A Journey Down The Hummingbird Highway, Belize
Jul 23, 2018
Of the four major highways in Belize – the Northern, the Western, the Southern and the Hummingbird – the Hummingbird Highway is the most beautiful. Over the years, this roadway has changed from dirt track to a well-paved highway.
The Hummingbird takes you from the intersection of the Western Highway outside of Belmopan all the way to Dangriga on the coast.
Turning onto the Hummingbird Highway from either end brings anticipation of what’s to come.
You pass through many small villages, and it seems like every home has either a Coke or Belikin Beer sign advertising cold drinks and hot barbecued food.
For me, the excitement begins as I climb the mountain roads skirting the spectacular Maya Mountains. Everywhere you look there are ranges of palm trees, appearing like rainforests.
And yesterday we enjoyed this view: The #Sibun River Valley and #Maya Mountains from the lookout gazebo at The Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge along the Hummingbird Highway. #Sabrewingtravel #belizetravelagent#vivabelize #sleepinggiant #vacation #jungle #hummingbirdhighway #travel #luxury #pamper #bucketlist #wanderlust #tropical #paradise #funinthesun #playtime #playhard #ecotourism #travelbelize #travelagent #travelagentlife #beinspired #mybeautifulbelize #hiking
Along the way you pass local families on the side of the road, selling coconut water, corn, and fruits.
There are seven times when you need to slam on your brakes, as you come to a one-way, single lane railroad car bridge.
You will drive carefully and slowly across these bridges because they all have holes in them or no side rails. Or holes in them and no side rails. These bridges were built before WWII to transport bananas. After that, they bore the weight of the citrus transportation trucks. If not for the banana and citrus business, the Hummingbird Highway would still be a dirt track.
There’s much more to the Hummingbird Highway than local villages and deserted miles. There are also a handful of excellent eco-resorts along the way and a number of national parks.
One favorite is the Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge. The small but extravagant cottages include soaking pools, mountain views, and glass walls, where the only ones looking in on you will be the birds and monkeys.
At Highway Marker Mile 42 you will find the St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park. Don’t confuse St. Herman’s Blue Hole with the more famous Blue Hole diving spot off the coast. A fifteen-minute walk through the forest ends up with a refreshing dip in the crystal clear water of this inland swimming hole.
A stop right at Mile 16.5 is worthwhile early in the morning: Café Casita del Amor. You can’t miss the sign, or the Gothic-style building housing this coffee shop. Although they sell food, I have only tried the coffee, which is fantastic. It’s worth the stop, and if you’re a music lover, ask them if they can turn up the music and rock out. You will have noticed all the musical instruments, amps, and guitars lying around the place.
The last must-see stop before Dangriga is a local favorite, Marie Sharp’s Factory.
You won’t find a table in any restaurant in Belize without one of Marie Sharp’s famous hot sauces sitting on it. On the Hummingbird Highway as you approach Dangriga, watch for the sign. It’s well worth the long and bumpy road to the manufacturing facility and tasting room. With so many flavors available, it’s a difficult decision on what to buy. So why not one of everything?
One thing is for sure, on this journey, be sure to take along a can of spare air. Because the Maya Mountains will take your breath away.
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Gary Peterson lives on the Placencia Peninsula, Belize, where he writes books about Central America and the Caribbean. Read more of Gary’s work on his blog.