What do Canadians do after spending some good quality time at the beach? Head into the mountains, of course! From Hopkins Village we took the gorgeous Hummingbird Highway across Belize with a slight detour through the fascinating area called Spanish Lookout, otherwise known as “Little America.” All of a sudden we came through the jungle and into what looked like a town in Middle America. There were tractors, rolling hills, and Steves’s Diner. (It may actually be something like The Sunset Diner, but it starts with an ‘S’ and we called it Steve’s Diner). A classic American-style diner in the middle of Belize? Okay, it’s more like a food cart with a lean-to and picnic tables, but we had to stop there. We learned that many North Americans are buying up land in Belize due to its very reasonable price (approx $1000US/acre). Often the properties have very fertile land, perfect for growing orange trees and raising cattle.
After our detour through Little America, we headed into the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve to scope out the Rio Frio Cave, Rio On Pools, and 1,000 Foot Falls. We found camping at Douglas da Silva, but the facilities were non-existent and overgrown with grass. The caretaker of the area offered to let us to camp next to one of the old abandoned forestry buildings. Once darkness hit it felt like the scene of a horror movie: abandoned buildings, out in the middle of nowhere, random strangers with machetes… luckily we made it through the night, and felt relatively safe thanks to the night watchman. The following night we set up camp in a parking area above the Rio On Pools, which had a great view of the pools and sunset… plus there weren’t any abandoned buildings available for zombies to come out of and attack us.
It was a nice change from the Yucatan. We were used to paying big coin to see natural (or ancient) wonders with hundreds of other tourists. Almost anything worth seeing along the Yucatan peninsula was fenced in so the gringos would have to pay at the gate. Spending time virtually alone at these pools, waterfall, and caves was an amazing experience and something we had been missing since Baja.
This is the novelty tourist map of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve we used. Don’t believe Lonely Planet, the Chiquibul road is significantly better than Cristo Rey.
For the first time since the US we made it to a Shell gas station. Adios Pemex!We stopped on the Hummingbird Highway at the mennonite-run Country Barn for yogurt and ice cream. Ice cream every day keeps the doctor away… or something like that. Steve’s Diner in Spanish Lookout has wicked burgers.The Rio Frio caves. “Hammer Down” Edgar decided to take the road less travelled. He made it down the path with a little (a lot of) throttle, but needed a couple tugs from the recovery strap for the way back up. Note the three-wheeler action below. Our camp at Douglas Da Silva. Once again the pine tree reminded us of home… but the abandoned buildings in the forest reminded us of The Blair Witch Project. The Rio On pools. Great for cooling off in the afternoon and a great alternative to a shower in the morning. The 1000ft falls from about 1000ft away.Our campground above the Rio On pools.