Known for having the largest living Barrier Reef in the world and ancient Maya Ruins that hold secrets deep within, discovering Belize has never been more exciting!

Enjoy the best of both worlds - Beach and Jungle - experience the diverse destination that is Belize. Explore untamed nature as you zipline through the lush jungle canopy and gain a bird’s eye view of the rainforest below. Dive alongside Whale Sharks and witness a myriad of marine life and untouched corals! With a wide array of activities, Belize is a top family vacation destination.

Offering over 20 years experience in the tourism industry, ViVABELiZE Hotel Group & Adventure Company prides itself in providing affordable all-inclusive family packages. Stay at any of our five award-winning full-service resorts or combine multiple properties for added exposure to our country’s attractions.

Collect lifelong memories on your family adventure holiday in Belize! Call (888) 822-2448 or email us at [email protected] to plan your getaway today!

A male killer whale known as the orca, spanning more than 30 feet, has surprisingly surfaced in the south of Belize—a very rare sight in our tropical waters. The majestic apex predator aggressively warded off Belizean tour guides and stay-over tourists who were on a trip in the Ranguana Caye area last Thursday, before heading north with another adult whale and a younger whale of the same species, presumably on a migratory trip to cooler waters.

Known scientifically as Orcinus orca, this type of whale is distinguished by its distinctive black-and-white skin patches.
Jason Westby, who conducts fishing tours with a few different resorts as a freelance tour guide, told Amandala that on the day of the incident, he was working with Chabil Mar, and he was touring with a couple from Texas, USA, when the drama unfolded sometime between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. on December 29.

At the time, they were between Ranguana Caye and Palm Owens Caye, both located on the Belize Barrier Reef. They were situated about a mile and a half from the drop-off of the reef when the sighting was made.

Westby said that tuna, a prey of the orcas, were likely about a mile from where they were, since there was a sighting of birds in the area.

The tour guide said that when he first saw a big splash, he did not know what it was, and told his guests, “Guys, there is something massive over there!”

Westby said that he thought it was a marlin, but jokingly said that it must be an orca – the killer whale which is a predatory species in the dolphin family. It is said that orcas don’t eat people, although there have been reports of non-fatal attacks.

“It was jumping straight at us like a freight train. I reversed the boat and he kept jumping at us and flapping, perhaps to ward us off,” Westby recounted.

 

There were three orcas, including a baby whale, the tour guide told us. He believes that the adults were about 30 to 32 feet long, much bigger than his 23-foot skiff.

“After about 5 to 6 minutes, another orca jumped in a distance, then we noticed that there were two whales consistently moving on the surface,” said Westby, adding that they eventually realized that there were three orcas in all.

“All of a sudden, they started to head north. We followed them for about a half-mile and turned back and went trying to fish again,” he said.

Blue Reef Adventures posted a video on Facebook of the encounter with the orcas, captured by another tour led by Rowland Alford, and it has captivated the attention of many nature lovers.

According to National Geographic, the killer whales known as orcas are the largest of the dolphins and one of the world’s most powerful predators.

“They feast on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even whales, employing teeth that can be four inches (ten centimeters) long. They are known to grab seals right off the ice. They also eat fish, squid, and seabirds,” it added.

Westby suspects that they must have been feeding on tunas in the area where yellowfin tunas had been recently spotted.

The tour guide told us that he has been trying to research when the last sighting in Belize was recorded, but he did not find any information to satisfy his query.

“I would really like to know myself,” Westby told us.

Leo Flores, who commented on the video posted on social media, said: “There have only ever been about a dozen sightings in the Western Caribbean in the past 150 years, according to data collected for ‘The Mammal Society’ from 1866 thru 2012: 1 south of Belize City, 1 near Lighthouse Reef & 1 south-east of Belize’s Sapodilla Cayes… plus in 2014: Orcas [were seen] near Maugre Caye around Turneffe.”

He added that, “…this new 2016 sighting north of the Sapodilla Cayes near Ranguana Caye highlights the importance of protecting all wildlife by making our waters as safe as possible for them!”

