Canoe down the Mopan River in Cayo

by Larry Waight

Belize’s gorgeous waterways include beaches, lagoons and rivers. One of the most scenic rivers in Belize is the wide, winding Mopan River. When you’re in Belize, spend a few hours riding an inner tube down this river. It’s a wonderful way to relax, enjoy the scenery and spot wildlife.

The Mopan River

The Mopan begins in the jungles of Peten, Guatemala. It then runs through the Cayo District of Belize. At Branch Mouth, it merges with the Macal River to form the Belize River. The ancient Maya used the Mopan as a major trading route between cities. It was also an important source of drinking water. Today, the Mopan is still the main water source for Belizeans. It’s also one of the best places to enjoy river sports like canoeing, kayaking, fishing, river tubing and swimming. The thick, green trees on the riverbanks are teeming with wildlife and birds of all kinds.

Natural Vistas

The La Ruta Maya River Challenges starts on the Mopan River. Photo courtesy: Chaa Creek Resort

The water of the Mopan is clear and cool. As you ride on a tube down the river, you’ll feel cool and refreshed despite the heat. The trees offer shade, and the colorful birds and wildlife are a constant show. People have spotted herons, catbirds, parrots, storks and toucans in the trees along the river. You can also watch armadillos, iguanas, foxes, opossums, kinkajou, monkeys, pumas, ocelots and lizards all cooling off near the river.

How To Visit the Mopan

The best place to find a tour of the river is in San Ignacio in the Cayo District. San Ignacio is the hub of Belize’s inland adventures. You can arrange a tour of the river by canoe, kayak or inner tube. Stop in for lunch or cocktails while you book an excursion to the river. If you’re staying at a resort in the Cayo District, ask the hotel staff about excursions to the Mopan River. This is a popular activity, and your hotel operator probably knows the top river guides. 
While you’re making plans to tour the Mopan River, come see what else the Cayo District has to offer. It’s a lively, colorful district full of natural beauty. 

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