Travel

Visit Belize for the exotic rain forests, shamans and Mayan ruins

Belize - the tiny nation on the east coast of Central America - is proof positive that man and nature can indeed live in harmony.

Whether a novice traveler or a veteran, you'll find four major facets of Belize to your liking.

First, English is the native language, mixed with an occasional bit of Creole. Next, the exchange rate is 2 Belize dollars to 1 U.S. dollar -for easy conversion - and American money is accepted everywhere. Third, the electrical current is the same as it is in the States for easy computer hookups and no blown hairdryers. Finally, with only a two-hour time difference, there is virtually no jet lag from the United States.

Even better, there's no American fast food, and hotels consist primarily of small, thatched-roof bungalows tucked amid exotic jungles and Mayan ruins. For the truly adventurous, try a Mayan "home stay" by living and farming with the indigenous people. In a matter of hours Belize can transport you to an environmental paradise that is light-years away from the hustle and hassle of home.

Outdoorsmen can attempt a "grand slam" by fishing for snook, permit, bonefish and tarpon at Machaca Hill lodge situated within the canopy of the rain forest. Adventure travelers may want to explore ancient ruins or take a spotlight cruise in the lagoon at Lamanai Outpost. Or schedule a session at Ka'ana Resort with Rosario Panti, perhaps Belize's last Mayan shaman.

With a mix of paved and dirt roads, logistics can be tricky, so it's best to check with the local tourist office for help with arrangements.

Experiential travelers won't be disappointed by the diversity of activities in the natural wonderland of Belize. And if you're curious about the Mayan calendar - which ends in December 2012 - or rambling among the ruins surrounding the legend, there's plenty to whet your appetite. But that's another story.

Belize info: www.travelbelize.org.

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