Sunday, October 31, 2010

From seaside to mountainside in Belize

With our good friends Sue and Chris Harris (SteppingStones Resort, Englishtown, Belize) we are taking a short holiday in the mountain jungles of Belize. We drove up to the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena, one on either side of the Macal River, and then followed the river about 8 miles further into the mountains. We are staying at DuPlooy’s Jungle Lodge (http://www.duplooys.com/about-us.php) overlooking the gorge through which the Macal River runs. DuPlooy’s was established in 1987 and was the first jungle resort in Belize that catered to international travelers. This is the end of the off season in Belize, and the four of us actually had the place to ourselves. It is a beautiful place, kept very natural in most areas and is also the site of the Belize Botanic Garden. The birding and plants are fabulous, and the accommodations are not too shabby either. It is not an inexpensive place to stay, but is the price is reasonable for what you get. We have a spacious 2 story casita that feels quite secluded. While standing on the veranda, you are thrust right into the jungle which drops off into the gorge below. A long boardwalk from the casita leads to a stone path, with smaller cabanas along one side and the gorge on the other, ultimately connects to the restaurant, bar, and gorge overlook.
 Macal River and gorge wall
 Sue, testing the bed
 Boardwalk to the Casita
 Palm along the boradwalk
bar
We spent several afternoon hours relaxing on the upstairs veranda with wine and cheese while I watched all the birds in the tree canopy. The first night while walking back to the casita after our dinner, a soft rain began to fall, and moments after entering the casita, the heavens opened up; we were treated to the soothing sounds of rainfall during most of the night. 


The next morning we awoke to overcast skies and an occasional shower. Never-the-less, after breakfast the four of us embarked on a self-guided tour of the botanic gardens. This area was affected a bit by Hurricane Richard. On the drive up we had seen downed trees with increasing frequency. There are some downed trees here, but actually more “drowned” trees from flooding from the hurricane rainfall. We did seek shelter from the rain at one point in a bird hide overlooking a small pond which had most definitely overflowed its banks.
view from blind  
The botanic garden had areas with cycads, gingers, plants used as traditional ornamental plants, an orchid house, and a natural rainforest. Many of the plants were labeled. The sun came out and until a light breeze commenced blowing, the air was very hot and muggy. Our camera and glasses lenses kept steaming up in the saturated air. Below are photos of several Heliconia plants.  These iconic jungle plants have folilage similar to bananas (a close relative) and very striking and colorful flowers. 
 
 
Below is a beehive ginger plant. also closely related to Heliconias and bananas.  Easy to see how this one got its name.
 
And here we have Dutchman's Pipe, a vine with its interesting flower designed to trap its pollinators.
Dennis and I carried a bit longer than Chris and Sue, but after nearly 3 hours of walking and photography, we too turned back for a short rest before lunch of gazpacho and chicken pesto quesadillas.

We stayed close to the casita after lunch. I took photos off the veranda, checked email, and read a few blogs (I am soooo far behind!). Tonight is our last night in Belize. :-( Tomorrow we fly out of the Belize International Airport to Dallas, Texas. We will spend the night in Dallas and then get to Rochester by way of Chicago on the next day.

5 comments:

  1. I am behind on cathing up too. Sounds like a lovely place to stay. Great shots of some stunning flowers.

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  2. Wow I envy you a lot... That's such a beautiful and peaceful places. I love these pictures a lot... Enjoy your last day!

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  3. Paradise! It looks so beautiful there.

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  4. Oh my!! No wonder you affirmed duPlooys. We will be making our reservations soon, and we are very excited about the trip. You offer some great images - with the added flaor of wine, cheese and birds!!

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  5. TonyC - it is hard to get caught up, isn't it? Because you sure don't want to miss out on anything. Thanks!

    Chris - the last day was over far too quickly. We will just have to go back ...

    Keith - it is paradise indeed.

    Chris P - I'm sure you will enjoy every bit as much as we did. I will be interested in seeing what the differences are in your visit in late winter/spring and ours in the beginning of winter. You may be able to see more orchids in bloom than we did and different fruit in the orchards.

    thanks to all for visiting and commenting.

    cheers,
    wilma

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