8 Days, 7 Nights|
Single Supplement: $100
Guides, instruction, all kayaking and group equipment, lodging and most meals|
Airfare and transportation to Placencia, personal clothing and equipment including sleeping bag & pad, full medical, baggage and trip cancellation insurance, taxes and gratuities. Single Supplement fee $100.
Blessed with the world’s second largest barrier reef and the four true coral atolls, Belize is a winter haven for North American paddlers. Join us as we explore Belize’s coastal waters including a jungle river and some marvelous cayes. Spend your first and last nights in beachfront inns, and experience first-class camping on the cayes. At night we enjoy fresh seafood and insights in the Belizean culture from our local guides.
Day 1: Arrive in Belize City by mid-day and catch an in-country flight to Placencia where you will be met by The Northwest Passage guides who will provide a shuttle for you to our destination for the night. Spend the rest of the day settling in before an orientation and meet and greet with your fellow travelers, followed by our first taste of Belizean cuisine together at dinner.
Day 2: Today will begin with a simple breakfast followed by a 20 nautical mile shuttle to the outer cayes on the reef. Upon arrival at Middle Silk Caye, we will set up camp, have lunch, and get out in our kayaks for the first time. After some on-water paddling instruction, you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel and/or relax before dinner on the beach.
Day 3: Today, we venture to an isolated caye, then out to the barrier reef in search of sea turtles and potentially whale sharks. If the season is right there may be an optional chance to shuttle out from the reef to observe whale sharks. There is additional park fee of $30 should you wish to join. Dinner back at Middle Silk Caye.
Day 4: We’ll be packing up camp today and moving to Hatchet Caye, approximately 2 nautical miles away. Although the distance is short, there is plenty of paddling and snorkeling to round out the day before settling in for a good rest in preparation for the following day.
Day 5: An early start will be needed today for our paddle to Ranguana Caye where we’ll be spending the night. We will stop along the way to explore Round Caye and have lunch at Pompion Caye. Ranguana Caye is the quintessential Belizean caye and we will have all evening to soak it in.
Day 6 and 7: Our last two days will be spent making our way back toward Placencia and our home base. The schedule and distance on these days is dependent on appropriate wind and weather conditions. We will arrive back in Placencia in the afternoon of the 7th day, walk to our hotel, clean up and enjoy the last night celebrating together.
Day 8: Today we’ll wake up to breakfast before shuttling to the airport to say farewell and catch our flights home.
This itinerary is subject to change. As with all adventure travel, some activities are dependent on suitable wind and water conditions. However, we have many alternative activities available in the event that weather is not cooperative.
- Rain shell (lightweight jacket, pants optional )
- 3 t-shirts (some quick drying for paddling and snorkeling)
- 1 towel (small PackTowel® works well)
- 1 shirt, long sleeved, quick drying preferable (sun protection)
- 2 pair shorts (at least one pair nylon/quick drying)
- Sun/rain hat (wide brim especially useful)
- 1 pair fast drying long pants - no blue jeans (synthetic is preferable)
- 2 pairs shoes/sandals - Tevas or sport sandals work
- 2 pair socks
- Bathing suit
- Light fleece jacket (temperature can get cool in evening)
- Clean change of clothing for the trip home (optional)
- Dry Bag
- Snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel and swim fins)
- Toiletry kit (toilet paper, toothbrush, biodegradable soap and shampoo, sunscreen, face cream, nail clippers, personal medication etc.)
- Bug repellent (very key)
- Sleeping bag and pad (+50 degree F rated) A sleeping sheet bag can work very well as it can be hot at night.
- Flashlight, batteries & extra bulb; headlamp works best
- Pocket knife
- Chums®/Croakies® to keep glasses on your head are imperative
- Energy bars/reserve food
- Fishing rod (collapsible) and tackle. Fly fishing can also be done on the cayes.
- Camera, waterproof container
- Reading matter in waterproof storage case
- Entertainment (harmonica, cards, games)
- Ziploc® storage bags
- Crazy Creek® chair - valuable for beach time
What is special about this trip?
