Cayo, Westernmost of Belize's six districts...
Geographically the largest and most fertile district in
Belize, Cayo spans more than 2,000 square miles across diverse
terrain - from rolling hills and sweeping farmland devoted
to citrus orchards and cattle farming, to lush river valleys
and rugged mountain ridges
covered in sub-tropical jungle. Easy to reach on the Western Highway,
the Cayo District is approximately a one-hour drive
from Belize City.
With an estimated population
of about 50,000 people, one
of Cayo District's most important industries is eco-tourism.
Besides the country's most extensive number of Archeological
Sites and a growing number of comfortable accommodations,
Cayo offers visitors the unique opportunity to encounter its
physically diverse flora and fauna. With such natural wonders
as cascading waterfalls and limestone caves, an intact and
relatively undisturbed environment Cayo offers something for everyone. In fact over 60% of Cayo
District has been set aside as either a Wildlife Sanctuary,
National Park, or Forest Reserve.
Cayo you can Hike, Canoe, travel by Horseback,
or tour in the comfort of an air-conditioned van. Whatever
your preference, prepare yourself for the ultimate in an "up
close and personal" experience.
of Cayo consists of broadleaf jungle overlying
limestone formations. These formations are a result of an
uplifting of ancient coral beds during the past 20 million
years. Over time, flowing water has gradually dissolved
forming underwater rivers, sinkholes, and the Spectacular
Caves for which Cayo is famous.
Above 2,500 feet, granite rock formed from molten intrusions create a landscape of great pine forests, canyons and valley, waterfalls, and vistas of stunning beauty.
The Mountain Pine Ridge was formed in this way.
Agriculture in Cayo is concentrated in the Belize River valley, where the soil is kept fertile with flood waters from the highlands. Most settlements in Cayo District were founded in these areas, because their rich soils produced plentiful harvests and their waterways provided a means of traveling and transporting goods.
Today, it is not an uncommon site to see villagers along the river banks swimming, bathing and doing the family laundry.
Cayo, a region once rich with
logging and chicle farming, today boasts citrus
groves and cattle ranches. Cayo farmers also raise poultry,
corn, sorghum, beans, fruits, and various vegetables for both
domestic consumption and export.
Significant amounts of pine,
Santa Maria, cedar and mahogany are still harvested
by local timber interests.
& People ....
San Ignacio is the hub of commerce and tourism for western Belize, and
together with its sister town - Santa Elena - make up
populated area in Cayo District with over 14,000 residents.
along the banks of the Macal River, on a series of bluffs,
San Ignacio and Santa Elena are at an elevation high enough to be noticeably cooler
and less humid than the low-lying coastal plains.
Belmopan, the "new"
capital of Belize, was established in 1965, following devastation
to the former capitol, Belize City, by Hurricane Hattie.
geographical center of the country - Belmopan - lies near
Cayo District's eastern edge, 50 miles west of Belize
22 miles east of San Ignacio.
Spanish Lookout is Belize’s most modern Mennonite community with approximately 3,000 inhabitants, located midway between San Ignacio and Belmopan.
The community is spread out over open fields and small houses resembling a scene from a rural mid-western town in the United States.
In between are
wild rivers and tropical hardwood forests
where the indigenous jaguar, tapir and scarlet macal reside.
Along the rivers an easy-going people, living in modest
villages, traditionally have earned a living from working
and hospitable residents have long attracted
a vast spectrum of people and cultures - Maya
from Guatemala and Mexico, Lebanese, East-Indian and Chinese
entrepreneurs, as well as Mennonite farmers and adventure-seekers
from North America and Europe.
With lodging to fit any budget, Cayo appeals to visitors looking for high-spirited
adventure, while enjoying some of nature's finest handiwork.