Sunday, May 5, 2013

Un-Belize-able! - Phil North continues his adventure!

I am in love with Belize. I fell in love within my first hour here, an hour that included a live band welcoming me at immigration, a beautiful river, crocodiles, iguanas and howler monkeys. My first stop was Lamanai, a beautiful Mayan site situated next to a lagoon on the banks of the new Belize River.

Lamanai means submerged crocodile and this site remained a stronghold for the Maya long after other cities had fallen. The site was still thriving just 500 years ago, but experts do not know why this city was different to other Mayan sites. As well as the incredible ruins, nature surrounds this magical site and the journey up river to Lamanai is worth the trip price alone.

For serious nature lovers, Chan Chich  has the best wildlife encounters in Belize. Chan Chich Lodge is a luxury eco lodge set on another Mayan site in the north-west of the country.  The lodge is set on vast private and protected grounds and offers the best chance to encounter the elusive jaguar in Belize. It is home to five species of cat in total, including pumas and ocelots, plus howler monkeys, spider monkeys and countless exotic and rare bird species. The lodge is considered Belize's premier eco lodge, attracting naturalists and nature lovers from around the globe.

Finally it was time to check out Belize's barrier reef, the second longest in the world to the Great Barrier Reef and stretching the entire length of the country, from Ambergris Caye in the north to Placencia in the south.

It is the southern region that draws the attention of divers at this time of year, when whale sharks gather at Gladden Spit, a point in the reef that drops to abyssal depths, to feed on the spawn of snapper that breed here. The event only happens around the full moon in April, May and June each year. I conspired to miss the whale sharks, but the snapper, bull sharks, dolphins and a wandering loggerhead turtle made the trip well worthwhile. Gladden Spit can be reached from either Placencia or Hopkins.

Last on my Belize agenda was a trip inland to explore some of Belize's incredible caves. The Mayans believed that the caves were a portal to the underworld and went there to make sacrifices to the nine gods of the underworld. The most famous cave Actun Tunichil Muknal, or the ATM cave, has numerous Mayan artefacts and evidence of human sacrifice. This is the adventure capital of Belize, with caving, zip-lining and horseback riding all on the agenda.

Next up is Costa Rica to dive Cano Island, considered one of  the finest dive spots in the country, plus a visit to Corcovado National Park, the jewel in Costa Rica's crown.

Contact Dive Worldwide to create your very own adventure through Central America.

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