Driving west from Belize City, you’ll pass from wetlands to pine savanna, with the Maya Mountains draped across the horizon through your windshield. Most of this region is drained by the Sibun and Caves Branch Rivers, which empty out into a large, lowland wetland before arriving at the sea.
This central chunk of Belize is mostly wild, dotted by a handful of small villages, jungle lodges, and natural attractions and parks. The most popular of these are the Belize Zoo and Guanacaste National Park, both easy road-side stops along the Western Highway, even if you only visit this area en route between the coast and Cayo. Another reason to visit this region is to play a round or two at Roaring River Golf Course, an utterly unique set of tropical links, only a couple of miles west of Belmopan.
Belmopan is the smallest, most unassuming capital in Central America. Rarely a destination for travelers, Belmopan has many services, including an important bus station, a fantastic coffee shop, and a couple of decent restaurants. You’ll also find most country embassies here, as well as most important Belize government services, including immigration.
Beyond Belmopan, the Hummingbird Highway is one of the most beautiful roads in the region, snaking through densely forested hills, which are riddled with trails, rivers, cenotes, and caves. Start your exploration at the St. Herman’s Cave and Blue Hole National Park, whose visitors center is right on the highway. You can stay a night with a local family in Armenia, book a day trip or stylin’ treehouse at the world-famous Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Adventure Company and Jungle Lodge, or just drive through and enjoy the passing palm trees and orange groves.
© Joshua Berman and Avalon Travel from Moon Belize, 9th Edition