Position: 17° 29.5 N; 088° 11.5 W
Weather: Generally warm and sunny throughout the day with scattered showers in the afternoon.
This morning found the Prince Albert II anchored just outside of Belize City, the capital of the country, for a morning start of our planned expedition to the Peccary Hills. This is an area where the community of Gracie Rock Village and Maya World Adventures have become partners in an effort to conserve this matrix of ecosystems that is still quite pristine in spite of being relatively close to the main city in Belize.
We disembarked to the tourist pier in Belize City and went on to some very comfortable buses for a 45-minute drive to the site of Peccary Hills. Along the way, local Belizean guides gave us an overview of their country’s culture and history as an introduction to the coming activities.
Upon our arrival at Peccary Hills we divided into two groups: some went on a nature hike with our Ornithologist, Brent, and the local guides from the area, others went on an ‘amphibian ride’ onboard an amphibian vehicle that took us around the area’s dirt roads and hidden trails, with numerous stops to look at colorful butterflies, birds and the interesting plant life, which was explained in detail by our local guides and our onboard naturalists.
After this, it was back to the starting point for a delicious Belizean lunch that included local fresh fish and ‘rice and beans’, a typical dish of the country, among other things. The lunch included also the local and well-known beer from Belize that shows a Mayan pyramid on its bottles logos.
In the afternoon, those of us who did not go on the amphibian vehicle took the opportunity to do so, while others followed one of our local experts who took us on a ‘survival course’ – an interesting show of the different techniques and plants that can be used by the local people to survive in the rainforest, with only the help of a machete and the natural materials available there. A few others chose to rest from the afternoon’s heat, and some actually went on a short ‘bird watching walk’ with our naturalists. It was quite surprising to see how many interesting and colorful birds could be found in this forest, even at that time of day, this included Violaceous and Black-headed Trogons, Keel-billed Toucans, and Brown Jays, plus some really hard to find ant-shrikes and Tanagers.
Later, it was time to go back to Belize City and the ship. We were happy to have been so lucky with the weather, as there were a few rain showers once we were safely tucked inside the buses, and happy too to have a short tour to Belize City with the advantage of the interpretation from our local guides, Rudi and Pedro.
We came back to the Prince Albert II in our local tender, under a clearing sky. That evening, Claudia, Ignacio and myself provided a bit of natural history of the Longwing and Morpho Butterflies seen during the day, and some commentary on the pharmacopeia of the rainforest, followed by Christian with his second installment of the ‘International Enquirer’.