Every culture has their own unusual ‘delicacies’ and Belizeans are no exception. Maybe due to the mix of cultures that settled here; the escaped Africans slaves as well as the German Mennonites, Maya (and more) over the years who brought their own customs and traditions. Mash that into one melting pot and you have a plethora of bizarre!
1. Meet the Gibnut or Paca, also affectionately known as the Royal Rat (since served to Queen Elizabeth II on her Belize visit some years ago). Many Belizeans will tell you its a must-try delicacy. Check out Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern gibnut feast here.
2. Split pea soup with Pig tails or Pig Snouts – served with handmade flour dumplings over white rice, this Belizean comfort food is dear to our hearts.
3. It’s no secret that Belizeans love game meat and the Peccary is no exception. Stewed, roasted, smoked or any other variation – it’s an exotic dish that begs to be tried.
4. Armadillo – also known to the Maya as “Wech” is often roasted and served in tacos (with a twist of lime, yum!), as sal-picon (a roasted meat ceviche) and a variety of other ways .
5. Cow-foot or Cow-tongue soup – a famous Belizean response to a hangover is exactly what it says it is.
6. Hickatee or River Turtle is prized meat – already an endangered specie and with a limited hunting season in Belize, consider yourself lucky if you get to try it.
7. Bamboo Chicken or Iguanas – Definitely an acquired taste and mostly consumed in rural areas, but if your taste buds crave the rare and exotic – this is a must try! (Don’t worry, our resident iguanas are perfectly safe from our kitchen!)
8. Bukut or Stinking-Toe (Cassia Grandis) – Not all the bizarre food in Belize are animals; this lovely tree that showers Ka’ana’s guests with its tender pink petals as they’re shown to their rooms, produces pods with sticky, jam-like sections surrounding the seeds. The odor leaves much to be desired (hence its Belizean name) but it’s well known for its medicinal and nutritional values.
A picture can say a thousand words right? We handpicked our top 10 Belize Travel Images that depict everything from flora, fauna and everything else that makes Belize – well, Belize. Send us your favorite images!
1. The ‘Mother of all Caves’ .. Actun Loch Tunich ! This expedition starts off with a vigorous hike into the foothills of the Maya Mountains. The edge of the Actun Loch Tunich sink hole sits over 300 feet above the basin below, 200 feet above the rainforest canopy that grows out from the sink hole basin.
2. Jaguars are found throughout Belize in the lowland forests and along the coasts. Adult jaguars are solitary and only come together for a short time to breed. Belize, however, has one of the healthiest populations in Central America, and the Jaguar is protected from hunting throughout Belize. You can book a tracking expedition with us to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
3. This flashy and iridescent blue butterfly is the beautiful Blue Morpho that is widely known throughout Belize. Look carefully and you will see them all around our property.
4. The green iguana, known locally as “bamboo chicken”, is the largest lizard in Belize and one of the largest in the world. It is often found perched on a branch overhanging a river, and when threatened will plunge into the water for safety.
5. They are one of 3 types of rays inhabiting the waters of Belize. The spotted eagle ray is covered with large white and cream-colored spots on dark background and has a white underbelly. These rays can be found along reefs, walls and sandy areas, including shallow areas. Spotted eagle rays generally swim alone, although they are sometimes observed in pairs and occasionally schools.
6. Belize’s national flower is the Black Orchid. The flower is actually not black at all but deep purple or violet in color. It is one of the few Orchids that flowers all year long.
7. The Maya are just one part of the rich melting pot of cultures that exist in Belize. Their vibrant Maya history and culture is respected and celebrated in Belize and the world.
8. Red Eyed Leaf Frog: The red eyed leaf frog lives on leaves. This frog is nocturnal; hunts at night and sleeps during the day. In the forests of Belize, the Red-eyed tree frog minimizes water loss by resting underneath leaves and tucking its limbs up close to its body.
9. The falls here at Davis Falls are about 500 feet high and are the second highest in the country (after 1,000-Foot Falls in the Mountain Pine Ridge), and the natural pool at the base of the falls is 75 feet deep. The swimming is wonderful, and the undisturbed forest around the falls is great for a picnic or enjoying nature.
10. You never know what color palette the sunsets in Belize will bring you. It is ever-changing, ever so beautiful and nothing short of spectacular each and every day.
Today marks exactly one month before the predicted “End of the World”- at least according to the Maya Calendar- and we want you to end it with a bang (That is if it really ends, anyway!) Here’s our list of suggestions of the most memorable things you can do here in Belize!
Belize is Home to many Amazing Creatures but if we had to narrow it down, here’s our Top 10 fave Belize animals:
1. Jaguar – You already know why, they’re stealthy and chic in motion. The chances of really seeing them in the wild are very rare but don’t fret, just hop over to the Belize Zoo nearby!