Written and Published by Adele Ramos for Amandala Belize. Original article can be found on: Amandala Belize

One day while Duarte and me were lying on the peaceful and beautiful beach of Jaguar Reef, Ian the Operations Manager of the The Belize Collection Hotels in Hopkins invited us to go with him and all his family to an unexpected Fishing Tour with Pancho “The Fisherman”. I had never been fishing in my life and I wanted to do this for quite a while. What better place to go fishing than the Caribbean sea!

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After lunch we meet at the dock of Almond Beach with Ian, his lovely wife, their two kids Liam and Eli and with Pancho who was going to be our captain and guide. We helped Pancho to arrange all the gear necessary to start our adventure in a small but fully-equipped boat.

Our fishing spot was situated 30 minutes away from the hotel, so Pancho had a great idea! We will stop on the Birds Island, which real name is Man-o-war Caye. This tiny island looks like any other tiny mangrove island but as you get closer to shore the frenzy of activity becomes apparent, with birds soaring in the sky above in every direction. This small caye is a government-monitored bird sanctuary and major nesting site for the magnificent frigate, or man-o-war, Pelicans and Brown Booby Bird. While we were circling the island we could see hundreds of these large seabirds roosting on and hovering above the island.

 

After this curious and unexpected break at this amazing island full of birds, we finally stopped on our fishing spot close to South Water Caye. Pancho our captain and the official fisherman of Jaguar Reef Restaurant already had everything ready for us to start our fishing afternoon. He explained us some easy tricks to catch fish but my surprise was when after less than one minute with the hook in the water one red snapper started to bite my bait!

 

With the help of Pancho we started to pull and finally we got that fantastic fish! After some minutes I realize that it was so easy to hook fish because everybody on the boat was enjoying it, even the kids! It is important to know that if the fish that we caught was too small, we threw it again in the water. We only kept the mature and bigger fish that could be cooked.

 

After a couple of hours full of fun and splashes, we started our trip back to the hotel with the cooler full of red snappers, groupers and even a barracuda! We were relaxing on the boat feeling the fresh air and enjoying the amazing views of the mainland at the sunset when suddenly Pancho shouted: DOLPHINS! We couldn’t believe it! We started following the family of dolphins and in a minute they were playing and jumping next to our boat. It was a fantastic experience that I will never forget and a perfect way to finish an amazing day of fishing!

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As I told you before it’s very difficult to see wildlife and most mammals in the Rainforest. You cannot imagine how happy and excited Duarte and I were when we enjoyed such a complete and fun tour, with so many amazing experiences in just one day. Some of these adventures include fantastic episodes with the most awesome creatures that you can find in Belize. We loved Monkey River Tour!

Everything started during our stay at the wonderful The Lodge at Jaguar Reef, Rafael the Manager of the Adventure Desk offered us that tour. We didn't have any idea about what it was about but we were full of anticipation to discover a new area of Belize!

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After a pleasant trip by van of just one hour to Placencia, a lively and beautiful little village at the south of the country, we took a boat to start our trip. It was a short boat ride down the southern coast that took us through the Monkey River. But first we felt the speed of the boat and we had the chance to enjoy the feeling to go into the mangroves that surround the southern coast. The wind on your face, the views of the coast and the horizon with the massive ocean was amazing!

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Finally we arrived to the entrance of the famous Monkey River. Right at the river mouth you will find Monkey River Village, where we had lunch after the river tour. This village has no more than 150 residents and they are mostly fishermen. There are no cars in that town, they don’t need it, they only use boats to move around.

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While we were going up to the Monkey River we had the feeling that we were going into the deepest of the Belizean Rainforest and little by little the wildlife started to appear. First of all we saw plenty of different species of birds, some gigantic iguanas sleeping on the treetops, some baby crocodiles having a sunbath at the river shores and even a family of cute and tiny bats sleeping under a branch. After this great ride going up the river we stopped to go into the jungle looking for the Howler Monkeys. Now you get why it is called Monkey River!

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That hike through the Rainforest was spectacular and I discovered the extremely high diversity of flora that this environment has. I will never forget the huge bamboo forest that we had to go across while we were looking for the howler monkeys. The massive bamboo branches formed a colossal dome right on top of us! Just unbelievable!

