Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2019. 10:56 am CST.
By BBN Staff: The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) has assembled personnel from television, radio, print and online media houses for a familiarization tour of southern Belize.
The four day event gathered a total of 19 participants members from Channel 7 News, Plus TV, Krem Television, Love FM, The Guardian, The Reporter, The San Pedro Sun and Breaking Belize News.
Day 1: Caves Branch
The Caves Branch Lodge in the Cayo District, which boasts the BTB’s 2017 Hospitality of the Year Award, was the first stop on the tour. While the lodge offers something for everyone, the media was treated to a tour reserved for the more hardcore adventurers: the waterfall cave tour.
After sitting the group into two teams, the waterfall cave tour began with a 20-minute drive in a vehicle formerly used for military purposes and another 25 minute hike through the jungle to reach the cave. With bats above them, and insects below, the groups went on a 90 minute hike through the cave, crawling under rock formations at some points and walking through icy cold water at others, all in the grand pursuit of reaching several waterfalls deep within the cave. The guides served a candle light lunch, their special cave burritos, to ensure that the teams kept their strength up for the challenge ahead.
As near freezing waters cascaded down the waterfalls, the guides secured safety harnesses on each participant and skillfully helped them rock climb to the highest waterfall to enjoy the natural pool at the top. Once the swimming was over, they rock climbed back down, taking a courageous leap from the last waterfall into the water below (a leap some participants opted not to take).
Carlos Hernandez, tour manager at Caves Branch said that the waterfall tour is a popular attraction for visitors because it is the only activity of its kind offered in Belize. Hernandez noted that for the real hardcore, there are also night expeditions into the jungle, and even a four-day survival experience, where participants venture into the jungle without food and survive off of the land during that time.
For those not into that level of adventure, Caves Branch does offer Maya archeological site tours, horse back riding, snorkeling, cave tubing and ziplining tours.
Ian Anderson, owner and managing director, said that when they began offering tours some 25 years ago, the goal was to offer a unique Belizean experience. Anderson noted that the lodge’s employees are Belizeans, which is something he remains proud of.
The lodge prepares a variety of local and international cuisines, with Food and Beverage Manager Patrick Rodriguez ensuring that everything is prepared with local ingredients and reflects the flavors of Belize.
For those just looking to relax, the lodge offers massages, and even has a botanical garden, where guests can feed their curiosity learning about the plants of Belize, including four, previously uncategorized, plant species that researchers discovered while visiting Caves Branch. Those wanting to stay a while can enjoy the river view treehouses, canopy view treehouses, jungle sweets, jungle bungalows or jungle cabanas.
With many members of the team enduring aches, minor scrapes, bruises and varying levels of exhaustion, they set out for Placencia, to stay at the Miramar Hotel (to be covered in a subsequent article). Be on the lookout for the breakdown of Day 2 of this amazing journey, as the team heads for a cultural presentation in the beautiful village of Seine Bight.
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