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Packing for Deep Jungle Camping in Belize And A Bit of Birdwatching

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.

Last year's macaw parents
Last year’s macaw parents

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.
  • T-shirts
  • 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!

scarlet macaw

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17 thoughts on “Packing for Deep Jungle Camping in Belize And A Bit of Birdwatching

  1. Susan

    Imodium (just in case) and duct tape…you can NEVER go wrong with duct tape. Hat? Did you say hat? Pocket knife and dental floss….amazing the things you can do with that and duct tape!

    1. sanpedroscoop

      HAT! Totally. Bug bites in the hair are…no good…or a red nose. Ha. Duct tape fixes everything!

  2. SPmQQse

    that list may be too long.

    i’d suggest instead of a heavier tent….[make one]
    take a small tarp… some light rope,[polypropylene]….and elastics.
    bring a hammock….and 1 space blanket…
    [seriously….sleep above the ground !!!]
    take a banana knife/small machete.
    small pot ,knife, fork and spoon….and fire-starter equip.
    panties/socks/t-shirt….take one spare pair of, each.[no shorts]
    1 loaf–pre-made sandwiches….
    dry soups…and spices….
    Kool-Aid packets….
    sewing-needle-fishing hook/dental floss
    small bottle, hydrogen-peroxide.
    1- Beretta, 9mm…..[pico/tomcat]
    there is a lot of free snack food, in the jungles.
    even tho, there aren’t any signs in the jungles…to capture….
    I’d advise … 3 extra sets of ‘re-chargeable’ batteries.
    by the way.. the hand sized ”fried” grasshoppers….are , delicious….!
    which reminds me… take a small container of chocolate sauce/syrup.
    and dare i say/suggest…again….. a ‘selfie-stick’—lol

    1. sanpedroscoop

      I will DEFINITELY be in an above grove hammock tent with a rain cover…borrowing that from the Scarlet Six. I will NOT be packing heat. But I do appreciate the list. 🙂 And there will be NO selfies taken…good grief I am going to be gross.

  3. Michelle Dionne

    Make some trail mix…your favorite nuts, m&m’s, raisins all mixed together….it’s an awesome snack. If you need bigger meals ideas you could also try camping breakfast burritos- scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, potato pieces cooked up and wrapped in a tortilla. Make them ahead of time, wrap them in tinfoil and then throw on a campfire to reheat…assuming you’ll have a campfire lol You can do camping quesadillas too which is pretty much the same idea except with cheese and chicken…or just bring some pupusas wrapped in tinfoil and reheat them…probably work just as good haha

    1. sanpedroscoop

      I have no way to keep things “fresh” until I reheat…no ice/cooler. But trail mix is an excellent idea. Who am I kidding…I can live on cookies for 5 days easy.

  4. TarheelBornGal

    What a wonderful adventure! We are boondocking aka dry camping in Minnesota at the moment, so I can kinda sorta relate, though we do have a lot more luxuries in our motorhome than you will likely have in the woods! You’ve already gotten some excellent suggestions on things to take, so I will just say have fun, be safe, and ENJOY! I would love so much to see a Scarlet Macaw in the wild! Not to mention a jaguar or tapir. Can’t wait to hear how it goes.

      1. TarheelBornGal

        We are parked in a gorgeous national forest and are not hooked up to water or the power grid. We have an outdoor propane camp stove to cook on. Sure, we have a comfy bed and a toilet, so it’s not as primitive as what Rebecca is embarking on, but it’s still camping, in my book. You can call it whatever you wish. Have a lovely day!

  5. Daniel Matusiak

    Have a great and safe trip, lots of pics for us who don’t have the courage (b…) to do it ;). We are next to the yacht club hope to meet tomorrow if you are in town. Enjoy!

  6. Sea of Tranquility

    Might I revert you from a spot of birdwatching in the jungle to introduce you
    to a puffin on location. He might like it here as it’ll warm his feet.

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