What a trip. If you are going to San Pedro, or near to San Pedro Belize, then you must book yourself a trip to see the Mayan ruins at Lamanai with Daniel Nunez of Tanisha Tours. I specifically say to do this tour with Daniel because he's the best tour guide we've ever had.
Take with you:
Good footwear for walking (they won't get wet unless it rains).
Bug spray (just in case - we didn't need it).
A bottle of water (you will be fed and watered, but you may wish to have extra as it's not available all the time).
Tip money (it's deserved).
A hat or scarf if you have long hair - the boat ride to the mainland will turn your hair into a disaster zone. You may want to bring a brush too.
A light jacket - the boat ride on the open sea can get a little chilly.
A small snack if you're a hungry horace.
Our day began with a 6:45am pickup at our resort's dock. We stopped just two more times to pick up others and then headed to the mainland where we exited the open sea and entered a lazy river. We then meandered to a stopping point to view the manatee. After telling us all about them, Daniel continued down the river, pointing out iguanas, crocodiles and numerous birds. His knowledge of the wildlife is immense, his ability to spot camouflaged fauna from a distance, astounding. We stopped for a brief restroom break, having eaten a breakfast of freshly squeezed orange juice and butter buns (delicious). I'm an early riser, so I had already eaten breakfast, but that didn't stop me having brunch :) After the break, we stopped to look at some wild spider monkeys. One of them was so tame, she climbed on to the boat! My niece was ecstatic. The monkey was a delightful, pregnant little thing. Continuing on, we saw lizards and turtles, stunning birds, beautiful flowers and more crocodiles. Daniel takes his time going down the river, pointing out the hidden creatures and stopping to allow time to view.
We got to Lamanai at about lunchtime, where lunch was provided. I love Belizean food - Beans and rice, potato salad, coleslaw, a really spicy pepper and onion dressing. There was chicken too, which was apparently very good (i'm a vegetarian, so i'm passing on my boyfriend's opinion here). Water, soda and beer (Belikan beer is the local brew and it is fab) was also provided. There are gift shops here, and a small museum. My niece bought a bracelet at a reasonable cost.
Before heading of down a jungle trail to begin touring the Mayan ruins at Lamanai, Daniel took 15 minutes to give us a detailed history of the region. He then took time on the walk to tell us about the native flora, particularly the trees. It was all fascinating stuff. Walking down the jungle trail was fun. It's a well worn trail, an easy stroll.
We approached 3 different temples at Lamanai. The Mask Temple, the Royal Temple and the Jaguar Temple. We were invited to climb the Royal Temple. It's high and steep, but well worth the view. A little 4 year old climbed with us. It was her family's 4th visit and all of them with Mr. Nunez. Those who didn't wish to climb remained at the bottom watching the howler monkeys climbing through the tree tops. At the Jaguar Temple, we saw two howler monkeys feeding. They didn't seem to be bothered by our presence and so allowed us to get great photos.
Once back on the boat we rode the river back with beers in hands. The return trip was speedy, though not so much that Daniel wouldn't stop to see something worthwhile (we saw a huge croc on the return trip). We stopped one more time for a restroom break. The boat ride back to Ambergris Caye on the open sea was lovely. We were given more beers/sodas/bananas and watched the sun setting.
It's a long day (we got back about 6:30pm) and we enjoyed every minute of it. Next time I go back to Belize, I will call Daniel and do this tour again.
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