About an hour drive from Placencia Village, off the Southern Highway past Hopkins, is Mayflower Bocawina National Park. Many visitors come to the park on adventure tours for Zip Lining or Waterfall Rappelling (remember I wrote about the rappelling here?) but if you’re looking for a nearly free, self-guided day trip I recommend one of the beautiful hikes here. Don’t be afraid to get a little hot and dirty. Pay the park fee ($10 bzd for foreign guests, $2 for local visitors), bring a picnic lunch and extra water, then head out on one of their well-marked and maintained trails.
The best hike in Southern Belize is Antelope Falls. The 45 minute, challenging hike will have you huffing, puffing, and scrambling up rocks and roots but the pay-off is worth every ounce of sweat. Not one, but two big rewards await your efforts at the top of the climb. A spectacular view point, nearly 1000 feet above the rainforest floor, you stand at the top of a waterfall and look out over the jungle all the way to the Carribean Sea. Another minute or two of hiking brings you to a natural, cool, fresh water pool- your second prize. Enjoy a refreshing swim, unpack your picnic, and relax around the peaceful emerald pond listening to the sounds of nature. If you’re still feeling more adventurous then zen-filled, dare yourself to leap from a stone outcrop in to the deep pool or allow yourself a complimentary pedicure from the tiny fish that reside here.
This hike is strenuous but benches for resting are situated along the way. Our little champion, Mitch, age 5 can handle it though there are some dicey spots you may need to assist little hikers with, especially on the way back down.
Pro-tip: bug spray is a must! This should go without saying but, there’s biting bugs in the jungle. It’s probably not enough to spray at the car before beginning your hike; bring it with you and re-apply after swimming. The primary pest on the hike isn’t the mosquito, it’s the Batlas fly. These minuscule, black knat-like monsters don’t look like much but their bites will have you itching for days and days on end. They live around water and you might not even notice them feasting on your ankles and legs while you eat lunch next to the waterfall but you’ll know it later that night when you’re covering in tiny red welts with a pronounced pinpick in the center.