The Cayo District is Belize’s western most district, and the town of Santa Elena is the town which lies on the border of Guatemala. Due to a hurricane in 1961 the Government of Belize decided to move the country’s capital to a new city called Belmopan in the centre of the Cayo District. Cayo is also home to the Maya Mountains, the regional name for the mountain range which extends out of Mexico and Guatemala and ends in Belize. Because of the altitude, the weather here is drier and cooler… perfect for oranges and pine trees with its cool nights and warm days. The main town of San Ignacio, known locally as “Cayo”, is located along the Western Highway about 70 miles and 90 minutes drive time from Belize City. Teeming with Guatemala-bound travelers, archaeologists, peace corps workers, North American retirees and thrill seekers, “Cayo” is a unique blend of America’s Old West and tropical backwater with frontier-like wooden shops on narrow streets.
Nestled into a quiet valley where the Macal and Mopan rivers meet to form the Belize River, the two towns of San Ignacio and sister-town Santa Elena make up Belize’s second largest urban area. They are separated by the Macal River and joined by Belize’s only suspension bridge, the one-lane Hawksworth Bridge (Built in 1949). Together the towns have a combined population of about 20,000 including Creole, Mestizo (Spanish-Maya), Lebanese, Chinese, Mennonite, Maya and other cultures. Both English and Spanish are spoken, plus a myriad of other languages. Cayo is populated by a wide variety of ethnic groups, while the towns closer to the border are mostly spanish speaking. The district is filled however with numerous towns and villages which vary from Mayan Indian to Creole.
Burns Avenue is “Main Street” and a good place to begin a tour of the town. Most days it’s a busy thoroughfare with lots of people walking in the streets. Burns Avenue and the adjacent streets are packed with shops, hotels and places to eat where hospitable townspeople mingle in restaurants, bars and wooden shops with colonial era architecture of days gone by. There’s lots to do and see in and around the town, from butterfly farms to canoeing to Mayan ruins, so it’s best to plan at least a day or two if you’re traveling in the area. There are also bike rentals and many lovely walks to take in an around the twin towns.
For more information on Cayo go to the page on National Parks
This is the edge of civilization. This is Black Rock River Lodge, Belize.
Black Rock River Lodge is cradled in green, perched on a hill above the Macal River south of San Ignacio in Black Rock Canyon. A more beautiful and tranquil spot you may never find.
Single from $80 – Double from $95
In the forest, next to the jungle!
We produce the finest food in the Pine Ridge and have created some of the most beautiful gardens on the planet. No other lodge has a staff with better knowledge of Caracol or the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve.
duPlooy’s is a small jungle lodge, where visitors
feel relaxed in our friendly surroundings.
duPlooy’s offers a variety of rooms to suit everyone. Rooms have porches, hot water, ceiling fans and screened windows. All porches have hammocks
Single & Double from $145
The flora, wildlife and birding here are like no place on earth.
Hidden Valley Inn is an upscale 12 cottage, full service resort located on 7200 acres of private reserve in the Maya Mountains of Western Belize.
Single $150 – Double $170