Caribbean Cost of Belize
Altiplano y Cuchumatanes
Izabal & Caribbean
Sea of Cortes
Quintana Roo & Mayan Riviera
Veracruz & Tabasco
Yucatan & Campeche
Our favourite destinations
Nested between Mexico and Guatemala, Belize is a small country of less than 350. 000 inhabitants often unknown by the general public. On one side, 250 kilometres of coast with the Caribbean Sea for the only horizon. On the other one, a luxuriant jungle protecting exclusive archaeological sites. If Belize is the only English-speaking country of Central America, its roots are resolutely Mayan as manifest its archaeological relics which we invite you to discover. You can also enjoy its exceptional coral reef which makes Belize as one of the nicest destinations of diving in the world. Attention, a trip to Belize is not without risk as Francis Coppola said, you could fall in love with the country or consider yourself as a freebooter of the time of Pirate of the Caribbean!
2. Caribbean Cost of Belize
Caribbean Cost of Belize
Belize shelters the second biggest coral reef in the world. We can find there more than 70 types of corals, 400 kinds of fish and of even 200 deserted tropical islands. The Blue Hole, in the centre of the atoll Lighthouse Reef also attracts all desires. This ancient calcareous cave of 300m of diameter and 125m of depth was made famous by Jacques-Yves Cousteau who considered it to be one of 10 best sites of diving in the world. During your stay in the béliziennes Caribbean, you will have the pleasure to practice diving, snorkeling, peach, or simply, chill in the sun.
3. Altiplano y Cuchumatanes
Altiplano y Cuchumatanes
The north and east of Lake Atitlan form the high plains known as the Altiplano. The region is famous for its traditional Mayan villages that perpetuate an ancestral culture. One of the most important markets in Latin America is held in Chichicastenango. It is full of bright colors and unknown flavors. Each village has its own traditional costume, rich in meanings. In particular, indications of marital and social status can be found there.
Further north, clouds cover the Cuchumatanes mountains. It is cold in the highlands and hot and humid in the lowlands. Spanish, Quiche and Mam are the main languages spoken here. The pine forests and reliefs offer beautiful hikes to be made on foot or on horseback. This tourism off the beaten track allows you to meet the local people and discover their way of life.
Antigua was from 1543 to 1773 the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala which then extended from Costa Rica to the Mexican Chiapas. The colonial city has suffered throughout its history from many natural hazards: earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions. After the great earthquake of 1773, the government decided to relocate the capital about 50 kilometers away.
Since then, time seems to have stood still in Antigua. The city is an open-air museum with more than thirty monasteries and convents and a cathedral. The cobbled streets adjoin the flowered patios of the colonial houses. One strolls along the arcades of the Central Park observing in the distance the volcanoes Fuego, Agua and Acatenango. There are small cafés, nightlife and craft markets. A must-see stop on your trip!
5. Izabal & Caribbean
Izabal & Caribbean
In the east of the country, Lake Izabal is surrounded by tropical greenery. The region is home to a rich and varied fauna with more than 350 species of birds, monkeys, dolphins and manatees. The famous Río Dulce connects Lake Izabal to the Caribbean coast by flowing into Amatique Bay. Fort San Felipe reminds visitors that the region was regularly prey to pirate attacks.
On the Caribbean side, the Garifuna culture and language predominate. The population is a mixture of African slaves and indigenous people. The village of Livingston is the Guatemalan cradle of the Garifuna culture. The sound of the waves and Afro-Caribbean rhythms lull you to the rhythm of the waves. The contrast with the rest of the country is striking.
6. Lac Atitlan
Located in the southwest of the country, Atitlan is a lake of volcanic origin located at an altitude of 1,500 meters. The Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro volcanoes dominate the lake, offering exceptional panoramas. The fertile soil of these sinuous mountains has become the land of the Cack'chiquel, Quek'chi, Mam and Tzutujil ethnic groups who continue to perpetuate their traditions.
The lake is surrounded by picturesque villages. Fishing boats take visitors to the lake to discover local markets, traditional costumes and handicrafts. Weaving methods, indigenous paintings, and exotic fruit and vegetable stalls are admired. Considered by the writer Aldous Huxley to be the most beautiful lake in the world, Atitlan and its surrounding villages are worth several days.
