Travel

Places you’ve never been: Belize

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For those of you sitting under your covers freezing your toes off, let’s talk Belize. With a population of almost 332,000 people, Belize offers the perfect balance between a cultural wake-up-call and fulfilling every paradise inspired dream possible. A severely underrated country, Belize definitely made it’s way into the top 10 places you have to visit!

Whether you like trudging through thick jungle or simply lying on the beach all day, Belize offers both to exceed expectations. For the wanderlust in all of us, this is a guide to Belize in 2 weeks.

Upon arriving in Belize one of the first things we were told was to go and visit the ATM cave; a Mayan sacrificial burying cave. Officially open to the public in 1998, the ATM cave was in use by the Mayan’s between 300-900 AD. Here they would perform sacrificial burying ceremonies in honour of the Gods. They believed that caves were the entrances to the underworld; where you would inevitably have to pass through before moving on to Heaven. As they walked through the cave, they would bring fire torches, making the water’s reflection flicker on the walls of the cave, making it seem like spirits. To start off the tour, the guide brings you to the mouth of the cave; a chaotic mess of vines and tree roots.

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The beginning requires you to swim to the next piece of rock to climb onto. For the next 3 hours you continue to swim through bottomless dark pools, climb up massive rock walls onto ledges that have tunnels leading further into the cave, and trudge through complete darkness, praying that the tiny agile man up at the front knows where he’s going.

The cave opens up into a few large chambers, but the largest has several skeletons, ancient pots and above all: the Crystal Maiden. The Crystal Maiden is a perfectly preserved skeleton at the highest point of the discovered cave. There are speculations that the cave goes on for another 5 miles past the point already discovered. For anyone who’s interested there are multiple tour guides you can book online.

After the ATM cave, why not pop over to a deserted island for a few days? Be sure to let anyone who needs you know that there’s no wifi and no signal whatsoever. On the bright side, you wake up every morning to this… ladies and gents, I present to you: Half Moon Quay.

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Anything you would ever want to do is available on this island. Snorkelling, diving, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, adventuring; you name it they can probably make it happen.

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Diving in the blue hole with sharks is a must, as well as watching alligators in the river on your way to a Mayan temple.

Belize seems to promote specific spots of intense tourism. It wasn’t totally uncommon to see a small makeshift hut beside a clean, white hotel decked out with a poolside bar and mini jungle. And this is perhaps the most interesting aspect of Belize that you have to take at face value. There’s definitely something a little heart shattering about it, but also definitely something humbling and necessary too.

All in all Belize is definitely a place I will be returning to, hungry for more.

 

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