And I don’t LOVE much.  I’ve lived in Belize for almost 5 years and never went cave tubing and ziplining on the mainland.  It is one of the most popular trips for visitors.  Yes, I had a bunch of excuses.  Too expensive…the trip to the mainland from San Pedro is too long…it leaves too early…it is scary and too touristy.  I was totally wrong.  THIS TRIP ROCKS!Jamie, Carrie and I organized our trip with Searious Adventures.    Jamie is my friend from the states and Carrie is the bartender at Pedro’s Inn.  Searious is one of the oldest tour companies on the island.  I’ve been on a bunch of trips with these guys.   http://www.seariousadventures.com/

Aron and Wayne, our guides, picked us up at 7.15am.

The boat trip to the mainland is about an hour long.  We do lots of weaving through the mangroves.  I love a speed boat on the sea.  It was good times in my book.

Once at the mainland, we entered the Belize River.  Very pretty.  We saw a crocodile and lots of big iguanas.  Somehow Aron was able to spot iguanas high up in trees as we were zipping by at 25mph.  Made me wonder if these animals were stuffed.   Hmmm…suspicious.

Breakfast was served.  Johnny Cakes, OJ and fruit salad.  I love a J. Cake…kinda like a biscuit but a little bit drier.  Usually filled with ham and cheese or chicken and beans.  Typical Belizean breakfast.   Here is mine.

We finally arrived…and we were glad to see new, A/C vans for the next leg of the journey (a few from our trip went to Lamanai Mayan Ruins).  An hour long ride down the western highway and we arrived at Cave Branch.

After a very brief orientation, Wayne led us right over to get suited up.  The guides at Cave Branch who helped us were really good…Ronny and Harrison.  You just stand there while they strap all this stuff on you, demonstrate the two hand signals (slow down and keep coming) and then start leading you up the stairs to your first zip.  I think they know everyone is a bit nervous so they keep the talking minimal.

I was shaking like a leaf.  And the first zip (out of 7 total) gives you a false sense of confidence.  It’s the “bunny zip” for beginners.  Of course the guides don’t tell you that.  You realize yourself when you climb up a ton of stairs to get to zip #2.  Let’s call it the Screamers Zip.  It is super high and super long and you are told not to break at all.

Here is Jamie looking like a deer in the headlights.

It was super scary and super awesome.  You can really pick up some speed on these things.  It took about 3 zips for my hands to stop shaking but as soon as we were done, I wanted to do it again.  This time I would actually look rather than only focusing on the end.  There really isn’t much too it.  You just use your glove with a leather piece in it to pull down on the wire.  It took a while for Jamie to master.  She rammed into our guide Ronny a few times (he’s a scrappy little fellow).  One time wrapping her legs and arms around him like a monkey.
Proper attire for Zip Lining:   Shorts, t-shirt and some shoes that are not flip flops (they would probably drop right off).  Bug spray.  A bandana or cloth to wipe your “fear sweat” off wouldn’t hurt.  I was sweating like a pig.
You will love it.  I promise.  I am petrified of heights…and this didn’t bother me after the first few times.  It is so fun.
Next is lunch at the lodge.  Stew chicken, rice & beans, some spaghetti and lots of salads.  A mixed bag.  And it’s nice to sit down and breathe again after the ziplining.

Some of the t-shirts in the gift shop.

Back to the van for a quick change for cave tubing.  Proper Attire:  You will get wet from about mid-chest down so having your bathing suit on makes sense.  (I wore a bathing suit bottom on the whole trip and a sports bra top.)  Shoes more sturdy than a flip flop.  A waterproof bag for your camera if you want to take pictures.  Bug spray.
Off to meet the next guide, Pablo.  You are given an inner tube, a life jacket, a spelunking light to see in the cave and marched into the jungle to the starting point.  It is a 30-40 minute walk.  Seems long but it’s actually pretty scenic.
Carrie and Jamie doing their “Toddlers & Tiaras” smiles.

Honeymooners, Meredith and Trevor, in our group of 9.  He was carrying her tube for her.  That, my friends, is love.

Wayne, our Searious guide, in the middle.  He liked to float with no light thru the cave with this mask on to scare the crap out of you in the dark.  Good times.

Hike over.  And into the water.  It’s a bit chilly but clear and beautiful and very refreshing after the walk.  Pablo rigged up our life jackets as back rests and helped us in.

The view as you float away from the dock and into the cave.

I couldn’t take pictures in the cave but it was incredible.  White lime stone with all sorts of crazy formations that looked like drip castles, some sparkling like they are covered in quartz.  Pablo pointed out stalagmite/tites that looks like an elephant, the Virgin Mary, an eagle…you had to use your imagination.  After about 40 minutes going through 2 very long caves, you emerge in the sun light and just lazily drift through the jungle to the end.
Exiting the cave.
There is lots of paddling to be done.  Once in a while, you hit some very small currents/rapids and the guide coaches you through that.  And a few times, like a beached whale, I hit the bottom and had to crab walk off the river rocks.
The walk back to the changing rooms is a quick one and Wayne is ready with the rum and beers to greet you.  A quick coconut pie snack (which Wayne will soak with rum).  I think he might be a covert promoter for Caribbean Rum.

Here’s our crew (our guide and driver at the right).  We will all be at Pedro’s Inn tonight (Saturday, July 30th) for the all you can drink rum battle.  See you there.  You can also meet Raul (in the front with the Pamplona t-shirt).  He is Bolivian and on his 9th wife.  I kid you not.

Cave Branch has done an incredible job of keeping the property clean and pristine.  You don’t see garbage anywhere, there is no graffiti in the cave, everything is incredibly well kept.  You almost get the feeling in the caves that you are the first visitors there.
Back to the boat for a rum punch and beer filled trip back to San Pedro.  Everyone was giddy just to be alive!

These guys, Paul and Corey, were so much fun on the way home.  DRINK!

Things to know before taking this trip:  1.  It is a FULL day…a long day.  You are picked up at 7.15am and dropped off between 5 and 6pm at your dock.   You will be tired.  2.  You need to be in “better than poor” shape.  (I’m not talking professional athlete).  There are 2 serious stair climbs to the ziplining platforms.  There is also a good deal of paddling involved in the cave tubing.  My arms will be sore today.  3.  Bring your bug spray.  Summer in Belize means a few bugs.  4.  Bring some cash with you on each trip.  The guides for zip lining and tubing are fantastic…you will want to give them a tip.  5.  BRING SOME SERIOUS FOOTWEAR for cave tubing.  There is a 30 minute walk to get to the starting point.  It is a relatively good path, but you need to walk thru water and a little mud (depending on the time of year).  Flip flops are not good.  Bring a croc or some sort of sturdy water sandal.  You will be glad that you did.

Thank you so much to Pedro’s Inn and Searious Adventures.  We had the best time ever.

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