The Rough Guide to Belize (Rough Guides)

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9781409349600: The Rough Guide to Belize (Rough Guides)

The Rough Guide to Belize is the ultimate travel guide to this unique country, with clear maps and detailed coverage of all the best attractions, from the sun-washed cayes to soaring Mayan pyramids.

Discover Belize's highlights with stunning photography and in-depth information on everything from the country's magnificent Barrier Reef, the longest in the Western Hemisphere, to its mist-shrouded jungles. Find detailed practical advice on what to see and do in Belize, relying on up-to-date descriptions of the best resorts, hotels, spas, restaurants and activities for all budgets. Explore every corner of Belize with clear, user-friendly maps.

Make the Most of Your Time on Earth with The Rough Guide to Belize.

About Rough Guides: For thirty years, adventurous travelers have turned to Rough Guides for up-to-date and intuitive information from expert authors. With opinionated and lively writing, honest reviews, and a strong cultural background, Rough Guides travel books bring more than two hundred destinations to life.

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WHERE TO GO

With its wealth of national parks and reserves, numerous small hotels and reliable public transport, Belize is an ideal place to explore independently; even on a short visit you’ll be able to take in both the little-visited Caribbean islands and the heartland of the ancient Maya. Almost every visitor will have to spend at least some time in Belize City, even if only passing through, as it’s the hub of the country’s transport system. First-time visitors may be shocked initially by the decaying buildings and the pollution of the river, but it is possible to spend several pleasant hours in this former outpost of the British Empire. In contrast, Belize’s capital, Belmopan, is primarily an administrative centre, with little to offer visitors. Midway between the two, the Belize Zoo is easily the best in Central America and well worth making the effort to visit, to see the native animals close up and learn about the zoo’s efforts towards their conservation.

Northern Belize is relatively flat and often swampy, with a large proportion of agricultural land, though still endowed, like everywhere in the country, with Maya ruins and nature reserves. Lamanai, near Orange Walk, is one of the most impressive Maya sites in the country, while the lagoons at Sarteneja (Shipstern Nature Reserve) on the northeast coast, and inland at Crooked Tree provide superb protected habitats for the country’s abundant wildlife, particularly birds. In the northwest, adjacent to the Guatemalan border, is the vast Rio Bravo Conservation Area, where hunting has been banned for over a decade, allowing the possibility of close encounters with the wildlife.

The mainland coast is almost entirely low-lying and swampy – wonderful for wildlife, but for swimming and underwater activities you’ll need to visit the cayes. The largest, Ambergris Caye, draws over half of all tourists to Belize, with the tiny resort town of San Pedro their main destination; Caye Caulker, to the south, is the most popular island for independent travellers. Many of the other cayes are now becoming easier to reach, and organized day-trips are available for divers and snorkellers to the wonderful atolls of the Turneffe Islands and Lighthouse Reef. Further south, off the coast of Honduras, the English-speaking, coral-fringed Bay Islands are a potential side-trip from Belize, offering a taste of Latin America in the Caribbean and some of the best-value diving in the world.

In the west of the country, San Ignacio and its environs offer everything the ecotourist could want: Maya ruins and rainforest, rivers and caves, and excellent accommodation in every price range. Caracol, the largest Maya site in Belize, is now a routine day-trip from here, while the magnificent ruins of Xunantunich lie en route to the Guatemalan border. Cross the border and a few hours later you can be in Tikal, one of the greatest of all Maya sites.

Dangriga, the main town of the south-central region, serves as a jumping-off point for visitors to the central cayes and atolls (little developed at present but more accessible every year) and for trips to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the jaguar reserve. Further south, on the coast, the quiet Garífuna village of Hopkins sees more visitors with every year that passes, while the delightful, relaxed, fishing village of Placencia, at the tip of a long, curving peninsula, has some of the country’s best beaches. Most visitors to Punta Gorda, the main town of Toledo District, are on their way to or from Puerto Barrios in Guatemala by boat. Venture inland, however, and you’ll come across the villages of the Mopan and Kekchí Maya, set in some of the most stunning countryside in Belize and surrounded by the country’s only true rainforest. Here are yet more caves, rivers and Maya ruins, including Lubaantun, source of the enigmatic Crystal Skull.

WHEN TO GO

Belize lies in a subtropical latitude, so the weather is always warm by European standards, and often hot and humid. The immediate climate is largely determined by altitude: evenings in the forests of the Mountain Pine Ridge are generally pleasantly cool, while the lowland jungle is always steamy and humid. On the cayes, the sun’s heat is tempered by near constant ocean breezes.

Although Belize has its dry and rainy seasons, you’ll find that the sun shines most of the year, while rain can fall in any month. The dry season runs roughly from January to May, and the last couple of months before the rains come can be stiflingly hot. During the rainy season – officially May to November – mornings are generally clear and afternoons often drenched by downpours; this is when humidity is at its highest. During the heaviest of the rains rural roads can be flooded and journeys delayed, particularly in the south. There’s often a break from the rains in August (called the mauger season in Belize), and even before then the rain is rarely persistent enough to ruin a holiday. The worst of the rains fall in September and October, which is also the height of the hurricane season, when wind speeds can exceed 120kph, though most severe storms follow a track to the north of Belize. If you’re out on the cayes you’ll need to leave, but rest assured that Belize has an effici ent warning system and a network of shelters. The rain can continue into December, a time when cold fronts are sometimes pushed down from the north – lowering temperatures to 10°C for a couple of days – when you’ll be grateful you brought a sweater or jacket.

With all this in mind, the best time of year to visit Belize is from late December to March, when the vegetation is still lush and the skies are clear. This is the main tourist season and therefore the priciest time to visit. Plenty of people visit during the summer months, too, a period that’s appropriately promoted by the tourism industry as the "green season".

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Book Description Rough Guides Ltd, United Kingdom, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 6th edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. The Rough Guide to Belize is the ultimate travel guide to this unique country, with clear maps and detailed coverage of all the best attractions, from the sun-washed cayes to soaring Mayan pyramids. Discover Belize s highlights with stunning photography and in-depth information on everything from the country s magnificent Barrier Reef - the longest in the Western Hemisphere - to its mist-shrouded jungles. Find detailed practical advice on what to see and do in Belize, relying on up-to-date descriptions of the best resorts, hotels, spas, restaurants and activities for all budgets. Explore every corner of Belize with clear, user-friendly maps. Make the most of your time on Earth with The Rough Guide to Belize. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9781409349600

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