Central America

For a different kind of winter vacation try Belize

Belize on the Yucatan Peninsula is a country of contrasts. From the Central American rainforests to the barrier reef in the Caribbean you will find many different experiences. There are beautiful places and fascinating historical sites to explore both inland and around the many beaches and islands.

belize holidays

When to go
The climate of Belize is hot and humid all year round, varying by only about 4 degrees throughout the year, but the rainfall varies markedly from North to South. The wet season is considered to be from the middle of May to November in the south and from June to November in the north. The period between November and February is transitional and the dry season runs from February to April. The peak periods are between mid December and mid January and the Easter period. Many visitors to Belize like to visit in May or June when prices are slightly lower and the country is less crowded.

About Belize
Belize was formerly known as British Honduras and the official language is still English, although Spanish is also widely spoken. The country has more than ten different cultures including Creole, East Indian, Maya and German Mennonites. Tourism has grown considerably in Belize, with cruise ship arrivals contributing to the increase in visitors.

The many attractions include the massive rainforests, Maya ruins some of which have not yet been excavated, the famous Belize barrier reef and various activities centred around the coastal areas where boat hire is available and travellers can enjoy world class SCUBA diving.

Things to do
Experience the history of the Maya civilisation by touring the sites left from the Classic period. Around 40 percent of Belize is under protection and there are many temples to visit, sites that have been restored and unexcavated ruins to explore. Many of the ruins have been overgrown by the jungles and are difficult to find.

The wildlife of Belize attracts many visitors. There are hundreds of species of birds, exotic animals and colourful fish to see. Bird watching is particularly popular and many species can be seen from the resorts close to the jungle and the nearby roads. A prized sighting is that of the keel billed toucan, Belize’s national bird. As you would expect in a region where there are dense rain forests on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other, the country is also home to many exotic tropical plants.

Belize has the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere and was once described by Jacques Cousteau as “one of the four must-dive locations on this blue planet”. There are some stunning scuba diving and snorkelling sites in Belize with something for novices and experts alike. Other water based activities include kayaking in and around the reef and islands, all kinds of fishing, sailing and boating. Boats were used by the ancient Maya people for transport between islands, upriver and along the coast and boat hire is still available to explore these areas. Whatever your individual interests, you will find plenty of interesting activities to fill your vacation in Belize.

AUTHOR BIO
Adriana Frederick writes regularly on world travel for many websites and blogs. She is based on the south coast of England and has written articles on boat hire for various publications.

Exotic walking holidays in Costa Rica

If you like the idea of a holiday involving some pretty exotic walking, Costa Rica in Central America has a lot to offer. This country was once part of the vast Spanish Empire and today its language remains Spanish and much of its culture retains a strong Amero-Spanish basis.

walking holidays in Costa Rica

Unlike some other parts of Central and South America, during the colonial period, Costa Rica had comparatively few natural resources, such as gold and silver, to justify being the centre of Spanish and later regional attention. As a result, it largely escaped the mass exploitation that was seen in other parts of the region of Central and South America.

The country has been relatively insulated from much of what has gone on both north and south of it. Although for many years this may have hampered its economic development somewhat, it did mean that the country also for the main part escaped the political turmoil and conflict that characterised the early years of independence for many Central and South American countries. It has remained a peaceful and relaxed country and has become increasingly popular as a tourist destination.

Attractions

Just a glance at the map will show you that Costa Rica is fortunate in having extensive coastal areas sitting on both the Caribbean and the Pacific oceans. Down the centre of the country runs a large range of volcanic mountains and there is also heavy forestation – much of which is protected by enlightened conservation laws. The people of Costa Rica have long been recognised as some of the most vociferous supporters of ecological and environmental conservation, and have often set the pace in that respect for other countries – both regionally and globally.

If you are visiting this great country you’ll have plenty to see. There are trails through and up the mountain ranges where you’ll be able to see rainforests, volcanic formations and volcanic lakes. You’ll also be sure of seeing a phenomenally diverse range of unique wildlife in many of the protected areas. There are also stunning areas to explore along both coastlines and you can, of course, participate in some beach leisure while you are there.

For walking, Costa Rica offers a wide range of opportunities and terrains to suit all interests and walking abilities. The guided walks are led by expert tour leaders, who know the countryside and the wildlife extremely well. From start to finish you will be thoroughly looked after and benefit from an experience that is different to most forms of normal holiday.

If you like holidays that involve walking, Costa Rica won’t disappoint.

Don’t be fooled by stereotypical images. You won’t be sleeping overnight in flimsy tents, your accommodation will be in extremely comfortable hotels with modern facilities. Some may be a little simple and with few frills, though you will find them perfectly adequate. Your itineraries will be constructed for you so that you don’t have to worry about logistics, administration and phoning around to make your own arrangements. When you are walking, Costa Rica doesn’t forget that you are on holiday and that you are here not only to explore the country – but also to enjoy yourself!