We decided to rent a car and venture south for the day to Punta Gorda. Having planned this daytrip as just a drive down south to explore the region and uncertain as to what we would find, we were pleasantly surprised at the beauty of the countryside. Having only small villages along the route, you can drive for miles without seeing another vehicle. This area of Belize is the least developed and is home to some of the most beautiful rainforest in the country. On previous trips to Belize, we visited many of the different regions of this small country. San Ignacio in the Cayo district, Corozal in the northern most region and the islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. Visiting the different regions reinforces how vastly different these areas can be. A day trip to Punta Gorda was an easy drive from Placencia village and definitely provides some options for future daytrips.
The Toledo District is the furthest south, and although very densely populated is beautiful and charming with small fishing communities and small farms dotting the countryside. We quickly realized the numerous options this area of the country has to offer. Banana plantations, spice farms and cacao plantations can be seen from the Southern Highway; the only road going south after Placencia.
Many people have told me the Ixcacao chocolate tour is something you definitely must do while in the area. Although we ventured off the “beaten path” and found it located deep within the rainforest, we were not scheduled to do a tour, but were able to see their process and purchase some chocolate. Definitely worth the drive! Tours and daytrips can be scheduled at any tour office in the village.
The countryside is dotted with small villages, wild turkeys, horses and some of the most beautiful churches you will see anywhere you may travel. Two major Maya ruin sites are along this route to Punta Gorda and said to be definitely worth a visit. Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun. Both looked easily accessible from the Southern Highway, as well as Hokeb Ha Cave which is near the village of Blue Creek.
Some additional sights along the way….
The major lesson we learned on this short day trip to Punta Gorda in the Toledo district, is we must go back! A visit to the ruins, Spice Farm Nursery, Ixcacao Chocolate Tour and the downtown area of Punta Gorda on market days is definitely on my list of “to do’s” in this beautiful little country I’m loving more everyday!