The Cayo District once had the highest concentration of Mayans over 2,000 years ago. Today, these ancient cities are protected archeological reserves; you can hike what used to be plazas, explore old tomb sites and climb up temple steps with striking views at the top. The easiest sites to reach from San Ignacio are Xunantunich and Cahal Pech, both of which can be visited within a day.
Hiking through a ceremonial Mayan cave is a popular activity and the main visited sites are located just outside San Ignacio. You must have a guide present, as these are protected sites, not to mention that the spelunking can be tricky and requires someone with expert knowledge of the cave. There are dry caves and wet caves, some longer to hike than others but all filled with fascinating Mayan artifacts, left intact from thousands of years ago.
Visitors can also go cave tubing. Hike to the river, plop yourself in a tube and float through caves, admiring limestone formations and the beautiful landscape as you navigate the streams. The area’s calm Macal River is ideal for exploring wildlife by canoe, including birds, iguanas and more.
Belize’s rainforests are filled with plants and trees that once had medicinal purpose, as used by the Maya. Today, there are self-guided medicinal trails explaining their various uses, at several locations in town. Your best bets are the trail at the San Ignacio Hotel and the one at Chaa Creek Lodge.
Up for a challenge? Sign up for the Black Hole Drop. You’ll hike up 400 feet in a two-hour near-vertical rainforest hike, rappel back down into a hole in the canopy, with spectacular views of the rainforest as you descend and land at the entrance of a cave.
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