Adventures in Belize
Coast & Interior Belize: (ZZ-BEMS03)
Coast & Interior
Best of Belize: Maya Mountains to Glovers Reef
An extraordinary journey through Belize packed with adventure and excitement; you’ll sea kayak, snorkel, dive, hike through the rainforest, explore Mayan ceremonial caves and descend an incomparable tropical river through canyons and lush rainforest. On each stage of the trip, you’re teamed with the best guides in Belize – individuals whose knowledge and experience enable you to see and do what you never thought possible.
On this adventure, we experience the very best that Belize has to offer. We journey into the Cayo to visit an ancient Mayan ceremonial cave, then travel east to the main Barrier Reef and beyond to Glover s Atoll. The Barrier Reef, which runs 185 miles (300 km) long, 10 to 25 miles (16 to 35 km) offshore, is the longest continuous reef in the Caribbean and the second longest in the world. Spread along the reef are over 200 cays, ranging from small sand-fringed islands perched along the reefs edge, to larger islands of mangroves and coconut palms.
After two nights on the main reef, we travel by motor launch twenty miles further offshore to Glover s Atoll--a remote ring of corals and small islands rising from the deep waters of the Caribbean. Glovers Atoll, with an unparalleled diversity and abundance of marine life and with reef strewn waters, offers some of the best snorkeling in Belize. Our island base camp is the perfect setting from which to actively explore the surrounding waters, which contains over 700 patch reefs. The waters of Belize have long been known as the richest in the Caribbean, and Glovers is one of the best in Belize!
jungle river flora
After our exploration of the Barrier Reef and Glovers Atoll we return to the mainland and travel into the deep south of the Toledo district to luxuriate at one of the finer lodges in Belize-The Lodge at Big Falls. The next day, we travel by van and four-wheel drive to our river put-in. We begin our river journey by teaching river safety and paddling techniques before paddling into some of Belize s most remote and pristine wilderness. Once on the water, we are immersed in the experience of traveling by day and camping at night in the tropical rainforest. Our last night s accommodation is at Belize Biltmore Plaza where we enjoy a dip in the pool, a comfortable room, and a hot shower. The next morning you are free to make your way back to the Belize International Airport, or travel further in Belize.
We begin with two days of sea kayaking based from an island lodge, along the southern barrier reef, then on to our marine base-camp at Glover s Atoll for two more fantastic days of snorkeling, kayaking, and optional diving.
Returning to the mainland, we now travel west from the coast deep into the Maya Mountains. Here, the rain forest covers the land and the ancient traditions of the Maya are still strong. On this next series of adventures, we descend into the Actun Tunichil Caves to explore underground rivers, and astounding burial chambers, with pottery, stone tools and carved altars that have lain as is, for thousands of years. Then we embark on an exhilarating four day paddle trip into the rain forest valleys of the Moho River in the ‘Wild South” of Belize.
Although no previous experience or special skills are needed to participate, you should be in good enough physical condition to paddle up to 10 miles a day or hike with a light pack for three or four hours.
On Day 1, we will be spending the night at the Tropical Education Center, in cabanas set amongst the pine forests. The Education Center and Belize Zoo harbors Belize's largest collection of tropical animal, a fantastic interpretative center, and has a great network of trails and wildlife viewing platforms, perfect for exploring the pine savannah setting.
On Days 2 and 3 out on the cays, we are practicing minimum impact camping to ensure the pristine state of the wilderness remains for future visitors. We stay in three person MSR tents, which provide more than enough room for two people and gear. We explore from our island camp the surrounding reef flats, islands and patch reefs with an itinerary that is flexible to adjust our activities to different conditions we encounter.
On Days 4 and 5 at Southwest Caye on Glovers, we are "base camping" in tent-walled cabanas. These spacious safari-style tents have ample headroom and are outfitted with wood floors and wood-framed beds. On the island, we have a fresh-water collection system for drinking water, access to fresh-water showers, modern composting toilets, a fully-equipped kitchen including refrigeration, with a large dining area complete with resource library and a field marine lab including microscope and hand lenses.
