Welcome to the Jungle: Women on Bikes vs Belize

Female riders Experience Central America’s best-kept motorcycling secret

Cruising along a narrow dirt trail as the sun beats down on the red earth and the rainforest around me teems with greenery, I hear Suzanne, the rider behind me, hit her brakes hard.

As I slow down to see what’s up – perhaps she’s got a flat tire or forgot something at our last stop? – I watch her jump off her motorcycle. She bends down and looks at something on the ground; spinning my bike around, I go over to investigate.

Suzanne hasn’t got a flat tire.

She’s got a python – a live, adult python – in her hands.

The girl on a bike vanessa ruck with python
The girl on a bike vanessa ruck with python

Sounds nuts? That may be, but we’re riding Belize, a small Caribbean country covered in lush green jungle where curious creatures abound. By the time the other riders catch up with us, I’ve worked up the courage to pick up the python sleepily resting on Suzanne’s arms, too. All of a sudden, this feels perfectly normal: nine women on dual-sport motorcycles parked up on a side of a trail, petting a python, chatting casually, and taking photos: just a regular two-wheeled outing somewhere on the other side of the world.

Except, of course, it isn’t. Belize is well-known for its Caribbean resorts and spectacular coral reefs, but when it comes to bikes, few people know Belize as a motorcycling destination. Fewer people still ever ride it, and as for the expedition I’m on, it’s the first of its kind: a guided women-only trip taking gals on bikes across the entire country. On road, off-road, and just about everything in between, we’re on a quest to discover Belize together, traveling its remote regions and bonding over bikes and adventures.

Suzanne finally puts the friendly snake back in the tall rainforest grass, and we jump back on the bikes to make our way through the jungle following our guides back to base. Just before returning to our hotel, we’re led along a narrow gravel track and end up at the beach, the turquoise-blue waves lapping at the white sand, the wind whipping up our hair.

Standing by my bike and looking out to sea, I can’t quite believe I’ve just ridden across a rainforest and a Caribbean beach – yet here we are, an all-female crew of riders having completed Day One of our Belizean adventure.

Meet the Team

Back at our basecamp in the small beach town of Hopkins, we gather round for a briefing on the rooftop terrace. I’m curious to get to know my fellow adventurers better: there’s Alana, a Canadian women in her fifties who recently passed her test and hasn’t ridden off-road before but decided she was in for a challenge. Following her divorce, Belize is an opportunity to do something for herself for the first time in years.

The girl on a bike vanessa ruck youtube
The girl on a bike vanessa ruck in jungle

There’s Mariska, a smiley South African gal on a break from work and on the lookout for adventure; there’s Golnoosh, a Canadian-Iranian rider going on a two-wheeled trip abroad for the first time, and Suzanne the Snake Whisperer from the US, a brilliant rider and a source of hilarious commentary. Then, there are Egle and Jurga, our guides and masterminds behind the all-female Belize bike trip, and finally, Emma, our host and bike rental owner in Hopkins.

I’ll admit, I mostly ride with men – at home, at the races, or while traveling – simply because motorcycling is a male-dominated world, and I love riding with the guys. Women on motorcycles are still a minority, especially when it comes to riding dirt, so I was intrigued to ride in an all-female crew: let’s face it, nine women on bikes traveling together is an unusual sight! Still, I have my reservations: having experienced bullying by mean girls at school for my tomboyish ways, I’ve no idea what to expect from these women. Are we going to click, and will we connect riding Belize together for twelve days, or are we going to remain strangers on bikes brought together by circumstance?

There’s only one way to find out.

Into the Wild

Waking up early in the morning, still a little jetlagged, we make our way to our breakfast spot. It’s a small local eatery run by Raquel, a cheerful Garifuna lady always ready with a smile and a generous plate of eggs and bacon. Hopkins feels a lot like Jamaica rather than Central America because of its vibrant Garifuna population: originally from West Africa, the Garifuna in Belize are famous for their hospitality, delicious cuisine, and drumming parties.

The girl on a bike vanessa ruck breakfast in belize

Bellies full of breakfast burritos, we jump on our 250cc bikes and head out. It’s raining a little, but the scenery around us more than makes up for it. As we travel across the emerald green rainforest, scarlet macaws taking flight, creeks and small rivers crisscrossing the jungle, it’s like riding in some distant green planet barely touched by human activity.

As we approach our first creek crossing, I’m a little worried whether Alana and Mariska are going to make it across. It’s rocky and slippery, and both of them don’t have much experience riding off road. Egle and Jurga wade into the creek, ready to help Alana and Mariska across. I’m waiting on the other side in case they need a hand or stall – it’s a slight uphill after the water crossing, and I know just how intimidating wet rocks can be if you’re a beginner rider.

The girl on a bike vanessa ruck Into the Wild

Instead of crashing, slipping, or stalling, however, both Alana and Mariska make it across like pros. We all cheer – clearly, these two gals are ready for a challenge, and we carry on riding deeper into the jungle, wide grins under our helmets.

Belize is hot and humid, so we make a habit of stopping at waterfalls and swimming holes to cool down. Soon, I realize the best policy is to simply wear a bikini under the riding gear: we braap, then we swim – that, in a nutshell, is a Belize survival guide. As we travel along, we cover sections of the Hummingbird Highway where the dense jungle flatlands are replaced by green rolling hills. Leaving tarmac again, we end up at a quiet jungle lodge complete with a swimming pool and a barbecue dinner.

