We stay a night in Dangriga, which is really a non-event. Val’s Place is a nice Hostel, but there is really nothing to do here. In the morning we move on and decide we want to get off the beaten path and find some real jungle in Belize. We stop to get a tank of gas and pay $BZ 9 / gallon or $USD 4.50 / gallon – the fill-up costs $USD 75! We turn off the main highway and drive on pretty good gravel for the first 10km or so, then turn off onto a very windy track. Before long it’s pouring huge raindrops as we make our way through extremely dense jungle down a track steep enough to require low range 4×4. Kate is pretty nervous wondering how we could ever get back up, having not seen what the Jeep is capable of.
We find Barton Creek Outpost without much trouble and can’t believe the paradise we have stumbled into. About five years ago an American couple built this cabin on steroids out in the jungle to get away from it all. They now host backpackers and volunteers for the company it provides. It continues to pour rain long into the night and thankfully we pitch our tent on the covered veranda. As the sun recedes the temperature drops fast and soon I find myself shivering uncontrollably so I dig out all my thermals and -7°C sleeping bag that I put away long ago. It turns out to be by far the coldest night I’ve had since I was snowed on in Yellowstone months ago.
In the morning the rain has stopped and we set out in the Jeep with Mike and Laura, a couple of british backpackers to find a couple of remote waterfalls in the area. We spend most of the day on reasonable gravel roads, with the occasional mud hole or rock scramble to keep things interesting. We pop out at the view point to Thousand-Foot Falls and realize we are literally on top of a beautiful mountain range, with stunning views in all directions. The falls themselves are awesome due to the recent heavy rain and are actually over 1600ft (480m), making them the highest in Central America. After a ton of bushwhacking and aimless wandering and almost-giving-up we find Big Rock Falls, which are less spectacular but fun because we can get so close.
Barton Creek Outpost is so great we spend another night camped on the deck, soaking in the serenity.