Belize // The west //

Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve

South of San Ignacio, the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve comprises a spectacular range of rolling hills, jagged peaks and gorges interspersed with areas of grassland and pine forest. In the warm river valleys the vegetation is gallery forest, giving way to rainforest south of the Guacamallo Bridge, which crosses the upper Macal River. One of the most scenic of the many small rivers in the Pine Ridge is the Río On, rushing over cataracts and into a gorge. On the northern side of the ridge are the Thousand-Foot Falls, actually over 1600ft (488m) and the highest in Central America. The reserve also includes limestone areas riddled with caves, the most accessible being the Río Frio. The area is virtually uninhabited but for a few tourist lodges and one small settlement, Augustine/Douglas Silva, site of the reserve headquarters. It can be very difficult to get around the reserve, as there are not many roads. A mountain bike can be very helpful in this respect – the whole area is perfect for hiking and mountain biking; hitching is another option.

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