Located on the coast of Stann Creek District in southeastern Belize, the small village of Hopkins has steadily become the top cultural destination in the country.
Hopkins was built in 1942 and named after a traveling priest. Today, approximately 1,000 people live in Hopkins, the majority of which are members of the Garifuna culture, an Afro-Caribbean people that first arrived in Belize 200 years ago. Today, most residents of Hopkins are still focused on traditional work like farming and fishing, but it is the growing tourism industry which has led so many visitors to beat a path to this small village.
Hopkins is unusual in that it is laid out along a long arc on the coast but is bisected down the middle by a small river. The north side (sometimes called Baila) and the south side (sometimes called False Sittee) give visitors two very different looks, but it is generally agreed that the crescent bay and view out over the Caribbean is simply spectacular.
Hopkins has been named the friendliest village in the country several times, and visitors should expect a genuinely warm reception. Hopkins is an especially popular destination on November 19 when the entire country celebrates Garifuna Settlement Day to commemorate the arrival of the Garifuna to Belize's shores. In Hopkins, the holiday begins with a dramatic dawn re-enactment of Garifuna dugout canoes landing on the beach followed by lots of music, dancing, drumming, and feasts of traditional Garifuna foods like cassava bread, seafood, wangla (a candy made with toasted sesame seeds), and hudut (a soup made with coconuts, fish, and plantains).
Some visitors come to Hopkins to partake in the rich fishing available in and near the village as there are several wetland areas, coastal estuaries, and lagoons that are ideal for fishing. But most visitors come to Hopkins in order to learn more about Garifuna culture. Several local families offer workshops on learning to harvest, prepare, and cook Garifuna food, learn Garifuna dances, or learn how to play traditional Garifuna drums which are used to let the ancestors "speak" and tell stories of love, war, betrayal, and joy.
If you'd like to discover the magic of Hopkins Village for yourself, you can rely on Untame Belize, a full-service tour company that is based right in Hopkins. Untame Belize also provides shuttle service, private ground transfers, and organizes adventure tours for affordable prices to all of the most popular destinations in the country.
Belize is celebrating a new partnership with Sun Country Airlines which has announced the first-ever seasonal nonstop service from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Belize, marking the 10th U.S. city to offer nonstop service to the country.
Sun Country will operate roundtrip flights once weekly on Saturdays between Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) and Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City (BZE).
“Sun Country’s new nonstop flight from Minneapolis to Belize City marks our farthest reach into the Upper Midwest — an area of the U.S. that can really benefit from easy access to a tropical Belizean vacation when winter comes,” said Karen Bevans, Director of Tourism for Belize.
“We appreciate Sun Country for further supporting our thriving tourism industry and providing more curious travelers with seamless opportunities to escape to Belize.” Mrs. Bevans added that “the Belize Tourism Board is committed to enhancing and expanding tourism programs that contribute to the momentum of the Belizean tourism industry. Working with travel partners like Sun Country enables us to serve as good stewards for the destination while maintaining Belize’s high-quality standards for accommodations.”
“At Sun Country, we pride ourselves on delivering fantastic value to our guests, connecting them to their favorite people, places and memories,” said Ben Brookman, the Vice President of Network and Pricing for Sun Country Airlines. “Belize used to be considered a best-kept secret among travelers. Now that the secret’s out, we’re excited to help curious travelers experience it for themselves.”
Minneapolis/St. Paul joins an ever-expanding list of U.S. and Canadian markets offering nonstop flight service to Belize. The list currently includes Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Denver, Newark, Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Calgary, and Toronto. Tickets are now on sale at suncountry.com.
Travelers visiting Belize who need deals on shuttles and transfers, adventure tours and even accommodations can rely on the expertise of Untame Belize. Untame Belize is a premier tour operator based in southern Belize and is run by a team of local tourism professionals.
For more information on traveling to Belize, visit http://www.untamebelize.com/.
