Just Back From….Belize with David NicholsDavid Nichols - Product & Marketing
Product Manager David tells us all about his recent trip to Belize.
WHAT COUNTRY DID YOU VISIT?
WHEN DID YOU VISIT?
HOW DID YOU GET THERE?
American Airlines via Miami operates daily from the UK, with a night in Miami on the way out and a same-day connection on the way back. Another way to reach Belize is to fly first into Guatemala or Mexico: they are a fantastic combination with Belize.
WHEREABOUTS DID YOU GO?
Mainly hopping between Belize’s diverse mix of coastal resorts and cayes: there is something to suit everyone. For a complete change of scene, I also spent a few days inland in the Cayo district’s lush hills and forests.
HAVE YOU BEEN BEFORE?
Yes. Most of my time in Belize was 25+ years ago as a tour leader for Journey Latin America and personal travel. It was fascinating to see how things have changed, and I enjoyed the experience as much as when I was in my 20s.
WHICH WAS YOUR FAVOURITE?
The Hidden Valley Reserve in Mountain Pine Ridge has many miles of self-guided forest trails, waterfalls for swimming and excellent birding. Outside the reserve are the Thousand Foot Falls, the highest in Central America and where you might be the only visitor all day. They are a lot higher than a thousand feet too.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek. One of the original lodges to open in Belize, Chaa Creek, has not stood still over the years. It’s a stunning property, perfect for a bit of jungle luxury and as a base to explore nearby Mayan sites such as Xunantunich. The Treetop Villas are something else, as is waking up to the sound of howler monkeys and toucans.
A snorkelling trip from Placencia to Silk Cayes and Laughing Bird Caye with sharks, rays and incredibly vibrant tropical fish and coral.
ANY NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCES SINCE YOU LAST VISITED?
Placencia. It was a tiny place – literally the end of the road - when I was last there in 1991, just after the road was finished and when there were just two buses a week. Now you can fly in from Belize City in 30 minutes, and it’s an established but still low-key resort. It was great to see that despite all the changes, Placencia is still a lovely place.
WHAT WERE YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS?
There were several. Being stared down by a black and white hawk eagle in Mountain Pine Ridge, floating above green turtles and spotted eagle rays off Ambergris Caye, stopping the truck to let a coral snake to cross the road.
And the night sky all over Belize was sensational; don’t forget to look up!
WERE THERE ANY SURPRISES ALONG THE WAY?
I was surprised by how easy and hassle-free it is to get around Belize nowadays. It’s such a small country, so the hops by air are always short, scenic, and fun, flying in Cessnas over the tropical forest, snaking river systems or coral reefs. Main roads are now paved so if you’re not keen on small planes, nowhere is more than a few hours’ drive (or a boat ride) away.
WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR TRAVELLERS WANTING TO VISIT?
Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America. Still, it has a lot in common with its neighbours – a vibrant culture, tropical forests, ancient Mayan temples, a Caribbean coastline and a share of the world’s second-longest barrier reef. It’s an excellent fit for anyone who wants to combine soft adventure with relaxation and is very family-friendly. The best chance of good weather is between December and April, but the coastal resorts can be considerably cheaper if you go off-season.
IS THERE ANYTHING INDISPENSABLE TO PACK OR PREPARE FOR?
The classics for a humid tropical climate include lots and lots of light clothing and bug repellent. Take extra T-shirts to wear when snorkelling (to help protect against sunburn). No need to take a snorkel or fins – very easy to rent locally. Take some US Dollar cash with you for smaller transactions as cards are not always accepted, or a minimum charge may apply. US Dollars can be spent easily: you get 2 Belize Dollars for 1 US.
ANY LOCAL SNACKS, DISHES OR DRINKS THAT SHOULD BE SAMPLED?
The simplest Belizean dishes are often fresh and full of flavour. I love fry jacks with a Belizean breakfast to keep me going, traditional ‘rice and beans for lunch and grilled red snapper at dinnertime. Belize makes world-class hot sauce; some should always be on the table.
Standouts included the fresh lobster at Chef Rob’s Gourmet Café in Hopkins, sensational lobster dumplings at Victoria House hotel in Ambergris Caye and a taste bud-tingling lamb curry at Ko-Ox Han Nah in San Ignacio.
SUM UP YOUR TRIP IN A SENTENCE:
Unspoilt nature, tasty food and friendly people everywhere.
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Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert
A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.
Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert
Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.
Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Expert
After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.
Heloise Buxton - Travel Expert
Heloise started her Latin American journey as an exchange student in Santiago, Chile. With extended summer holidays this was the perfect opportunity to backpack through Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil.
Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert
Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.
Sally Dodge - Travel Expert
A former Journey Latin America tour leader, Sally spent 7 years working, travelling and living throughout Latin America before returning to the UK to help people arrange their own adventures to this wonderful destination.