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Published: January 7th 2011
Dario and the rays
we swam so close to the rays and they would apear beneath us, but they didnt care we were there!
So... theres a bit to update on!
On new years eve during the day we went on a snorkelling tour from around 11am to 4pm. We had many options but for a few annoying reasons which i wont go into, we ended up booking on a speed boat, but it ended up being a pretty great day out.
We stopped at 3 places to snorkel, there were 9 of us on the boat plus 2 crew. The first place was called .............. it was the first marine park in Belize and its beautiful with lots of big big fish, a few sharks and green sea turtles swimming lazily around!
The second stop was shark and ray ally and you instantly saw why, we were surrounded most of the time by many rays, only a couple of sharks were there and they were pretty shy. To make this stop even better, there are 2 resident loggerhead turtles that are there most of the year, they were there and they really dont care if people are in the way! the swim right up to you and expect you to move out of the way! It was pretty amazing! Unfortunately though, the bottom of
this is a loggerhead turtle, endangered species, they didnt care about us and even expected us to move out of the way!
the ally looked like a conch graveyard, apparently fisherman come here to dump the shells and lobster shells too which is why it attracts so many rays etc who eat all the scraps left in the shells. It is legal to fish both in the non-exclusion zone nearby when its the proper season (luckily it was for both while we were there and the seafood was understandably amazing!). We had a stop between the official 2nd and 3rd, it was the other end of shark and ray ally, another boat was there, a yacht, which was the other option we could have had. Our captain and 1st mate had chucked the leftovers from our lunch into the water and it attracted an abundance of fish, sharks and rays, we´re not sure if we agree with this procedure, and the guide from the other boat picked up a ray and let his group pat it! a little crazy and i think a bit cruel. The last stop was at a coral garden, beautiful, but we had to anchor here (the other spots had secured bouys so to not have loads of anchors everyday) and even though they did throw the anchor
in a large sandy area, it dragged a while and we were worried about the imapct on the coral.
On the way back, we stopped briefly and the 1st mate jumped overboard and free dived a long way down and brought up some conch. the captain made ceviche with tomatoes etc after having cut up the conch and ´cooked´ it in limejuice first. We stopped off on the opposite side of caye caulker on the way back and had some fresh ceviche and some very nice rum punch!!! we made a few mates too, AJ and Claire, a couple from Vermont in the USA. That night we had pizza for dinner and a few bevies, we met up with AJ and Claire at their hotel and went and had a drink before heading up to the ´split´which is a sandy beachy area at the north end of the south island, Caye Caulker was once one island, then a hurricane split it into 2 parts, the town is on the south island and the north is a nature reserve. At the split there is a bar called the lazy lizard where most people were for midnight, there were fireworks and lots
of beers. We were very lame, both couples i mean, as we saw the fireworks and then by about 12.30 we´d said goodnight and had crashed out... unfortunately we were all tired and sunburnt from the day of snorkelling so partying on had no appeal. AJ and Claire had recommended to us to go to the Belize Zoo just off the western highway. Next morning i.e. new years day (happy birthday Nicola and Sally btw), we looked up the zoo in the various guide books at our hostel as well as our own and the nice lady Susanne who owns the hostel let us use her phone to call the zoo, yes they are open on NY day and they also have accomodation available... excellent! so we hurriedly packed our things and managed to get onto the 10am ferry back to belize city. We got a cab to the bus terminal (everything was shut and the streets were empty for the day and belize city has a bad reputation so didnt wanna walk the 10 minutes down the road). And took the chicken bus and got dropped off at the zoo entrance on the highway.
