Escape to Paradise…
Ride Review by Aline Phillips
What better way to spend spring break than on a jungle ride in Belize with family? Leaving the long, bitter Wyoming winter behind, I happily embarked on the Mayan Jungle and Tikal Ride with my daughter (18) and son (23). A good friend, her 14-year-old daughter, and several other riders from the U.S. also joined our migration south to this warm weather destination.
One of the best things about this ride is the location: Belize is only a two hour flight from Houston, and in my opinion it’s the best kept riding vacation secret in the world, a dream-come-true for winter-weary horse enthusiasts.
Our guide, Rigo, was quick to teach us all about the vegetation along the trails. He wielded his machete at times to clear the path and, on other occasions, to cut chunks of a water vine so we could experience sipping sweet water from this plant. He pointed out the many colorful birds flitting around in the lush forest canopy of ferns, philodendron and palms. Many of the plants were in bloom; hibiscus, lady’s lips, orchids and bougainvillea, all lending a tantalizing aroma to the jungle air.
We swam in pools under waterfalls, reveling in the cool water. Vacation in paradise! Barton Creek Cave was our destination one day. We arrived in time for a picnic lunch at the edge of the stream. The cave is one of the longest caves in Belize and part of extensive subterranean riverine system. We climbed into canoes and paddled through the mouth of the cavern. When the spotlight was switched on it revealed a breathtaking array of stalactites, ledges and chambers. The Maya used this cave some 1800 years ago for worship and burial rituals.
The week was filled with great riding, memorable meals, diverse terrain and vegetation, fascinating caves, Mayan ruins, and the camaraderie of friends old and new. I think it’s an ideal getaway to enjoy a tropical paradise with family and friends.