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Setting & Trip RouteA three day Caving, hiking and Archeological adventure in the rainforests of western Belize
Belize is home to the largest tracts of unspoiled rainforests remaining in Central America. Until only recently, Belize was a forgotten corner of the Caribbean. With no plantation history and few if any economic bonanzas there were minimal incentives for settlement and development over the last 200 years. This legacy of neglect has resulted in a modern day treasure trove of virgin forests laced with mountain clear rivers. The region is characterized by moderate to heavy rainfall during the wet season (June through November) and drier, sunnier weather from December through May. The Bocawina Reserve where our trip takes place has five waterfalls within hiking distance of our lodge. The population is primarily Maya. Scattered small villages border the green hills rising into the highest peaks of the Maya Mountains. Linking the communities there is one main road called the Southern Highway. Most of the road has been paved in the last few years, bringing change to the area in the form of increased trade, electricity to villages and more small scale tourism development.
Belize Broadleaf Tropical Rainforests
The year-round growing season, plentiful precipitation and millennia of evolution has yielded this area with a tremendous biological diversity. This rich nutrient cycle supports a diverse range of plant life, where huge buttressed Ceiba trees to the smallest of fungi thrive. High above the forest floor is the enchanting world of the broad-leafed canopy. The canopy may tower 100 ft or more, with massive hardwoods like Santa Maria, Mahogany and Sapodilla trees forming a broad canopy, and in turn supporting many species of Epiphytes (air plants). This habitat provides for a unique community of wildlife, with many species spending most of their life inhabiting the roof of the rainforest.
Large tropical birds are frequently sighted. We see toucans with their oversized bills flying from one fruiting tree to the next. High overhead loud squawking alerts us to the presence of scarlet macaw. 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 bizarre mammals. The largest of these is Belize’s national animal, the Baird's tapir - locally known as the mountain cow. It has a large hippopotamus- like body and a long snout, much like the fabled aardvark. The tapir, along with the white-lipped and collared peccary and the jaguar, are some of the larger mammals that inhabit the river valleys and forests where we travel.