And after some minutes walking through the jungle we started to hear the distinct sound of the Howler Monkeys. We felt like we were in Jurassic Park! We never heard anything similar! You cannot imagine that that noise comes from such a small animal. It is a unique experience! We were following a family of monkeys with two babies. They were jumping, eating and having fun at the treetops! When we were coming back to the boat we were still making photos and videos of baby monkeys, and we had our first "award" of the day. One of the babies that was just one meter above of us, almost pee on us! We recorded it! Don't disturb the monkeys or you will have a fabulous souvenir... monkey pee!

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But the most unique and extraordinary experience that we had that day and one of the most wonderful ones that we had during our stay in Belize was our encounter with two manatees. When we were going back to Placencia, we stopped in a lagoon, which is a spot where if you are lucky you can have the chance to see manatees. You can imagine how difficult it’s to see a manatee since they stay most the time of their lives under the water eating seaweed and they only come up to the surface a few seconds every 2 minutes. But that day was our lucky day! We spotted a calf with its mother and for some reason they approached our boat! It was amazing how curious they were with us and mostly with me. The baby just wanted to be in front of me and look at me! We felt in love immediately with each other! At least I did! I just couldn’t believe it! I will keep that incredible experience forever! I feel like there’s always something new and special to discover everyday in Belize. Can’t wait for what tomorrow might bring!

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If you are staying in Hopkins and you love nature, then you can’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a day at the super famous Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve. It is located only 30 minutes by car from the The Belize Collection Hotels in Hopkins Village and organized weekly by their adventure desk. But this trip isn’t a regular hike through the jungle… be ready to get wet!

Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve has the largest concentration of Jaguars in the world. The government has set aside 150 square miles of rainforest in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve, which currently provides a protected environment for around 200 jaguars. It’s recognized internationally as the first jaguar preserve in the world, But as I mentioned before, it is highly unlikely that an actual Jaguar sighting will occur. These amazing wild cats are masters of stealth and their existence is based on them seeing and not being seen. Many guides told us during our several jungle hikes: "Probably today a Jaguar saw you but you didn’t even noticed that it was close".

This preserve is also important because of high population density of Pumas, Ocelot, Jaguarundi, Margay, Paca, Howler Monkey, Coatimundi, Brocket Deer... So you have to be always alert for any sign of wildlife because it could be any of these wonderful creatures.

So let the tour begin! After the short ride from Almond Beach Resort& Spa, you will get into the wild rainforest up until the entrance of the Preserve. First of all we made a little hike crossing a creek to the wreck of a small plane used by Alan Rabinowitz to track jaguars in this area. Alan was the first person to start studying the jaguars in Cockscomb and he is responsible for the foundation of this Jaguar Preserve. The plane crashed in the middle of the preserve and the plane is still there completely covered with vegetation and blended into the environment. Don't worry all the passengers were unhurt! You just don’t expect to see that in the middle of the jungle!

After that, the always-friendly guides will give you your tube and the real adventure begins with an easy and relaxed hike through the jungle and onto the river. During this hike, you can imagine a Jaguar crossing the path, sometimes if you are lucky you will have the chance to see a jaguar or puma footprint!

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A short hike through some jungle trails takes you to the river bank where the river tubing begins. The views from the river on the tube are unbelievable. It looks like the trees are almost on the river. The watercourse breaks the rain forest in two parts so you have spectacular views of the interior of it. If you are near to the water you will have always more possibilities to see some of the great fauna that lives in that preserve. So keep your eyes open!

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The funniest part of this sensational tour is coming to some rapid currents between some little islands in the middle of the river. You have to control the tube and be ready to enjoy and laugh! We felt guilty to break the silence and the calm of the jungle with our burst of laughter, but you need it and deserve it after this fantastic experience.

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At the end of the river tubing experience we left our tubes and we went to a magical waterfall hidden in the middle of the mountain where we could swim in its natural pool and have a pure massage with the water falling on your body. It is the perfect way to end your day in the Belizean rainforest!

