and that it shall be full of ghosts. Land with too little past may thrill the eye, but not the memory.” F.L. Lucas, English Poet
Belize was at the heart of one of the greatest civilizations of the ancient world. More than 3500 years ago over one million Maya populated the countryside of Belize, building a society that was more sophisticated than almost any on earth. Today the remnants are everywhere. Huge stone temples once used to track the movements of the gods and seasons are waiting to be explored. While you explore the mighty cities of these ancient peoples, time will completely change its rhythm. The Maya consider time to be alive and with power. You’ll discover that they replicated the sacred landscape around them and in their temples doorways were designed as cave entrances. The Maya considered the caves to be important portals to another world.
Under the rainforest lies one of the most extensive cave systems in central america. The Maya once used these caves for religious ceremonies. And religious artifacts lie strewn around most cave floors to this day. Glide up the new river to discover one of Belize’s most beautiful Maya cities: Lamanai.
When the British arrived in the 1700s they too were intrigued by the Maya civilization. The British built the sugar mills and colonial buildings and even today you can loose track of time and in what period of Belize’s history you find yourself.
But the ancient Maya dominate the mysteries of Belize’s past. Be filled with wonder as you contemplate the fall of Corracol while watching the sun set over the forest, from the top of Cana.
Part 5 – Belizean Culture
Belizean Culture is a unique blend of European, East Indian, North American, African, Mestizo and Maya.
The surrounding forest is a backdrop to Maya village life, the old ways still live on. The Mayans in Belize continue to live on as they have done for hundreds of years: as traditional farmers and stewards of the land. They keep the ancient traditions alive through their music, dance, celebrations and way of life. The Gariffina of Belize had uniquely fused an African and South American ancestry and given rise to a new and unique culture. In fact, the United Nations declared their culture as one of the masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.
The Meninites of Belize are easily identified by their plain clothing, shy manner and work ethic. For the more traditional Meninite communities, horse-drawn wagons are the preferred mode of transportation. Though some of them have relaxed their traditional dress and ways, many still live the simple life.
In Belize, every day is a reason to celebrate. And Belizeans have no shortage of festivals and holidays: carnival is an explosion of color and song; the Tour of Belize bike race draws teams from around the world; and the La Ruta Maya, a traditional four day canoe race (see: Canoeing in Belize) in March down the beautiful Belize river are but a few examples. As you travel on your journey around the countryside, the cultures, festivals and celebrations of Belize will thrill your imagination. And your spirit.
Part 6 – Come to Belize
“The definition of beauty… is the summation of the parts working together in such a way that nothing needs to be added, taken away or altered.” Carlotti
Belize is a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, adventures and memories.
Be one with the rhythms of island life.
Be one with the wonders of the rainforest.
Be one with the mysteries of the past.
Be one with the authentic cultural traditions.
Be one with Belize.