On Day 6 we will be staying at The Lodge at Big Falls, located at the gateway of the Toledo District in the deep south of Belize. (www.thelodgeatbigfalls.com) This spectacular resort is nessled in a unique bend in the Rio Grande River, and houses a restaurant / main lodge, and a number of small cabanas. Our accommodations for the evening are beautifully furnished, thatched, roofed cabanas, outfitted with ceiling fans and hot water showers.
On Days 7, 8, 9 we are camping in the remote wilderness of the Upper Moho River, on the western boarder of the Toledo District. We will be keeping our weight and volume to a minimum, carrying our gear in the kayaks from camp to camp. We stay in three-person Mountian Hardwear tents, which provide ample room for two people and gear. As we travel down the river, we use established bush camps, but give ourselves the flexibility to adjust our schedule for different conditions.
On the final night, we will spend the night at the Biltmore Hotel. This is a clean and comfortable hotel outside the city center. You have a chance to get a good night’s sleep after your adventure, maybe take a dip in the pool and prepare to fly out or continue on independently.
You will be staying in two types of tents on the Ultimate Adventure. The first two days of kayaking on the barrier reef, plus the 3 nights on the river trip we will be staying in traditional freestanding tents manufactured by MSR (Mountain Safety Research). These are high-quality three person tents, which allow for plenty of room for 2 people, plus your gear. While at Glovers Reef, we will be staying in wall-tent cabanas on a coral sand beach. These accommodations are placed on a wooden platform, approximately 6 inches above the surface of the sand, and have
single and double wood-framed beds with 6 inch foam mattresses. The tents are also outfitted with a wooden night stand and kerosene lamp.
WASHING AND TOILET FACILITIES WHEN CAMPING
All the fresh water while on the cayes has been imported from the mainland or from water catchments on the islands, so water conservation is of the utmost importance. We use Hand Sanitizer for washing hands around camp, and most washing is done with salt water. Saltwater soap is recommended for bathing in the sea. A small mirror is also helpful for contact lenses, shaving, etc. On the river, we use the river water for our washing and bathing needs.
While on the cayes, each camp has an outhouse facility with a proper toilet seat. and is a modern composting system, which is managed by our staff. Each “deposit” is assisted with a scoop of sawdust to help with composting of the waste.
This is an alternative to the pit toilet system, and protects the water lense of each island. This method is approved by the Coastal Zone Management Unit of Belize and is in keeping with the tenets of minimal impact camping. While in the jungle, we use pit toilets which are created by our Mayan Guides. Constructed of bush-wood and vine, the “seats” created are quite functional and comfortable.
Meal preparation is one of our specialties. You can expect a delicious assortment of seafood, fresh vegetables, tropical fruits and fresh baked breads. On sea kayaking adventures, both Belizean and international cuisine is prepared by your guides and our cooks. Many of our main courses such as lobster (in season), conch and many varieties of fish are gathered fresh from the sea each day. Meals, while camping in the rainforest, are ample and nutritious but are usually more simple fare than our sea kayak trips due to size and weight limitations of what we can carry with us.
Please let us know in advance if you have any special dietary requirements so that we can do our best to accommodate your needs.
This trip includes
and can accommodate special dietary requests.
Leading the Way...
When you travel to Belize with us you're a part of the action - tourism and conservation working together so that wild and wondrous places remain to be explored. It's no secret in Belize that eco-tourism is adding compelling new economic incentives for protecting rain forests, wetlands and tropical coral reef habitats. As we explore our world, we are more than ever, mindful of the need to financially support wildlife and habitat conservation, education and sustainable development in the communities we visit. In addition to this support, a selection of our trips are operated in partnership with the Belize Zoo and the Belize Audubon Society, utilizing their facilities and drawing on the resources of their expert leaders and educators.