2. The Keel-billed Toucan- This strikingly colorful bird is also the National Bird of Belize.
3. Jesus Lizard – Don’t be fooled by its dead stillness or its cute little dinosour look. If you get close enough to touch it, before you even see it move, it will have your finger in a vice grip with its razor sharp teeth and won’t let go until it feels you have shed enough blood for it to make a run for it, and it does that so fast too, that’s why it can run across water before it has time to sink!
4. Maya Coral Snake – This beautiful Maya Coral Snake can be very difficult to see and her neurotoxic venom is the most dangerous in Belize.
5. Whale Sharks – The Whale Shark is the largest fish in the world, and one of the largest creatures of any kind alive today. And they love Placencia as much as we do!
6. Howler Monkeys – Usually hanging around all the Maya ruins, when they howl you may confuse them for a certain dinosaur (Understandable since Spielberg used them in Jurassic Park for T-Rex’s vocals!).
7. King Vulture – Known as “King Jancro” in Belize, is the largest and most colorful of the four species of vultures in Belize. Their extremely thick and strong bill is well adapted for tearing, and their long, thick claws for holding the meat.
8. The male Green Iguana – Despite its name, becomes larger and orange in color during its breeding season. It is protected and can grow 6 feet in length.
9. Sea Turtles (Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback and Loggerhead) can be seen in the waters of Belize. They live at sea and the females come ashore only to lay their eggs.
10. Crocodiles – Belize is home to 2 types: the American Crocodile can live in both saltwater and freshwater, while the smaller Morelet’s Crocodile lives only in freshwater. Both are on the Endangered Species list.
“Sharon Matola was – and remains – the most courageous person I’ve ever met. The fact that she wields that courage on behalf of the wildlife of Central America – well, that’s why we’re asking you to consider her nomination” – Bruce Barcott.
Acclaimed Belizean conservationist, director and founder of The Belize Zoo And Tropical Education Center, Sharon Matola, has been recognized for her dedication as Belize’s premier wildlife educator. In a recent interview, Matola confessed that she was both honored and stunned to be considered for such a prestigious international award and prize.
According to a public statement, “the work of all the biennial Indianapolis Prize nominees spans the globe, representing a range of species and locales.” Matola’s efforts here in Belize have been defined by the Jaguar along with the endangered Scarlet Macaws and Tapirs of Central America.
The Indianapolis Prize Committee will convene in March to review the applications in order to select six finalists, who will then be announced in the spring of 2012. With any luck, Sharon, who was nominated by Marsha Johnston, an editor and freelance writer, and supported by Bruce Barcott, author of Last Flight Of The Scarlet Macaw, will be one of those.
The Prize Jury will then determine the winner, who will be announced in mid-2012 and honored at the next Indianapolis Prize Gala. In addition to receiving the $100,000 prize, the recipient is also awarded the Lilly Medal, an original work of art that signifies the winner’s contributions to conserving some of the world’s most threatened animals.
When Sharon Matola impulsively started The Belize Zoo – the best little zoo in the world – in 1983, most locals had no idea what their national animal – the tapir – looked like, or the magnificent Harpy Eagle. Today it is the most interesting and diverse “reserve” in Central America, housing mammals, reptiles and birds in their natural habitat.
Matola has enjoyed a colourful career – with stints in the circus and filmmaking. Documented in the book The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw: One Woman’s Fight to Save the World’s Most Beautiful Bird (2008), by Bruce Barcott, she fought against the Challilo Dam Project in Belize and has lead the way as Belize’s premier wildlife conservationist and educator. Sharon is more commonly known in Belize for her love of jaguars, as she personally nursed back to health a wounded jaguar, “Angel”, who lost her leg in the wild. Her story continues to unravel each and every day.
Home to the world’s first and only jaguar reserve, Belize has one of the healthiest populations of jaguars (Panthera onca) in Central America. Endowed with a brilliantly spotted velvet coat similar to that of a leopard, this elusive feline prowls the coasts and roams the lowland rainforests. The “yaguar” – meaning beast that kills with one leap – is well-adapted to its diverse habitats as it agilely and stealthily hunts its prey in trees or water, making it one of the few members of its family tolerant of water.
Integrated into the sacred and secular realms of Mayan Mythology, the jaguar is said to possess the transient ability of moving between worlds because of its comfort both in the trees and the water, the ability to hunt both in the daytime and in the nighttime, as well as the habit of sleeping in caves – places often associated with the “Xibalba”, the underworld.
As of today, an estimated fifteen thousand jaguars remain in the wild, six thousand of which live in Central and North America. Being the largest cat in the Americas and the third largest in the world, a wild jaguar can live between twelve and sixteen years. Adult jaguars are solitary in nature and only come together for a short period of time to breed. The average litter size is one to four cubs that remain with their mothers for two years before seizing their territories. Food availability dictates the size of its territory; in a forest such as the Cockscomb Basin, where its prey base includes deer, fish, peccaries, rodents and tapirs, a jaguar often roams over a territory of about 20 square kilometers of natural habitat.