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Having explored some of the most beautiful and amazing Maya ruins in Belize, we decided to explore one more site. Now that we were staying at Sleeping Giant, we didn’t wanted to miss the opportunity to discover one of the largest and most well-preserved Mayan City in the World – TIKAL. This ancient site is situated in Guatemala within 2.5 hours drive from the Belize border and about 3.5 hours from Sleeping Giant Lodge.

Even though this trip is quite long, it is well worth the drive. The staff at the lodge will organize the entire trip for you one day in advance.

During the drive to Tikal you will pass through the bustling town of San Ignacio and some kilometers from there you will find the border of Guatemala. From there your journey will take you on the road through the rainforest and on to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tikal.

Tikal was once the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. Though monumental architecture at the site dates back as far as the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee during the Classic Period, c. 200 to 900 AD.

Tikal Maya Ruins

This site is literally in the middle of the jungle so it is normal to see lots of wildlife next to the ruins, like Gibnuts, Howler Monkeys, Spider Monkeys...

Spider Monkeys around the ruins of Tikal
Spider Monkeys around the ruins of Tikal

Our knowledgeable guide took us around this great Mayan City, where we had the opportunity to see dozens of stelae (monuments carved out of stone), Mayan homes and temples as we walked on real ancient Maya road. While we walked around we started feeling the magic of the Maya culture. The population estimates place the demographic size of the site between 10,000 and 90,000. So this was a huge city and you can imagine the crowd living there hundreds of years ago.

After an interesting hike through the low area of the city, we started going up to the royal area and the famous Great Plaza. One of the most awesome things of this site is the preservation of all the buildings. We also walked around the palaces where the Maya aristocracy lived. We entered their private chambers and imagined taking a "nap" on one of their stone beds.

One of the rooms and the bed of the royal palace
One of the rooms and the bed of the royal palace

I strongly recommend you to the visit this area at the beginning of your tour because from the balconies of the palaces you will have the most stunning view of the Great Plaza flanked on the east and west sides by two great temple-pyramids. You can sit at the same place where the royal families used to enjoy the views of the Great Plaza from up above. How could they build such massive and wonderful temples?! It is absolutely incredible!

The views of the Great Plaza from the balconies of the royal area
The views of the Great Plaza from the balconies of the royal area

Once you are on the ground in the middle of the Great Plaza you will delight yourself with the magnitude of the buildings around this Plaza! It looks like they are touching the sky!

The perfect finale of this tour is to climb to one the highest temples of the Great Plaza and enjoy the views from another perspective. From the top, we admired the grandeur of this Mayan city and enjoyed seeing the other temples and pyramids emerging from the rainforest.

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The most fantastic thing of this site is that it is doesn’t matter where you are located, you will adore every view and detail of this wonderful ancient Maya City! You will fall in love with it! Just like we did!

Duarte and I on the top of one of the Pyramids of the Great Plaza!
Duarte and I on the top of one of the Pyramids of the Great Plaza!

While arriving in Hopkins Village from Sleeping Giant Lodge, we decided to unwind and relax beachfront at The Lodge at Jaguar Reef& Spa.

While we were having a sunbath swinging on the hammock, the Adventure and Tour Department Manager approached us to offer an unexpected new adventure: The Bioluminescence Tour.

I had already heard about it but I didn’t knew that such a phenomenon also existed in Belize… and only a few minutes away from where we were staying!

This tour starts in the evening around 6pm so be ready for a spectacular sunset!

After a short 15 minute ride by van from the Adventure Desk at Jaguar Reef, we arrived to the Sittee River Marina where we got on board a small boat captained by one of the best guides we had in Belize: Udell. Now we were ready to start our river adventure with the sunset!

While the sun was going down, I realize how mother nature changes at night. Some animals sleep at night but for others the darkness is their time. The darkness is when they hunt, they eat and they live. So we start looking for these nocturnal creatures with a huge and powerful flashlight.

Bioluminescence Spotlight

The night fell quickly and the sounds of the rainforest around us were completely different than during the day. Suddenly the guide moved his flashlight to the treetops on the other side of the river and we realized that the branches were moving. We approached slowly and we saw a family of Kinkajous! They are related to raccoons, coatis, ringtails and cacomistles. They look like monkeys or ferrets, but they are not closely related to either. The family of Kinkajous seemed very relaxed while eating some fruits at the upper branches of the trees despite our presence. They even looked at us with their big and curious eyes!

