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The Cayo District in the west of Belize is the largest and most temperate of Belize's districts. The capital of Cayo is San Ignacio.
The national capital of Belize, Belmopan, is located in the Cayo district. Other towns and villages include the town of San Ignacio, Santa Elena, Benque Viejo del Carmen; the villages of Valley of Peace, St. Margaret's, Roaring Creek, Armenia, San Jose Succotz, Arenal, Buena Vista, Calla Creek, Esperanza, Cristo Rey, Georgeville, Unitedville, Blackman Eddy, Ontario, Camalote, Los Tambos, Cotton Tree, Bullet Tree Falls, Santa Familia, St. Matthews, Teakettle, More Tomorrow and Spanish Lookout. The Cayo District is also home to the Pre-Columbian Maya ruins of Xunantunich, Cahal Pech, Chaa Creek and Caracol.
Major rivers in the Cayo District include the Macal River, Mopan River and Belize River.
Bird's Eye View of Cayo
The Cayo District in Belize spells excitement and adventure. Breathe in the fresh pine-scented air of the only true pine forest in Central America! Snaking through the towering pine trees are unspoiled rivers, a labyrinth of caves and a network of hiking trails. Spooky caves, stalactites, hanging bats, ancient Mayan burial sites are all part of the adventure - if you dare! Not recommended for the squeamish or claustrophobic!
An Offer You Can't Refuse
Keep your eyes peeled for Belize's legendary toucans, scarlet macaws, tapirs and wild pigs! Blanketing almost 300 square miles (127,000 acres) of the Cayo District, the Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is home to Blancaneaux Lodge, owned by movie director, Francis Ford Coppola of "Godfather" fame. Rumour has it that he'll make you an offer for a piece of pizza that you can't refuse!
Smack Dab in the Middle of Belize
Located in the Cayo District, Belize's capital Belmopan, is situated virtually smack dab in the middle of Belize. Referred to as the "Garden City" Belmopan has been the capital city of Belize since 1961, relocated there after Hurricane Hattie decimated Belize City.
With a population cited as 13,351 in the 2010 population Census, Belmopan offers the shops and services one would expect in a capital city - banks, beauty salons, dentists, doctors, furniture stores, hardware stores, Internet cafes, lawyers, medical clinics, pharmacies, restaurants, supermarkets, tour and travel operators, and veterinarians.
The central area of Belmopan is comprised mainly of Government buildings, banks and businesses. There are various foreign Embassies that are located in Belmopan including those of Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Greece, India, Mexico and the United States. The center of Belmopan is very busy. The lively Market Square - with Tuesday and Friday being market days - is a great place to score cheap eats and snacks before you head off into Belize's wide, blue yonder!
While the national capital is functional, San Ignacio Town is utterly charming! The streets are very narrow and it is better to mosey through the downtown than drive. Saturday is Market Day in San Ignacio and your opportunity to savour the fresh mangoes, vegetables, bananas and other tasty treats sold by the market vendors.
Charming San Ignacio
San Ignacio is a bustling town, with plenty of amenities for the discerning tourist or visitor - gift shops, banks, grocery/general stores, police station, post office, fabric store, French and German bakeries, stationery store, vets, doctors, dentists, hospitals, churches, schools, colleges, paint and hardware stores, hotels, resorts, parks, tour services, and so on. It's easy to tour, on foot, through the residential areas as they are within walking distance of downtown. If you are thinking of buying property in San Ignacio, wandering through the residential areas will give you a good perspective about the community.
If you're looking for a unique and charitable way to spend $20 of your hard-earned cash, head over to the San Ignacio Resort Hotel. For $20US, you can adopt an iguana (and even name him or her!) from their Green Iguana Exhibit. This program has increased the survival rates of Belizean iguanas by a whopping 80%!
La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge
There are many fiestas, fairs and festivals in Cayo with perhaps the wildest one being the annual "La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge", Central America's longest canoe race. Three-person teams furiously paddle a gruelling 180 miles in four days from San Ignacio, Cayo to Belize City. Sunburn, heatstroke, fun, exhaustion, zeal, aching limbs, determination, calloused hands and team spirit herald the four-day foray down the Macal and Belize Rivers. Belize Property Center sponsored teams in La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge in 2009.
Cayo is an Eco-Eden
Cayo is a birder's Eden and an eco-tourist's dream - stow your binocs to pack some awesome birdwatching into your trip! Perhaps, you'll catch a glimpse of the ever elusive emerald toucans....or the rufus-tail hummingbirds....or blue-crowned motmots.
Cayo proudly boasts majestic Mayan ruins and several pristine parks, including the Guanacaste and Blue Hole National parks, the aforementioned Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve and the Chiquibil National Park.
In 2006, there was an oil strike in Spanish Lookout and the wells are now in production. The 2 major highways in Cayo are the Western Highway which runs from Belize City to the Guatemalan border, and the scenic Hummingbird Highway which starts in Belmopan and ends at the crossroad of the Coastal Road and the Southern Highway in the Stann Creek District. Ecotourism anchors the region's economy.
If you fall in love with Cayo, which is easy to do, and would like to buy property there, contact our Cayo real estate specialist, John Acott.