Backpacking Belize

Folks traveling through Latin America will always find Belize to be an interesting place to visit as there are so many unique factors about the country as well as a wealth of history, culture and natural wonders. Belize has an excellent backpackers trail to be explored with hostels and budget accommodation in all areas of the country and a network of cool old school buses to take you around the country.

Belize has the worlds 2nd biggest barrier reef in the which stretches over 1000 km from the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula down to Belize. UNESCO made the reef a world heritage site in the mid 90’s and the reef is a world class diving spot and attracts people from all over the world to come and snorkel and scuba in the warm blue waters.

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Along the coast of Belize there are dozens of islands called Cays which vary from many uninhabitable patches of mangrove that any large wave will wash clear over, to larger cays with small residential and commercial developments and white sand with palm trees. Then there are 2 big Cays called Caye Calker and Ambergris Caye where there is motorized transport and a few short roads.

Within Belize mainland you will feel the true vibe of Belizean culture and discover the different communities and cultures and  their way of living, for me this is the most rewarding part of the country to spend some time. IMG_3816

There are the Garifuna people who are decedents of West African and Central African people and who represent a minority of the population. There are then Mayans, Creoles, Mennonites, and the majority of the country is of Latin / Hispanic decent. All theses races of course have a language that goes with it. The Garifuna language is written and taught in Schools, the Mayans have an ancient language called “kutchi”, the Mennonites have a dialect derived from their German ancestors and the Creole dialect is basically a very simplified English which takes a lot of intonation and body language to be understood as about half of the dictionary was just removed :) Then of course in most of the country you will be able to communicate in Spanish no problem.

Belize has many Mayan archaeological sites to see Including Caracol, Cerros, Lamanai, Actun Tunichil Muknal, Xunantunich and loads and loads more, many of which yet remain to be uncovered. In the Mayflower Nature Reserve Close the The Funky Dodo Backpackers Hostel there are uncovered Mayan Ruins to be seen.


The public transport system in Belize is an experience on its own. Each bus company has it’s own colors and logos and they all will blast out music as you go down the road Almost all of the buses are old school buses decommissioned from various counties in the USA and driven down here. Compared with a lot of Central American countries the buses are in relatively good condition and the roads are not too dangerous simply due to the fact that the country is sparsely populated.  Having said all that, I can almost promise that you will have at least one white knuckle ride on a bus with the driver carelessly overtaking on a blind corner with a precipice on one side whilst doing 60 miles an hour. But that is just normal in Central America.

Belize Only has 4 main roads in the whole country and a majority of the smaller roads are dusty dirt roads with slow moving ancient vehicles creaking over the bumps and rocks. Besides Belize city there is very little in the way of traffic and only in the city center will you experience a traffic jam of sorts. For the most part you have road to yourself besides the odd vehicle coming the other way and the highways are in good enough condition for the most part. In the rainy season those dusty dirt roads become wet & muddy and vast areas of the country are prone to flooding.

On the road you will see herds of cattle and Mennonites in horse and cart. You will see old farm trucks belching out black smoke slowly going up a steep hill carrying 30 or 40 farm workers packed tightly in the back. There are women riding along on motorcycles with a teenager hanging off the saddle, a toddler in front of her and heavy bags of groceries hanging from the handlebars causing the bike to sway along the side of the road. Small wooden houses up to 24 feet wide are often transported in one piece right across the country and it is not unusual to see a house coming down the road with no escort forcing all the oncoming vehicles out of the way.


Speed bumps have various utilities in Belize, as well as slowing down traffic and pedestrian crossings they also serve as vending spots for local people who will offer a variety of goods such as corn on the cob, tamales, coconut water, cashew nuts, juices, fruits and more. They are also key hitch hiking spots. A huge amount of the population of the country gets around from hoping on and off the back of pick up trucks and  therefore the bump provides a safe practical spot for both driver and passenger. The bumps are also used to pass and overtake slow moving vehicles. It is perfectly common to overtake a truck on a speed bump. The Police will not stop you for doing so. Not such a good factor for the pedestrians crossing though…

Hopkins Village can be cut off from the world during heavy down pours or storms. Or at least it could be as now thanks to the EU we are getting a new road and bridges built which will vastly improve the access to the village.

Belize is a place where you are truly away from the modern world, a place that feels somewhat “undiscovered”. None of the famous brands or names that are found all over the world chucked upon us by large corporations can be seen.

The whole country ‘s population is that of a small city in Europe where I come from and in the surrounding areas where I have now lived for 4 years there are many familiar faces that you see when out and about. People know you and remember you as there is not a crowd of hundreds of thousands coming by all the time. You are not a number, you don’t scan a bar-code to bring up your information, you know the name of the lady who answers the phone at the power company and the name of your neighbors dad. Formalities are very informal and ID is only requested occasionally…..

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