Kinkajou in Belize

We saw some different species of aquatic birds, big iguanas sleeping on the trees and we learned about flora and fauna. We were so lucky that we had the chance to see some baby crocodiles! It is amazing how the guide can see the brightness of their eyes in the middle of the darkness.

Belize Birds at Night

After our photographic river safari looking for nocturnal animals, the guide took us through a jungle tunnel of mangroves directly into the Anderson Lagoon, where the magic of Bioluminescence takes place. Just being on a boat in the middle of this big lagoon at night was impressive. Then as soon as the boat starts going faster we started seeing something like blue neon lights behind us – we were experiencing the Bioluminescence phenomenon! While our boat was going through the lagoon, we saw the light trail left by the fish escaping from us. This was actually the bioluminescent algae in action.

When the boat started going in circles faster and faster, it left a bright trail in its wake. It is like the whole lagoon turned the lights on. Unbelievable!

Bioluminescence Tour in Belize

Even if you touch the water with your hands and splash it you will see and feel directly one of the natural wonders of Belize. It truly is an amazing adventure that must be experienced to be believed!

This tour is the perfect way to finish another fantastic day in Belize.

This country always surprises me with new experiences!

The Lodge at Jaguar Reef, Almond Beach Resort and Villa Margarita are located in Hopkins Village right on the beach but on a strategic location, close to a lot of amazing and different activities to explore the country. I will share with you my Top 6 adventures that you shouldn’t miss while staying at any of the fantastic Hotels of The Belize Collection in Hopkins Village.

Kayaking at Sittee River

Just 15 minutes from the hotels you will find Sittee River. This important river runs through the Belizean Rainforest and ends up its course in the Caribbean Ocean. While you are kayaking you will have the chance to find yourself into the deepest areas of the jungle, without disturbing the animals surrounding you. It is one of the most eco-friendly ways to explore the rainforest! Just let yourself float or paddle down the river to discover beautiful and wonderful creatures, like Crocodiles, huge Iguanas, monkeys, and hundreds of different kinds of exotic birds, even manatees if you are lucky.

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Horseback Riding

Another remarkable way to enjoy the Belizean wild environment is riding a horse on trails where the Maya once ruled. This adventure will take you to the enchanted and fascinating rainforest, and on through the tropical orange grove. The sound of the steps of the horses, the light coming through the dense canopy and the feeling to be alone in the jungle is magical. It is only you and the horse! This inspirational ride stops at Sittee River where you will stop for a refreshing and a cooling swim.

Horseback Riding in Belize

 

Birdwatching

I strongly recommend you to wake up at least one time to see the sunrise at the Caribbean Sea during your stay in Belize. It is better than you can imagine. So what can you do after the sunrise…? Let’s go looking for the most gorgeous and rare exotic birds around the area of Jaguar Reef. You will see different kinds of wild parrots, hawks, trogons, flycatchers. It is the best way to finish an authentic Caribbean morning.

Birdwatching in Belize

 

Beach

It’s impossible not to mention again the perfect Tropical beach next to Jaguar Reef, Almond Beach and Villa Margarita. Plenty of coconut trees and hammocks gives you the perfect atmosphere to relax and enjoy the beach and the warm water of the sea. Also if you want a little bit more action you can grab a kayak or paddleboard for free, get into the ocean and have a different view of the coast. And if you fall, don’t worry! The water is pretty calm and it wouldn’t be as fun without a couple of splashes right? After that you will deserve a tasty and refreshing cocktail. Don’t worry! One of the friendly waiters of Jaguar Reef will bring you one directly to your hammock. Just perfect!

SUP Belize Jaguar Reef

 

Spa

If you want to recover from the possible jetlag, keep your nails perfect or simply relax with your partner, at Almond Beach SPA you will find everything you need to make you feel at paradise and even more.

The SPA offers you the possibility to have the best massage ever! You will enjoy the Caribbean breeze while you are having a spectacular and relaxing massage at the dock of the resort! Which is priceless!

