Belize is considered to be the heartland of the once enormous Maya civilization with over 600 ancient Mayan sites. The wonderful westernmost region of Cayo has it all with a hop over the border into Petén, the eastern province of in Guatemala. Ghostly ruins of Mayan cities buried in the jungle with breathtaking views over the canopy from the summit of their temples. And stretching miles underground is the extraordinary cave network, believed by the Maya to be the portal to their underworld ‘Xibalba’, place of fear.

Venturing into these caves is to go 4,000 years back in time. Narrow waterways navigated by kayak open out into vast cathedral like caverns strewn with stalagmites and stalagmites. Ancient ceramics and human remains, evidence of the Maya’s desperate quest to appease their gods, bring back the rains and evade starvation.

All this surrounded by lush rainforest, winding rivers and waterfalls, home to over 300 species of tropical and migratory birds including brightly colored toucans, hummingbirds and scarlet macaws. Other exotic jungle dwellers include ocelots, tapirs, monkeys and the healthiest population of jaguars in central America. You may only see their large distinct footprints crossing a damp pathway, but they’ll be there watching.