North of Belize City, the Northern Highway winds between the Belize river and the azure sea. Notable for its agricultural success, the land around the town of Orange Walk is filled with sugar cane, fruit and vegetables, and the town itself is the heart of the sugar industry.
• Learn about indigenous bush medicines on the Maya Medicine Trail
• Head out on a Florida-style airboat for romantic cocktails at sunset
• Help the scientists collect data on the endangered Morelet’s crocodile
• Canoe along Dawson’s Creek in search of manatees, otters and toucans
• Go fishing with the locals to catch your dinner of Big Mouth Bass
However the fields hide more than at first meets the eye; recent excavations of Mayan sites at nearby Altun Há have revealed the remains of an important Mayan coastal trading base and ceremonial centre.
Reached by a scenic river journey amongst crocodiles, colourful plant life and raucous birds, Lamani, lies on the west shore of the New River Lagoon, and is the site of one of the largest Mayan settlements in the world. As well as the Mayan ruins, the excavations have revealed the remains of two 16th-century Spanish missions, destroyed by the Maya, who apparently rejected this attempt to convert them to Christianity.
Also around Orange Walk are the impressive Community Baboon Sanctuary and the wildlife reserves of Shipstern and Crooked Tree, and this northern area has the largest concentration of Belize’s cats, including jaguar and puma.