Centralamericawithfriendstravel’s Weblog

June 28, 2012

#FriendsTravel Belize Central America JESS Kalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Filed under: Belize,Central America — centralamericawithfriendstravel @ 4:36 am

BELIZE

 

REGIONS: 

•  COROZAL/ORANGE WALK (NORTHERN DISTRICT)

•  BELIZE DISTRICT

•  CAYO DISTRICT

•  STANN CREEK (DANGRIGA/PLACENCIA)

•  TOLEDO (SOUTHERN DISTRICT)

•  AMBERGRIS CAYE

•  OUTER CAYES & ATOLLS/TIKAL

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Belize is located in the Northern Hemisphere, within Central America.

Belize is bounded on the North by Mexico, South and West by Guatemala, and the beautiful Caribbean Sea washes its 174 mile coastline to the East, approximately the size of Massachusetts, with a population of 225,000 habitants.  Belize observes Central Standard Time year-round.

An adventurer’s paradise, Belize is a peaceful, English-speaking country just two hours away from 3 major U.S. Gateways. With a diversity of adventure opportunities unmatched by any other country, the Belizean people have protected over 40% of the country as parks and natural reserves, offers an intriguing mix of tropical forests rich with wildlife, majestic mountains, mysterious Maya temples, and diving and fishing experiences beyond comparison. In a single day, one can go from tropical forest to the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere.

Weather:

The climate is subtropical, with a brisk prevailing wind from the Caribbean Sea. The country has an annual mean temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity is nicely tempered by the Sea breezes. Saltwater temperature varies between 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

Annual rainfall ranges from 50 inches in the north to 170 inches in the south. Although the rainy season is usually between June and August and the dry season is between February and May, global weather changes are making predictions somewhat invalid. At the end of October the weather does become cooler, and from November to February it is pleasant with scattered showers of rain. Average humidity is 85 percent.

Money Issues:

The Belize Dollar (BZ$) has a fixed rate of exchange of BZ $2 to US $1. Most hotels, resorts, restaurants, and tour operators will accept U.S. currency, traveler’s checks, or credit cards. When using your credit cards in Belize, most establishments will add a 5% service charge to your bill. ATM service is limited; it’s best not to rely on an ATM card to withdraw funds.  Always make sure that you understand which dollar rate is being quoted. Is it Belize Dollars or U.S. Dollars?

Language:

English is the official language. Most Belizean’s speak at least one other language – Creole, Spanish or Maya.

Electricity:

Although most of the electricity is provided by Diesel/Generator Sets, the power is stable at 110 Volts A.C., which is the same voltage as in the United States.

Transportation:

You can choose from having ground transportation, rent a car or take a local flight between destinations within the country.

Shuttle bus services operates to and from all main towns (and hotels)- to the border of Guatemala.  Boat transfers are available to the cays.  There is domestic air service to all main cities in Belize and to Flores, Guatemala.

ACTIVITIES:

Belize, is a special place, with magnificent natural attractions such as the Belize Barrier Reef, Great Blue Hole, ancient Maya civilization, mysterious caves and caverns, pristine tropical forests, rare birds, and exotic wildlife. We invite you to explore all our natural wonders.

Culture is also an important part of your Belize visit. By interacting with small communities you will come into contact with a wide diversity of people, and see for yourself why our Belizean hospitality sets us apart from other destinations.

Scuba Diving & Snorkeling:

Belize’s barrier reef has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Water visibility commonly reaches 100+ feet; water temperature hovers around 80 degrees Fahrenheit; and the barrier reef makes for calm water most of the year.  In recent years visitors to Belize have rated the “marine attractions” as the primary reason for coming to Belize. With an unrivalled barrier reef in this hemisphere the marine attractions are as varied as the natural formations that make up this 176 ml. coastal treasure. Divers and snorkelers can experience the barrier reef, coral atolls, fringing reef, patch reefs and faroe, each offering differing underwater coral formations and a variety of flora, fish and marine creatures.

Fishing:

Belize is a mecca for those interested in fishing. All kinds of fishing – spin, fly, trolling – can be experienced all year long, and the abundance of game fish guarantees excellent sport.

The estuaries, inlets and mouths to the many rivers are known for their tarpon, snook and jack. The lagoons and flats are known for the bonefish, permit and barracuda. The coral reefs support grouper, snapper, jack and barracuda while the deeper waters off the drop off are home to sailfish, marlin, bonito and pompano.

