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CAVE TUBING - Following the river, through the caves, in the Belizean Jungle
Our day started at the crack of dawn. Mark, our tour guide was there to pick us up in his van, we then boarded a boat and off we headed for the mainland. Our adventure for today, "cave tubing" in the Belize jungle. Once on the mainland, we followed the Hummingbird Highway, our destination course was set. We were headed for the "Cave Branch" facility.
Cave Branch is a spiraling network of tunnels and limestone rooms comprising of 36 "crystal" caves with enormous vaults of crystallized columns and statuary. Although many caves have been known for years, new ones - including some of the most extensive systems in the whole of Central America - are still being discovered and explored.
We learned that the Maya peoples who first inhabited Belize were particularly in awe of these underground caverns, and I can see why. The Cave Branch River is a gently flowing body of water coming down off the Mountain Pine Ridge. It really should be called a creek in most places......however, what makes the Cave Branch River unique is the fact that it flows in and out of a series of long limestone caves that are easily navigable on inner tubes and in kayaks.
There are two major entry points along the river for visits to the Cave Branch caves: One is at Ian Anderson's Cave Branch jungle lodge, and the other is just above Jaguar Paw, a luxury hotel built on the banks of the river. In general terms, travelers looking for more adventurous and gritty trips into the caves should head to Ian Anderson's place; those seeking a more luxurious excursion into the underworld should head to Jaguar Paw.
Our journey today, took us to Ian's place. In arriving, we used the restroom facilities and got ready (swim shoes, bathing suit, camera, sunscreen). We selected our inner tube, and started our journey through the Belizean rain forest, following trails to the cave river entrance. After a short walk through the jungle, we eventually climbed into our inner tube and began a slow float through one of four caves. Our guide equipped us with a headlamp, and little else. It' was a unique sensation to be floating in total darkness, wondering where the walls and ceilings are and whether or not you'll ever emerge into daylight again.
Here amongst the rugged hills from the headwaters of the Caves Branch facility - is one of the most beautiful rain forests I have ever seen. Taking our adventure with an experienced guide, took all the fear away. Here we saw keel-billed toucans, coati's roaming along the forest floor, leaf cutter ants - carrying more weight than their body could possible hold. It was a journey back in time, to a time when people (though primitive), enjoyed this earth - in the way that God meant us to. Belize bears simplicity, and what they have to offer, is what Belize is most famous for (that being) , the preservation of mother nature.
Today couldn't have been more beautiful for the kids and I. Cave tubing is one of Lauren's & Christina's favorite things to do here in Belize. We would recommend this tour to anyone looking for a rain forest jungle experience, something out of the norm.