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Visit Cayo! Five Ways to Discover Belize

Among the countries that make up Central America, Belize is a little known gem. Tucked away in the north eastern corner of the region, Belize is often overlooked by tourists, who favor its more popular neighbors like Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador. According to the World Bank, Belize ranked lowest in number of tourists in 2013, among all the countries in Central America. But contrary to what the numbers say, there is a lot that Belize has to offer. For the intrepid and adventurous traveler, like LeafCanoer, Amanda Tiffany, Belize is a country that’s well worth a visit.

discover Belize

There are many ways to discover Belize, but one of the best ways is to spend time in the district of Cayo. In her leaf titled, “Cayo, Belize,” Amanda shares some of her top picks for things to do in Cayo. Known for its diverse array of attractions and activities, Cayo provides visitors to Belize a rich sampling of what the rest of the country has to offer. Here are seven ways a visit to Cayo can help you discover the wonders of Belize:

Go take a hike
There is plenty of hiking to do in Belize, and some of them can be quite unique and exciting. Visitors to Cayo often enjoy visiting the Actun Tunichil Mucknal, a cave near the town of San Ignacio. Not only is it a good place to practice your cave exploration skills, it’s also the perfect place to channel your inner Indiana Jones. The cave is home to a Mayan archaeological site, and is filled with skeletons, ceramics, and stoneware. For the less adventurous visitor, Guanacaste National Park and Blue Hole National Park offer one to two mile hikes along their well-maintained trails.

discover Belize

Hit the biking trails
Belize has seventeen national parks, five of which are in Cayo. Additionally, there are sixteen forest reserves, with five of them located in the Cayo district. For avid mountain bikers, the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve is a popular spot to hit the bike trails. For those looking for more guided tours, plenty of tour companies offer bike tours in the area.

Explore the ruins
Within the district of Cayo, there are several Mayan ruins worth visiting. Besides Actun Tunichil Mucknal, visitors should also visit Tikal National Park as well as the Caracol Ruins, to get a taste of the deep history of Belize. The Mayans inhabited Belize as far back as 2500 BC. These days, only a handful of their temples and structures remain, due to infrastructure development in the area.

discover Belize

Immerse yourself in the culture
The culture of Belize is a rich mix of Mayan, Spanish, Native American, and Mennonite. There have also been influences from countries like China and Lebanon, due to the large population of these ethnic groups in the country. As a result, Belize’s culture is a hodgepodge of traditions from these various groups. Spending time in the towns in the Cayo district can help you get a taste of the local flavor of the culture. The towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena are bustling with open air markets, and the Mennonite community of Spanish Lookout is also a popular place to visit.

Kick back and relax
The pace of life in the jungles of Cayo is decidedly laid back and relaxed. Since the Cayo district is located inland, there are no beaches, but there are plenty of rivers to enjoy dipping your feet into. Major rivers in the district include the Mopan River and the Macal River. Also, within the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve is the Rio on Pools, a series of pools and waterfalls that is popular among visitors to Belize.

discover Belize

Despite being not so well known in the tourist circles, Belize is a country worth visting and exploring. For the adventurous traveler, there are plenty of ways to discover Belize. From hiking the jungle to getting immersed in the local culture, there is so much to see and do in that country.

For more ideas of what to do in Belize, download the LeafCanoe app to check out Amanda’s leaf and explore other leafs.

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10 Destinations to Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids

Whether we like to admit it or not, our kids are growing up in an age of privilege. With fast internet at their fingertips, and the latest technological advances readily available to them, today’s kids have been raised to think that life is relatively easy. In short, they are becoming spoiled kids.

One of the best remedies to unspoil your kids is through travel. Travel exposes your kids to different lifestyles, and can often challenge the ways they currently view the world. LeafCanoe has a plethora of leaves that can provide ideas of where to take your kids. However, here are our picks for 10 destinations to unspoil your spoiled kids.

