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Northern Belize

Maya Sites & Wildlife Sanctuaries

Northern Belize is Natural Belize. This region is unknown to most visitors, brimming with wildlife, and overflowing with adventure. In the west, thick jungles conceal jaguars and the tree-covered ruins of ancient Maya cities. On the eastern coast, mangroves habitats and crystal lagoons support West Indian Manatees and some of the Caribbean's best sport fisheries. In between, the idyllic New River meanders northeasterly from the Cayo District to Chetumal Bay.

A good introduction to this region is Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. Located just 33 miles northwest of Belize City, this 16,400-acre wetland and forest habitat is home to Jabiru Storks, Black Howler Monkeys and Morelet's Crocodiles. Tours of the sanctuary can be conducted by boat or on foot.

Just north of Crooked Tree is the unassuming town of Orange Walk, the natural base for exploring the New River Lagoon. Known anciently as Holpatin, this settlement has served as vital trade port for more than 2,000 years. Two little-excavated Maya sites, Cuello and Noh Mul, are found a short distance from Orange Walk. An hour by boat to the south is Lamanai, a picturesque Maya city rising from riverside jungle. More than 700 structures have been identified here, including ball courts, stelae and temples. The largest temple, N10-43, is the tallest known Pre-Classic structure in the Maya world.

Another worthwhile Maya site, La Milpa, lies 90 miles by road southwest of Orange Walk. This is the country's third largest ancient city; several plazas, two ball courts and dozens of tombs have been excavated. La Milpa occupies a high limestone ridge deep within the Rio Bravo Conservation Area. Over 400 bird species have been spotted in this reserve, along with populations of jaguar, jaguarundi, ocelot and puma.

In the region's far north, Corozal is a tranquil town set at the mouths of the New River and Rio Honda. Offshore, the turquoise waters of the Bay of Chetumal (Corozal Bay) teem with world-class tarpon, barracuda, permit and crevalle jack. The town itself is built over the remains of a Post-Classic Maya site known as Santa Rita. Cerros, another ancient Maya settlement, lies just across the bay (15 minutes by boat). Other nearby attractions include the photogenic fishing village of Sarteneja and the butterfly filled Shipstern Nature Reserve.

Orange Walk is an easy 55-mile drive north of Belize City on the New Northern Highway. Corozal is only 30 miles farther north. Several daily flights link Corozal to Ambergris Caye (25 minutes).

The best time to visit Northern Belize is from December to May. Rainy season extends from June to November, with hurricane potential from July to mid-November. Temperatures are fairly constant year-round, with highs in the mid-80s and lows in the 70s.

Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Northern Belize and throughout Belize. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, domestic flights, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.

"The learned is happy, nature to explore, the fool is happy, that he knows no more."

Alexander Pope