Next up, it’s another stretch on dirt exploring stalactite-dotted caves and having lunch by the river before arriving at our next destination for a rest day. And if you’re thinking plush resorts or SPAs, think again: our rainforest hideaway is an eco-farm complete with horse riding and river cruises in a pontoon boat spotting crocodiles and howler monkeys along the way.

Mud, Bikes, and Coral Reefs

As we press on riding ever-deeper into the Belizean countryside, I’m starting to realize this trip is jam-packed with off-bike activities I’d never have had the time to organize myself. On ride days, we stop to make traditional tortillas with local Mayan women, visit waterfalls and caves, explore incredible Mayan ruins and eat lunch with the locals. During the rest days, the gals opt for a snorkelling trip to a Caribbean island, while Suzanne and I go for a diving expedition at Hamanasi resort to explore the coral reefs and swim with sharks. There’s also a bioluminescence tour and a Garifuna drumming party on the menu, and it’s starting to feel like this tour is both about the riding, the adventure, and the culture.

The girl on a bike vanessa ruck adventure

As the trip draws to an end, I realize we’ve ridden across Belize’s most remote rainforest trails, savannah, and beaches. We’ve done long days in the saddle and covered some dusty miles, helping each other along the way and supporting each other. We’ve battled mud, bent gear shifters, and the limits of our own comfort zones. From jaguar sanctuaries and remote Mayan villages to Caribbean towns and spectacular landscapes, we’ve experienced Belize in the best way imaginable: on two wheels, and in the company of like-minded adventuresses.

Best of all, we’ve all learned a thing or two about pushing our own edge. For me, riding dirt and traveling on bikes is all about challenging myself and exploring places off the beaten path. Having survived a car accident that’s left me with a reconstructed body, I purposely seek out adventures and physical and mental challenges – if I’m to grow as a rider and as a person, that’s the way to do it.

But seeing other women riders tackle terrain they’ve never ridden before, crashing, then getting right back into the saddle again, conquering their own fears, and finding that they’re capable, confident, and hilarious (looking at you, Suzanne!), was an entirely new experience.

So what’s my final verdict on riding Belize in an all-female crew? I’d definitely be up for another Caribbean adventure: most of us have ridden mountains and deserts, but exploring a jungle-covered wilderness on a bike is something completely different. And when it comes to women-only rides, I’ve learned they can be empowering in more ways than one.

It’s not just about the riding: it’s also about letting your hair down in the company of like-minded gals and creating new friendships along the way. If we want to see more women on bikes, all-female adventures might just be a good place to start!

Who are the Big Little Ride girls?

Egle and Jurga are founders of Big Little Rides, a motorcycle event planning company designing all-female adventure, dirt, and training tours around the world.

Travelers, adventure riders, and guides, Jurga and Egle have ridden bikes in Asia, the Americas, North Africa, and Europe. Obsessed with dual-sport riding and obscure destinations and driven by the desire to share the adventures, Jurga and Egle started Big Little Rides back in 2020. They began organizing a few women’s enduro weekends here and there just for fun, but soon found there was so much interest they felt like there was no turning back.

“Our trips and training events are aimed at women riders who are looking for adventure and a travel experience, but what usually ends up happening is that they also get a major confidence boost – and a good dose of inspiration to keep riding on their own. Our events aren’t about shutting male riders out: instead, they’re about creating space for women to be who they are, ride at their own pace and level, learn together, and support one another. Big Little Rides is about pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone, going on motorcycle adventures with other women, and finding that you’re more capable and confident than you thought”, Egle and Jurga explain.

Big Little Rides offer two-wheeled adventures for women ranging from long expeditions in places like South America to shorter European trips and dirt bike training weekends, available for all skill levels and experience (or no experience at all!).

The tour with Motourismo, Big Little Rides

Women’s Adventure Motorcycle Tour in Belize is a 10-day tour including off-road and road riding, plenty of adventure, and unique experiences. A fully-supported tour costs 2,970 GBP and includes motorcycle rental, hotels, fuel, and female guides. You’ll be exploring the Caribbean on small dual-sport bikes in the company of other women, discovering jungle trails, remote indigenous villages, and Mayan ruins, and enjoy some well-deserved rest on the beach or snorkelling over the second largest coral reef in the world.

Other Big Little Rides adventures take place in: Colombia, Portugal, Spain, Romania.

More on: Motourismo offers over 80 providers of motorcycle tours, training courses and shipping options to open the world of adventure in one place. https://www.motourismo.com/en/listings/4120-motorcycle-adventure-in-belize AND https://www.motourismo.com/en/listings/3868-womens-adventure-motorcycle-tour-in-

You can see the full adventure in my multiple part YouTube series below:

More on this tour:

Mixed ride

The girl on a bike vanessa ruck Mixed ride

Women’s only

The girl on a bike vanessa ruck Womens ride

Big Little Rides

The girl on a bike vanessa ruck biglittlerides

Part 1 Belize – A crew of babes assembled for a mega Belize adventure on motorcycles – this is day one

Part 2 We found the jungle

If you’re new to my page – it’s more than just dirt bike riding and racing, I’m on a mission to prove that nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough. See more about my story plus read about my life changing accident, which started it all.

You can find me Vanessa, The Girl On A Bike over on InstagramFacebookLinkedIn and YouTube, and www.thegirlonabike.com.

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