Some travelers desire more than just relaxation for their getaway, instead opting for the less travelled path of adventure and sport tourism. While Belize offers opportunities for competitive cycling and fishing nothing compares to Belize’s La Ruta Maya River Challenge. Held once a year La Ruta Maya is the only adventure sport weekend of its kind and caliber in Central America. This race dates back to March 9th, 1998 when San Ignacio resident and businessman Richard Harrison conceptualized and executed the first ever river challenge. Fun Fact: Harrison’s inspiration for the event was a marketing one! The intention of La Ruta Maya was to promote natural Belizean made products while creating environmental awareness.

This canoe race takes place over the course of four days, and spans 175 miles of Belize’s major river system. This adventure sport weekend appeals to both professional and amateure paddelers. There are six major divisions one can compete in:

    1. Male — An all male team.
    2. Female — An all female team.
    3. Mixed — A team comprised of both male and female genders.
    4. Masters — All team members must be over forty years of age.
    5. Intramural — All members must be active students under twenty five years old currently enrolled in a recognized Belizean institution.
    6. Family — All participants must be closely related (next of kin). 

La Ruta Maya is rooted in community tradition which is why on the eve of the first race locals and tourists alike gather in the twin town of San Ignacio.  Belikin Beer, the title sponsor of the race, holds an opening celebration in the Welcome Center where competitors and fans can share a drink, a laugh, and a moment. In recent years a local performance art theater by the name of Wildfire Artzmophere has taken to reciting the Popol Vuh (Ancient Mayan Text) as a way of honoring the heritage and history of the races title and route. 

As the sun begins to rise you will find throngs of people gathered on both sides of the river bank near the Hawksworth Bridge. Bystanders wait patiently for the sound that signals the  beginning of the race. Suddenly the race begins, and hundreds of canoes fight to be the first to cross San Ignacio’s quaint swing bridge in order to receive the first of the race’s glory. Fun Fact: 15 minutes into the race paddlers will meet a confluence where the Macal and Mopan river meet to create the Belize River. From that marker forward competitors will face rapids, currents, and portages. The first day will come to an end at a village near Belmopan where competitors are welcomed by residents and fans with music, food, and dance.

The second day proves to be equally grueling as paddlers make their way to the village of Double Head Cabbage; and from there head to Burrel Boom on the third day. During these days service teams and fans alike camp along the river side in order to keep the paddlers company and enjoy the merriment planned by the Ruta Maya organizers. On the other hand, some locals choose to only stop at strategic points to observe the race. A hot spot for this is Burrel Boom, where a fair and market are held to provide viewers with entertainment and local cuisine. These types of  celebrations commemorate the economic history of the race’s route. During the colonial period the Belize river was used to transport goods from the mainland to the Caribbean Sea, which is why trade is so important during La Ruta Maya. On the final day competitors will make their way to the heart of Belize City where the winner will cross the Belchina Bridge. 

The four day event is brought to a close on National Heroes and Benefactors Day, which allows for everyone to get some much needed rest!

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Hopkins Village is well known as the hub of the Garifuna Culture in Belize. In celebration of this Culture and a tasty tribute to the most delicious of tropical fruits, the Hopkins Chapter of Belize Tourism Industry Association, has established the “Hopkins Mango Festival”

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Mango Festival 2016

What to Expect? You can find everything in and on Mangoes, from the whole fruit to mango jams/jellies, mango smoothies, mango yogurt, mango lemongrass juice to enticing culinary masterpieces by renowned chefs and cooks.

The Hopkins Mango Festival is not only a delicious fruit fête but it also highlights Garifuna cultural performances, exhibits, arts and crafts and live Garifuna bands.

SAVE THE DATE: “Hopkins Mango Festival 2016” is on May 27th & 28th

Join some of Belize’s greatest chefs as they prepare their best mango dishes for you and be entertain by the many cultural performances.  It is a festival that can be enjoy by the entire family.

Everyone who’s familiar with Belize knows that September is a time for celebration. Every year Belizeans throw a month-long party to celebrate our History, Culture and Independence. Here’s a glimpse of what it’s like to be a part of the celebrations here in September.

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From day one, everybody is gearing up for the big party…

and everyone, everywhere seems to be all smiles all the time!

The biggest event of the month is undoubtedly the massive Carnival Road March, where the entire country pours into the streets dancing, marching and boasting a rainbow of colors.

Check out this guy’s mom showing him how it’s done!

Flags are everywhere… and people get really creative when they’re showing off their Belizean pride!

And it’s not over yet, with lots of other events left and the big Independence Day celebrations still ahead, September truly is a wonderful time to be in Belize.

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