The legendary travel guide publisher Lonely Planet has just published their list of the top 10 recommended places to visit in the upcoming year, and Belize was included for the first time.
Lonely Planet recommended Belize thanks to all that the tiny country has to offer for visitors, including the second-largest coral reef system in the world and a mainland thick with pristine jungles and extensive cave systems that can be explored on foot or by canoe/inner tube. Belize was also given high marks for its friendly, English-speaking people and exotic mix of different cultures, including the Creole, Garifuna (Afro-Caribbean), Mestizo (indigenous people originally from Mexico), Mennonite farmers, and even Chinese.
Belize was included on the map partly because of its government strong pro-environment stance. The reef was upgraded to “healthy” status from “endangered” earlier this year, and new laws have completely stopped all offshore drilling as well as phasing out all single-use plastic. And all this hard work has paid off as Belize has one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, including jungles teeming with over 600 bird species as well as monkeys, giant iguanas, tapirs, and jaguars. The offshore reef is home to hundreds of fish species as well as dolphins, manatees, sharks, rays, and dozens of species of colorful anemones and corals.
If all that weren’t enough, Belize is also home to over 600 ancient Maya sites, including towering palaces that are still the tallest human-made structures in the country and deep, labyrinthine caves that were once used by priests to conduct bone-chilling human sacrifices to try and appease their angry rain god, Chaac. Yet despite all these attractions, Belize remains largely unknown and completely uncrowded, offering savvy travelers a more appealing option than other popular destinations in the region such as Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Costa Rica.
If you’re thinking about visiting Belize in 2019, one of the finest places to stay is in a luxury two-story tree house at Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Jungle Lodge. Located in the beating heart of the pristine rainforest, Caves Branch’s hand-built tree houses offer a panoramic view of the surrounding jungle as well as all the modern conveniences, including luxury furnishings, electricity, and hot/cold running water. And for travelers interested in doing some birdwatching, Caves Branch offers guided tours led by expert naturalists. Caves Branch is ideal for birdwatching as over 300 bird species have been spotted on the property.