Our 3rd visit to Belize. Our choice of port excursions were to visit the Mayan Ruins of Altun Ha (back in Mar.13, 2014) and to Snorkel with Nurse Sharks and Rays (more recently Oct. 4, 2018). This time around, our party of 4 go cave tubing at Nohoch Che’en - a national park throughout which the Caves Branch River runs with the added bonus of a zipline adventure. We will be tubing an area carved out of the limestone foothills of the Maya Mountains and where the river exits an underground cavern. Let’s go!
The Carnival Miracle arrived at 8:00am. You want and need to be part of the first group of cruise passengers to jump on a tender as we were. We arrived at the Belize Tourism Village Cruise Terminal around 8:45am. Yes, it took this long. Now, we look for our tour meeting point. Our instructions were to go to Terminal 1 and meet your guide just outside the door with the "Louigi Belize Fun Tours" sign.
We stay optimistic for good weather for our tour.
We had to stop by a local gas station that had an ATM because we were supposed to pay the remaining balance of the tour with cash. Currency Rate: One U.S. dollar equals two Belize dollars.
We know we’re close when we start seeing signs like this:
This used to be a restaurant but unfortunately burned in a fire.
If you forget water shoes, you can find some to purchase… as well as take home a souvenir or two. It's a good idea to visit the restroom before the tour.
Here you’ll get all your equipment - helmet, headlamp and tube (with a nice high backrest, too). If you own a headlamp, bring it. It’ll probably be stronger than the one I received to see in the cave.
There’s different ways to carry the tube. I adjusted as needed throughout the 30-45 minute jungle hike. As an option, you can also pay someone to carry it for you. There are also shortcuts that can shave off 10-15 minutes of the hike but we chose the full hike to enjoy the canopy of the jungle scenery, dry caves and local wildlife (birds, bats…).
I found it very easy to carry the tube on my head (…as my imagination pretends I’m one of those porters on an expedition climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania… how they do that with large, heavy loads I do not know!).
"Butts Up" it says on the left-hand side of this building. We find out later that there are very shallow spots on the river, depending on the rainfall, so we literally were told to get our butts up in those sections.
The river crossing. Eventually, this would be our tubing excursion exit point.
The water was chilly... like standing under a waterfall in Hawaii.
What a nice bridge they built.
The Maya believed caves were the window into the underworld (Xibalba - Place of Fright / Fear).
You can only enter the caves with a licensed guide (minimum 1 guide per 8 people). We try to beat the big groups so our guide Roberto would have an easier time sharing information with us while in the cave. It can get loud with the sounds of other group tours nearby. It was really nice to only have our party of 4.
I believe the cave system branches of and flows through 9 caves but you need more time for that exploration. We were lucky that tubing wasn’t cancelled because the day before there was a downpour that closed off the national park.
Cave tubing was a big success. I would like to do it again with a combination of hiking and tubing the other fingers of the caves.
If you have your own helmet with action camera mount, bring it. This outfit doesn’t allow you to bring a camera. And they don’t have many helmets with GoPro mounts but if they do they want you to pay extra. They take pictures during your adventure so they can sell them to you. Fortunately, we snuck our own camera for a few stolen shots.
This is the portion of our tour where we put on our mosquito repellant. There are a lot of mosquitos! I thought ahead knowing we'd probably be in a humid, jungle environment where mosquitos love. I either try to wear (Affiliate Link) Insect Shield treated clothing or (Affiliate Link) Skin So Soft Bug Guard + Picaridin Towelettes.
As you can see from our video, this zipline outfit could use a small box step for their landing areas. If you’re not tall, you have to do a little bunny hop/pull up to get unclipped.
You will get a bit of a cardio workout from the steep stair climb to get to the zipline platform. Midway through the tour, one station did have refreshing, ice cold water to rehydrate.
If you've never ziplined before and since you are responsible for braking, they can do a tandem ride where a guide is clipped on with you and they do all the braking so you can focus on overcoming any fears or to enjoy the ride.
Bobby had some (Affiliate Link)The Famous Marie Sharp’s Hot Habanero Pepper Sauce on his meal he couldn’t taste the coconut flavor in the coconut milk soaked rice and beans.