Lamanai Ruins Excursion

I got invited to go on a trip to the Lamanai (submerged crocodile) ruins with a couple friends about a week ago and since that was one trip I had not experienced here yet I was excited to go check it out.  My mom had been on the trip and had a great time so I was really looking forward to it.  The whole tour takes off from Orange Walk (about a 40 minute drive from Corozal) and it consists of an hour long boat ride to the ruins through the New River, then we were to dock at the ruins, eat lunch and do the hike through the temples.  We were supposed to be on the boat at 9am and had lost track of time so we didn’t actually leave until 10 minutes to 9am.  Luckily we were leaving from just outside Progresso village which meant that at a fast speed we could make it there in about 20 minutes.  So the three of us hopped in the vehicle and we were off – fast.  As we were practically flying over a very dusty and bumpy dirt road I made a call to the tour guide to tell them not to leave without us.  I told a little white lie that we would be there in 10 minutes but we weren’t too worried about it since nothing in Belize seems to happen on time.  By the time we arrived we were all a little shook up physically from the ride over but ready to jump out of the vehicle to get on the boat.  We were correct in the assumption that the boat wouldn’t be leaving on time anyway because we waited around for another 25 minutes before we all actually got on the boat.  So we sat down and drank some thirst-quenching watermelon juice while we waited.  There were two other guys on our boat – both around the same age range and from Holland which meant there were five of us in total on this trip.

It was finally time to leave so we all got on the boat and Ignacio, our tour guide, started in immediately about what to expect.  The boat ride would be a slow ride on the river so that we could see any wildlife that was out and about and we would all soon learn that Ignacio had the best eye to spot any animals running around on shore or in the river.  The first stop was a tiny island to feed some semi-tame spider monkeys bananas.  These monkeys are used to the boat stopping and fully expect to be fed bananas when we pull up.  Unfortunately we only had two bananas on the boat so the girls got to feed them – I was happy about that! It was such a cool experience because as we pulled up they were bounding right down the branches of the tree they had been lounging in.  The bow of the boat rustled right below the branches and the monkeys (two of them) jumped in.  They knew what they wanted and went right over to us and grabbed the banana from our hands.  In a flash they had those peeled and shoved them down their throat. They wanted more and thoroughly checked the rest of the boat, jumping and walking all over us and the boat but once they realized we had nothing else to give them they made their way back to the tree and we headed back out.

Along the rest of the ride we saw lizards, bats, birds and dragonflies and Ignacio fed us information the entire ride.  I was disappointed that we didn’t see any crocs on our way there since I had yet to see one in Belize but I had high hopes for the ride back.  About an hour and a couple applications of sunscreen later we made it to the dock out of Lamanai.  We all disembarked, grabbed the cooler full of our lunch and headed to the picnic area to eat.  They had provided a typical Belizean lunch of rice & beans with stew chicken and a salad and it was all delicious.  We got our fill and got ready to head out to the ruins.  We’ve had a couple hard rains lately and as a result of that the mosquitoes are out in force so since we were in the jungle we knew we’d have to put up a fight – the long shirts and pants went on, hats and of course the repellent.  The choice is basically between lots of sweating in heavier clothing or lots of mosquito bites – the consensus was sweat.  After our tour of the small museum on site we actually made our way through the ruins at a fairly fast pace.  The highlight was the main temple which we were able to walk up and down – on the way up I couldn’t help but become nervous of the trek back down which seemed far scarier.  We all made our way up and the view is breathtaking – we were above the canopy and had a perfect 360? view.

We all caught our breath for a few minutes at the top and enjoyed the view then made our way down (at a much slower pace) but eventually got there.  As the sweat was pouring from practically every part of my body I looked up again at the temple I had just climbed up to realize what an incredible experience this actually was.  On the way through the rest of the site we were able to see a few other temples as well as the ball courts – with each awesome scene and the raucous sounds of the howler monkeys staking territory in the high trees above us there was also the faint sound of mosquito repellent being sprayed from varying bottles.

By the end of the hike we were all dripping with sweat and tired from the hot sun and ready to get back and take a nice siesta so we got back on the boat and were very happy to see that there was cold rum punch provided for the trip back.  The boat ride back was a bit faster and I’m extremely happy to report that we saw two crocs in the river on the way back.

Overall it was an excellent experience that I would absolutely recommend.

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