Nearly 1700 square miles of prime opportunity for the adventure minded and the adrenaline addicted is the Toledo district of Belize. A cultural lean towards the Mopan and Kekchi Maya is evident and homestays will give you an inside look at how the Maya have balanced tradition with the demands of a modern world. The ancient Maya cities, intricate cave systems and pristine rainforests headline a long list of attractions accessible from the coastal city of Punta Gorda, including lagoons, rivers, creeks and cayes. Wildlife, birds, trees and plants in astounding variety make Toledo a nature lover’s paradise.
Toledo, the southernmost district of Belize, is 1669 square miles of rainforest, mountains, rivers, and Maya Villages. Toledans often refer to their home as “the forgotten land”-it is the least visited destination in Belize.
As the most sparsely populated and least developed region in the country, Toledo is certainly not for the ordinary tourist. However, for those with the spirit to venture off the beaten track, the natural and cultural diversity of Toledo makes a visit to a Southern Belize an unique adventure.
The land is blanketed with some of the most pristine rainforest in Belize. The uplands to the Northwest, consist of the foothills of the Maya Mountains bordered by limestone outcrops – rugged, unexplored territory.
The coastal lowlands consist of softer grounds, formed from the flood deposits of the many rivers draining the uplands. Towering riverine forests line the rivers and flood plains, while pine ridge savannahs and mangrove surround coastal lagoons.
Tradewinds and the Caribbean Sea caress the eastern coastline of Toledo. Coastal lagoons are prominent, providing a rich habitat for an abundance of wildlife, and the last stretch of the 186 mile Belize Barrier Reef lies 40 miles offshore from the mainland.
Toledo is blessed with a multitude of natural attractions, including caves, sinkholes, and waterfalls strewn throughout the rainforest. Jungle-covered ruins still exist as if just discovered. Five major protected areas have been declared wildlife reserves.
These natural treasures abound with wildlife and over 2000 species of flowering plants. The Sapodilla Cayes offer great snorkeling, swimming, kayaking and diving. Some of the best fly-fishing in the country is done in the nearby rivers.
While the rugged terrain of Toledo provides a challenge for the adventurous, it is the people of Toledo which softens natures rough edges. At least five distinct ethnic groups have settled in Southern Belize. While the town of Punta Gorda consists of many cultures, 64% of the population in the Toledo District is made up of the Mopan and Kekchi Mayas living in over 30 different villages. Come experience a touch of their rich heritage. English is spoken as their second language, and visitors can communicate clearly with the people for a genuine cultural exchange.