We provide a top-of-the-line selection of sports and camping equipment to match the activities on our trips and the conditions in Belize. On rivers we use inflatable two-erson kayaks that are lightweight, comfortable and easy- to-handle in flatwater and whitewater.
On the sea we use expedition-equipped double and single kayaks. Double kayaks are of fiberglass or rotomold construction with comfortable seating, watertight gear hatches and are outfitted with custom designed 28 square foot sail rigs. The stable two-person kayaks are ideal for those new to sea kayaking and for families travelling with kids ( and you can always paddle with one of your guides on longer travel days).
Single kayaks are rotomolded plastic construction and include stable, wide-beam designs, which are particularly well-suited for tropical water paddling where kayaks are used extensively for snorkeling.
Once at camp, you can expect the same high standards. On Glover's, each couple sleeps in spacious wall-tents with wooden floors and beds and you have access to our Sea Breathe Diving System, windsurfers, flyfishing gear (bring your own flies) cold drinks and a complete library that accompanies our fleet of comfortable hammocks! On moving trips we provide MSR tents, portable field kitchens, satellite phones, two-way marine radios and all other group equipment. If you have any questions regarding the equipment we use on any given trip please contact us by phone or email and we will be happy to answer your questions.
KAYAKING IN THE TROPICS
Kayaking trips in the tropics differ from northern climates in that much of our exploration is under the water amongst the coral reefs. A typical day will include paddling/sailing from one island to another or to patch reefs within the atoll. Whenever possible we take advantage of the northeasterly trade winds to fill our sails as we travel. The protection of the reef wall and shallow inshore waters provide one of the best places in the world for sea kayaking. Our main concerns while on the water are protection from sun (both above and reflected off the water), dehydration, and the effects of salt. Protection from the sun and dehydration are easily managed by wearing a wide brimmed hat, using a good, waterproof sunscreen (SPF 15-35), wearing light colored clothing and, of course, drinking plenty of fluids. As for salt, the high salinity of the Caribbean Sea can dry your skin and cause blisters on hands (paddling) and feet (snorkeling). Skin lotion or moisturizer for your skin, gloves to protect your hands (cotton garden gloves or cycle gloves work very well) and socks for your feet while snorkeling are recommended.
SNORKELING IN THE TROPICS
For many, the highlight of their trip is the time spent exploring the wonders of the underwater world. This does not require great levels of skill or expensive equipment to accomplish. Our guides enjoy teaching others the simple skills necessary to enjoy snorkeling. Amongst many of the areas we explore, the water is shallow enough to stand. Initially, we enter the water from a beach but as our skill level increases we will learn to enter and exit from our kayaks. This will enable us to experience longer and deeper dives as well as drift dives, floating along a patch of coral with our boats drifting behind us. To ensure that the reefs are protected for future generations, we avoid damaging the coral by not touching, standing on or dropping anchor on coral. As a living organism, many corals rely on nematocysts to sting their prey. These same nematocysts can sting humans ranging from mild to strong in intensity. Care is taken to show all participants the coral species which should be avoided. If you get cold easily, a lightweight wetsuit or a spandex / lycra dive suit to keep from getting cold when spending extended time in the water, is recommended. Polypropylene, capilene or silk long underwear work as well. In addition, this method also protects against sunburn. We highly recommend wet suits for children.
Day 1 : Arrive at the Belize International Airport where you will be met by an Island Expeditions representative and transferred to the Tropical Education Center, adjacent to the Belize Zoo. After checking into our accommodations we enjoy a welcome dinner and have a chance to meet our fellow travelers. We are able to experience the surrounding tropical pine savannah habitat through a network of trails and raised wildlife viewing platforms. We also have a unique and exclusive nocturnal tour of the Belize Zoo with one of the senior zookeepers, which helps us understand the diverse ecology of Belize, and is an ideal starting point for the adventure ahead. This day is your day to arrive before the trip starts, meet your fellow travelers and acclimatize to your new tropical environment.
