How to Be an Eco-Conscious Hiker in Belize

by McNab Editorial Team
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If you love to hike but dropping temperatures at home require you to don coats, boots, mittens, scarves and hats to enjoy your favorite hiking trail, how about tropical hiking in Belize before 2020 ends? Belize is small, warm and easy to navigate. The landscape is spectacular and includes mountains, valleys, beaches, jungles and forests. Hiking is one of the best vacations you can take right now because remote areas keep you from coming into contact with crowds of people, eliminating concern about being exposed to Covid-19. Have fun. Bring a camera. Make it an eco-friendly adventure by adopting these 7 eco-friendly tips to show your respect for the land.

Guidelines for environmentally responsible hikers:

Explore a protected area in APAMO’s umbrella. Photography by Quilz Tamay

  1. Obey signs. Don’t venture into prohibited areas.
  2. Manage your waste. Everything that goes in must come out; especially garbage.
  3. Stick to proper paths and trails; don’t wander off.
  4. Look but don’t touch or feed the animals you encounter. Even the cute ones.
  5. Manage fire responsibly. If you light a fire, stamp it out so no embers remain. Double check the park’s fire policies.
  6. Respect water resources. You risk upsetting the ecological balance by dumping any waste into bodies of water.
  7. Take responsibility for your own safety if you insist on hiking without a guide.

Where to go? Possibilities are endless!

  • Hike up the Maya Mountains. Explore fabulous rock formations that are breathtaking.
  • Climb Victoria Peak Natural Monument, the nation’s second highest summit at 3,675 feet. This trek is not for the faint-hearted.
  • Explore tropical forests within Blue Hole National Park.
  • Take a self-guided walk within the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and jaguar preserve.
  • Explore Ben’s Bluff Trail, a 4k hike awash in wildflowers–or Tiger Fern Trail, a 4.3k roundtrip.
  • Enjoy 2+ miles of beautifully-marked nature trails that transect Guanacaste National Park in the Cayo District.
  • The Monkey River Loop is an easy 1.1k trek that may include sightings of shy manatees living in the river.
  • You’ll to pay a fee to explore the Panti Medicinal Trail, but if natural botanicals intrigue you, don’t miss this hike.
  • Catena Transcet in Stann Creek delivers a 15k (out and back) hike that includes a 642m altitude climb

Should you hire a tour guide?

Up for a tour? Photo via Leah Flores/Hamanasi

Even if you’re the most independent soul on the planet and you’ve got a list of hiking credentials that is so remarkable even you are impressed by it, hiring a guide is one of the best moves you can make. Not only do local Belize guides know the lay of the land, but they’re aware of trails that may be closed due to weather or other circumstances and a good guide is wealth of geographic and cultural information about Belize ecology. Belize guides are proud of their homeland, they can save you time and frustration and they understand all of the nuances that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought, so you not only collect amazing memories but you contribute to the nation’s economy–another reason to dig out your hiking shoes, your gear and your best intentions. Once you hike Belize, say frequent visitors, no destination comes close to matching this lush wonderland of diversity.

Header photo: Tiger Fern in Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary via Belize Audubon Society.

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