Summer in Belize: Why I’m going Back!
The arrival of the Summer Solstice means many things to many people around the world, with Druid fans congregating around Britain’s Stonehenge, people wanting to get in touch with the ancient Maya vibe at Chitzen Itza in Mexico, Tikal in Guatemala and Xunantunich in Belize, and farmers the world over consulting their almanacs.
To me, the Solstice sounds a gentle alarm – from here on in the days get shorter and the nights get longer as summer begins making its way towards autumn.
Time to make the most of it.
That means another trip to Belize with my friends to take advantage of the slow months in this pristine Caribbean destination.
A few years ago we got tired of fighting the crowds in state and national parks back home, and forget urban sightseeing with the heat, tempo and again, crowds. Ever been to the Statue of Liberty or Yosemite in July? Sorry, not for us. So when someone suggested getting out of Dodge and doing something different, like going to Belize, we were all ears.
Although I must admit I was sceptical at first. Why go south in the summer? Isn’t a tropical vacation something you do in the winter? And why pay to go away when there is so much to do here?
That scepticism vanished the minute we arrived in this laid back, friendly country. First it was the welcome we received when our Chaa Creek driver picked us up at Belize’s international airport. He seemed genuinely happy to see us, which was a relief from the harried people and pace we just left up north. We unwound during the pleasant ride along the Western Highway, and the warm welcome and cold drinks we received when we arrived set the tone for the rest of our vacation.
The following days were an absolute delight, and we were pleasantly surprised to discover that Belize’s summer weather is actually quite delightful. Seems that temperatures don’t vary much year round, hovering around 81°F, with the average temperature for July and August around 82°F compared to 75°F for December.
With the sea breezes off the Caribbean affecting the entire country, which is only some 180mi by 70mi wide, and the huge tracts of protected rainforest acting like giant heat sinks, it’s as if Mother Nature has set the thermostat to “pleasant’, and left it that way.
Another summertime plus is that the drop in arrivals means that everyone is glad to see you, from the tour guides, restaurant staff, shopkeepers and pretty much everyone you meet. There’s no doubt that Belizeans are a very friendly group anytime, but they have more time to express it during the summer months.
The day we toured the ancient Maya pyramid at Xunantunich, for example, we had the place pretty much all to ourselves, and everyone from the operator of the hand cranked ferry taking us across the Mopan River to the rangers and guides were happy to chat and take the time to explain things. It was the same when we went to the world famous Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, or ATM. This is an amazing experience walking through an ancient ceremonial cave filled with artefacts such as altars, jade axe heads and pottery, and it was great to be able to take our time.
We encountered the same easy going pace when we took a canoe trip into San Ignacio town, a delightful town with surprisingly good places to eat (the Guava Limb on Burns Avenue was a treat) and with another impressive Maya site, Cahal Pech, near the edge of town.
And again, we were the only passengers on the La Capitana, a motorised pontoon raft that took us around remote Vaca Lake, meaning we had the full attention of the jolly crew, who were happy to point out the different birds and wildlife that congregate around the lake in summer.
Back at Chaa Creek the service was always attentive without being intrusive, and between lounging around the pool and on our private verandas and taking part in a few of the many activities on offer we struck the perfect combination of relaxation and activity. One morning we took a horseback ride along jungle paths to the traditional Maya organic farm that supplies the restaurant, had a swim, a wonderful lunch, a visit to the Belize Natural History Centre while the girls hit the Hilltop Spa, and then more swimming and just meandering round the gardens until cocktails at the lounge and then dinner, followed by the Creatures of the Night evening nature walk.
And that was just one totally relaxing day. We took another daytrip across the border in Guatemala touring Tikal and enjoyed the same easy pace there.
In short, we all agreed that this was the perfect summer vacation, and with Chaa Creek’s all-inclusive Belize vacation packages we didn’t spend any more than we would have if we stayed home. In fact, since everything is included in one affordable price, we probably spent less. When can you say that after enjoying an exotic, cultural experience in a stunningly beautiful foreign country where everyone speaks your language?
So now that the Summer Solstice alarm has gone off we’re all back to planning this year’s Belize excursion. Once again we’re going with Chaa Creek, this time taking one of their Rainforest to Reef packages to spend some time out on the Belize Great Barrier Reef, get certified for diving and enjoy the Caribbean along with our rainforest holiday. And with Chaa Creek once again handling all arrangements including accommodation, meals and transfers between resorts, we’re expecting another amazing and completely relaxing holiday.
I can’t wait.