Fishing is great all along the coast of Belize, from the Port Honduras and Punta Icacos lagoon of Toledo to Rocky Point on Ambergris Caye. Any of the many rivers which empty into the Caribbean along Belize’s coasts can guarantee a daily catch.  Most of your guides and boatmen speak English so learning where and what to fish will be no problem.

Birding:

The species and variety of birds visible to viewers varies and is contingent on the natural habitat in which a person is looking. With 66% of the country still forested, Belize is home to more than 600 identified species of birds, with an average of five new species discovered each year. As viewers often spot 50 species in a single outing, be sure to keep your eyes open and your binoculars in hand. Whether on a remote island, along the coast, on a jungle walk, or in the backyard of a hotel, visitors are bound to encounter spectacular plumage, stirring calls, and the steady drumming of a hummingbird’s wings

Caving:

Belize is an ideal location for the formation of caves. With limestone throughout much of the interior and a seasonal and a wet climate, caves are a common feature in the landscape of Belize.

Caving can be a dangerous sport; it is advisable to consult a trustworthy resource before exploring any cave on your own. Because of their isolated location, many caves in Belize have not been thoroughly explored.

Canoeing & Kayaking:

Belize, with low-lying land and plenty of rain during the wet season supports 20 major river systems and smaller streams.

These many waterways provide outdoor adventures for the kayak and canoe lovers. This is an excellent way to birdwatch and view wildlife along the banks. You will also experience the flow of human life in Belize as the rivers of the country are still major gathering places for fishing, cleaning, and transportation.

The Maya Mystique:

Belize is blessed with an outstanding archaeological heritage of Maya temples and palaces. It is known that the Maya occupation began as early as 1500 BC, and although it began its decline in 900 AD, some Maya cultural centers continued to be occupied until contact with the Spanish in the 1500’s. During the Classic Period (250 AD to 900 AD), the population of Belize exceeded over one million people, and it is believed that Belize was the heart of the Maya civilization at that time. Although large Maya cultural centers no longer exist, there is still a significant Maya population residing within many small villages.

The Maya still live in Belize, still speak Mayan dialects, and still practice ancient crafts and healing techniques.

TRAVEL TIPS:

Use sunscreen SPF 15 or higher. The Equatorial sun is strong even where overcast.  Use protection from insects, remember you are in the tropics

Insect repellent  and after bite lotion is useful during jungle hikes or when the air is calm along the coastline.

Sunglasses, film, batteries, health and beauty aids.

Drinkable water is generally not a problem, however we recommend bottle of water.

Stay alert, don’t venture into unfamiliar areas at night, safeguard your possessions and don’t leave personal items unattended.

U.S. citizens traveling to Belize are encouraged to register with the U.S. Belize Embassy, to facilitate assistance in case of emergency. Travelers can do so online (http://usembassy.state.gov/belize) or in person. The U.S. embassy is located at 29 Gabourel Lane, Belize City; a new embassy is being constructed in Belmopan.

Shorts, T-shirts and sun dresses are the rule of the day. Sandals, Tennis shoes. Consider a sweater or sweatshirt for evenings during “winter”, especially in the mountains. Long pants are recommended when touring the jungle.

Never carry your passport with you.  Instead, make a copy of the front page and the page that contains your entry stamp from immigration.  This will be more than sufficient ID should you be stopped.

Pack a small first aid kit (antiseptic, antihistamine, decongestant, band aids, anti itch ointment, diarrhea medications, pain killers (asa) gravol.

TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS:

With the exception of cruise ship passengers, all visitors to Belize must present a valid passport before entering the country. Please note that driver’s licenses and birth certificates are Not approved travel documents and cannot be used to enter the country. Passports must be valid up until time of departure. American passports must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond intended return date.

In cases where a visitor remains in the country for over 30 days, an extension of entry must be requested. Extensions are available for the cost of:
Up to 6 months for US $25
After 6 months US $50 per month

Total Airport Departure Fees: US $35.00, payable ONLY in US currency.

Discounted First Class, Business Class, and Coach Airfares Worldwide.

JESS@FriendsTravel.com  24|7|365

Belize Travel Reservations JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Belize Travel Reservations JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365

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