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Setting & Trip RouteWe begin our trip with an introduction to the inland waterways of the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. Here we experience the astounding diversity of birds and wildlife for which Belize is renown.
Located 33 miles northwest of Belize City the sanctuary provides both the abundant food sources and the safe resting areas necessary to support a large and diverse population of birds. The best time for viewing resident and migrant birds is December until June.
Next, we catch our motor charter to spectacular Lighthouse Reef, one of only four coral atolls in the Caribbean and home to the famous Blue Hole. In 1972, Capt. Jacques Cousteau and the intrepid crew of the Calypso explored and filmed this incredible atoll, showing its amazing underwater diversity to the world for the first time.
In partnership with the Belize Audubon Society, Island Expeditions has established an Adventure Camp within the Half Moon Caye Marine Reserve, opening up the area to adventurers for the first time.
From the air, Lighthouse Reef Atoll is a dazzling island necklace of white sand cayes encircling a sapphire blue lagoon.
On the extreme edge of the Belize reef system, miles beyond the main Barrier Reef, these isolated atolls support the greatest diversity of reef types and marine life. Formed over millennia, the coral reefs grew on top of the inundated Maya Mountains as sea levels rose (some 10,000 years ago as the last ice age retreated) and eventually formed an oval shaped wall of corals around a shallow sand and coral lagoon. Stunningly beautiful islands, a sheltered lagoon brimming with life, and the dynamic interaction between the outer reef, open seas, and inner lagoons are the prime attractions of our atoll Basecamp on Half Moon Caye.
To get to Lighthouse Reef we travel by boat beyond the main Barrier Reef, out past Turneffe Atoll – some fifty-five miles east of the mainland where the underwater walls of Lighthouse Atoll rise 3000 feet from the surrounding depths of the sea. The inner protected lagoon provides a rare underwater habitat for snorkelers with miles upon miles of shallow, warm waters studded with corals. Where the lagoon drops off to the open sea we find precipitous walls, undersea ridges, canyons, tunnels, and valleys brimming with life that are the deeper realm of scuba divers. This remote atoll has been difficult to access and out of reach for kayakers and snorkelers for many years, but now Island Expeditions has pioneered the first ever Basecamp at Lighthouse Reef. We sleep in spacious walk-in tents, each with an ocean view, and after each day’s activities our open-air dining pavilion and lounge is the perfect place to relax in comfort with fine meals and splendid company.