La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge 2018

La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge 2018
Added Date
Thursday, 8 Mar, 2018
Events In Belize
Be a part of tradition! The 21st Annual La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge is coming your way! Starting from the Hawksworth Bridge in San Ignacio Town on March 9th and ending at the Belcan Bridge in Belize City on March 12th, this is an event you wont want to miss. Be there and experience the invigorating atmosphere as paddlers from all over the world navigate through 175 miles of Belize's magnificent river system. This high endurance journey is more than just a race, it is tradition!


"La Ruta Maya"

Started about two decades ago by local experts from San Ignacio Town, the La Ruta Maya River Challenge is a 170 mile annual race that starts from San Ignacio and ends at Belize City. This event was conceptualized with the goals of promoting the ecology and environmental awareness of the Belizean rivers, showcasing the culture and history of Belize, and developing the tourism industry. What had started in 1998 has grown to be one of the longest and grueling canoe races that exists today in all of Central America. It has also been recognized at a global scale, which draws paddlers from all over the world to come and participate.

Spectators and participants gather at the Macal River as early as 4:00 a.m. to prepare for this yearly event. The atmosphere slowly builds in anticipation and excitement as each hour passes by for the sound off of the race. At 7:00 a.m., the horns blow and the paddlers begin their journey. Year by year, the crowds get bigger and the excitement for the La Ruta Maya raises to another level. Many are inspired, as the race is so competitive, to one day jump in a canoe and paddle side by side with the competition. Attracting many paddlers from all over the world, this unique race is an experience of a lifetime.  Surely, this annual event should be at the top of anyone's bucketlist.

What is also exciting about this race is that there are many categories that people participate in. Each category is compensated with prizes. These categories involve a maximum of three paddlers per canoe, ranging from only males and females, to a canoe of mix category of males and females, a masters category of paddlers that are forty years old and above, a family adventure race, and a few other categories. Certainly, there are many options that teams can choose and participate in.

Each team that is participating will be navigating through the currents and rapids of the rivers of Belize to showcase their skills and determination to complete the race. The La Ruta Maya is broken up into four days, each on different locations down the Belize rivers. As a contestant, and even a spectator following the race, you can learn so much about Belize's rivers' history. On the early days before Belize became an independent country, and when there was no road transportation to get you the ports, commerce, and services of Belize city, locals travelled one hundred and seventy miles down each connecting rivers in order to get to their destination. Usually, this trip would take at least two weeks to accomplish. The Belize river was even used for the transportation of log wood and mahogany to England when those two products were once blooming the economy of Belize.

As aforementioned, the race in broken down into four days; along the way, on each segment, there are station prices. The race commences in San Igancio Town under the Hawkesworth bridge, which connects San Ignacio to its sister town, Santa Elena. From there, tall contestants paddle towards the wooden bridge that is just a few hundred meters from the initial start of the race. This is probably one of the most exiting segments of the race, as people cheer for their favorite teams and all the paddlers try to gain an edge by reaching the wooden bridge. Spectators watch in excitement, just waiting to see if any of the paddlers crash into each other or flip over a few other canoes on their way. So as some paddlers struggle to get back on their canoes, others take the opportunity to get a lead on the race and win the first station prize.

After that burst of energy, many newcomers come to the realization of the calamity of the event. It really is more than just a simple canoe race. As the cheering of the crowd gets lower and lower, paddlers race down the Belize River to the first check point that is known as Banana Bank. Once there, these paddlers are guaranteed to be exhausted, and are greeted with a long night of social events that serves as motivation for them the following day. As the sun rises, the second segment of the race starts once again, this time to Double Head Cabbage; and, just as the paddlers were greeted in Banana Bank, they are greeted the same at Double Head Cabbage. All of these locations, were once major checkpoints for traveling citizens decades ago.

The final segment of the race is the most intense. After three days of constant paddling and navigating, many of the paddlers become sore and in pain. Many at this point do not make it; and, those that do make it, are determined to finish the race strong. For hours, Belizeans and many supporters wait on the Belcan Bridge in Belize City to see who are able to make it pass the last segment that is known as Burrel Boom. Alike the beginning of the race, loud cheers and crowds of spectators gather together. Chants of encouragement motivate the few paddlers that are left standing. Who are you cheering for this year?

There is much to learn about Belize; and, if you are intrigued about learning more about the history of Belize through this event, you can participate or follow along to support the teams. Along this journey, you will surely learn from stories told based on paddlers' past experiences and anecdotes of the Belize River. This is not just an annual race. It is an opportunity to participate in a race of history and environmental awareness. The Belizing team can guarantee that you will have a great time. We'll be there watching!

Let's Go Belizing! 


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Author Name:
Angela Wu, Luis Manzanero
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Departs From:
San Pedro (Ambergris Caye)
Take a canoe ride back in time and discover the mysteries of the Maya. The ancient Maya worship their gods in this pitch black cave environment. A canoe equipped with powerful spotlight ... moreilluminates the realm of the spirits. Paddle your way in and explore a cave only accessible by canoes or kayaks.
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Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
Barton Creek Cave is part of a large riverine system and one of the longest subterranean sites. Cultural remains have been found within the first kilometer of the cave from the downstream ... moreentrance. This kilometer long space contains ten ledges above the river with evidence of Maya activity. The first ledge is located by the left just inside the entrance to the cave and continues approximately 30 meters beyond the Maya Bridge. 

This cathedral-like wet cave is located in the Cayo District, approximately 24 kilometers from San Ignacio or about one hour drive. The tour entails gently paddling in a canoe for two or three people with a ratio of a maximum of eight person's per guide. This is the only way you can explore this cave. 

The tour departs from San Ignacio at 8:00 am. It lasts for about 4 hours.
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