By Lyn and Arthur Dobrin
After swimming with sharks, what adventures remain in Belize? That question confronted us on the backs of the red T-shirts at Jaguar Paw Jungle Resort: When was the last time you did something for the first time? (No, we never did get to see the shy spotted cat.)
At this jungle resort, built to resemble a Mayan temple in the tangle of bush, we did see a howler monkey and two coatimundi. Coco, the monkey, was abandoned at the lodge as an infant. Coco spends most of the time around the resort, but mainly on her own adventures in the jungle itself. On a six a.m. bird walk with the resident naturalist, we finally got to see our toucans and parrots, orapendulas, and other tropical birds.
Our two new adventures were zip lining and cave tubing. We did the zip line in the morning, climbing up a trail to stand atop a wooden platform where we could then glide through and over the jungle canopy on cables attached to seven other platforms.
Our guides George Ramirez and Kristy Frampton re-assured us. They possessed the right balance of care and kidding that put us at ease as they harnessed us to the line. Remember, hold on in front with one hand and keep your gloved hand as far behind you as you can. This keeps you sailing straight, like a keel on a boat and that hand also serves as your brake. Pull down too soon and you may get stuck in the middle. Pull down too late well, one of them will be on the other platform to keep you from hurting yourself.
A jump off the platform, zip, a little wiggle to the side and a safe landing. Hitched again and like this seven times, each run was more fun than the last. We loved it.
But would we love the next Belize adventure floating on an inner tube through unlit caves? After flying across treetops, there was no question that we would try cave tubing.
We picked up our truck-sized inflated tube with Manuel Lucas, our guide provided by the lodge, and once again trekked over a jungle path until we reached an opening into the cave.
We waited until a small group ahead of us was out of earshot before wading into the water to start our adventures. (A tip: Go tubing Thursday through Monday; on other days, cruise ships ferry hundreds of passengers to the caves, making for a raucous time in the cavern.)
We drifted lazily and entered the mouth of the cave. There are stalactites and stalagmites still forming, since the Mayan Mountains are limestone karsts. Water seeps from the ground above and the slow steady drip creates the formations over eons.
As we lost the last of the outside light, we turned on miners headlamps we had been issued. We looked at bat holes above, driftwood caught against the roof in a previous flood. At one point we turned off our lights, just to experience total darkness and silence.
The Mayans once used these caves for ritual purposes. With our lights on again, we stopped at a small beach and climbed up the rocks to the top of the cave. There we saw remains of ancient pottery.
- Just as we had at the beginning of our trip, we tried to imagine what life was like for the original inhabitants, where spirits populated the underworld and there was no electricity. We continued our quiet journey, lost in another world.
Additional Belize ResourcesBelize Tourism Board
Toucan Trail - affordable accommocations in Belize
Island Expeditions - adventure travel in Belize
More of this ArticleWhy Honeymoon in Belize? >
Belize Attractions >
Ambergris Caye in Belize >
Dining in Belize >