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DAY ONE: ARRIVAL TO YAMWITS LODGE
Our group arrives to Belize International Airport and transfers by van to our
accommodations at Yamwits Lodge on the beautiful Hummingbird Highway.
Dinner followed by an orientation to our Belizean Adventure.
Overnight: Yamwits Lodge: triple to quad occupancy rooms in a small creole family owned lodge specializing in local Belizean cuisine.
Joy Smith and her family will host our group tonight.
DAY TWO: JUNGLE AND CAVE KAYAKING ADVENTURE
Get ready to experience the Wild Side of Belize! Starting on the lush Caves Branch River off the Hummingbird Highway,
we'll have a leisurely paddle down river on the easy to use sit on top style of kayaks.
After several miles, the river flows through a series of nine massive underground caves.
Erie shadows cast by stalactites fuel our imagination as we wander back in time to the ancient Mayan Civilization.
Our expert guides will share knowledge of jungle flora and fauna and the historical significance of ceremonial caves in Mayan Culture.
We’ll paddle downstream for 6-7 miles and hike through the jungle on this adventurous day. Overnight Yamwits Lodge.
Exploring one of nine underground caves, Caves Branch River
DAY THREE: BLUE HOLE NATIONAL PARK TO THE MAYA CENTER
After breakfast, we will hike through the thick tropical foliage that surrounds an interior preserve, Blue Hole National Park. The deep aqua pool for which the park was named, was formed when the roof over an ancient subterranean riverbed collapsed. Our destination today is St. Herman's Cave. Using head lamps, we will begin exploring this magnificent cave that was used by the ancient Mayans as a ceremonial chamber.
The fascinating history of the Mayans and their use of sacred pottery, fire pits and carved artifacts will be interpreted by our Mayan guide.
Our day will include tubing through the caves chambers filled with stalactites.
After hiking, we'll leave for the modern day Mopan Mayan village of Maya Center.
We plan to overnight at the H'men Herb Center, Botanical Garden and Cottages in Maya Center.
We will learn about the modern Mayan people and their relationship to the surrounding jungle with Aurora Saqui, niece of the famous
Belizean herbal healer Don Elijio Panti, and our host at the cottages.
Aurora is one of the Garcia sisters, talented artist known
through-out Belize for their work with slate carvings.
After dinner, we'll venture out into the forest to observe animals uniquely adapted to the nocturnal world.
Overnight: cottages and dormitory style rooms at H'men Herb Center, Botanical Garden and Cottages
Exploring the jungle by inner tube, Jaguar Sanctuary
DAY FOUR: MAYA CENTER to JAGUAR SANCTUARY
Today, we'll travel by bus into the heart of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This rain forest is primary habitat for the endangered jaguar, and
actually has the highest concentration of these cats in the Neotropics.
We'll hike the trails leading into the dense jungle and discuss the fascinating ecology of tropical rain forests.
In addition to jaguars, this sanctuary is also home to tapirs, kinkajous, leaf-cutter ants and hundreds of species of tropical birds
such as toucans, motmots and curassows.
We'll launch inner tubes down South Stann Creek, which winds through the heart of the Jaguar Preserve.
Tubing is an excellent way to quietly observe wildlife and the rich tropical foliage that lines the river.
Tonight you'll have the option to overnight with families in the village. Sharing meals and the evening with a host family is an unforgettable experience.
Meeting one of our host family of the Maya Center
DAY FIVE: MAYFLOWER HIKE to HOPKINS VILLAGE
We'll get an early start today as we hike the thick lush forest that surrounds the unexcavated ancient Mayan ruins of the Mayflower. This is a fairly rugged hike, but when we make it to the top of the waterfall near the ruins, we'll swim in the cool pools and enjoy a panoramic view of the coastline of Belize.
In the afternoon, we'll proceed to Hopkins.
A charming village on a Caribbean beach, Hopkins is home to an ethnic group in Belize known as the Garifuna.
The Garifuna culture is a fascinating blend of West African traditions and those of the Carib Indians
who migrated into the Caribbean from the Orinoco Basin of Venezuela.
Our hosts in Hopkins are members of Sandy Beach Women's Cooperative,
who established a small seaside resort providing traditional Garifuna meals and cultural presentations.
Tonight, we will enjoy a presentation by the Hopkins Youth Group on their traditional dances.
Overnight: double-quad occupancy rooms in several homes we've rented in Hopkins Village.
Dancing with the Garifuna Childern of Hopkins Village
DAY SIX: GLOVER'S REEF ATOLL
After breakfast, we'll set sail for Glover's Atoll Resort. Thirty miles east of the mainland, Glover's Reef is designated as a World Heritage Site and Marine Reserve.
There are few places in the western hemisphere where coral atolls, a circular ring of reef and islands have formed.
As a marine preserve the population of fish is exceptionally healthy, from the minute reef inhabitants to the larger predatory species.
