Safety in the Cayo

Although most visitors report feeling completely safe in the Cayo, in 2009 through 2011 there was a series of robberies by armed bandits. At this writing, Belize Defence Forces soldiers usually accompany vehicles going to Caracol. Ask locally about any recent incidents before starting road trips to remote areas.

Being close to Guatemala's El Petén region, thousands of Cayo visitors take short trips across the border to view the fantastic ruins of Tikal. Its proximity to this tourist attraction is a boon for the Cayo but also a burden, as the poverty-stricken population of northern Guatemala spills over into relatively affluent Belize. Drug cartels from Mexico, including the notorious Zetas, have moved into the Petén, and in mid-2011 allegedly murdered and decapitated more than two dozen workers on a farm southwest of Flores, Guatemala. On several occasions armed gangs from Guatemala have robbed tourists around San Ignacio, especially near the El Pilar Mayan site and in the Mountain Pine Ridge. However, most visitors to the Cayo say they feel quite safe. As a visitor, you're unlikely to encounter any problems.

A silent killer in Cayo is the George Price Highway, formerly the Western Highway. The two-lane road is paved, but it’s narrow and most sections have no shoulders on the side of the highway. Worse, the surfacing material on parts of the road is extremely slick when wet. More people die in traffic accidents on this highway than on any other road in Belize. For example, in mid-2013, three young foreign college students, who had been on an archeological dig at Cahal Pech, and their taxi driver were killed near Mile 60 when the taxi and a bus collided head on. Horrific accidents like this are, sadly, not uncommon on this highway.

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