November is the perfect time to visit Belize because the weather is delightfully warm with sunny skies. November is also when Belize celebrates Garifuna Settlement Day on the 19th when the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna culture is honored with lots of dancing, music, drumming, and traditional foods. In the town of Punta Gorda, a popular event called the Battle of the Drums pits drummers from around the country in a grueling, three-day challenge.
Visitors coming into Belize from Mexico can enjoy door-to-door shuttle service from Untame Belize which provides transfers to anywhere in the country, including Dangriga, Placencia, Hopkins, Belmopan, Belize City, and San Ignacio. Untame Belize also provides shuttle service to and from popular tourist destinations in Mexico like Cancún, Playa de Carmen, and Tulum. And if you're traveling as a group, Untame Belize offers special discounts.
Untame Belize also organizes adventure tours, including visiting ancient Maya sites, horseback riding, bird watching, hiking through a wilderness sanctuary, going off-road with ATVs in the jungle, zip lining, and cave tubing (floating down underground rivers).
Most of the Maya people in Belize live in remote, isolated villages, so the best way to learn more about them is by participating in a cultural tour. These culture tours include traveling to a Maya village and learning more about their traditional way of life, their history, language, music, and culture.
Participants of a Maya cultural tour will enjoy many hands-on activities like preparing a traditional meal from scratch. The Maya have been farming corn (maize) for thousands of years, and the corn god played an important role in the ancient Maya pantheon. Maya cuisine today still revolves around corn, so participants will learn how to grind corn in order to make delicious tortillas and tamales.
Another ancient food used by the Maya for thousands of years is chocolate, which is made from the "beans" or seeds of the cacao plant. Cacao is an important agricultural product in Belize today, and the Maya have many traditional recipes made from cacao. Participants of a Maya cultural tour will learn how to make ancient beverages like hot chocolate from cacao beans grown right in the village.
Other hands-on activities that participants can enjoy include learning how to weave using reeds grown in the region. These organic, sustainable sources of fiber are then plaited or woven to make bags and baskets as well as hammocks, which were invented by the Maya people thousands of years ago. Other fun hands-on activities available for a Maya cultural tour include learning how to carve and fashion musical instruments from locally grown bamboo.
There are no physical requirements for attending a Maya cultural tour, so participants of all ages are welcome. Participants are advised to bring a camera, sun protection, and insect repellant as well as to dress appropriately for a jungle setting. A Maya cultural tour is an all-day event and lasts around eight hours.
If you'd like to experience Maya culture for yourself, be sure to book your tour with Untame Belize. Untame Belize also offers other exciting tours such as ATV expeditions in the jungle as well as arranging accommodations at Davis Falls Inn, a charming guest house in southern Belize.
If you are coming to Belize, here are some jungle adventure tours you should add to your bucket list:
Although Belize is an incredibly beautiful country, the lush rainforests make it hard to access many areas. One of the best ways to see nature in Belize at its finest is with an ATV tour.
Lying on the southeastern coast of Belize, the Monkey River is a pristine watercourse. Its banks teem with exotic plants and wildlife, including large troops of black howler monkeys. A boat safari up the Monkey River is a great way to learn more about the flora and fauna of Belize as well as visit local villages.
With more than 400 species recorded, Belize is one of the best places in the world to enjoy bird watching. English-speaking local guides will take you to some of the best spots in southern Belize to see birds, including enormous Jabiru storks, tiny hummingbirds, and blue herons.
No visit to Belize is complete without participating in some cave tubing. Using an inflatable inner tube or small canoe, participants will get the chance to navigate underground rivers and marvel at hidden subterranean passageways that were once used by ancient Maya priests to conduct religious rituals.
Southern Belize is home to two vast national reserves, the perfect place to learn more about wildlife in the country. Guided tours include a detailed natural history of the area as well as a stop at a magnificent waterfall, the perfect place to cool off on a hot day.
The Davis Falls Inn in southeastern Belize is the perfect place to stay enjoying jungle adventure tours. This charming guest house is owned and operated by a local Belizean family who offers up plenty of old-fashioned hospitality and delicious homecooked meals for travelers.
