The first thing Kenrick said when asked on Monday how it went was “It was hard this year. The Heat was extreme! Indeed, it was an extremely hot and humid weekend here in Belize, with averages in the 90s and even rising to 100F.
This year the team was made up of 12, with one guide, Benedicto. Their motto for the expedition was “We are one with Nature, life is an adventure we got to live it”. The group started out at 7.22am on Friday morning, a little later than usual as one of the new team members had a backpack that was overweight, when checked by the guide. They were all eager to make up time and walked the first part at a fast pace, knowing from experience that this was the easiest part and they wanted to get as far as they could before the heat intensified. Along the way, Lennox, our other Tropic employee tried to clear some branches blocking the path, with his machete, when a small stick hit his left knee and gashed it open and they had to perform some quick temporary first aid until they got to the camp.
The group arrived at the 12K mark on the Sittee River at around 9.20am, having made pretty good time. After, crossing the river, they all took an hour break to refuel. The heat was fierce and the lesser experienced among the group were exhausted. From this point onwards the terrain gets much harder, so it was decided that the more experienced, including our two intrepid employees Kenrick and Lennox, would forge on ahead, taking some of the weight from the kits of those less experienced.
Kenrick said, that the extra weight they were carrying and the intense heat and humidity made the trek, that much harder and the rainforest seemed denser than normal and somewhat unreal. They stopped at 17 kilometers where there is a helipad clearing, and decided to wait for the rest of the group. Here they all fell asleep for about 50 minutes but the others still had not shown, so they continued on as by now it was already 1.05pm. They arrived at 19K Base camp approx. 40 minutes later and began setting up the tents and preparing a quick noodle meal for the others. At around 4.10 only 6 of the remaining group arrived.
One of their group had felt faint from exhaustion and had to head back to Camp 12K to spend the night, with the guide Benedicto. Along the way the other six climbers had an encounter with a jaguar who crossed their paths. They were all exhilarated, excited and a little relieved when it went on its way.
Kenny discovered in the changing of backpacks, that his kit had been left behind at 16K so he and Lennox made a quick trek back to get it. By now it was getting dark and a little scary so they went as fast as they could. After showering in the river and eating they all fell asleep in their hammocks with an eight- foot Boa constrictor as their body guard, sleeping in a big hole next to them!
The following morning the guide and the other team member arrived early and the group started the climb up Heartbreak Hill, to reach the summit. The team miscalculated their water as the streams were pretty dry and at the second helipad, there was no water as usual. The group climbed for one hour and finally reached the summit at Midday. Kenny and Lennox proudly placed the Tropic flag there. The sun was unbearably hot so after about 20 minutes they started the climb back down, tired and incredibly thirsty. Kenny commented that the guide had extra water but with the heat it felt like they needed a gallon each!
Coming down was easy!! Kenny’s words. They reached camp after a couple of hours and that cold shower in the waterfall felt like the best of their lives.
The following day after a good night’s sleep and lots of story and adventure swapping, they started the trek back to Base Camp. The climbers reached at different times according to their experience and endurance level. But by 3.00 on Sunday evening everyone had arrived safely back at Base Camp. There was another jaguar encounter, this time a baby one, so the climber moved quickly on, fearing that the mother would be close by.
Climb to the Summit 2019, was a massive success despite the intensity of the heat and some of the challenges they had on the way. We would like to congratulate Kenny and Lennox on their incredible feat and wish them every success in their next adventure.
Here at Tropic Air, we have some pretty active employees who take advantage of all that Belize has to offer. Kenrick Duncan and Lennox Myvett, customer service agents at Tropic Air’s PGIA International terminal are two such individuals. Next Friday 12th April both are taking part in the arduous hike and climb to Victoria Peak, the second highest mountain in Belize at 3.675 feet.