Transfers from the airport and lodging are included
Accommodation: (Lodge) Meals: Dinner
Day 2 : We rise early to start todays extraordinary journey, which takes us deep into the Mayan underworld known as Xilbalba (shil-balba), a mythical realm inhabited by spirits and powerful gods, an underworld of untold fears and dreams where Mayan shaman, in supposition to the gods, ventured into darkness to conduct their secretive rituals. As we venture underground into the caves, we learn from our guides how the caves played an important role in the ancient Maya civilization and about ongoing archaeological research taking place underground in Belize. After our cave visit, we travel the Hummingbird Route to meet up with our motor charter, on the coast by the town of Dangriga. We head out to the southern Barrier Reef and arrive at Paradise Lodge on Tobacco Caye in time to settle in, have dinner and plan our next two days on the barrier reef.
Accommodation: (Island Lodge) Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3 : We rise early for a breakfast on the beach. We then focus on our introduction to sea kayaking and get comfortable with the gear. We start by teaching and reviewing the fundamentals of sea kayaking and introduce everyone to ocean touring techniques. We test our new found skills with a paddle out to the main reef to snorkel along the inner reef wall or patch reefs. Depending on sea conditions, a snorkel along the outside reef edge may be possible. Our paddle back to our Tobacco Caye takes us past mangrove ranges and protected lagoons. Out on the reef, our guides share their knowledge of Belize, the marine environments and local culture.
Accommodation: (Island Lodge) Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4 : After breakfast and a morning of paddling and snorkeling, our motor charter returns to take us 20 miles east of the main Barrier Reef to Glovers Reef Atoll, a National Marine Park and designated World Heritage site. We land at park headquarters on Middle Cay, with boats rigged and ready to sail. We sail our kayaks along the eastern reef wall to our base camp at Southwest Caye at the southern end of the atoll, surrounded by rich coral reefs and beautiful turquoise waters. Tonight, we enjoy an island feast of mixed grill of fresh seafood and vegetables topped with Belizean coconut baking and tropical fruits.
Accommodation: (Base Camp)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5 & 6 : Glover’s is one of only four atolls in the Caribbean Sea and is truly one of the most spectacular marine environments in Belize. Due to its isolation from the mainland the waters are exceptionally clear with an incredibly rich reef system that offers some of the best kayaking, snorkeling and diving in the Caribbean. Our days are flexible in order to respond to both group and individual desires and abilities. Activities include: sea kayaking, snorkeling the inner and outer walls of the reef, and kayak sailing. For those who are certified divers, we can also arrange dives on the outer walls. If all this sounds a little busy, you always have the choice of just kicking back in a hammock and relaxing with a good book and a cold drink. On the afternoon of Day 5, we transfer back to the mainland and continue south to our jungle lodge in the Toledo district of Belize to begin the next leg of our journey.
Accommodation: (Field Camp / The Lodge at Big Falls)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7, 8 & 9 : The Lodge at Big Falls is situated on the banks of the Rio Grande river in Belize's southern Toledo District, a region of isolated villages lying amongst an unspoiled tropical wilderness. Our location is superb. The lodge property is located on a meander of the river with almost a mile of river frontage. There are views towards the Maya Mountains to the north west while the south eastern bank faces the small village of Big Falls. In the afternoon, we drive further south from Big Falls to our put-in point on the Moho river, stopping for lunch along the way at the traditional Maya village of Santa Theresa. Here, we get a chance to meet your Mayan guides, tour their homes, and experience the life of the modern Maya people.
Once on the river, our guides provide a brief boat and river orientation and we take as much time as we need to learn and practice our new boat-handling skills, enabling us to safely navigate the rapids and pour-overs. We then begin our journey along one of Belize’s most beautiful rivers through some pristine rain forest to our first river camp.