Dock Massage Hopkins Belize

 

Chocolate Tour

At Maya center just about 30 minutes by car from Jaguar Reef, you can delight yourself with the amazing experience of making real chocolate. First of all a Mayan guide will show you the cacao plantations and also how they collect and prepare the cacao to make the delicious chocolate. Then at the Maya Center a couple of actual Maya descendants will demonstrate how the ancient Maya made this delicacy. The smell of pure chocolate is all around the place and it is exquisite. You will have the chance to grind the dry and roasted seeds of cacao with the same kind of grinding stone ancient Maya used. After some seconds you will see how you are creating one of the oldest and most delicious delicacy in the world! Chocolate! And what would be the best souvenir that you could carry from this tour…? The bar of the chocolate that you have naturally prepared with the help of the Mayas! I loved it!

Chocolate Making in Belize

One of the most amazing things about staying with the The Belize Collection Hotel Group is that they offer the opportunity to enjoy a huge variety of activities around each of their Belize resorts.

I cannot write enough of how much I love and enjoy the rainforest in Belize, doubtless to say, Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge is my favorite place to stay.

Apart from the activities outside the lodge that The Belize Collection offers, you can enjoy amenities around the property that includes the Sibun River, orange plantations, hills, biking, hiking and many more… There are a lot of memories to make just a few steps away from your room.

Let me share my top 5 favorite adventures to do around Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge:

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Probably you will think that Stand Up Paddleboarding is only for the ocean but you cannot imagine how much you will enjoy it in a river surrounded by jungle! Just a few meters from the main building of the hotel, you will find the impressive Sibun River. The hotel provides you (absolutely free) some paddle boards to discover the river and its hidden secrets, like gigantic iguanas, majestic tropical trees almost above the river and if you are lucky you can see my favorite animal in Belize, the Tapir (National Animal of Belize)! We couldn’t believe when we had such a cool and unexpected visit!

Our friend Rosemary with the Tapir!
Our friend Rosemary with the Tapir!

Bicycle

One of the best ways to explore the surrounding areas of the hotel is on the mountain bike which is provided complimentary by Sleeping Giant Lodge. I recommend to go all the way to the river and look up to the gazebo at the top of the hill and admire the amazing valley. You will also see why the hotel is called Sleeping Giant, because the mountains are shaped like a sleeping person. If you cross the river you will enjoy a great ride through the orange plantations.

Duarte and I crossing the Sibun River!
Duarte and I crossing the Sibun River!

Gazebo Hike

This tour is simply perfect! The entrance of the path to the top of the gazebo starts just a few meters away from the hotel. During the activity you will find yourself “lost” in the middle of the jungle but don’t be alarmed or scared. I made this hike twice and I always saw different animals, howler monkeys, frogs, toucans… You will never know what might come across your way! The views from the top of the Gazebo are indescribable, I could stay there for hours! Fresh air, light breeze and the rainforest under your feet!

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Bird Watching

Every morning you could arrange a Bird Watching Tour nearby the hotel. Early in the morning is the time when the birds are more active, so wake up ready and be astonished at the many special and different species of birds you will see around the lodge. I was amazed! Abel is a professional guide specialized in birds and with his help and those of some binoculars, you will discover a new world at the tree tops. Some of these birds include Orange Breasted Falcon, the Keel-billed Toucan (National Bird of Belize), Blue-crowned Mot-Mot, Violaceous Trogon, Grey-necked Wood-Rail, Collared Forest Falcon, different types of hummingbirds, and a lot of other exotic bird species.

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Aracari Toucan, Blue Hummingbird, Duarte taking pictures of the Keel-billed Toucans.

Kayaking

This is another great way to discover the Sibun River! You can arrange a complete tour at the lodge with a guide to go further along the river, or be brave and take a kayak by yourself to enjoy the river.  You just have to relax, paddle and delight yourself paddling, surrounded by the water and Rainforest!

Me kayaking and relaxing on the Sibun River
Me kayaking and relaxing on the Sibun River

All these activities are almost mandatory! You can’t miss the opportunity to explore them and discover all that the rainforest has to offer!