The three-day hike, according to Kenrick, is not for the faint hearted and requires a degree of fitness and endurance. Kenrick trains by running and both he and Lennox are no strangers to physical challenges. Just a few weeks ago in March, for the ninth year, they took part in the grueling 180-mile Ruta Maya Belize River challenge, finishing sixth in their age group and 35th overall.
The hike to Victoria Peak starts bright and early at 5.00am from the basecamp in Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, where the team of five men, five women and a guide, set off, carrying backpacks with minimum equipment – tents, hammocks, other essentials and food. This is the third time that Kenrick and Lennox have climbed the peak so they are familiar with the routine. On the first day, they hike the 12 kilometers along mostly flat terrain reaching the first camp after crossing the Sittee River. After lunch of, according to Kenrick, mostly protein bars, because they don’t want to be hauling lots of weight, they continue to hike the rest of the trail another 7 kilometers. This is more difficult terrain with the trail going up and down. Along the way they encounter the infamous Heartbreak Hill. Once they reach their camp for the evening everyone usually takes a dip in the waterfall (which Kenny said is extremely chilly but refreshing). On Saturday, its another early start .Once the group reaches the base of Victoria Peak it’s a scramble up a rocky stream bed leading to the forest canopy. Ascending the rock gully requires rope and harness. They finally reach the peak at around 11.00am. The view from here is stunning. According to Kenrick all you see is hills and hills all around. On a clear day you can even see the coast. The area has unique flora with elfin shrubland, sphagnum moss, small trees of only two to three meters and the rare fiery-colored orchid which only grows at high elevations.
The team usually spend about thirty minutes taking in the amazing view and then it’s a climb back down and back to nineteen Kilometer camp for the evening to rest before returning to base the following day. Last year, they were extremely excited, and a little scared, to be followed by a jaguar on their trail. They also encountered several snakes along the way. Don’t worry they are prepared and the guides always carries anti-venom.
Each year, Kenrick explained the team have a name or a motto which is usually decided upon once they start the trek. In 2018 their motto was “I’m not just living, I’m alive “. To find out what their motto is for this year and to find out more about their adventures along the way stay tuned for our next blog. We all wish them good luck on their journey.
Blue holes or cenotes are underground cavities occurring in carbonate rocks that are open to the surface.
One of Belize’s most famous attractions, and an example of these, is the Great Blue Hole. Located in the lighthouse reef atoll approximately 62 miles from Belize City, it is an almost perfect circular chasm of deep blue in an azure sea. 1000 feet in diameter and more than 400 feet deep, it is the only Blue Hole on earth that is visible from space, and it’s a diver’s paradise.
Most visitors to Belize are probably unaware that in mainland Belize close to Belmopan, Belize’s capital city, and just off the Hummingbird Highway lies another of these craters, known as The Inland Blue Hole. Unlike its marine counterpart, this Blue Hole is a fresh-water cenote, located within the St Hermans Blue Hole National Park, a 575 acre forest teeming with wildlife. It is significantly smaller than the Great Blue Hole with a diameter of 300 feet and a depth of 100 feet. It’s a great spot for a refreshing dip while taking a Belizean road trip.
Belize’s third Blue Hole is still something of a secret. Located in the rainforest area on the border between the Orange Walk and Cayo districts between the Valley of Peace and San Jose, Cara Blanca is just one of a series of 25 cenotes. If you look it up on google earth the pools can be clearly seen. Cara Blanca is approximately 330 in diameter and 230 feet deep. In recent years archaeological diving expeditions have discovered pre-historic bones of huge mammals, along with Maya artifacts. The latter demonstrating how Cenotes and caves played an important part in ancient Maya culture as they were thought to be the opening to Xibalba or the underworld. The presence of a small plaza with sacrificial pots and other relics here, is thought to be evidence of this worship.
It is rumored that other Blue Holes exist in Belize. There are definitely underwater caverns behind Caye Caulker and deep blue cenotes in both southern and northern Ambergris.