Bordered by Mexico to the north and west and Belize to the east, the department of Petén is covered by a thick tropical forest protected by huge national parks. The Petén shelters an extremely varied fauna with jaguars, pumas, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, tapirs, macaws, toucans and parrots of all kinds. As soon as we enter, the jungle surprises us with its sounds, smells and colors.
The forest conceals other treasures with priceless Mayan vestiges, the most famous of them being the site of Tikal, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The Mayan city plunges us into a mystical atmosphere to the sound of howler monkeys and toucans. To push the adventure, some sites like El Mirador require several days of walking.
New techniques are revolutionizing archaeologists' research. Thus, in early 2018, an international team discovered a dozen Mayan cities linked together by a network of high roadways. The Petén has not yet revealed all its mysteries...
Guatemala is bordered to the south by Honduras and El Salvador. The Sierra de las Minas mountain range is one of the green lungs of the country. It is home to 800 species of mammals and 20 endemic bird species.
The volcano Ipala is one of the most popular in the region. One climbs the sides of the volcano in about an hour and a half. Once you reach the summit at an altitude of 1,650 meters, you can enjoy the view of the resplendent lagoon formed in the crater. It is possible to take a refreshing swim before starting the descent.
9. Los Verapaces
The Verapaces are characterized by lush forests, waterfalls, natural pools and caves. The region is divided into two parts: Alta Verapaz, with a cold climate and mist covered hills, and Baja Verapaz with a warm and tropical climate. The Verapaces territory is a paradise for nature lovers and those looking for adventure.
The natural pools and waterfalls of Semuc Champey offer an idyllic setting for swimming in the middle of nature. The caves of Lanquín or Candelaria invite us to discover their depths. The region is home to many species of birds including the rare Quetzal, the famous emblem of Guatemala. The luckiest will be able to observe this magnificent bird, or appreciate some of the 800 species of orchids that inhabit the forests.
10. Baja California
Regarded as one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the world, the state of Baja California Sur has been designed exclusively to offer tourists un-heard of adventure, comfort and relaxation, and everlasting fun. Created through divine extravagance with the pristine blue waters of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean, this land boasts spectacular cities, endearing towns, deserts and mountains. All of these important elements work together to create a beautiful concert of natural beauty to satisfy even the most seasoned of travellers.
11. Copper Canyon
Copper Canyon is a group of six distinct canyons in the Sierra Tarahumara now established as the Copper Canyon National Park. The overall canyon system is larger and portions are deeper than the Grand Canyon in neighboring Arizona. The canyons were formed by six rivers which drain the western side of the Sierra Tarahumara (a part of the Sierra Madre Occidental). All six rivers merge into the Rio Fuerte and empty into the Sea of Cortez. The walls of the canyon are a copper/green color which is where the name originates. There are many ways to explore Copper Canyon such as hiking, biking, driving or horseback riding. The most popular however is by train as the Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico or CHEPE, runs along the main canyon called Canyon Urique, between Chihuahua and Los Mochis, on the Gulf of California. The trip includes 87 tunnels and 35 bridges and at stopovers in Creel and Divisadero one can take in the breathtaking views. The canyons are home to approximately 290 species of birds, including 10 in danger of extinction, and almost one third of Mexico’s land mammals can be found in the canyon region. More than 3,500 species of plants grow here; among these are more than 400 wild medicinal plants.
