Our group arrives to Belize International Airport and transfers by van to the Black Orchid Resort. After getting settled into our accommodations, we will enjoy a dinner together followed by an orientation to our Belizean Adventure. Overnight: double occupancy rooms with private bathrooms. We will spend the next 3 nights at the Black Orchid Resort.
Today’s adventure begins as we head north to the Orange Walk District where we’ll begin our tour of Lamanai, “the submerged crocodile.” We’ll travel by motorboat up the New River to this ancient site looking for marsh residents such as herons, birds of prey and crocodiles along the way. Lamanai has a rich history beginning in 1500 B.C. to 1650 AD, making it the longest occupation of any Mayan site studied to date. We will have a special guided tour of the ruins before heading back to the river front resort of Black Orchid.
Join your Blue Water Ventures naturalist on a night hike to view the eerie eye glow of nocturnal animals that live in the jungly terrain. Overnight Black Orchid Resort.
Pre Columbian Mask Temple, Lamanai
Get ready to experience the Wild Side of Belize! Starting on the lush Caves Branch River, we’ll have a leisurely paddle down river on easy to use inflatable kayaks. The pristine river flows through a series of underground caves and beautiful jungle. 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. An alternative activity will be offered if water levels deem this activity unsafe. Overnight Black Orchid Resort.
Exploring one of nine underground caves, Caves Branch River
After breakfast, we will travel a short distance to the Community Baboon Sanctuary, a locally supported conservation project that serves to protect Black Howler Monkeys and their habitat which has been greatly diminished. Walking through the forest with local guides, we will learn about the life cycle and unique adaptations of black howler monkeys, as well as the medicinal uses of the jungle flora. Our day may include observing a cultural presentation by the ethnic group known as the Creole who live in the Bermudian Landing Village near the Sanctuary.
In the afternoon, we will continue our travels to the village of Hopkins, on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. 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 are members of Sandy Beach Women’s Cooperative who established a small seaside resort providing traditional Garifuna meals. The women of the cooperative are delightful! Tonight we’ll enjoy a cultural presentation by the Hopkins Youth Group.
Overnight: double-triple occupancy rooms in several accommodations we’ve reserved in Hopkins Village.
Dancing with the Garifuna Children of Hopkins Village
Today, we’ll travel into the heart of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This rain forest is primary habitat for the endangered jaguar and once had the highest concentration of jaguars 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 (activity is dependent upon the availability of tubes).
Our day will include a visit at the Maya Center, a Mopan Mayan village where we will meet Aurora Saqui, niece of the famous Belizean herbal healer Don Eligio Panti. Aurora is one of the Garcia sisters, talented artist known through-out Belize for their work with slate carvings. We will enjoy an informal yet highly informative conversation with Aurora and her husband, Ernesto Saqui who was the original Director of the Jaguar Sanctuary. Overnight: Hopkins Village.
Exploring the jungle by inner tube, Jaguar Sanctuary
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!
Double Occupancy Cabanas known locally as ” The Water Huts” with shared bathrooms
Our daily activities will vary according to the interest of our group and the plan that mother nature has for us this week. The actual timing of our activities will be dictated by wind, currents, tides and weather.
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! The afternoon is free to snorkel, kayak or just relax on the beach or in a hammock. Certified divers may arrange for a morning or afternoon dive.
Following happy hour and 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
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 Lomonts, 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 style existence. Their story is really quite remarkable. The day will provide ample time to snorkel, beach-comb, kayak or relax on our tropical island paradise.
Scuba divers may arrange another dive trip today.
You are welcomed to join our naturalist as we explore the island’s tropical interior. Hermit crabs, lizards, and numerous birds find refuge in this critical habitat which has vanished 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.
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. For anyone who is interested, we’ll teach an afternoon kayak skills and rescue clinic using closed deck boats.
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. From our kayaks we will select a fishing site outside of the reserve boundaries with hopes of catching enough snapper, grouper, sea bass or barracuda to feed our group.
The calm grass flats nearby are a prime habitat for the elusive bonefish, a prize among serious fisher-people.
In the rocky inter tidal shoreline we can harvest West Indian top snails and compare the biodiversity of this critical habitat to other areas we’ve seen.
As always, you may opt to do other island activities. 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
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. Certified divers may organize a night dive. 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 tree lined paradise.
Our boat sets sail early today for the mainland where we’ll catch a charter bus to The Tropical Education Center. Upon arrival to the Tropical Education Center, we will get settled into our cabanas where we’ll spend our final night together.
Early morning departure for the Belize International Airport to catch our flights home.
Spider Monkey in Belizean rainforest