Have you ever dared to journey faraway into an unknown land? Do you dream of a place where you can roam a wild untamed forest and swim a beautiful aqua oasis, similar yet very real, like the one Max’s imagination drew up in the storybook, “Where The Wild Things Are”? If so, you must be willing to meet incredible wild things and strangely beautiful creatures with courage like he did. Once you muster up the adventurous spirit, consider venturing deep into the jungles of Central America’s Belize, where “The Wild” will change your imagination into a serene reality. Lose yourself within the jumbled up lush twins of trees, swing like a monkey, climb like a panther, squawk like a toucan and explore your heart out like a kid.
Then pack your bags and jump into the original Banana Republic (this is definitely not the common named chain-store version), but the REAL thing! I’m referring to the ancient Land of the Maya, whose historic civilization borders Mexico and surrounding Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. A sacred and fertile place whose name comes from the ancient Maya word “Beliz”, which translates to “Muddy Water”. It is a land so vastly intertwined with diverse cultural history, from its ancient Mayan ancestry to its acquisition by the British Empire, and its current day uniquely ethnic mix of Kriols (the original African inhabitants), the Garinagu (Garifuna or Black Caribs), the Mestizos (Spanish Yucantan settlers), and the Mennonites (who have been farming the land since the 1800’s). Apart from its human ancestry roots, there are the naturally seeded ones too, that have grown wild within the depths of its jungles, pristine rain forests, swampy coastal plains, lowland forests, mysterious caves and geological formations, highland plateaus and the Maya Mountains. If this isn’t enough paradise candy to explore for any botanist, nature enthusiast or adventurer, one also can fish its spectacular atolls and dive into the Great Barrier Reef within its Caribbean waters off the coast, which are lined with pristine beaches, and over 400 islets and remote cayes. Not to mention, there’s even Jacques Cousteau’s mesmerizing Blue Hole where you can experience a surreal underwater wonderland!
Belize invites any child or adult to come explore in its abundantly diverse playground, which brings us to where all the real wild things live! There are over 500 species of heavenly flora such as orchids (the Black Orchid is their national flower), abundant storybook trees, fantastic winged creatures (including Fruit Loop Sam, aka The Keel Billed Toucan which is the national bird of Belize), weirdly unusual Baird’s Tapir (the Belizean Mountain Cow), endangered rowdy Black Howler Monkeys (which exist only in Belize), adorable acrobatic Spider Monkeys, and the elusive Exotic Felines of the jungle (jaguar, puma, mountain lions, cougar, ocelot, and the smaller jaguarundi). Quite a healthy number of them roam within their forested habitat, however the most frequented reported sightings are in the Chan Chich area, the Rio Bravo Conservation areas, and the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (which was established in the 80’s as a protected jaguar reserve).
Venture into the real “Jungle Book” and stay at Chan Chich Lodge for a night-hike with a feline naturalist guide, or head up into the mountains and get “wildly civilized” at Chaa Creek Lodge cottages and hike the world-renowned Maya Medicine Trail. Go crocodile encountering at the Lamanai Outpost Jungle Lodge, where the Wild Things, Animal Planet, the World Gone Wild and the National Geographic Explorer teams have all featured in their film productions. Live like a Garifuna and dance to hypnotic drum beats during a full moon at Hopkins fishing village and call it a night at the Jaguar Reef Lodge. Climb into the vine-encroached jungles where the once-mighty ancient Mayan cities existed, of Xunantunich, Cerros, Lamanai, Altun Ha, and Caracol. Venture downstream the Macal River in a canoe, lay like an iguana in a hammock at DuPlooy’s Jungle Lodge or take a plunge into infinity at Ka’ana Boutique Resort’s pool. Get into the deep, and swim like a dolphin off Ambergris Caye – afterwards dry off at the colonial-chic Victoria House in a thatched-roof casita. Cast like an angler for tarpon and bonefish in the crystal clear waters surrounding the famed Turneffe Islands flats, and experience your own private island like Gilligan at Blackbird Caye Resort. Embark on your own private and personal adventure – discover Belize. Awaken your inner child and wander where the wild things roam!