Well known for its tropical vibes Belize is also home to some of the most amazing variety of species in the eco system of this world. From crocodiles to toucans, howler monkeys to manatees and even jaguars, the fauna and flora is very abundant and diverse. One of the best way to see the animals in their habitats is by going on a trip to the Monkey River in the southern tip of the Placencia Peninsula, a must do in Belize! If you’d like to meet the creatures in person here is all I can recommend to ensure a wonderful experience through the river and jungle.
1. TOUR ITINERARY
2. WHAT TO BRING
3. HOW TO BOOK
4. PHOTO GALLERY
1. TOUR ITINERARY
Starting at 8am and finishing around 2pm the tour is slightly longer than half a day.
In the morning you’ll be meeting your tour guide at the dock by the “MnM hardware store” which is the big and red building in the center of Placencia Village next to the petrol station. For our excursion we had Ralph a local from the village who was very knowledgeable and the best at spotting animals we would never be able to see if he wasn’t there. He also showed us a few herbs and eligible plants which we found interesting.
The tour starts with a 35 minutes boat ride from the dock to the monkey river where you sometimes meet dolphins, unfortunately we didn’t see any but you might be luckier than we were.
Once you arrive at the river, the boat will slow down and the guide will start pointing and approaching the wildlife. From our boat we saw beautiful and colorful birds from different kinds, crocodiles, huge orange skin iguanas and tiny bats hanging on a tree.
After a long ride through the river the guide will take you to the jungle, time to spray yourself with the bug repellent!
We hiked about 45 minutes searching for the howler monkeys, Ralph did his best to find them, we only saw 3 adults in long distance up in the trees and a baby which was very cute. We could hear a group howling but were told they were on the other side of the river. Our guide took us back to the boat and on the way we saw a jaguar foot print and a huge tarantula. We were expecting to see more monkeys but we really enjoyed the little hike anyway, we all know that we can’t predict nature and it might be better some days than others.
If I can give you a tip, don’t stand under the tree where the monkeys are or you might end up with a little surprise… if you know what I mean haha!
Post hike will be lunch time, your guide will take you on a quick boat ride to the restaurant of the local village. On the menu, rice and beans, coleslaw and chicken as well as pieces of fruits and tortilla chips. For those with dietary requirements, you should let them know when you book the tour so they can get something special ready for you. Also note that the restaurant will be the ONLY bathroom stop of the entire trip.
After the lunch break, the excursion will end up with a last stop to see the any manatees, an endangered species preserved in Belize. After a 15 minutes boat ride you’ll arrive at the spot where you’re most likely to see the animals since it is their natural habitat.
During our tour in December we saw 6 manatees coming up to the surface. Did you know that they can old air up to 20 minutes underwater after a single breath? They are slow pace moving mammals usually found around shallow water and sea grass. They have no predator aside humans. The animals can’t hear the sound of the engine like other species which is why your guide will control the speed when you enter the reserve to avoid injuring them. Sometimes called ‘sea cows’ the manatees are really fascinating to watch.
Back to dock around 2pm you’ll leave the boat with a great memory of a day in the wild and plenty of animals pictures to look at.
2. WHAT TO BRING
-Camera fully charged.
-Sun cream, it gets really hot and depending on the direction of the boat the shade might not cover you up.
-A water bottle that you can refill throughout the day from the cooler on the boat.
-Trainers or hiking shoes barring it can gets really slippery in the jungle.
-Long pants for bugs bites. I did wear a short on the boat and put a pair of trousers just before hiking in the jungle.
-Bug spray with DEET or Jungle oil. Jungle oil is a natural insect repellant that you can buy at the souvenirs shop in Placencia Village.
-A pair of sunglasses
-A hat, I haven’t brought one and I was fine but you might need.
3. HOW TO BOOK
I highly recommend doing the Eco Tour with Ralph. When we went we saw a couple of other boats throughout the day going high speed missing and scaring the animals.
I am not sure what the boat capacity is, we were a total of 8 people on board with enough space for everyone to seat comfortably.
To book the Monkey River Eco Tour you can contact the team directly by telephone or through their website here. Let them know which day you’re interesting in, they usually respond in a day or so with availabilities.
Cost is $80 US ($160 BZ) per person including lunch.