Toledo: Nature, Culture, Adventure

Toledo: Nature, Culture, Adventure

The above video produced by TIDE Tours gives an excellent summary of what Toledo has to offer!

The Toledo district is the southern-most district in Belize. It has only one town – Punta Gorda, known throughout Belize simply as “PG”.  PG is on the coast, but scattered throughout the district are over 50 small rural villages.

Toledo: Nature, Culture, Adventure

There are few sandy beaches in Toledo, as it is a natural mangrove area.  However a short boat trip can take you to stunning unspoilt cayes, for great snorkelling and diving opportunities.  Inland areas boast large areas of unspoilt jungle, kept lush by the nightly rains most of the year.

Cultural Melting-Pot

See and hear all the different ethnic groups and languages of Belize. In Punta Gorda the Garifuna people are largest in numbers. However Maya, East Indian and Creole populations are also part of PG’s cultural melting pot.  Most of the villages are either Kekchi or Mopan Maya communities. But there is also one Garifuna village (Barranco), one traditional Mennonite village (Pine Hill) and a small number of East Indian and Creole communities.

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Toledo: Nature, Culture, Adventure

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Toledo’s villages

Toledo’s villages are scattered across the district, ranging from 100 to over 1500 people.  Most of the villages are either Mopan or Kekchi Maya communities, such as San Antonio and San Pedro Columbia.

 Many of the villages are on bumpy dirt roads, but since the highway to Jalacte on the Guatemalan border was paved, access to many of the villages has improved.

The villages retain much of their traditional charm – with thatch houses, clear rivers and creeks where many local families still bathe and do laundry.  Around the villages are the fields where the families plant their corn, beans and other staple foods.  Many of the families still live a mostly subsistence lifestyle.

In many villages local women and children will come out to try and sell their crafts to visitors.  You shouldn’t feel like you have to buy anything, but remember to be polite and respectful.  What they are selling are authentic Belizean Maya crafts.  At many stores in the towns, they are selling cheaper imported crafts from Guatemala and Mexico, so keep that in mind.

Toledo's villagesIf you see people bathing or doing laundry in the river or just going about their daily lives, don’t take photos without asking first.  You wouldn’t want somebody photographing you in the shower without permission!

Mopan and Kekchi Maya are the most common languages after English and Creole in Toledo district.  Spanish is not very common.  Toledo villages offer an authentic experience for all.
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Punta Gorda town

Punta Gorda town

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Punta Gorda town is a small coastal town with a population of approximately 6000 people.  Founded by Garifuna immigrants in the 1800s, it retains a large Garifuna population,.  Today the town also has a large Maya population along with East Indians, Creole, Mennonite, Chinese, Mestizo and more.

With beautiful views across the Bay of Honduras to the hills of Guatemala and Honduras on a clear day, PG makes an excellent base for exploring the district.  Whether you arrive by water taxi from Puerto Barrios or Livingston, or by bus, private vehicle or plane from another town in Belize, if you take some time to get to know PG town you will find a friendly and local town to explore.

The main town has 5-6 streets that run parallel to the coast line, linked by numerous cross streets.  On Front Street you will find the local Tourist Information office, and locals selling their wares on market days.  Most streets have at least one convenience store selling cold drinks, snacks and basic grocery supplies.  There are two banks on Main Street with ATMS.  There is also a post office, two pharmacies, and numerious small local eateries lining the main streets.

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