For these next days we break contact completely with the outside world and become a part of the mist-shrouded rain forest as we follow the Moho River through canyons and lush rainforest. Each bend reveals the dynamic nature of the river-from calm, meandering water that reflects the intense green of the jungle to stretches of rapids, pour-overs and spectacular waterfalls as the river descends from the Maya Mountains to the sea. Depending on water levels, some days we may reach our bush-camp by mid-afternoon and switch to land-based activities. Hiking through the forest, birding, plant and animal identification, and photography are some of the many activities we engage in. During the trip with our Mayan guides and North American leaders, we emphasize understanding the ecology of the rainforest, learning about the habits of the wildlife and gaining an appreciation for the rich Mayan folklore which adds so much to our experience in the jungle.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10 : We continue paddling downstream and arrive to the river pull out in the afternoon, where we are met by the staff ready to transport us back to Dangriga and onto a Maya Airways domestic flight to our hotel accommodation to enjoy a hot shower.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner is NOT Included in this night
Day 11: Departure day.
This is one of our most adventurous trips. It takes place in a remote wilderness region of Belize. Participants need to be in good physical condition and ready to handle the unexpected. Weather conditions can greatly affect water levels and hiking trails into the river and may increase the level of difficulty. We also believe that the remoteness and variability of conditions are what make this trip the best of its kind in Belize. Trip itineraries may vary significantly depending on water levels.
Rates and Dates for Adventures in Belize
All meals, accommodation, and transfers, professional Guiding Services (2-3 guides both North American Leaders and Belizean Guides). Domestic flight DGA to TZA
Transfer and Other Options:
Transfer from Belize City is included at set time
Rates do not include:
Alcoholic Beverages. Gratuities. Scuba Diving Fees. Extra costs due to late arrivals, lost baggage and other circumstances beyond our control
Meeting: Belize City
Airport: Belize City
Transfer: Belize City
Subtropical, with prevailing north-easterly Trade winds from the sea. Temperatures range from 60 degrees Farenheit (16 Celsius) to 95 degrees Farenheit (32 celsius). Belize is marked by a wet season from June to November and a dry season from December to May. Although the best time of year to travel to belize is definitely through the "dry season", mother nature does still give us some rain during this timeframe. Northern Belize which may receive as little as 50 inches of rainfall is considerably drier than the far south, which can receive upwards of 180 inches of rainfall annually, which help feed the lush jungles and year-round grow season. Similar to other regions in the Caribbean basin, Belize also has a distinct hurricane season that generally starts in late June and continues into early November.
What To Bring:
A Note About the Ecology...
The Belizean coast is a rich combination of coral reefs, sand flats, mangroves ranges and coral sand islands. The barrier reef structure shelters the Belizean coast from the open waters of the Caribbean Sea. It acts as a huge breakwater to the incoming swells, which as they break on the reef erode the corals and deposit coral sand. From this action, we get beautiful, sand-fringed islands and remarkable shallow water patch reefs. Also, this "breakwater protects the diverse ecosystems of the mangroves and turtle grass, which cover much of the coast. These mangrove forests growing out of the sea provide rich feeding and nursing grounds for many marine creatures and countless birds.
Broadleaf rainforest covers approximately 60% of Belize's wooded area. The year-round growing season, plentiful precipitation during the rainy season (May- November) and millennia of evolution has yielded this area with a complex and tremendous diversity of plant life. A spongy mass of roots, fungi, bacteria and microorganisms carpets the forest floor, which rapidly breaks down any organic matter. Each plant fulfills its own ecological niche, as the continuous recycling of the decayed plant matter fuels new growth. With this rich nutrient cycle a diverse range of plant life, from the huge buttressed ceiba trees to the smallest of fungi thrives. High above the forest floor is the enchanting world of the broad-leafed canopy. The canopy may tower 100 ft and more, with massive hardwoods like santa maria, mahogany and sapodilla trees forming a broad canopy and in turning supporting many species of Epiphytes (air plants). This habitat provides for a unique community of wildlife and many species will spend most of their life inhabiting the roof of the rainforest.
