Tag Archives: nature

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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