Santa Elena Belize
Belizeans from western Belize are fond of boasting that “the west is best!” And they sure have a lot to be proud about. Besides being home to the nation’s new capital of the City of Belmopan, the Cayo District, covering some two thousand square miles of verdant landscape, has some of the most scenic attractions in the country. You will find clear, meandering rivers, lush jungles, green hillsides, thundering waterfalls, huge cave systems, two of the most important Mayan ruins, and a pine ridge forest just waiting for you to explore and experience. It’s rich with wildlife and a favored destination for eco tourists.
The Cayo district is the Belizean frontier (you’ll be able to do more horseback riding than in any other part of the country). It’s reached via the Western Highway, which begins on the outskirts of Belize City at the intersection of Central American Boulevard and Cemetery Road. A one-hour ride from Belize City gets you to Belmopan, where the downtown market area is a pulsating, thriving hub with bus terminal and taxi stands offering connections to every part of Belize. Located in this area are the Belize Bank, The Bank of Nova Scotia and First Caribbean Bank, restaurants, fast food and snack shops, the central produce, market, internet cafes and shops.
On your way from Belmopan to San Ignacio, you will pass the entrance to the modern-day Mennonite settlement of Spanish Lookout. If you want to get a look at what may appear to be a neat town in mid America, the run into Spanish Lookout is but 15 minutes from the highway. Spanish Lookout is a thriving agriculture community with two big supermarkets and several hardware stores.
Both English and Spanish are widely spoken in Cayo, which is home to large populations of Latinos, Creoles, Chinese, Lebanese, Guatemalans, Mennonites and Mayas. As with almost every town here, smaller groups of all other ethnic groups live there, like the Garifuna and East Indians. It is the country’s second largest district, with a population of some sixty thousand people.