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History and Culture
The Toledo District is first and foremost Maya indian country. over half the population and most of the villages are Maya. Traveling south along the Southern Highway, clusters of thatched huts appear with increasing regularity. Along the interior roads of the District you'll encounter Maya women herding their children while balancing washloads or firewood on their heads. You'll see Maya men heading to or returning from their milpas, machete and produce in hand.

Several communities of mixed ethnic groups are scattered along the coastline of Toledo. These communities are fairly undeveloped. The people live a simple lifestyle, and are dependent on the sea for their livelihood. Monkey River TownTourism is increasingly becoming an important part of their lives. The majority of tour guides in Toledo operate out of Monkey River Town and Punta Gorda Town. Both towns have nearby access to the rivers and cayes for excellent fishing, snorkeling and wildlife tours.

Monkey River Town is the northernmost community in Toledo. It sits on the mouth of the Monkey River with wide sandy beaches. Though a very small community, it is known as a prime location for fishermen.

Punta Gorda

Punta Gorda Town is the capital of Toledo. Most visitors will spend at least some time in Punta Gorda, even if only passing through, as it is the hub of Toledo's transport system. It has the only airstrip in the district and a main bus station as well. Visitors who arrive from Puerto Barrios, Guatemala by boat clear immigration and customs in Punta Gorda.

Santa Elena Village

Over 30 Maya villages dot the inland region of Toledo. The Mopan and Kekchi Maya villages are set up in the midst of the country's natural rainforest. Even though similar thatch roof huts are apparent in all villages, each setting is unique. Some villages are surrounded by cohune forests while others are situated at the base of limestone hills. Most villages have a beautiful river or stream running nearby.

Most Mayas use the land for subsistence farming. Their way of living is primitive compared to western standards-they bathe in rivers and wake and sleep with the daylight. The villages are slowly opening up to tourism. Now is the time to experience the Maya way of life. Tourists can begin to enjoy the hands on experience of the Maya culture and visit the natural attractions in the vicinity of each village.


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