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Setting & Trip Route
In partnership with the Belize Audubon Society, Island Expeditions has established an Adventure Camp within the Half Moon Caye Marine Reserve, opening up for the first time this spectacular wilderness to kayakers, snorkelers, and adventurers.
Lighthouse Reef - Our journey to Lighthouse Atoll takes us 55 miles offshore to Belize’s most remote and spectacular atoll. On our way to Lighthouse we weave our way through channels and picturesque islands within Belize’s Barrier Reef. Then, after crossing the reef wall, we enter a keyhole passage and wind through narrow mangrove lined channels to reach the eastern Coral Wall of Turneffe Atoll. Finally, we continue another 20 miles to the world renowned Lighthouse Reef Atoll and Half Moon Caye. One of only four coral atolls in the Caribbean, Lighthouse is home to the famous Blue Hole. In 1972, Capt. Jacques Cousteau and the intrepid crew of the Calypso explored and filmed this incredible atoll, exposing its amazing underwater diversity to the world for the first time.
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary - located northwest of Belize City, the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary consists of a large network of inland lagoons, wetlands, and waterways. The sanctuary provides both the abundant food sources and the safe resting areas necessary to support a large and diverse population of birds. Those visiting in the later months of the dry season (Feb – May) are treated to a concentration of wildlife, which congregate in the park’s shrinking lagoons, as freshwater resources across the country dry up.
The Mayan Sites
Lamanai – The ruins of Lamanai lie scattered along the banks of the New River covering an area of 950 acres of tropical rainforest in central Belize. The Mayan name Lamanai translates into “submerged crocodile”. Due in part to its location straddling a major trade route, Lamanai was one of the longest continuously occupied Mayan cities in Central America - from about 500 BC to 1675 AD. The first major excavation was undertaken by the Royal Ontario Museum starting in 1974. During a series of field seasons they mapped 718 structures stretching out along the shore of the lagoon. Lamanai's importance is reflected in the large imposing Late Pre-Classic temple-pyramids built over top of earlier temples. On one site researchers found, buried deep inside a temple dating back to 600 AD, a well preserved Pre-Classic temple estimated to be seven centuries older - that's 100 BC!
Altun Ha – Translates into “stone water” due to the ancient Mayan reservoir, or aguada, that Belizeans call “rock stone pond”. Altun Ha was an important Classic Period site situated to take advantage of the trading that occurred between the waters of the Caribbean and the deep interior of the Mayan Civilization. The entire city covered three square miles and the population is estimated to have been between eight and ten thousand people at its peak. Within the central portion of the site there are more than 275 structures. Altun Ha has become famous for a large jade head representing the sun god Kinich Ahau that was discovered in the main temple. This relic is the largest Mayan jade artifact ever discovered, weighing ten pounds. It is now the national symbol of Belize and seen on the corner of every Belizean banknote.