In the past, Orange Walk district was a refuge for mestizos seeking to escape from Spanish purges in the Yucatan. This is a wild area, dominated by deep forest (much being preserved by Programme for Belize), Mayan ruins, and the largest population of birds in the country. Orange Walk Town, the principal town of the area, is 55 miles or a 75 minute drive north of Belize City. The town is a mix of Spanish, Maya, East Indians, visiting Mennonites (who originally emigrated from the deep south at the end of the US civil war), and Chinese. Mexican influences remain strong, and you will hear both Spanish, English and creole spoken. Passing through the town is the New River, once an active Mayan trading waterway, and leading to the stunning Mayan ruins of Lamanai, on the edge of the New River Lagoon. The trip to visit these ruins is a marvelous journey by boat along a river teeming with life, including anhingas, snail-kites, crocodiles and iguanas sunning themselves, cormorants, bats and jacanas, and passes communities of denim-dressed Mennonites.
Feel your adrenalin peak as you swim alongside a harmless nurse shark or graceful southern sting ray on a snorkeling trip to Shark Ray Alley where flourishing stag horn corals and sea fans attract all manner of aquatic life.
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