fish and seahorses of Belize
While traveling along the barrier reef, we will have the opportunity to view a variety of sea-life and tropical birds. Paddling from cay to cay and over the many patch reefs, we have we will see fish like barracuda, bonefish, angel and parrot fish, stingrays, conger, moray eels, goatfish, just to name a few. Trailing a fishing line from our kayaks, we also may get a chance at a tug from barracuda, grouper or snapper. Birds do well on the cay's, we will see osprey, royal terns and brown-footed boobies, frigate birds, mangrove warblers, and sapsuckers. Throughout the barrier reef and along the coast, there are nesting sites for loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles; if we're lucky, we may see them while out snorkeling. We will definitely have a chance to see and sample the main staple for Belizean fishermen, the spiny lobster (in season) and the queen conch, a Caribbean delicacy.
In the rain forests of Belize we have great opportunities to view wildlife. Hiking or paddling we see iguanas resting in the branches of fig trees, we may hear the grunts and snuffling as a herd of peccary(wild pigs) passes close by. Large tropical birds are frequently sighted. We see toucans with their oversized bills, flying ungainly from one fruiting tree to the next. High overhead loud, raucous squawking alerts us to the presence of scarlet macaw in the river valley. Once in view, the size of the bird and the splendor of their red and blue plumage is unmistakable. There is also a multitude of falcons, hawks and vultures scavenging and hunting from the sun-bright upper canopy down to the mottled light of the forest floor. Also, found in the southern Belizean rainforest are a number of often bizarre mammals, the largest being Belize's national animal, Baird's tapir- locally known as the mountain cow in Belize is an animal unique to the New World tropics with a large hippopotamus-like body and a long snout, much like the fabled aardvark. The tapir, along with the white-lipped and collared peccary, the jaguar, and the puma are some of the larger mammals that inhabit the river valleys and forests where we travel.
PERSONAL EQUIPMENT LIST
Photocopy of passport
Favorite snacks for between meals
Personal spending and emergency funds
1 extra set of clothes for flight home including shoes
1 pair hiking shoes ( good tread recommended—will get wet and muddy
in the cave)
2nd pair of shoes to wear in the evening around camp
1 pair water-sports sandals, Teva is a good brand.
1 or 2 pair lightweight, fast drying long pants
3 - 4 pairs of socks
2 pair nylon shorts and/or loose skirt or sarong
1 bathing suits
Sleeping pad (i.e. thermarest)
Light-weight sleeping bag or a sleep sheet and light weight fleece blanket
Nylon stuff sac
1 long sleeved shirts preferably with a collar (for protection from the sun
& bugs) Silk shirts work well and dry quickly.
While you are out on the cayes and in the jungle you will need to have your own sleeping linens. Don’t forget:
ڤ Sleeping pad (i.e. thermarest)
ڤ Light-weight sleeping bag or a sleep sheet and light weight fleece blanket
ڤ Nylon stuff sac
Reef vs. River and Transfers
Separating some of your gear into reef and river components will be helpful. Any extra gear can be stored at our base in Dangriga. Our drivers will facilitate any transfer of items and ensure that any gear you switch is moved appropriately. Large dry bags will be provided while out on the river. Plastic bags are great for extra water-proofing.
Generally in the field you should have at least two sets of clothing: one wet for river and sea and one dry for the evening. Also, a sturdy pair of sport sandals or water shoes is very important.
1 fleece jacket (this will keep you warm even when wet)
1 good quality rain jacket
1 wide brimmed sunhat (to keep the sun off your face and neck)
Sunglasses with band (Chums, Croakies, etc.)
1-3 bandanas (handy for sun protection)
Spare set of eyeglasses (even if you wear contact lenses) and contact lens solution
Headlamp and spare batteries
Mask, fins, snorkel *IMPORTANT*
10 lt dry bag to waterproof personal documents, camera etc.
