Canoeing in the Macal and Mopan Rivers  

by Larry Waight

For nature-loving visitors to Belize and San Ignacio Town, there are many opportunities to get out and see all the amazing natural beauty of Belize. One great way to do that is by taking a canoe tour of the Mopan and Macal Rivers. You’ll be able to spot a variety of tropical wildlife on either of these rivers, including egrets, iguanas, crocodiles, river turtles and much more. Be sure to enlist the services of an experienced local guide for the best results.

macal river

The Mopan River

The Mopan River runs through the Cayo District in Belize as well as part of Guatemala. It eventually merges with the Macal River and becomes the Belize River. That river eventually deposits into the Caribbean Sea. The Mopan River also snakes along several Maya ruins and archaeological spots. One such site is Xunantunich which includes several plazas, temples, and palaces. Xunantunich is also home to El Castillo Temple which is the second tallest structure in the country and is only accessible by a ferry that crosses the Mopan River. This river is very important to both wildlife and the citizens of Belize. It provides an important source of drinking water and agricultural use.

The Macal River

The Macal River mainly runs through Belize’s Cayo District and passes through San Ignacio, the eco-tourism capital of Belize. It starts in the rugged Maya Mountains and flows north until it meets the Mopan River. Just to the east of the Macal River Basin is the famous jaguar conservation spot of Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. The Macal River is a popular spot for ecotourism in Belize through canoeing and hiking. Even though many spots are unreachable for the average hiker, the Mountain Pine Ridge area is easily accessible by automobile. The lowest reaches are home to several jungle resorts in the area.

Canoe Tours

San Ignacio Town is located between the Mopan and Macal Rivers. Both rivers are full of wildlife viewing experiences, including a variety of tropical bird species, bats and many others. 

A popular canoe tour on the Macal River starts with a 20-minute drive to The Lodge at Chaa Creek, a world-class eco-resort. The canoe tour takes about two hours to get back into San Ignacio Town from Chaa Creek. During the tour, you’ll experience being in the natural habitat of Belize wildlife.

Step out of the ordinary on your trip to Belize by booking a river canoe trip to see amazing wildlife up close and personal on the Macal or Mopan rivers. 

Written by Larry Waight

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