Bite-size Belize is Central America with a Caribbean accent, a former British colony bursting at the seams with incredible wildlife, bountiful beaches and mysterious Mayan ruins. Many travellers come here simply to kick back and relax on one of the many Caribbean cayes, and it’s long been a favourite destination for snorkellers and scuba divers, who speak in hushed tones of the awesome barrier reef and the legendary Great Blue Hole.
But delve into the lush jungle interior and you’re in a completely different world, where the canopy reverberates to the sound of howler monkeys bellowing, scarlet macaws squawking and quetzals warbling. If you’re really lucky you might spy a puma or an ocelot sloping through the undergrowth, perhaps even a jaguar, though you’re most likely to spot one of these elusive creatures after dark. The jungle also conceals a fascinating collection of pre-Columbian ruins, and a tour of Belize can be extended with a short hop over the border into Guatemala to visit the magnificent Mayan city of Tikal.