Invited by a friend, I decided to take a quick trip off Ambergris Caye. September to November are the perfect times to get out and explore Belize. Hotels and travel are cheaper. And there is no better way to fight off “island fever” than a little holiday. I took the 8am water taxi from San Pedro to Caye Caulker. $55bzd round-trip drops you off right in the center of Belize City.
I was picked up at the water taxi terminal and about 20 minutes later was at Bacab Eco Adventure Park. Who knew that you could have a real jungle experience this close to Belize City? I felt like I was way out in da bush. (Like my kriol?)
Entering the Bacab park, you walk down a very cool, rustic boardwalk shaded by palmetto trees and emerge in the sunshine in front of a giant pool. Totally unexpected. Giovanni, the owner, described how he built this mushroom fountain from a satellite dish that was knocked down by a more recent hurricane. Kids must go nuts for this thing.
Next to the pool…there is a really nice bar under a huge palapa with lots of tables and a bathroom/shower room/changing room big enough for a small army. It all overlooks this really scenic pond filled with lily pads and fish. Not a bad view while you eat your lunch.
Since I break a sweat just breathing, I heard the big, blue pool calling my name but first…let me focus on why I am here, ACTIVITIES! I can sit on my butt by the pool every day in San Pedro. Time to horseback ride. My horse, Trigger, was waiting for me. (The name made me a bit nervous…but he was the most mild mannered horse ever.) The park even had mounds set up so getting on was a breeze. Here is my very knowledgeable guide, Mr. Moody with my new BFF, Trigger.
We sauntered down a dirt road and turned off onto a path thru the jungle. The guide pointed out birds, berries, iguanas, lots of BLUE MORPHO BUTTERFLIES! and even some howler monkeys that were lounging high above in the trees. (They were my favorites). We saw tracks in the mud of both coatimundi and pecarries (little wild pigs). I was dying to see a jaguar…but it was not to be. They say that RARELY happens…I mean once every 20 years rarely. Vanessa, an intern from the States at the park, even tried to get me to taste some termites. Her sales pitch? “You adventurous? They taste like celery”. Ummm…Vanessa, you are going to need to work on that. I don’t even like real celery and definitely not when it is squirming in my mouth.
This is Vanessa harvesting and eating termites. Bon appetit, crazy gringa.
Back to the restaurant for lunch. Look at this ridiculously huge plate of food (beef kabobs, two flour tortillas, salad and beans) all for only $14bzd. I declare this an excellent deal (not to mention that it was really good)! Plus, I tried one of the Blackberry Wine Daiquiris (and I can’t stand Blackberry, Cashew or any of the local “wines”). Cut with lime, this drink is surprisingly tasty (I’d order it again) and lots of ice is a very good thing on a hot day.
Yum…you think these guys deliver to San Pedro?
A quick dip in the pool before kayaking. They have a water slide at the deeper end and I watched two women shoot off that thing like a canon. Maybe I’ll just stick to the shallow end for now. (Yes, those are my chubby knees).
Next? Kayaking down the Chicken Gut Creek. I did not make up that name but I’m pretty sure that is not the one they tell to tourists. It is called that because it twists and turns and that is a very good thing…it is not at all boring. It’s really beautiful even to me, not one of the the world’s premier nature fans. The trees and vines made you feel like you are discovering a stream that no one else uses. It’s very very quiet. And we saw tons of birds. Kingfishers, hawks, egrets, some crazy looking roadrunners and a very cool boat billed heron that gave me the “over-the-shoulder skunk eye”…there were lots of others whose names I can’t remember.
My excellent guide, Francesca, was forced to do the bulk of the paddling. I took this picture over my head, please excuse my hair in the forefront.
My last stop of the day? A quick walk through the Medicinal Plant Trail to the Butterfly House. Owl Eye Butterflies (you can see where they get the name) were laying eggs like crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it. The eggs are surprisingly large and these lady bugs had no shame. They were just laying the eggs right in front of us.
Here she is laying the eggs. See that little white ball coming out of the backside?
They have caterpillars and all sorts of butterflies in there. Take a look at this giant caterpillar just about ready to go on to the next stage (big shout out if you can name this type of caterpillar/butterfly). He was surprisingly soft and cuddly even with those triceratops spikes on his head. Just watch where you walk in Belize, if you step on one of these things, you’d probably need to get new shoes and pants. They look very big and very juicy.
As with any place in Belize this time of year, wear your sunscreen and lots of bug spray (and take extra of each). Do all of the activities (which can include an adventure bike tour…two guides told me that this is the best thing) or do none. Just lay by the fantastic pool and enjoy some lunch and cocktails.
This family takes tons of pride in this park…I met uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins. The place is immaculately kept and the staff could not be more friendly. Want the park to yourself? Come earlier in the week. Want a bit of a crowd? Pick the days when visitors from the cruise ships come in or maybe weekends when the pool is a place for locals to cool off. Either way, this is such a fun day trip no matter where you are coming from. And a very nice change of pace from island life.
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See you soon... you can thank me when you get here!