Choosing a fantastic vacation destination this year was a difficult decision for my family. My two children Harry and Britney are turning 12 and 15 years respectively this year and we were all in agreement that a destination in the Caribbean and off the beaten path would be a good change from the usual yearly visits to well- known destinations. After doing a bit of research, we found out about Belize and its many diverse offerings of reef and inland adventures in the tiny but lovely country of Belize which is literally in our backyard just two hours from our home state Florida. Little did we know then that we ever about to venture into of our best vacations ever while creating lifelong memories.
Our days were filled with dive and snorkeling visits to idyllic spots like the famous Blue Hole, Glover’s Atoll and countless inland tours as well as cultural experiences.
One particularly memorable trip was the Monkey River Tour. This wildlife adventure started with an hour boat ride from Placencia Village on the Peninsula to the mouth of Monkey River where the excitement of the journey continues. Our knowledgeable guide, a native to Monkey River Village, led our tour group through an interesting lesson on the history of Monkey River Village while he pointed out the surrounding abundant wildlife.
Cruising along Monkey River for approximately 30 minutes and relishing a short inland detour, our tour group was surely in for a real scenic treat in nature. Lush tropical canopy dominated the river sides with occasional tall trees among the smaller plant life like mangroves, bamboo, palms and swamp cypresses. The rich forest smell was invigorating and the view of the biologically diverse forest was breath taking. We were so pleased to learn that sixty percent of the country remains covered with such similar tropical ecosystems. Indeed the little Caribbean jewel appears to be serious about environmental protection.
Along the inland trail, Harry and Britney were intrigued by the exotic birds spotted such as the magnificent Osprey eagle, the enormous King Vulture, and even spotted the brilliantly colored Keel Billed Toucan hovering high above the tall empress palms as pointed out by our guide, James. Certainly a naturalist’s paradise, Monkey River was teeming with football-size turtles, crocodiles and many species of lizards such as the ‘Jesus Christ Lizard’ named locally for its ability to run across the water edges using its webbed hind feet. And just when we thought there was nothing more to see, our bodies cringed with goose bumps as a group of boisterous black howler monkeys swept pass a few feet above our heads howling and swinging. The experience reminded me briefly of a scene in Indiana Jones shot in the depths of a mysterious neo-tropical rainforest. The setting was surely one to ignite the imagination. The path was filled with many exotic orchids in many sizes, shapes and colors.
My family and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip and Monkey River Village has certainly inspired us to appreciate nature in a differfleadent light. We are also thankful to our tour operator, Splash Dive Center for making all our tour arrangements and for contributing to us having a fabulous time in Belize!