You might have heard about it: Bocawina Zip Line – The longest Zipline in Belize! I read about this trip and decided that I needed to venture into the Mayflower Bocawina National Park. If you like the rainforest from the ground you will love it from the heights. This tour is by far one of the best ways to view it all at a canopy level while you are crossing the jungle and feeling the vertigo and speed!

Once fitted with your harness, your helmet and safety equipment, you will be guided through a long and narrow suspension bridge surrounded by the rainforest of this National Park. The challenge is about to start!

Suspension Bridge
The suspension bridge

A short 5 minutes’ walk in this amazing natural tropical forest will bring you to the start of the trip where you will be instructed by two very knowledgeable guides. The complete course is 2.5 miles long, the lines vary in length from 500 feet to the longest single run being 2,300 feet and also includes a short, fast and exciting rappel. This course is divided in 8 platforms varying in height from several feet to over 50 feet.

Duarte about to rappel
Duarte about to rappel

Your zipline adventure will start with a training line, where you can check if you are ready to continue with the tour. This is very important because after that you will begin with the platforms and you won’t be able to quit the circuit because all the platforms are located at the treetops.

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Me making a video with my GoPro camera!

So… are you ready?

Let’s glide from the first platform to the second only at 150 feet away! Each flight is different, some are long and relaxing, others are short but fast and the best one: 2,300 feet of cable – the longest zipline run in Belize! All of them are through the treetop of the jungle almost touching the leaves and branches.

Jungle Zip Line Belize
Flying trough the jungle canopy!

Every time I leaped into the void with the zipline I felt an adrenaline rush like no other.  It is one of the best sensations I have ever had. To relax and enjoy this trip, I strongly recommend you to shout and scream as much as you can!

I have to admit that I became a zip line addict with the recent experience in Mayflower National Park of Belize!

Go on then, I dare you to jump!

This country is the perfect place for thrill seekers! I have shared with you my exciting experience while Black Hole Drop Rappelling. In the next two posts, I will share two amazing and challenging experiences that you cannot miss if you are a real risk addict. These activities take place in the Mayflower Bocawina National Park, just 30 mins from The Lodge at Jaguar Reef & Spa in Hopkins Village.

The Mayflower Bocawina National Park is a hidden destination covering over 7000 acres of broadleaf forest and rainforest in a semi mountainous terrain, you can even find a partially excavated ancient Maya city. This National Park hides many thrilling activities and wonderful places, waiting to be discovered!

Once at the Park you will head into the deep rainforest leaving behind the ruins of the ancient Mayflower Maya city. The hike to the top of the waterfall is physically demanding but you don’t need to be a fitness guru to hike up there. Once there, the hike is totally worth every single step!

Mayflower HIke
Our adventure starts in the rainforest!

To reach the top of the Antelope Falls you will hike, climb and ascend some steps surrounded by lush rainforest. As you go into the jungle you will start hearing the sound of the waterfall in the distance, which means that step by step you are getting closer to your goal. One of the many things that I enjoy about being in the rainforest is that there is a lot to be learnt about the plants and animals of Belize. With the expert guides we didn’t miss any curious detail, and that made the hike to the top much more interesting!

After hiking up to the top of the 1,000 foot falls through the jungle, we finally arrived at the amazing emerald natural pool. The sensation of getting into that clear and refreshing water after that hike, is simply PERFECTION and energy booster for the real challenge!

Mayflower Hike Natural Pool
Getting energies back on the refreshing natural pool

After the swim, I absorbed the breathtaking views of the Tropical Rainforest & Caribbean Sea from the Antelope waterfall while getting ready to take the exhilarating 250 ft rappel down the waterfalls!

The professional and licensed guides rig a complete system of rappelling ropes at the edge of the waterfall and prepared us to rappel down.

Mayflower Waterfall Rappelling
One guide is on top of the waterfall while the other is waiting for you below, ready to assist you in case you need

Like at the black hole drop, the minutes waiting for your turn becomes an eternity! The sound of the water falling next to me, the stunning views and the surrounding jungle provided the extra courage needed for my descend.

Mayflower Rappelling
Getting ready for the challenge!

