paddleboarding in Crooked Tree Village Belize

3 reasons to visit Belize by Lonely Planet Photographer Todd Lawson

Lonely Planet Photographer Todd Lawson has spent over 20 years photographing and celebrating the diversity between Sport, Travel and Nature. After recently returning to the Central American nation of Belize, he gave the 3 reasons he visited Belize.

Jaguar at The Belize Zoo

March 2011 – It’s always nice to escape the dead of winter in Canada, and head to the sun and sand and third-world awesomeness, where you’re still allowed to ride in the back of a pick-up truck. We chose Belize for 3 reasons.

Mixing work with pleasure

One, Christina landed a sweet yoga teaching gig out on Half Moon Caye with Island Expeditions, an adventure travel company based in nearby D’Arcy, BC. She actually left a week early, while I had a really tough (wink, wink) magazine assignment, heli-skiing in the Chilcotins with TLH.

Billy Hawk Caye in Stann Creek Belize

Humanitarian Travel

Two, we were ready to take a group of kids on another Young Travellers Foundation adventure. We had been to Belize before, in 2005, when we camped on the front lawn of our now-dear-friend Claudette Mejia and her family. Claudette is a single mother of ten, (four out of the house now, six between the ages of 2 and 12) who is one of the most incredible women we’ve ever met. They ALL live in a 256 sq. foot wooden house, and none of her kids have EVER been to the hospital. They live in a little village called Crooked Tree (about an hour from Belize City), where one dirt road and many little walking paths link the little homes all built on substantial lots. It’s a place of rustic, barbed-wire fences, big grassy yards and a fresh-water lagoon that surrounds the entire village. We approached the school principal with our idea and told her the mandate of our foundation, which is basically to provide unique, multi-day educational experiences outside of the classroom. Two weeks later we packed 10 kids, a teacher and an adult chaperone, a cook, loads of food and Christina and I into a 15-passenger van – and left the school with only us knowing where we were headed.

Lamanai Maya ruins in orange walk Belize

Throughout the course of the four days we visited Lamanai, the oldest ruins in the Maya world accessed only by an hour-long riverboat trip, we checked out the Belize Zoo (very humane and well-managed), went cave-tubing through a massive limestone cave on a clean, clear river, and ventured out on the Caribbean Sea to Billy Hawk Caye – A tiny mangrove island where the kids were introduced to snorkelling, kayaking, fishing for never-before-see-with-their-little-eyes tropical fish. We played volleyball, had water balloon fights, an obstacle course race, helped cook and clean, and learned every single day. All this was accomplished using the funds we raise through various slideshows and other local fundraisers. We would like to thank all those who have donated to the Young Travellers Foundation. We’re not changing the world, but we are positively affecting the lives of young students.

Adventure Travel

And three, we knew that Belize had some great rivers, and we were keen for some adventure. A cool company from Hawaii called C4 Waterman supplied us with two inflatable Stand-Up paddleboards to undertake a multi-day journey on the Belize River. The journey was amazing, as we paddled alone with hundreds of tropical birds providing the soundtrack for our 4 full-on days on the river.

paddleboarding in Crooked Tree Village Belize

If anyone is heading to Belize, give us a shout and we’ll hook you up. – Todd & Christina


This article was written by Todd Lawson and posted in Lonely Planet Images. To see more of Todd’s work visit his website

If you like this article you might also like Lucy Wallingford of Slick Rock Adventures’ Top 10 reasons to travel to Belize.

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