Let us know if you know of any, elsewhere in the country. We’d love to hear from you.
It is a new year and you are looking at your bucket list wondering what it is lacking. It is time for adventure! It is time exploration and conquering new horizons! New destinations, new experiences, awesome memories and loads of fun… it is time for Belize.
Here are 10 awesome things to do and reasons why you should have Belize as your next destination. We should also mention that none of them involve dealing with snow or sub zero temps ;).
The world famous Great Blue Hole is a giant submarine sinkhole off the coast of Belize. It lies near the center of Lighthouse Reef, an atoll 43 miles (70km) from Belize City. The hole is circular in shape, over 984 feet (300 m) across and 354 feet (108 m) deep. The Great Blue Hole is a part of the larger Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a World Heritage Site. This site was made famous by Jacques Cousteau, who declared it one of the top ten scuba diving sites in the world.
See it the way it was meant to be seen … from the air. Fly to Lighthouse Reef Atoll, and make several fly-bys of this natural wonder of the world. On the way, see the Belize Barrier Reef, and Turneffe Atoll. Be sure to keep watch on the water below for Manatees, Rays, Sharks, Dolphins, and other wildlife. So, before you dive it, see it. There are scheduled tours and charters available from Tropic Air. Visit our tour page for more information.
This cave adventure is one of the most popular attractions in Belize. Featured in National Geographic, A.T.M. cave is several kilometers long and is an ancient burial site containing four skeletons, ceramics, and stoneware left by the Maya. The most famous skeleton is that of a young girl, the bones of which have been completely covered by the natural processes of the cave, leaving them with a sparkling appearance. Once inside the cave you will spend several hours swimming, climbing, and exploring the Maya underworld. The culmination of the tour is the Crystal Maiden, a young virgin sacrifice, and “The Cathedral”, with its stalactite and stalagmite formations.
Take the guided tour. If you are staying on the mainland, ask your resort for your tour options. If you are in the cayes, there are daily tours available from Tropic Air. Visit our tour page for more information.
At the southern tip of Ambergris Caye is Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Hol Chan is the Maya name for ‘little channel.” This sanctuary on the Barrier Reef was officially established in 1987, and since then the return of all species of fish has been quite dramatic. It is perfect area for snorkelers and scuba divers, and for those learning to do both. It is the single most popular day trip from San Pedro.
Take a tour boat from San Pedro or Caye Caulker. Trips usually run once in the morning and again in the afternoon. You can also do it from the mainland using Tropic Air flights to either island.
The ancient Maya site of Lamanai sits on the edge of the spectacular New River Lagoon in the Orange Walk District, and is known for being the longest continually-occupied site in Mesoamerica. Wildlife is abundant, and you can see and hear howler monkeys. Jaguars also roam nearby. This is reflected in the stories of the locals as well as the architecture.
The temples themselves rise from the jungle floor to a spectacular view above the jungle canopy. They have many carvings into them of the jaguars and crocodiles, and you have the chance to climb to the top of the main pyramid. There is a rope and very narrow, tall, steep steps leading to the view high over the lagoon.
Take a river tour boat from the Tower Hill Bridge (near Orange Walk town). Trips usually run about 7 hours in length. It can also be done from some of the islands (like San Pedro or Caye Caulker). There are scheduled tours from Tropic Air. Visit our tour page for more information.
Caye Caulker is the epitome of the laid-back island lifestyle. With the Barrier Reef just off its eastern shore, fresh seafood, quaint bars and restaurants, sandy streets and tropical music, Caye Caulker is the perfect place to spend one day, a few days or even a few weeks.
Take a water taxi from a neighboring island or fly with Tropic Air from Belize City, San Ignacio, Orange Walk or San Pedro.