The first meters are quite flat but the real challenge starts when you have to go down after a step situated just at the edge of the cliff. My adrenaline levels were high and my heart was racing! The most thrilling sensation was being on a completely vertical wall and the strong and refreshing waterfall running right next to me. Unexpectedly the best way to rappel down is to go under the water. I will always remember the sensation of walking on a vertical wall, while the invigorating and refreshing water fell on me!

Rappelling the waterfall
That’s actually me rappelling the waterfall!

After all the excitement, the hike back was easy and with all the adrenaline rush, I was ready for a hearty meal at The Paddle House Restaurant.

Getting into Maya Ancient World. Part 2

Today, let me to introduce you to some of the lesser known Maya ruins in Belize, but with no doubt they are two of the most beautiful Mayan sites in this country. I’m talking about Nim Li Punit and Lamanai. Both ruins are off the beaten path but it’s worth to visit them because of their special charm and mostly because you will be the only one in the whole archaeological site.

We didn’t know how to get to these fantastic sites but with The Belize Collection, they were happy to organize this for us. Just let them know where you want to visit and explore and they will arrange all you need in order for you to enjoy and experience Belize!

NIM LI PUNIT

If you decide to visit Nim Li Punit you will find out not only an amazing Mayan site dated back to the Late Classic Period (250 – 900 AD), but you will also have the chance to discover the southernmost district of Belize, Toledo.

Nim Li Punit Belize
Arriving to Nim Li Punit. We were there alone! That was priceless!

Nim Li Punit is sometimes known as Big Hat or Top Hat; the name is Kekchi Maya for “Big Hat”, referring to the large elaborate head-dress on a stela sculpture found on site depicting one of the site’s ancient kings. The stelas sculptures are well preserved and you can even read the meaning of some of the intricate and gorgeous Maya words that appear on them with the help of your guide and a simple dictionary.

Stelas at Nim Li Punit
Our guide at Nim Li Punit teaching us about the stelas and maya alphabet

The ball-court still has the central score round rock and you can easily imagine two Maya teams playing and fighting to honor their kings and gods. Just one curious detail, the winner team was sacrificed to the gods! The gods only wanted winners and strong people in heaven.

Ball Court Nim Li Punit
The Maya ball court in the middle of the jungle at Nim Li Punit

I loved the feeling of being practically alone in the middle of one of the plazas of Nim Li Punit listening to the sounds of the Rainforest.

 

LAMANAI

One of the biggest and more excavated Maya sites in northern Belize, Lamanai lies 24 miles south of Orange Walk Town, up the New River. Lamanai is on the banks of the New River and the most interesting way to travel to the site is by means of water taxi up the river. The trip by river is also a nature-lover’s haven for numerous species of water birds living along this rich and diverse waterway. We were so lucky to see the spectacular and rare Jabiru, one of the biggest birds in the world.

Jabiru Stork Belize
The rare and amazing Jabiru. One of the biggest birds in the world!

Lamanai is one of the longest occupied Mayan cities and was inhabited for over two millennia. Lamanai has more than 719 mapped structures, including two 16th century Christian churches as well as an intact 19th century sugar mill. But the most impressive structure for me was the Mask Temple, which has two 13ft stylized masks of a man in a crocodile headdress emblazoned on its west face to the north and south of the main stairs. Dating from about AD 400, these are considered some of the finest big masks in the Maya world. Just amazing!

Lamanai Mask Temple
In Lamanai at Mask Temple!

From the first moment we arrived by boat to Lamanai we had a special feeling in this place, we were completely alone in the whole site located in the middle of the deep rainforest.

Lamanai High Temple
High Temple in Lamanai surrounded by pure nature.

One of the best memories that I will keep in my heart is the incredible sunset that we had the opportunity to delight on at the top of the High Temple, which rises 125ft above the jungle canopy and the lagoon. We kept silent for a while enjoying the views and listening the wind through the treetops… and suddenly we realized that we had a family of howler monkeys and a couple of toucans just before us playing and feeding, while the sun was going down. That was one of my best days in Belize for sure!

Sunset at Lamanai
Unforgettable sunset at the top of the High Temple with the rainforest below us.