Toledo is the southernmost district in Belize, bordered by Guatemala to the West and South (with the Sarstoon River forming the southern boundary), and the Bay of Honduras and its offshore cayes to the East. Although the outdated description ‘the forgotten district’ still lingers, the District is becoming increasingly known as a centre for eco, adventure, and cultural travel.
- 1 Punta Gorda - district capital
- 2 Barranco - the southernmost Garifuna village in Belize
- 3 Lubaantun
- 4 Monkey River Town - a Creole coastal village in the north of Toledo
- 5 San Antonio and waterfalls - the largest Maya village
- The 6 Toledo Settlement, founded by the U.S. Confederate settlers, is now the location of a few East Indian villages: Forest Home, Eldridgeville, Jacintoville, and Yemeri Grove.
- 1 Aguacaliente Wildlife Sanctuary
- 2 Bladen Nature Reserve
- 3 Blue Creek - cave swimming and jungle hiking
- Columbia Forest Reserve
- Golden Stream Corridor Preserve
- 4 Payne's Creek National Park
- 5 Port Honduras Marine Reserve
- Rio Blanco National Park
- 6 Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve
- 7 Sarstoon-Temash National Park
There are various Maya and Garifuna villages that can be visited, along with some of the more remote Cayes and large swathes of primary rainforest.
- Toledo Ecotourism Association  [formerly dead link]
- 1 Nim Li Punit - near Indian Creek
- 2 Lubaantun - near San Pedro Columbia
- 3 Uxbenka - near Santa Cruz
With its high levels of rainfall, Toledo contains the only true rainforest found in Belize, along with extensive cave systems, an abundance of wildlife, some of the most beautiful offshore islands found in the country, and one of the widest range of cultures.
The District has numerous national parks and protected areas, and is also an important cacao growing area, supplying organic cocoa for the world-renowned Green & Black's 'Maya Gold' chocolate. The Maya's ancient and modern-day links with chocolate are celebrated in May each year with the Toledo Cacao Festival.
Punta Gorda, the district capital, was founded by the Garifuna as Peini and Barranco, the southernmost coastal village in Belize, remains a fairly traditional Garifuna village - famous as the birthplace of the late Andy Palacio. Descendents of the ancient Maya made their way back over the border in the latter half of the 19th century to found the inland villages. US Confederates established a sugar industry in the 1860s and, although few traces of the Confederates remain, the East Indian villages established by their indentured labourers continue to thrive today. (The Toledo Settlement, which still appears on some modern maps, usually refers to the area in the Toledo District of southern Belize that was settled by Confederate Settlers fleeing the US after the end of the civil war.)
Until the 1960s Punta Gorda was reachable only by boat, but today the Southern Highway from Dangriga to Punta Gorda is one of the best paved roads in the country, with the exception of the 9-mile (15-km) stretch through the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, which is being upgraded. The journey from Belize City to Punta Gorda takes between 4 and 5 hours.
PG and Toledo are served by several daily busses, with James Bus Line offering the most buses. The express bus takes 5 ¼ hours, and the regular service around 6 ½ hours (US$12).
Three daily water taxis cross between Punta Gorda and Puerto Barrios in Guatemala. The crossing takes between 60 and 90 minutes, and costs US$20 – US$25. There is also a direct crossing from Livingston in Guatemala on Tuesdays and Fridays (on other days, travel via Puerto Barrios). There is an exit tax from Belize of US$3.75, and an exit tax of US$10 from Guatemala.
Busses come in early from all the inland villages to PG on market days, with most of them returning between 11am and mid-day. Some villages have a daily bus services (Monday to Saturday), and a few have an additional afternoon service.
Hitching is commonplace, although it is polite to ask the driver if you can make a contribution to fuel.
Confederate graves can be found at the Forest Home cemetery and in Punta Gorda.
- Swim into Blue Cave with nothing but a headlamp and tour guide. Find yourself sitting underneath an underground water fall deep into a cave system with the lights out. Gain a new respect for flashlights.
- Walk the "Mayan Basket Gauntlet" at Lubaantun to see some great isolated ruins.
- Watch the sun set from El Pescador and stop by Hickatee's for some great meals. Conch chow mien highly recommend when available.