Chiapas is famous for its wide variety of festivities, traditions, crafts and cuisine, you’ll also find a lot of natural beauty in Chiapas at such places as Canon del Sumidero National Park, the Cascadas de Agua Azul Biosphere Reserve and the Montebello Lagoons, where you’ll see turquoise-blue waters surrounded by a forest with indigenous plant and animal species. What’s more, you can visit fascinating Mayan archaeological zones, including those at Tonina, Bonampak, Yaxchilan and mysterious Palenque, where archaeologists have made recent discoveries of the rulers’ tombs. Nearby, in the magical city of San Cristobal de las Casas, you’ll see beautiful religious buildings like the Cathedral and the Templo de Santo Domingo. You can also visit the plazas and markets, where you’ll find crafts, garments and wood sculptures made by Tzotzil, Tzeltal and Lacandon indigenous artisans. In the surrounding areas of Tuxtla Gutierrez, the state capital, where you can marvel at important historic buildings like the Cathedral of San Marcos and the Antiguo Palacio de Gobierno, you can also visit the towns of Chiapas de Corzo, San Juan Chamula and Comitan de Dominguez. There you’ll see splendid architecture, various festivities and Spanish- and Mayan-influenced traditions.
13. Pacific Coast
The Pacific Coast contains some of Mexico’s principle beach resorts as well as other, lesser-known, beautiful spots and small coastal villages, backed by sweeping jungles that reach down to the clear blue waters of the Pacific. Known as the Mexican Riviera, the central coast has international beach resorts like Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, excellent seafood and a large selection of adventure tourism attractions and activities, and is one of the leading resort destinations in the country. Miles of palm trees, golden beaches and picturesque bays, excellent surf, active nightlife, elegant dining and luxury accommodation are the main focus of this part of Mexico. From Mazatlán in the north, the ‘Pearl of the Pacific, to the exhilarating action of the famous La Quebrada divers of Acapulco, bird watching near the small fishing village of San Blas and the jade green waters of Puerto Escondido, the Pacific coastal region holds something for everyone, whether looking for action or relaxation.
14. The North
Some people's thirst for adventure will be satisfied with the under-explored regions of Coahuila, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas and Durango towards the wild borders of northeastern Mexico. It is a region of canyons, where climbers can abseil over waterfalls, caving enthusiasts can crawl in extraordinary caves and bungee jumpers can swing between two steep cliffs.
15. Sea of Cortes
Sea of Cortes
Just south of California lies an unrushed and uncrowded inland sea known as the Gulf of California, Vermilion Sea, Sea of Cortez, or Sea of Cortés. A birder’s paradise - this rich archipelago serves as an important bird refuge and migration corridor. It is a place author John Steinbeck and marine biologist Ed Ricketts found “ferocious
with life” and described by Jacques Cousteau as the “world’s aquarium” and the “Galápagos of North America.” We tend to agree. UNESCO even declared it a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, noting it as one of the most biologically diverse marine environments on Earth. These wildlife-rich waters and islands are home to both plants and animals found nowhere else.
Each step in Mexico’s Sea of Cortés uncovers a world of breathtaking beauty and wildlife - giant and small lizards, sea turtles, boobies, pelicans, frigate birds, blue whales, gray whales, orca, humpback, pilot and fin whales, dolphins, whale sharks, mantas, and sea lions. Kayak in coastal mangroves and in crystalline blue coves. Hike along dunes, cactus-clad ridges, and among desert scrub. Swim with playful sea lions, watch whales, and snorkel among colorful coral. And in a picturesque setting of red rock cliffs, discover a centuries-old town or relax on a white-sand beach. Explore this extraordinary place and discover firsthand how small the human presence here truly is.
16. Mexico City
Mexico City, the oldest metropolis on the American continent, is perched atop a highland valley at about 2,240 meters (7,392 feet) above sea level. Towering high above the city’s southeast side are two volcanoes: Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl. The nation’s capital, now one of the world's largest and most densely populated cities, has some of the best weather in the world with an average temperature of 22º C (72º F). Mexico City is a cosmopolitan metropolis, where new and old traditions coexist side by side. It presents a remarkable array of Aztec ruins, colonial monuments and an impressive series of large public edifices from the 19th and 20th centuries. Here you can go shopping at bazaars and crafts markets in the Coyoacan and San Angel neighborhoods or you can go to exclusive boutiques and shopping centers in the posh communities of Santa Fe and Polanco, where you’ll be surrounded by the comfort of top-notch hotels and restaurants.