If you'd like to go on one of the tours above or would like to visit the top attractions in the country, make your reservation today with Untame Belize. Untame Belize also specializes in shuttle services and private transfers to and from any destination in the country.
Once a distant dot on the map, Belize has, in recent years, become one of the hottest vacation destinations on the planet. Just a short flight away from the United States and Canada, Belize is truly a world away. Instead of overcrowded beaches and overheated concrete cities, Belize is a small nation where nature is king. Indeed, there's not a single stoplight in the whole country, but you will find over 500 species of birds as well as exotic wildlife like tapirs, giant harpy eagles, monkeys, and jaguars.
At Untame Belize, we specialize in helping visitors enjoy an unforgettable vacation. We provide private ground transfers and shuttle services to and from any destination in the country, including top destinations like Belize City, Dangriga, Hopkins, Placencia, and San Ignacio as well as eco-resorts located deep in the jungle and AirBNB destinations. Untame Belize operates a fleet of modern, spacious vans that can accommodate up to 10 passengers and their luggage.
Untame Belize can also hook you up with some of the best guided tours and adventure in the country, including exploring the remote jungle by ATV, sailing through the rainforest canopy on zip lines, floating down subterranean rivers on an inner tube (cave tubing), and rappelling down cliffs and waterfalls.
Prefer something a bit more relaxing? Untame Belize also offers guided activities like bird watching, horseback riding, and touring local chocolate makers. Untame Belize also organizes visits to local Maya and Garifuna villages to learn more about the incredible cultural diversity in the country.
If that's not enough, Untame also organizes trips to the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral barrier reef system in the world after Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Belize has hundreds of islands on the reef, many of which are protected marine conservation areas, making them the perfect place to enjoy activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and sailing. Or, perhaps, you just want to play castaway-for-a-day while enjoying a beach barbecue of fresh-caught fish, lobster, and other types of seafood.
Belize enjoys a sunny, mild climate that makes it the perfect year-round vacation destination. Home to golden sand beaches and majestic waterfalls, Belize is a great place to relax, unwind, and have the time of your life. For all of your Belize travel needs, contact Untame Belize.
No matter where you want to go or what you want to do in Belize, Untame Belize is the name to trust for adventure and travel in the country.
Untame Belize specializes in handcrafting incredible adventures in Belize that will match your adventure spirit. Just look at all of the interesting things you can do in the country:
And many more!
Every tour offered by Untame Belize is tailor-made for your interest, travel style, and budget. Special prices are available for group bookings and all-inclusive vacation packages. Untame Belize can also organize pick-up and transportation to the top activities in southern Belize for cruise ship passengers docking at Harvest Caye.
Untame Belize also offers shuttle and private ground transfers to and from anywhere in the country. If you're coming in to the international airport in Belize City and want to get to popular destinations like Placencia, Dangriga, Hopkins, Corozal, Orange Walk, San Ignacio, or Belmopan, Untame Belize can get you there safely, comfortably, and on time. With Untame Belize, you'll be able to relax and unwind as you are transported to your destination by a professional driver.
And, if you like, Untame Belize will stop off at great places to take photos as well as enjoy food at local restaurants that serve both Belizean and international fare. Stops at the Belize Zoo are also available for people going to/from the international airport.
After enjoying a fun day of adventure in Belize, the best place to stay is the Davis Falls Inn. Located near one of the most beautiful waterfalls in southern Belize, this lovely, family-run guesthouse offers comfortable accommodations at an affordable price. The onsite restaurant serves delicious, homecooked food and specializes in Belizean cuisine.
For all of your travel needs, count on Untame Belize.
Belize is a wonderland of amazingly beautiful wild natural areas, but few sites can compare to the majesty of the Mayflower Bocawina National Park. Located approximately 17 miles (27 km) from Dangriga and 12 miles (19 km) from Hopkins in Stann Creek District in southern Belize, the Mayflower Bocawina National Park measures more than 7,000 acres (2,800 ha) of dense tropical rainforest and waterfalls. The remains of three ancient Maya temples can also be found inside the park, two of which are located near the visitor center.
