Belize is UnBelizeable! Part 2
Temple of the Jaguar Masks
Welcome to part 2 of my adventure in Belize. If you have not read my article Belize is UnBelizeable! then you should read that article first. To those of you that have already read it, thank you! I am sure you are wondering what that picture is that was at the bottom of my first article. Well here is the photo again. This is a photo of a Jaguar on the Temple of the Jaguar Masks. Just one of the many Mayan ruins found in Belize. Belize is full of Mayan Ruins. Belize is considered part of the Southern Maya Lowlands of the Mesoamerican culture area. The sites found there are believed to be occupied around 2000 BCE until and after the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. The main Mayan sites in Belize are: Altun Ha, Baking Pot, Cahal Pech, Caracol, Cerros, Chaa Creek, Colha, Cuello, El Pilar, K'axob, La Milpa, Lamanai, Louisville, Lubaantun, Marco Gonzales, Nim Li Punt, Pusilha, San Estevan, Santa Rita Corozal, Uxbenka, Xaheb, and Xunantunich. Like I said there are a ton of Mayan ruins in Belize. You could spend a month just visiting them and there would still be plenty of other archeological sites to see afterwards.
I decided to go to Lamanai. I booked my trip through the Belizean Shores Resort where I was staying. We left early in the morning and took a 2 hour or so boat ride to Belize City. Once there we piled into vans and took off. While riding in the van you can see some of Belize city as well as a lot of the country side. The van ride was a little over an hour. Once outside of Belize City I saw a lot of half finished houses and little shacks. Our tour guide told us in Belize people buy land then slowly build their houses as they have the money to buy supplies. Sometimes it can take years or even decades for some one to finish their house. Some of the people wile build small shacks to live in while they are building their houses. However, once their house is finished it is completely paid off.
Eventually we made our way to a small boat dock by the side of the road. There we hopped in a boat and traveled up the river. First we were taken to a small island inhabited by a couple of monkeys. The boat guide gave us all crackers and then called the monkeys. Surprisingly the monkeys came out of the trees and right into the boat. They would eat the crackers right out of our hands and climb all over us. They were very tame and curious about everything. When the boat guide started up the engine again the monkeys left the boat and we continued on our journey. The ride took about an hour or so to get to the ruins area. During the ride the guides would point out different birds and other wildlife.
Once we got the the ruin area we got off the boat and proceeded to the tourist center. There a guide took us down a path and into the jungle. Make sure you bring mosquito repellent. I will say this again MAKE SURE YOU TAKE MOSQUITO REPELLENT. I had to apply repellent multiple times while at the ruins. Once in the jungle it becomes surprisingly humid and hot. I am glad I brought extra bottles of water with me. We were taken to a few different temples including the Jaguar Temple and the High Temple. The guides give you some history about the temples and the site in general then you get some time to walk around at each temple. It was awesome because you are still able to climb the temples. Now I am 6 foot 3 inches tall (1.9M) and the steps to the top of the temples were huge to me. I was still able to walk most of them like stairs but most people had to climb them using their hands and feet. The views were breath taking from the top of the temples. The High Temple rises above the tree tops and takes a lot of energy to climb. A lot of people give up before they are at the top but the climb is totally worth it for the views.
There is a lot of wild life around the temple including Howler Monkeys. The noises these things make are unreal. It would be very scary walking through the jungle not knowing what they were or what was making the noises they make. Its this loud guttural roar. Luckily that stay up in the trees and seem to be afraid of humans.
Once we had visited the temples we returned to the visitor center. There are normal toilets there so don;t worry about that, haha. There is a sheltered picnic pavilion there and the excursion crew from Belizean Shores provided lunch. It was some local type food that was pretty good. Either that or I was starving from climbing all the temples. After our lunch we returned to the boat. Unfortunately it started raining so they zipped down the river as fast as they could to get us back to the vans. Luckily the boat had a roof so I did not get very wet. By the time we got back to Belize City in the vans it had stopped raining. The boat ride back to the Resort was laid back and relaxed. They served drinks, beer and fresh fruit on the ride back. You must check out the ruins if you go to Belize! I can't wait to go back there and check out some of the other sites that I never had the time to go to!
View from atop the High Temple
Cave Tubing 2
Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve offers cave tubing. This is an awesome experience and very family friendly. I originally visited Belize while on a cruise and but am including it in my hub about Belize because I only spent about 10 hours in Belize that day and it was enough to make me return to Belize. Plus I don't think I could write an entire article on cave tubing and it was such an awesome experience that I would highly recommend it to anyone who visits Belize. Belizean Shores does offer the cave tubing excursion so don't worry you don't need to be on a cruise to do this.
For this make sure you wear cloths and shoes you don't mind getting wet. They will not let you wear open toed shoes and if you were open toed shoes they will provide you with some crappy uncomfortable water shoes to wear. I also suggest wearing something like jean shorts because your bottom can drag on the river bottom occasionally. Anyway, it was an hour ride from Belize City to the Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve. Once there they told us a little about whats going on then they give us a life preserver, helmet and inter tube. At that point they pointed us toward a trail and told us to follow the trail. The trail is a very easy hike that takes about 20 -30 minutes through the forest and includes wading through the river. There was a guide there and a rope to help us cross the river. A couple times while walking the trail there were leaf cutter ants crossing the trail carrying parts of leaves. They are really neat to watch. Eventually I made my way to the point where I got to get in the river. There was a guide there to help us get in the river and away I went. Guides also float down the river with you. immediately the river goes into a cave. Luckily the helmets have lights on them. They are kind of like miner helmets. The river winds in and out through multiple caves and a relatively slow pace. Once in a while my butt would drag on the river bottom but I am heavier then most people. It was a very fun and relaxing journey down the river in and out of the caves. I have been in lots of caves in the US but this was a totally new and awesome experience. Floating down the river and through the caves took about and hour and a half. Eventually I ended up back at the point were I originally crossed the river and the guide there helped me out of the river. Then after a short walk back to the Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve I returned my equipment. The Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve provided a buffet style meal that was very good. They also have decent restrooms and showers there to use. Once everyone had returned and eaten that was on the bus I was on we returned to Belize City. In total it was about a 6 hour trip and a super amazing time. There were lots of families and children there who all seemed to love it. If you make it to Belize you definitely need to take a day and go cave tubing!!
The End of Part 2
I still have a ton to write about my trip to Belize so I am going to end this article here and turn this into a 3 part series. I hope you have enjoyed parts 1 and 2 so far. If you can't tell I love Belize and can not wait to go back their again! I have finished part 3 and here is the link to Part 3.
Once again thanks for reading!