Costa Rica
With its abundance of animals, beaches, rainforests, and outdoor activities, Costa Rica is the perfect destination to take your digitally connected kids and help them reconnect with the natural world. Pura Vida, which means pure life, is the country’s motto. That laid back attitude is evident in every inch of the country. Life moves at a slower pace, and the rich natural environment can turn even the most die-hard city-lover into a fan of the great outdoors.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Costa Rica

Paraguay
Today’s kids have been raised on constant stimulation from televisions, computers, video games, iPads, and iPhones. They aren’t accustomed to living life without these types of stimulation. A trip to Paraguay, where the majority of the population are subsistence farmers, can open your kids’ eyes to a much simpler way of life.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Paraguay

India
The structure and organization that our society’s kids have grown accustomed to can sometimes be at an almost detrimental level. In real life, kids must learn to deal with chaos and confusion. A country like India, with its frenetic energy, is a great chance to expose your kids to the chaos of life. With its cacophany of sounds, colors, and tastes, India is a rush to the senses.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - India

Singapore
Spoiled kids can sometimes be picky in their tastes, especially when it comes to food. A great way to introduce your kids to diverse cuisines is to visit Singapore, with its melting pot of Chinese, British, Arab, Indian, and Malaysian influences. In Singapore, kids can sample samosas from India, goat curry from Malaysia, or Singapore’s own famous chili crabs.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Singapore

Ghana
In our society of excess, kids can often seem wasteful, demanding the latest toys and gadgets. A trip to Ghana, where kids have learned to be resourceful in their play, can turn your spoiled kid around and make them appreciate what they have. Though still considered a developing country, Ghana is surprisingly rich in natural resources, and has a fairly developed tourism industry, which makes it an accessible country for families and kids to visit.

Unspoil Your Spoiked Kids - Ghana

Turkey
In an age where internet memes and trends come and go every fifteen seconds, kids can sometimes lose sight of the importance of history. Turkey, a country with a diverse and storied history, is the perfect antithesis to today’s transient and ephemeral trends. Straddling the cultures of both Europe and the Middle East, Turkey’s history dates back to prehistoric days, and can be explored through the various historical landmarks scattered throughout the country. Check out the leaf, “My favorite spots of our Turkey trip” for ideas of where to go in Turkey.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Turkey

Philippines
Spoiled kids are used to living in comfort, and often forget that not everyone in the world lives this way. A trip to the Philippines, particularly to see the provinces beyond the big cities and resort towns, can help your kids see the disparity between the rich and the poor. Philippines is a beautiful country, and in the rural areas, kids can see families living in small huts on family farms. Such a stark difference from the bustling cities of Manila and Baguio.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Philippines

Cambodia
For parents wanting to expose their kids to an even more rural environment, consider the country of Cambodia. Known for the beautiful Angkor Wat temple complex, Cambodia is still very much a pastoral based society. Kids and families can witness this rural environment at a much slower pace by renting bicycles and exploring the temples and surrounding villages over the course of several days.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Cambodia

Thailand
A common complaint of parents regarding their kids is their disconnection to cultural traditions. In Thailand, kids can get a glimpse of Thai culture through the dance, food, temples, and religious ceremonies. A Buddhist country, Thailand has a large selection of temples throughout the country that kids and families can visit and learn more about. To get ideas of where to visit in Thailand, check out the leaf, “Thailand in 10 Days.”

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Thailand

Poland
Kids who are spoiled sometimes forget how privileged they are. They forget that in many parts of the world, and throughout history, kids have been denied the opportunity to live a normal childhood. Places like Aushwitz camp in Poland, are a stark reminder of the dark sides of human history. Formerly a Nazi concentration camp, Aushwitz is now open to visitors, so that people may never forget what people are capable of doing to each other. To see a more nature-oriented side of Poland, check out the leaf, “Spring flowers – Botanic garden, Cracow, Poland“.

Unspoil Your Spoiled Kids - Poland

Travel is more than just going to a destination and checking activities off a list. It can be an opportunity to show your kids how people around the world live, and instill in them a deeper appreciation for the life that they have. By doing this, you can slowly begin to change your kids from being spoiled to being actively engaged global citizens.

For more ideas of where to take your kids, check out the various leaves on LeafCanoe by downloading the app.

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