Over 230 different species of birds have been recorded in the park, including great green macaws, curassows, kingfishers, orioles, trogons, scarlet tanagers, band-tailed barbthroats, northern shovelers, motmots, spectacled owls, toucans (including the keel-billed toucan, Belize's national bird), and several different species of parrots. The thriving ecosystem of the park makes it an excellent place to spot exotic wildlife such as tapirs (Belize's national animal), anteaters, foxes, armadillos, kinkajous, pacas, black howler monkeys, and several different big cat species, including jaguars.
There are numerous hiking trails in the park, including easily accessible paths that lead to two of the most amazing waterfalls in the country. Bocawina Falls and Three Sisters Falls are located just a short distance from one another, and the cool waters at the base of these waterfalls are excellent for swimming. The third and largest waterfall in the park is Antelope Falls, and, is more difficult to reach as it requires hiking across difficult and mountainous terrain that may become inaccessible during rainy weather. Bocawina Rainforest Resort and Adventures is home to the longest zipline adventure in the country boasting 14 platform and 9 lines.
Guided hiking tours with experienced naturalists is a great way to learn more about the flora and fauna in the park, including information about plants used to make traditional Maya medicines. Bird watching is also a popular activity, and most visitors can spot dozens of different birds in just a few hours. For more adventurous visitors, activities on offer include zip lining and waterfall rappelling, available at all three waterfalls inside the park. Due to the physical challenges involved, these activities must be reserved ahead of time. The ancient Maya sites inside the park can also be visited, but these are still currently being excavated.
1.) The Garifuna history has been one of constant migration and intermarriage. Oral history records that the Garifuna ancestors, the Arawak Indians, migrated from Guyana, Surinam and Venezuela around long before the arrival of the Europeans to the New World and settled in the Greater Antilles Islands in the Caribbean. A second ancestor, the Carib Indians, also migrated from their settlements in the Orinoco Delta in 1220 A.D. and seized the Lesser Antilles. The Carib and Arawak then intermarried and engendered the Island Carib, who settled predominantly on Saint Vincent Island.
2.) Anthropologists recognize the Garifuna as a product of ‘voluntary assimilation’, which indicates the peaceful creation of this new ethnic group, but the ensuing years of searching for a homeland saw very little peace for the Garifuna. In 1660, a British peace treaty guaranteed the “perpetual possession” of the island to the Garifuna, but less than a decade later, the British broke the treaty and re-claimed the island as a colonial possession. However, by the mid 1700s (following several generations of prolific reproducing by the Garifuna), it became increasingly aware that the Garifuna were such a demographic force on St. Vincent, that they threatened to jeopardize the inherent success of a colonial mission, and the British sent more and more representatives to the island to subdue the native Garifuna.
3.) In 1796, as the Garifuna desperately sought a solution to their imminent enslavement, an intended raid became a defeat for the Garifuna, and the minority of survivors was deported to the Honduran island of Roatán.
4.)The Garifuna flourished and multiplied, and thus when they were again forced to flee following republican revolt in Honduras, they continued their epic exodus in even greater numbers. In 1832, led by the charismatic and ambitious Alejo Beni, a group of Garifuna arrived on the southern Belizean coastline. It is this miraculous marine arrival that is celebrated every November in various Garifuna areas, including Dangriga, Seine Bight, Hopkins and Punta Gorda in southern Belize.
5.)For centuries, the Garifuna people had faced persecution, injustice and demoralization, and yet they still arrived in Belize with an optimistic ambition to serve their ‘new’ homeland and to develop their ‘new’ nation.
