- by Dorian Nuñez
My morning commute to work on Friday, January 14, 2011, was on horseback! Yes, definitely not my typical working day on the golf cart filled streets of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. But that day it was not a typical day in San Pedro; I was one with Forest Gump, my trusty horse, on a City Tour of Belmopan, the capital of Belize.
On that day, work included getting on the 8a.m. Tropic Air flight to Belmopan City. The airline just recently introduced its new ‘Capital Tour (by horseback)” which takes you through the city of Belmopan in the Cayo District which is located 50 miles west of Belize City.
It’s a short 25 minute ride from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye to the airstrip in Belmopan and right off the bat, as you step off the plane you are ready to mount your horse. Pretty cool, I say! The horses are provided by the professional team at Banana Bank Lodge, which is a family-run jungle lodge that has been offering Belize horseback riding vacation packages since 1985.
We had the pleasure of being given the instruction/orientation by Mr. John Carr, owner of Banana Bank Lodge. He was very knowledgeable and had a very good sense of humour. Just pay good attention for a few minutes and then you are off!
I was lucky to be handed the reins of Forest Gump: a very good horse may I add. It followed my commands to a tee, except when he wanted to eat. There was no stopping it from grazing every now and then. I had been on a horse only once as a kid, maybe too young to remember the experience, but the horses that we rode were very friendly, not fussy and very easy to handle.
It was a chilly morning but the day was perfect to take in the scenery of Belmopan. We rode through quiet neighbourhoods, passed by the US Embassy, Brazil Embassy, Belize House (Governor General’s House) and through fields. Once we got to the busy city we trotted right in front of Belize’s National Assembly in Independence Plaza where all the important government offices are situated; even glanced at the office of the Prime Minister.
This is where we got off our horses and took a break to stroll through Market Square. While we took in the sites of the market, the busy citizens of Belmopan carried on with their daily lives – purchasing produce, selling goods, grabbing a quick lunch, visiting the post office and other ministerial offices.
The second part of the tour had us riding beyond the city limits and into the woods were we passed through orange orchards (read for the picking), chicken farms, large expansive fields, and beautiful farm homes until we reached the banks of the Roaring Creek River. The horses got into the water and headed downstream to our picnic area; a beautiful place where you can take a quick swim. Lunch by the river bank was relaxing, to say the least.
The journey back to the airstrip was even more exciting as we let the horses stretch their legs a bit more. With wider expanses to travel through our horses let loose and those who enjoyed the adrenaline rush could ride in full gallop.
It is an excellent and enjoyable trip that even the amateur (or non-rider) can enjoy. I cannot fail to mention that along all the way our guides, Cesar Xi, Sherman Fuentes and Leisa Carr were superb, making sure we were all comfortable and enlightening us with information throughout the tour. Belmopan City and its surrounding areas are testament of Belize’s true beauty. The Capital Tour by Horseback is yet another exciting and new tour that makes Belize stand out amongst the rest.
Capital Tour (by horseback)
* The tour includes: roundtrip airfare on Tropic Air, full guided tour, instruction/orientation for the horses, Belizean lunch, and a small cave visit along the Roaring Creek River (swimming optional)
* Runs daily and departs 8:00am and returns 4:00pm. Open booking. Minimum of 2 persons.
Tropic Retail including 12.5% GST: $310.00 USD per person
* The tour is already available for sale and based on initial feedback in the coming weeks it may be tweaked it a little
* Contact: Tropic’s reservation at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone number: 501-226-2012
Coming Soon! - Another exciting tour through the The ATM ( Actun Tunichil Muknal) Cave
About Belmopan City:
Belmopan was constructed just to the east of Belize River, 80 km (50 miles) inland from the former capital, the port of Belize City, after that city's near destruction by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. The government was moved to Belmopan in 1970, and its National Assembly Building is designed to resemble a Pre-Columbian Maya temple. With a population of only 7,100 Belmopan is the smallest capital in the world.
The name chosen for the new capital, Belmopan, is derived from union of two words: "Belize," the name of the longest river in the country, and "Mopan," one of the rivers in this area, which empties into the Belize River.
Some of Belmopan's noteworthy events include presentations by the Belmopan Choral Society, the Festival of Arts for school children, and National Day Activities. The City Council promotes Belmopan as "The Garden City."