Xunantunich or “Maiden of the Rock” is situated on the Western Highway across the river from the village of San Jose Succotz in the Cayo District. This major Maya ceremonial center can be reached by ferry daily across the Mopan River. This Classic Period site provides an impressive view of the entire river valley. It occupies only 300 square meters but the periphery covers several square kilometers. The main temple of El Castillo rises 120ft (40m) above plaza level, making it one of the tallest buildings in Belize.
It is a very accessible and easy site to enjoy, so take a guided tour from one of the nearby resorts. You can also do it on your own. Tropic Air flies several times a day to San Ignacio’s exclusive Maya Flats Airstrip which is very close to the site.
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is Belize’s premier destination for birders, and contains a mosaic of wetland and land habitats. With 16,400 acres of lagoons, creeks, logwood swamps, broadleaf forest and pine savanna, you will be sure to see a wide array of wildlife. The Sanctuary protects globally endangered species including the Central American River Turtle, Mexican Black Howler Monkey, and Yellow-headed Parrot. The village in the lagoon is also home to the very unique Cashew festival every year.
Take a guided tour from one of the nearby resorts or from your tour operator.
Placencia is a peninsula in southern Belize with almost 16 miles (25km) of sandy beaches. The Caribbean is on the eastern side, while the lagoon that looks towards the Maya Mountains on the mainland, is to its west. From March to June, dive with Whale Sharks at Gladden Spit (a cut in the reef east of Placencia village). It is also easy to get to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Reserve, home of a large Jaguar population.
Fly to Placencia on Tropic Air. Flights are available from several destinations throughout the country. Since it is not an island, you can also drive there.
Over the years, cave tubing at Nohoch Che’en Caves (sometimes known as Jaguar Paw) has become extremely popular, especially on hot days. Float down the Cave’s Branch River on inner tubes through underground caves once used by the Maya. You can also zip-line and ride ATVs though the rainforest in this area, located about 40 miles (64km) from Belize City.
Fly to Belize City or Belmopan and take a tour from there. There are scheduled tours and available from Tropic Air. Visit our tour page for more information.
No matter where you stay on the Belizean coast, there is great fishing. The flats offer one of the best chances in the world to complete a grand slam (Tarpon, Permit and Bonefish in one day). The rivers teem with Snook, Snapper and Tarpon while offshore, Sailfish and other species abound. It is also a great place for kids to learn to fish, as hotel piers and reef proximity provide great opportunities for them to practice catching snapper, grunt and barracuda.
How to arrange it
Ask your resort to arrange a half-day or full day fishing trip.
Think outside the box. September and October are some of the best months of the year for diving. Fewer people visit and you are sure to find great deals on accommodation.
Put “visit at least one Maya site” on your to do list. There are sites in each of the 6 Belize districts.
Snorkeling the 2nd largest barrier reef is a must, but be sure to wear a rashguard or t-shirt as the reflection of the water will increase the effect of the sun’s rays.
Fly rather than drive. Tropic Air has flights to most destinations and also offer charters to more remote and exotic places.
Belizeans love to party and there are festivals and celebrations countrywide most months of the year. Check with the Belize Tourism Board www.travelbelize.org to find out what’s going on when you plan to visit.
Talk to the locals and find out where they eat.
Go visit the Belize Zoo -known as the coolest little zoo in the world, you will see an amazing selection of Belizean wildlife in their natural habitat.
Caving can be fun! Try a relaxing tubing trip through a cave system or for something more adventurous, visit one of the caves traditionally thought of as part of the Maya underworld.
You really cannot miss the famous Blue Hole if you come to Belize. If you don’t want to dive or snorkel it, then see it by air. Tropic Air can take you there. It’s on most peoples bucket list!
If you are based on the mainland for your vacation, try to take at least one trip to the Cayes. Tropic Air flies to Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker
If you are based on the Cayes try to take a trip to the mainland to experience all it has to offer. Tropic air can take you there. (link to Destinations page)
Make sure you try the national dish of Belize – stewed chicken, rice and beans with coleslaw at least once on your trip… and I bet you won’t be able to just have it once.