We dumped our bags at
reception after booking a room for the night and checked out the zoo. Unfortunately at this point it was already around 1pm and half the animals were off snoozing somewhere hidden in the shade. we saw tapirs, monkeys, birds of all types, amazing birds really! and the first animal we met was a boa constrictor that was around 3m long who we got to cuddle for a photo... or rather she cuddled us 😊 Probably the most impressive animal we saw that afternoon was the Harpy Eagle, OMG! we saw a big female, she was originally rehabilitated for release after being brought into captivity for a reason i cant remember unfortunately, but she loves people so much she kept coming back. She was huge! google what they look like, huge grey eagles with giant feet, literally, they eat things like armadillos! her wing span is almost 7feet wide and I swear she stands about 4ft high! They are an endangered species and the zoo works with several organisations including other zoos in centro america to breed the ones in captivity and they are releasing them back into their natural habitat. after seeing the zoo we got picked up and taken
amazing harpy eagle
she´s massive! eats armadillos etc and stands at 4ft! wingspan of over 6ft! amazing!
to our accomodation for the night which is a related site on the other side of the highway so a great guy named John came and picked us up and showed us around.
Unfortunately Dario had a problem with his eye which started back on caye caulker the day before, we were starting to get worried since it was worsening and got really bad when we were in the zoo. John offered to take us to Belmopan to hospital but we thought we´d try to fix it ourselves. Once settled at our accomodation we proceded to bath the eye, skirt purified water in there and eventually i had a good look by peeling his eyelid back (dont do this at home kids) and saw a tiny speck of sand stuck to his eyelid... the evil culprit! from our medkit i got a steril pair of plastic tweezers and just with one side managed to grab this piece and instant relief followed... thank goodness!
The lodge included dinner and breakfast and a really nice, small cabin that was raised off the ground, away from the millions of sandflies that didnt even get deterred by deet! that night we randomly joined a
night zoo tour
dario feeds a tapir
night tour group of the zoo, it was amazing! All the animals at this zoo are here because they cant be released, it has a great atmosphere of learning and conservation. But it is also awesome! Our guide, Ben, took us around and we got to feed and pat the Tapirs and a few other vegetarians and feed some peanuts to some birds. We also got to feed (through the bars) a couple of big cats, a puma who looks a bit funny, apparently he was kept as a pet and was severly obese when he was handed in, hence a lot of extra skin now and a jaguar called Junior! hand raised here at the zoo as his mum rejected him. He loves showing off for a bit of chicken. Probably the highlight of the night tour was meeting the howler monkeys up close. Ben called to them in their night dens and they called back. We thought they were loud from a km away, we were within a metre, it made us all shake and take a step back... it was amazing! and we saw their throats all swell up to make the huge noise!
she meows, its very cute
a basic spagbowl and cordial but we were hungry so it was good for our needs! Bfast was waffles and frijoles etc, typical stuff inc eggs. Next morning we went back to the zoo and did the jaguar experience. Basically we got into a small cage with a keeper and got locked in. This small cage is within Junior the jaguars big enclosure. He got let out once we were secure and came and said hello.... it was awesome! we got to pat him through the wire, and he jumped above us, the keeper put chicken on Darios head and the jaguar licked it all off! Dario´s hair stood on end from all the big cat saliva lol. His paws were as big as my whole hand! such a cool experience! all too soon it was over 😞 and then we went and met Hilario and another I cant remember the name of, both red and blue Macaws who were born here at the zoo. They were playful, if a bit rough and we fed them peanuts and they kept fighting over the top spot of sitting on Dario´s head on his cap haha. eventually they got too rough with
us and we had to leave.
We then trekked to the highway and John gave us a lift to a better bus stop up the road where we waited almost an hour for a bus to pass with a lovely lady who was also waiting. We got on and went to Belmopan and changed buses to go to Dandriga where we changed buses again to go to Puta Gorda at the very south of the country, took us approximately 6 hours all together. Punta Gorda is a very sleepy little town on the sea. So sleepy infact that when we arrived we needed food and nothing was open! (all we´d eaten all day was the waffles at bfast) all the minimarts and restaurants and bars were shut becuase it was sunday afternoon. We eventuallyfoud 1 restaurant and ate dinner at about 5.30pm and found 2 mini supermarkets open till 9pm. The hostel we stayed at was very basic and the lady who owned it was very grumpy or in a bad mood when we arrived at Nature´s way guesthouse. That night Dario managed to get bitten by mozzies everywhere... I hadnt forgotten to put on mozzie repellent before bed... lesson
junior the jaguar!
we got to pat and play with him through the bars
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