Last week, in lieu of our traditional Thanksgiving backpacking trip, we experimented with a new style of travel: no sleeping on the ground, no walking long distances, no complicated logistics, and no worrying about justifying the travel with an end product. Yeah, it was an actual vacation. In Belize.
We stayed put for most of the time at a small resort on the north side of Hopkins, a Garifuna village in Stann Creek, south of Dangriga. For the most part, we didn’t bother lugging around the usual heavy camera rigs, but did keep a GoPro on hand to capture lots of very casual, unchoreographed video. Most of the video is still parked, waiting for us to review and edit the clips into something watchable – stay tuned for video of howling Howler monkies, mer-Brent exploring the reef, and navigation of the infamous Belize road system. For now, here are some snaps from when we dusted off the cameras for a roadtrip to Xunantunich, an excavated Mayan Temple near the Guatamalan border, and an excursion to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, aka the Jaguar Preserve. No, of course, we did not see any jaguars, but we did run into some awesome birds, including Crested Guans. By the way, it’s rather startling to hear and see birds the size of turkeys overhead, clambering about in the forest canopy.
Some tips and recommendations:
We really liked the town of Hopkins, particularly the north side of town which has fewer resorts and businesses catering to tourists, but is home to Tina’s (the most-recommended locally owned restaurant) and Driftwood pizzeria. We felt pretty lucky to be staying at the Hopkins Bay Resort, which is quite posh by our standards. The low-key atmosphere suited us and the staff was great. If you go, make sure to take advantage of local knowledge, we definitely benefited from the stories, advice and recommendations we received. We booked a snorkeling trip through the resort, and Captain Pete and Jermaine were great. They made sure we didn’t miss any of the creatures they spotted, including several large schools of bonefish along the shore of Sand Cay (that’s a little taunt aimed at my fly fishing friends). If you’re a plant geek, make sure to book a tour or taxi ride with Elwin – he has a wealth of information on the local flora, and if you visit Xunantunich, we felt that hiring a licensed Mayan guide at the ferry landing was well worth the expense. Finally, if you decide to rent a car, make sure to reserve a 4 wheel drive high-clearance vehicle, you’ll see why later…