Established as a reserve in 1944, the over 100,000-acre Mountain Pine Ridge is easily the most breathtaking scenery in all of the Cayo District, if not Belize. The Chiquibul Road will lead you through pine forests, waterfalls, cascading water pools over granite boulders and the Maya Mountains in the distance – it’s a sight to be seen. Touring the area can be done from San Ignacio by car, as there is no public transportation out this way. The road can get fairly difficult in the wet summer season and requires strong knowledge of the area as well as a good dose of patience. There are opportunities for stops showing the varied landscapes of the reserve, including at the Rio on Pools for a fresh water swim or exploring the limestone Rio Frio Cave.
Tours can be either relaxing, with swims and picnics, or bordering on extreme adventure – such as hiking to Thousand Foot Falls, Central America’s largest waterfall. Visits to the Belize’s highest Mayan structure, at the Caracol Archeological Reserve, also require passing through the Mountain Pine Ridge. There are also opportunities to spot the rich wildlife in this area, including tapirs and toucans, though jaguars only come out at night.