Orange Walk is about 55 miles north on the Phillip Goldson Highway and 65 miles from Belize City. Orange Walk is affectionately known as “Suga (shu-gah) City” to the locals because one of its main economic sources is sugar cane cultivation in the country. It is home to the country’s only toll booth at its entrance when driving from Belize. When at the toll booth, you’re greeted by two sites – the New River and the Sugar Mill. Orange Walk is known for its cattle and rum production as well as ecotourism.
Orange Walk’s population is just over 40,000 and is Belize’s third most populous district. There is a variety of exotic places to explore in Orange Walk. Visitors enjoy uncovering Mayan Ruins like Lamanai and Cuello; and gliding down the New River enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. With Orange Walk being only 30 miles away from Corozal, more modern attractions and activities across the border in Mexico are very easily accessible.
Lamanai Maya Ruins
The Lamanai Maya Ruins are located on two square miles of land at the edge of a forest reserve. Your journey begins with the travel there, as you need to go by boat uo the New River for about an hour-and-a-half-long ride. But this ride is far from boring. Along the way you can spot beautiful orchids and other exotic flowers, as well as birds and other animals prowling about on the river banks.
Lamanai is also accessible by vehicle, but that is the path less traveled. By road, you’d have to travek for about an hour and fifteen minutes through tiny villages like Yo Creek and San Pelipe, and some unpaved roads.
Lamanai translates to “submerged crocodile” in Maya. Ancient records kept by Spanish Missionaries refer to the ancient Maya city as Lamanai and so the name remained. There are many artifacts at the Maya ruin depicting crocodiles. One of the tallest buildings in the Mayan world is at Lamanai and it stands 112 feet tall providing visitors with breathtaking views. Several hundred buildings have been excavated along with royal ball courts. Once atop the ruins, you’ll have a great view of an abundance of flora and fauna as well as a variety of birds.
If you’re interested in a tour of Lamanai, there are many tour guides available and the Lamanai Outpost Lodge provides accommodations with 24-hour power, hot water, and private bathrooms. The lodge is in walking distance from the Maya ruins and they can arrange for day tours as well as night time river safari tours.
Aside from its prime location near the ruins, the Lamanai Outpost Lodge is a great base to get rare sightings of birds like the Yucatan Nightjars and Long-tailed Hermit Hummingbird.
If you’re boating down the river, you’ll be joined by unparalleled bird sightings. There have been over 400 bird species recorded to be seen around Lamanai. There are Roseate Spoonbills, Sun Grebes, Long-necked Anhingas and Jabiru Storks to name a few.