Our island accommodations are on Northeast Caye, a pristine island within the turquoise hued lagoon of the atoll.
We will be staying in rustic cabins facing the windward side of the island where the massive reef system begins right off shore.
Composting toilets are shared among the huts.
For the next week we'll be living with few amenities such as electricity or running water. Our cabanas will glow by the light of lanterns, candles, the moon and stars. Each night, you may anticipate a delicious meal prepared by Eulalia Pop and Merlene Castillo, local Belizeans who will be joining us at Glover'sReef.
Our coconut lined island surrounded by shimmering blue water is truly magical!
Our daily activities will vary as they are dictated by wind, currents, tides and weather.
Double -Quad Occupancy Cabanas
DAY SEVEN: GLOVER'S REEF ATOLL
Our day will begin with an introduction to snorkeling. As we practice our skills, we'll examine the shallow turtle grass flats where an array of species especially in their juvenile state find refuge. In the afternoon we'll venture out to swim over large boulders of corals where huge schools of iridescent reef fish flourish.
The snorkeling here is truly outstanding!
By thy end of our first full day at Glover's Reef, we expect students to identify an independent study that they will conduct from our incredible island home.
Following dinner, we'll venture out on an optional hike to determine what animals are nocturnally active in the island's dense interior.
Our island home for a week
DAY EIGHT: GLOVER'S REEF ATOLL: KAYAK/SNORKEL
This morning we'll offer a kayaking skills course in preparation for a day of exploration by kayak.
Using sit on top style kayaks we may visit the original homestead of the Lomont's, owners of Glover's Atoll Resort.
This unique family carved out an existence on a tiny island where they raised their children and lived a Robinson Crusoe type life.
Their story is really quite remarkable. The day will provide ample time to snorkel, beach-comb, or work on your independent study.
You are welcomed to join our naturalist as we explore the island's tropical interior.
Land crabs, iguanas, small boa constrictors and numerous birds find refuge in this critical habitat which is vanishing quickly throughout most of Belize. Few islands in this region remain uncut and undeveloped. Northeast Caye is an exceptional example of how Caribbean Islands looked before the onset of modern resorts.
In the evening we'll review the fish we've seen discussing their strange behaviors and coloration strategies.
DAY NINE: GLOVER'S REEF ATOLL: DATA COLLECTION
As your snorkeling skills improve we'll visit the outer reef wall to observe pelagic species such as huge tarpon, harmless nurse sharks and spotted eagle rays that often frequent deeper waters. Snorkeling above the wall where the water depth suddenly drops off to over 2500 feet is an unforgettable sensation.
Massive barrel sponges and oddly shaped corals not seen in the shallow waters flourish along the spectacular reef wall. Part of our program today will involve selecting a new study site to begin gathering data on the condition of the reef surrounding Glover's Atoll.
DAY TEN: GLOVER'S REEF ATOLL: BELIZEAN FEAST
Join Blue Water Ventures staff and a local guide as we gather seafood in preparation for tonight's dinner.
We'll learn how Belizeans have traditionally secured food from the sea using hand lines, fish traps and spears.
The calm grass flats nearby are a prime habitat for the elusive bonefish, a prize among serious fisher-people.
In the rocky intertidal shoreline we can harvest West Indian top snails and compare the biodiversity of this critical habitat to other areas we've seen.
Tonight we'll prepare a Belizean feast grilling our catch over a coconut husk fire on the beach. Once again, we'll enjoy another starry night on our tropical island getaway.
Paint a fish.......... then watch reef fish watching your fish! Our island classroom
DAY ELEVEN: GLOVER'S REEF ATOLL~ EXPLORING THE BLUE/NIGHT SNORKEL
Today we'll join the Lamont family on a leisurely boat excursion to some of their favorite snorkeling places within the atoll. The turquoise blue lagoon contains over 800 reef patches and pinnacles. Tonight we'll offer an evening snorkel trip to observe the nocturnal inhabitants of a coral reef. As darkness settles over a reef, damselfish, parrotfish and other colorful daytime fish disappear giving way to the nocturnal predators and plankton feeders.
The coral polyps are active at night as the water around us sparkles with bioluminescent plankton.
Most impressive are barracuda, stingrays and octopus that we may encounter as we carefully swim in the dark using flashlights to light our way.
After our evening adventure, we'll gather around a campfire on our coconut lined paradise.
DAY TWELVE: GLOVER'S REEF ATOLL TO BELIZE CITY
Our boat sets sail early today for the mainland where we'll catch a charter bus back to Belize City. Upon arrival, we'll get
settled into our guest house where we'll spend our final night together.
DAY THIRTEEN: BELIZE CITY TO THE AIRPORT
Early morning departure for the Belize International Airport to catch our flights home.
Spider Monkey in Belizean rainforest