6.)In 2001, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared the Garifuna culture a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” – in much the same way as various local marine areas (including several ranges of Cayes) were latterly classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
7.)Legendary Garifuna hero Thomas Vincent Ramos was born on 17th September, 1887 at Tulin, Puerto Cortes in the Republic of Honduras. Ramos married Elisa Marian Fuentes in 1914 and they migrated permanently to Dangriga, Belize around 1920. While in Belize, Ramos became a school teacher but he was also a visionary leader. He founded the famous Carib Development and Sick Aid Society (C.D.S) and later Carib International Society (C.I.S). Both spread and were established in all Garifuna communities throughout Belize, and the C.I.S had affiliations as well in Guatemala and Honduras.
8.)Thomas Vincent Ramos had serious concerns about the systematic neglect and the need for improvement of the health facilities for Garinagu in Dangriga. Up to that time, there was not a single Garifuna nurse working in the entire Stann Creek District. So Ramos lobbied and agitated that Dangriga get its native nurses to serve its citizens in the Dangriga hospital. The colonial authorities finally capitulated and granted the request.
9.)But T.V Ramos was also concerned with the promotion and preservation of the Garifuna cultural heritage. To that end, he dedicated his talent, time and effort so that in 1940, as leader and spokesman, along with Pantaleon Hernandez and Domingo Ventura, T.V Ramos petitioned the British Governor of the colony and requested the establishment of a Public and Bank Holiday in observance of the Garifuna arrival to Belize on November 19th.
10.)The request was granted and official celebration of the 19th November as a public and bank holiday began in Stann creek district on November 19th, 1941. Two years later in 1943, Punta Gorda, in the Toledo District, was given the Holiday, and in 1977, Garifuna Settlement Day became officially a Public and Bank Holiday throughout Belize.
11.)The Garifuna culture, particularly music and dance is active in Belize and has become migrated to the world, with the travels of Andy Palacio (deceased), Paul Nabor (deceased), the Garifuna Collective, Aziatic, Supa G and Lovaboy as well as the Sweet Pain Band.
12.)Artist and musician Pen Cayetano created modern punta music in the late 1970s in Dangriga before migrating to Germany. He has now settled permanently in Belize with his family and runs an art studio in Dangriga.
13.)Garinagu have contributed to Belizean society as teachers, politicians, law enforcement and military and others.
Belize has more ancient Maya sites than any other country on the planet, which is why every visitor to Belize should definitely visit one of these architectural wonders.
If you're coming to Belize to visit ancient Maya ruins, here are five sites you should definitely visit:
Located just across the river from modern-day San Ignacio, Cahal Pech is the perfect introduction to ancient Maya architecture. This cliffside residence was built by the ancient Maya exclusively for members of noble families and the ruling elite and commands a wonderful view over the river valley below.
One of the largest ancient Maya cities ever built, the rulers of Xunantunich clashes with other powerful rivals in the area, including Tikal. In 2016, the largest Maya royal tomb ever discovered was excavated in Xunantunich, and the site remains an impressive display of pyramids, palaces, and other grandiose buildings.
Located just over the border in Guatemala, Tikal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, perhaps, the most famous ancient Maya site in the world. Easily accessible from Belize, Tikal contains more than 3,000 structures, including the colossal temples featured in blockbuster movies such as Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) and Moonraker.
Nim Li Punit
The Maya name for this site means "Big Hat" because it refers to the most iconic Maya sculptures in Belize. The ancient rulers of Nim Li Punit commissioned large sculptures of themselves, including one ruler with a large hat. Nim Li Punit is also home to the best-preserved ball courts of the ancient Maya world where teams would compete for religious honors.
Located in southern Belize, the site of Lubaantun has been generating controversy ever since it was re-discovered nearly a century ago. Supposedly the location where a crystal skull was found, Lubaantun is unique because hundreds of tiny ceramic objects were found at the site. Archeologists believe that these were used as either lucky charms by the ancient Maya or as special tools for religious ceremonies.
If you'd like to visit the above sites or any other ancient Maya wonders in Belize, book your tour with Untame Belize. Untame Belize specializes in a wide range of adventure tours, including off-road ATV tours of the jungle and trips to the reef.
Untame Belize also operates private ground transfers and shuttle services to and from any location in the country.
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