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
east from Belize City; with another hour to reach Cayo's border in the west and the Petén region of Guatemalan.
With an estimated population of about 75,000 people, one of Cayo District's most important industries is eco-tourism. Besides the country's most extensive number of archaeological sites and with such natural wonders as cascading waterfalls and limestone caves, along with the unique opportunity to encounter its physically diverse flora and fauna in a relatively intact 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.
of Cayo consists of broad-leaf 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 created a landscape of pine forests, canyons, valleys & waterfalls, and vistas of stunning beauty. The Mountain Pine Ridge was formed in this way.
Cayo, a region once rich with logging and chicle farming, today boasts citrus groves and cattle ranches.
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.
& 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 20,000 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 with modest homes, resembling scenes from by-gone days of the rural mid-west.
And home to the indigenous jaguar, tapir and scarlet macal.
Along the rivers an easy-going people, living in modest
villages, traditionally have earned a living from working
the land. Today, it is not an uncommon site to see villagers along the river banks swimming, bathing and doing the family laundry.
have long attracted
a vast spectrum of people and cultures including, Maya
from Guatemala and Mexico, Lebanese, East-Indian and Chinese
entrepreneurs, as well as Mennonite farmers and adventure-seekers
from North America and Europe.
Welcome to Cayo ...