This weekend I head into the Chiquibul Nature Reserve to join volunteers that are camping at the bottoms of huge trees to protect Belize’s Scarlet Macaws from poaching.
Last year, I did one night…this year, I will do four. BABY STEPS! Most volunteers head into the jungle for 14 nights. No internet. No electricity. No phone.
Most people who visit Belize, or live here, have never been to the Chiquibul – it is unpopulated and beyond remote and takes up a surprisingly big chunk of the country. It’s where jaguars are ACTUALLY spotted (the Scarlet Six team and the volunteers have spotted 3 so far this year.)
When I asked Ali Wunderman, writer from The Naturalist and recently Chiquibul-survivor ( 🙂 ), if she saw one…SHE DID! Early in the morning, along the side of the river…pooping.
Nature in all her glory.
I will absolutely die if I see a jaguar or a tapir – and THIS is the place to see them in Belize. Other than the Zoo.
Sadly, it is much easier to get to Belize’s Chiquibul from Guatemala than it is from Belize. And that is the problem. Illegal logging, gold digging, artifact looting and plant & animal poaching has been and continues to be a huge problem.
Tony Rath, the amazing photographer and journalist, has spent time in the region and, if you are interested, you MUST read his posts. Belize is At War And Doesn’t Even Know It and In Belize, All that Is Gold Does Not Glitter: The Looting, Desecration and Annexation of the Chiquibul Forest in Belize.
And so, based on my one night last year, I am putting together a packing list and hoping you can help me. I am also hoping that they will provide me with a hammock tent and rain cover (like last year)…otherwise I might be in big trouble.
Here we go:
- Bug Spray and LOTS OF IT
- Anti Itch Cream and Hemp Oil
- Camera with two fully charged batteries
On her way from the states now. Thanks George!
- Head lamp flash light
- Waterproof jacket
- Easy dry towel (for towel use and pillow)
- A few books (sitting beneath a tree isn’t always the most entertaining work)
- One pair of long pants (because that is all I have)
- Thick socks and sneakers
- A bar of Laundry Soap (like Zote)
- Food – and this is where I need suggestions because granola bars and cookies start to taste like hay by day 2.
- Lots of underpants
- A sleeping pad (my butt was RIDDLED with bites last year…those buggers nip right thru your hammock tent + pants)
- A sweat shirt or fleece (it’s shockingly cold at night)
- A pen & paper (I’m not a note taker but perhaps the lack of digital devices will make me introspective…something I would definitely like to record)
- Travel Soap, Shampoo, Conditioner, a comb (that’s my beauty effort in the jungle)
- First Aid kit: BENADRYL, Advil, band-aids, Tweezers
I leave at 10am on Sunday from beautiful San Ignacio for the long drive down some seriously bad roads.
Thanks for the suggestions in advance!
AND if you would like to volunteer or just want to follow the amazing work, follow the Scarlet Six Biomonitoring Team – the last chick to fledge last year happened during the last week of September.
Here is one picture from their facebook page of a youngling about to successfully fledge this year. Hurray! Fly baby fly!