A cacophony of birds acted as our tropical wake-up call on our first morning and we prepared to set out for the fascinating Maya ruins of Lamanai. First we boarded motor coaches, then embarked speed boats for our river journey to the archaeological site, spotting northern jacana, a boat-billed heron, and a fork-tailed flycatcher along the way. We also passed a Mennonite community who were fishing together on the banks.
After a wonderful picnic lunch our guides took us on an in-depth walking tour of this ancient Mayan site…every step became a history lesson as we explored the Jaguar Temple with its detailed stone markings, and the sports court (where apparently the WINNING team captain was sacrificed to the Gods.) A few energetic passengers climbed to the top of one of the temples for stunning views of the ancient site and surrounding rain forest.
We spent our next Belize day among the cayes dotting the warm Caribbean. Half Moon Cay is a veritable paradise and we set off on hikes with naturalists, spotting hermit crabs and cape may warblers on our way to an observation tower designed to give tree top views of the largest red-footed booby colony in the western Caribbean. The activity was impressive—the beautiful birds with their red feet and blue-ringed eyes alongside frigatebirds in full mating display, their red gular pouch looking as if it would burst.
After lunch divers and snorkelers explored the surrounding underwater wonderland, adrift off a reef wall nicknamed “the aquarium." Not long after starting out, we had one of those astonishing wildlife encounters truly hard to put into words. Six bottlenose dolphins swam just 20 feet from us. They were so close, so graceful, and completely uninhibited by our presence. And as we made our way into “the aquarium” the number and variety of corals was simply astounding... colorful fan and brain corals that seemed to go on for miles. We saw queen angel fish, squirrelfish, tangs, and a school of squid that seemed to be rehearsing for an Esther Williams production!
Back on board, everyone was buzzing about our Belize adventures and we were sad to be leaving this fascinating little country so soon. But, Honduras lies ahead of us and who knows what awaits us?