Located in Mexico’s southern region along the Pacific coast, Oaxaca’s terrain consists of extensive valleys and mountain chains. In this state, known for its important history and culture, you’ll have the opportunity to visit various town and cities inhabited by about 16 distinct ethnic groups. In many of those places, the indigenous people have preserved the traditions and customs of old. A must see is the city of Oaxaca, the state capital, a colonial city with some of the nation’s most magnificent architecture. There you’ll see Baroque edifices, green quarry stone constructions and you can visit important museums like the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca, which is housed in the Ex-Convent of Santo Domingo. You can also enjoy the city’s traditional fiestas, such as Noche de Rabanos and Guelaguetza. Oaxaca also has diverse archaeological sites, including the Zapotec ruins at Monte Alban, declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, and Mitla, which is known for it fret-ornamented structures.
The state of Puebla is located in Mexico’s central region in a zone with great biodiversity, consisting of sierras, forests, valleys and one of the nation’s most important river basins. It is home to the traditional dances of Quetzales and Voladores and various sites of interest such as archaeological zones, the La Malinche National Park and the volcanoes Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, which are covered with coniferous forests. These areas are ideal for trekking, hiking and mountain climbing. The area is also famous for the Talavera crafts and the exquisite cuisine including delicious dishes like mole, chiles en nogada (stuffed poblano chili peppers bathed in walnut sauce) and sweetmeats made from marzipan, goat’s milk caramel and yams.
19. Quintana Roo & Mayan Riviera
Quintana Roo & Mayan Riviera
Located on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula, Quintana Roo offers the beautiful waters of the Caribbean Sea, top-notch tourist resorts, white-sand beaches, marvelous ecological reserves and ancient Mayan ruins. Here you can visit all kinds of places that range from Cancun, an important destination for national and international tourists which has a 30 km (19 mile) stretch of beaches and an impressive hotel zone, to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
20. Veracruz & Tabasco
Veracruz & Tabasco
Located in Mexico’s eastern region along the Gulf coast, Veracruz has a tropical climate and impressive natural scenery, such as the Citlatapetl Volcano and Pico de Orizaba, the highest peak in the nation. You’ll also see picturesque cities and towns that have preserved their local architecture. Veracruz’s geographic location and wonderful climate make it the ideal destination to do all kinds of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, rafting, horseback riding and exciting rappelling outings with experienced guides. Pico de Orizaba National Park covers 19,750 hectares (48,782 acres) and has the highest mountain in Mexico. At the town of Catemaco you can take boat rides across the lagoon to the Isla de los Monos, famous for its howler monkey population. The reef system Sistema Arrecifal Veracruz, is one of Mexico’s most important marine parks due to its abundant coral formations. Along the coast you can visit the Costa Esmeralda, a 50 km (31 mi) beach strip north of the Port of Veracruz. Finally, if you wish to go back in time you can explore some archeological zones like El Tajin, Cempoala and Quiahuiztlan.
21. Colonial Cites
The number of colonial cities in Mexico is so great and almost all have won praise for their perfect layout, the harmony of their details or their historical significance. Opulent colonial constructions built as houses, haciendas, monasteries, hospitals, the headquarters of mines and farming estates, government buildings and of course churches embellish Mexico City as well as the cities of Oaxaca, Puebla, Guanajuato, Morelia, Zacatecas, Querétaro, Campeche, Veracruz and many others that are admired and photographed every day by locals and foreigners alike. These elegant Mexican buildings are witness to the passage of time, relating their secrets to those who choose to wander these roads paved with history.
22. Yucatan & Campeche
Yucatan & Campeche
Entering Yucatan is like opening a chest full of endless treasures, for this Mexican state is home to a stunning array of cultural treasures and varied natural landscapes: ancient Mayan ruins and contemporary indigenous villages; sprawling haciendas and gorgeous colonial cities; modern museums and a worldly population. Add to that the state’s natural riches, including the world’s largest (and pinkest) colony of flamingos and geologic idiosyncrasies like cenotes and a vast network of caves. The proud inhabitants of this south-eastern Mexican zone are faithful to the customs they inherited from a fascinating cultural mix of indigenous and Spanish elements occurred in the past centuries, and still they are aware of the winds of change and modernity that blow through this peninsular enclave nowadays.