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Belize by Canoe: The First Annual New River Quest

Hill Bank Field Station, Belize, Starting Point of the New River Quest Race

Hill Bank Field Station, Starting Point of the New River Quest Race

We’ve written before about Bear Mountain’s connection to Belize. It’s a beautiful, lush country with a fascinating paddling culture, and we’re proud to have visited both to attend the Ruta Maya canoe race and to help local canoe builders develop their craft. The Ruta Maya is a major paddling event, a four-day journey down the Belize River from San Ignacio to Belize City. It’s no longer the only race of its kind, however – the First Annual New River Quest hopes to establish a fresh route and a new tradition in the region.

A Belize Canoe Association sanctioned race, the New River Quest is a two-day, two-person-canoe race on the New River. From the starting point in Hill Bank Field Station, paddlers will overnight in Orange Walk Town before heading into the Caribbean for the final 3-mile sprint to Corozal. The entire route runs 82 miles/132 kilometres through gorgeous subtropical geography. Competition kicks off on October 14, 2018, and would-be contestants have until October 5 to enter.

Map of Belize New River Quest Race Route

If the race piques your curiosity, you may want to visit the Race’s Q&A page for details on obtaining a standardized 20' canoe. We can vouch for the Chris Guydis recommendation – Chris has visited our workshop more than once to help Ted build C15 racing canoes. Ultimately, though, depending on interest the race will be opened up to other paddle categories. According to organizer Rick Salazar, “If you want to do the race in a kayak or on a Stand Up Paddle board, an old refridgerator or even a bathpan, go for it.”

There is no cash prize, but winners will receive medals, trophies, and few surprise rewards. Race Registration is $100 Belize Dollars or $55USD. Visit to register, and Like the race page on Facebook to stay updated. The Ruta Maya has developed from an upstart idea to an established tradition over the course of three decades, and the transition has been fascinating to watch. The New River Quest is a chance to be present for the start of a new and bracing challenge, and we’d highly recommend adventurous paddlers check it out.

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