Wet suit – (not essential but water temperatures in Dec. and Jan. can be cooler) and / or
Capilene, polypropylene or silk long underwear (great for snorkeling)
1 liter water bottle
1 small towel—(either a small camp towel or thin beach towel)
1 washcloth— choose a thin small cloth
Personal medication and prescriptions
Small personal First Aid Kit: i.e.. Band-Aids, aspirin/Tylenol, scissors, tweezers, safety pins
Sunscreen (non-Paba-based, SPF 15 - 35) waterproof for kayak trips-eg. Ombrelle
Vaseline or skin care cream
Caladryl/ After Bite/ Benadryl Cream or lotion to ease itching from bug bites
Aloe Vera lotion
Insect repellent (20 - 100% Deet)
OPTIONAL (NICE TO HAVE WITH YOU, BUT YOU DON’T ACTUALLY NEED)
Camera equipment and film / waterproof throw-away camera
Handy Wipe - moist tissues for hands and face
Toilet paper for emergency travels
2 candles *Candle Lantern ,Good reading book, log book and pen
White wine (for sea kayaking trips, very hard to find in Belize-great with fish and seafood!)
Favorite liquors and/or personal coffee for extreme coffee drinkers (i.e.. special blends)
Clothes line and pegs
Small day-pack (can be handy on any of our trips)
Mesh bag for carrying snorkel gear
Fishing rod & tackle art supplies, sketching tools or water-colors
1 pair light cotton gloves /bike gloves (for protection from the sun/blisters when paddling)
Items to give as gifts. ( see page 5 for suggestions)
PURCHASING SNORKEL EQUIPMENT
Knowing how to snorkel and what to watch for are all well and good, but inadequate equipment can spoil the best of conditions. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you purchase equipment that fits comfortably. Borrowing a friend’s gear is okay for fins and snorkel but a mask must conform to the individuals face to ensure a watertight seal. Nothing is more frustrating for snorkelers than water leaking into your mask. When shopping for a mask check for the following:
- A smooth seal around the mask. Both rubber and silicone work well. Check that the material is not cracked, brittle or stiff , all signs of an old mask.
- Press mask to face and inhale through your nose.
DO NOT PUT THE STRAP AROUND YOUR HEAD but leave it off in front of the mask. If the mask seals, it will stay on your face even if you tilt your head down. Check that no hair gets between the mask and your face to break the seal.
- Make sure the front of the mask does not press against the bridge of your nose. This will get worse the deeper you dive. Vaseline around the edge of the mask helps for a better seal for men with beards or moustaches.
- Make sure snorkels fit comfortably in your mouth. With fins, a snug fit is best. Complete foot fins rather than those with a strap around the heel are preferred. Leave enough room for socks if you wish.
- Above all else, try the mask in water (pool, bathtub, etc.) before you arrive in Belize. A dive shop will gladly exchange an ill-fitting mask for one with a better fit.
Yes, they do exist! Weather, wind conditions and proximity to the previous rainy season affect the concentrations of biting insects found on both the cays and the mainland. While camping on the cays, you may need to take precautions against the sand fly, also known as “no-see-ums”. These flies are jumpers and are found in the sand, being most persistent in the early morning and evening, especially when the wind is calm. They leave small, red, itchy bites. The itching can be effectively alleviated with Calamine Lotion or an After-bite stick. The most common areas affected are your feet and ankles. The most effective form of precautions are clothing to cover up, and a good deet-based repellent. Lightweight long pants and socks and a light long sleeve shirt will help in times of no wind. Quick-dry fabrics work very well in these instances. Typically, you should look for something with 20%+ deet content for optimal protection. Deep woods or Ben’s Insect Repellant are both good options. The more natural citronella repellents are not as effective.
If you are extremely susceptible to bugs, you should consider a bug-shirt and/or pants (we have jackets available in Belize; please contact our office ahead of your departure to arrange one for your trip) which are available at outdoor stores, this clothing is designed to allow maximum ventilation while protecting against bugs. For inland trips, mosquitoes can be a nuisance. The same precautions, as mentioned above, hold true. If you find that you are extremely susceptible to bugs you might want to consider a bug-shirt and pants. The tent accommodations are fitted with “no-see-um netting” and should be left closed to ensure a bug-free sleep.