Making The Most Of Belize

If you read my last post, you know I have been doing a lot of research into Belize. A long desired destination of mine, it will be the perfect way to kick-off my SoleJourn. I want to get as much out of my approximately three weeks in this tiny country as I can, so I am trying to make sure that I see Belize my way; hiking, biking and other physical and cultural activity mixed with some independent exploration, photo taking and a sprinkling of laying around in the sun. I also have a growing interest in simpler more sustainable living practices, and want to try to learn more about these things while I’m there.

Aside from laying on the beach and playing in the beautiful blue water, using Lonely Planet as a jumping off point, here are just a few of the really interesting things I found to do in Belize:

monkey-bay-wildlife-sanctuary

1. Volunteering at Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary: Located a short bus ride from Belize City, the Wildlife Sanctuary gives desiring guests the opportunity to get their daily exercise working with their hands in the great outdoors doing such independent activities as maintaining organic gardens, landscaping and composting. With a month’s notice and a minimum 1 week commitment (30 hrs), $300 BZ ($150 USD) a week gets you room, board, wifi, access to their library and a central location great for side trips. http://www.monkeybaybelize.org/intern.htm

Lamanai

Lamanai

2. A River Tour to Lamanai: A full day trip from Orange Walk, you travel by boat on the New River, through the Mennonite community of Shipyard, to the Maya stronghold at Lamanai. Most tours, $80-$90 BZ per person, also include a picnic lunch at the Maya temples. Your guides will also show you around and explain the history of this complex with all of its temples, residential buildings and ball court. http://nichbelize.org/ia-archaeological-sites-parks/lamanai.html

3. Ranger for a Day: Just north of Punta Gorda, in southern Belize, you can patrol the Belizean jungle for a day alongside a local Mayan ranger. Not only will you be helping to protect the rainforest, you will also learn how to identify tracks of large animals (jaguars, pumas) and to identify birds like hummingbirds and toucans. For the suggested donation of 30-45 USD per person (a contribution to the ranger’s salaries) you can become one with nature. http://www.yaaxche.org/index.php?page=rangerday

Cave Tubing

Cave Tubing

4. Cave Tubing: Sit in a tube and float lazily down a river, until suddenly the river leads you into a dark cave. There are several places to do this in Belize, each cave system offering its own bonuses: Mayan cave paintings, the longest stretch in the dark, schools of fish or Mayan pottery to name just a few. Some operators even offer the chance to do this at sunset, giving you the opportunity to avoid crowds and emerge from the caves to a sky full of stars and the sounds of the jungle at night. These tours are mostly available during months where the water levels are high (usually NOT in Feb-June), so I better do this as soon as I arrive! One tour operator: http://www.cavesbranch.com/belize-cave-tubing

5. Maya Village Cultural Exchanges/Village-stays: For those willing to rough it, the Toledo Ecotoursim Association (T.E.A.) provides the opportunity to glimpse real life in the small Maya villages of deep Southern Belize. T.E.A., developed to ensure that the benefits of tourism were being distributed evenly amongst all the local people, is overseen by a board that makes sure things are fair and accommodations are up to standard. Guests sleep in a simple bunk house built of local woods with mosquito nets, blankets and towels and a primitive shower. Starting at $22BZ per person, per day, you can stay and explore in one of these villages. For an additional $8BZ each, you can eat your meals in the home of local families, have a cooking or dancing lesson or take part in evening storytelling. http://www.southernbelize.com/tea.html

Garifuna Drum Lessons

Garifuna Drum Lessons

6. Drumming Lessons: South of Belize City, (Punta Gorda, Placencia, Hopkins, etc.) Garifuna (Afro-Carib) culture rules, and traditional drumming is a huge part of this culture. Here you can get hands on, individual and group drumming or dancing lessons. Available to anyone ages 5 and up, rates begin at $15 BZ/hour. One option: http://www.warasadrumschool.com/

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cool things to do in Belize. Looks like I might need 4 weeks…

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8 responses to “Making The Most Of Belize

  1. Wow! Those activities sound awesome. What’s your daily budget for Belize? I’ve traveled around Mexico a bit, and everyone I met there on their way back from Belize told me it’s an expensive destination. It would be higher on my list of places to visit, but I’m concerned a trip to Belize would be cost prohibitive.

    • Yes, there are some really cool things to do there! My daily budget is $50 USD/day or $100 BZ/day (the exchange rate is held at 1 USD to 2 BZ). From what I can see, Northern Belize and the Cayes (where most people go) are much more expensive than locations south of Belize City, so to stay on budget I plan to balance time between them. Also, I am finding that volunteering or doing homestays is really affordable. $150 USD for a week of volunteering at Monkey Bay is way under my budget of $350/week and includes room, board and internet! It looks like it can definitely be done on a budget and I will definitely write all about it when I know for sure!

      • Thanks! I’m following your blog now, and I’m looking forward to the post. Let me know if you find any nice, affordable eco-lodges or hostels on the beach.

  2. Ummm, this all looks awesome! You should invest in a waterproof camera of some sort for those caves!! That looks so cool. Good find on the wildlife sanctuary! I hope its not torturous tho haha you are going to get the deepest tan of your life haha

    • One benefit to doing all this in advance is you have time to dig up all the interesting things to do! I don’t think the sanctuary sounds torturous- I think working outdoors for a few hours in the morning and then chillin in the jungle sounds great. And I definitely need a waterproof camera case.

  3. Reblogged this on I'M BELIZEAN TRAVELS.

  4. Hope you make it down to Warasa -we’d love to have you – and two of your other things are also in our neighbourhood (Yaaxche Ranger for a Day and the Mayan homestays). If you’re the adventurous type, then Southern Belize is defintely the most off-the-beaten track area. You can visit all (57!) Toledo Mayan villages by village bus, which costs you a maximum of $3.50USD each way, plus two Mayan ruins by bus also (again, less than $3USD fare from Punta Gorda town each way).

    • I fully intend to check you all out at Warasa! I like to think I am at least a little adventurous and cannot wait to check out all of Belize, but especially the south. Thanks for stopping by, for the tips, and for reminding me how great of a time I will have in Belize!

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