Home to the second-largest barrier reef in the world, the aquatic life is unmatched in this hemisphere. A world under the surface awaits your kayak paddle, snorkel and fins. Camping on remote cays far from the call of civilization you can imagine what the first explorers felt when first visiting these shores. Fresh food, local guides and a unique jungle river camping experience top out this warm weather adventure.
How do I get there?
The Northwest Passage will have your flight itinerary and will meet you at the Placencia airport. You will need to switch planes in Belize City, generally at the International airport. Upon disembarking from the plane at Belize International Airport, you will have to go through customs before entering the terminal. English is the national language in Belize, so don't hesitate to ask an official if you are confused about where to go when you get off the plane.
What papers do I need for travel?
US citizens require a valid US passport. The expiration date should be at least six months after your intended date of return. Non-US citizens should check with their Belizean embassy.
Do I need to get any shots before traveling?
No inoculations are required for Belize, although it’s a good idea to ask your physician about any optional vaccinations he or she might recommend.
How and where will you meet me?
The Northwest Passage will have your flight itinerary, and, in most cases, will meet you at the airport. Your guide(s) will be wearing Northwest Passage shirts and be holding a Northwest Passage sign. If the guides are unable to meet you at the airport, they will give you detailed directions to the meet-up spot.
How long will it take me to get there?
The flight from Miami, Houston or New Orleans takes about 2.5 hours. Direct flights from Los Angeles and New York are typically also available.
Where should I stay overnight around there?
If you plan on spending extra time in Belize or the surrounding area, contact the office for recommendations on where to stay.
What money should I take?
You will not need money on the trip unless you’d like to call home or purchase gifts to bring back home. Ask your guide for the best places to exchange currency.
What's the currency? Exchange rate? Where can I exchange money?
While having Belize dollars can be helpful at times, there is really no need to exchange money. Everyone in Belize accepts US dollars. The only time you would need Belize money is if you were to use a payphone or similar automatic machine. The exchange rate is two Belize dollars for every one US dollar. It is very easy and convenient. Always ask if the price of something is in Belize dollars (BZE) or US dollars. If an item or service is in BZE simply divide it in half to find the US price.
Do they take plastic there? Are there cash stations?"
Credit cards are taken at some tourist facilities (i.e. some hotels, restaurants and airport gift shops) but most merchants do not accept them. Be prepared by having adequate amounts of cash with you for your visit, and some smaller-denomination bills may also be useful for small purchases.
How much should I tip my guides?
Within the adventure travel industry, "tipping" is a standard practice, and it is welcomed by our guides. Our highly-trained and competent guides are on duty 24/7 for your safety and convenience, and recognizing their efforts is encouraged. Though it is not required and varies substantially, many participants tip approximately 10%-15% of their trip price.
What's the weather like?
The daytime temperatures generally will be in the 80s with a lot of sun. Make sure that you have a way to cover your skin and face (a brimmed hat etc). It is also likely that we will encounter some rain and for this you will definitely want a full rain suit. Evenings tend to be somewhat cooler than the days which makes for pleasant sleeping. Winds can sometimes be strong, but tend to die out towards afternoon. Find out what the weather is like in Belize today by visiting www.wunderground.com
What are the accommodations like?
On the first and last nights we stay in hotels so close to the sea that waves lull you to sleep. On the nights inbetween we camp in expedition tents.
What do I need to bring?
Upon registering, we will provide you with a detailed packing list. As for clothes, casual is in order - no black ties here!
Can I drink the water?
You may want to bring a bottle of water with you for your flight down and for your layover in Belize City (bottled water is also available at the airport). Once in Placencia, the water is mostly rainwater and is ok to drink. While we are paddling we will also have fresh water that is OK to drink.
What's the food like?
Belizeans eat widely from among the food groups. The typical breakfast consists of bread, often homemade but increasingly bought from Chinese shopkeepers, eaten with cheeses, beans, eggs or cereal, topped off by milk for younger ones and coffee or tea for adults. Midday meals vary, from lighter foods such as tamales, panades (fried maize shells with beans or fish), and meat pies, escabeche (onion soup), chi mole (soup), and garnaches fried tortillas with beans, cheese, and sauce, to various constituted dinners featuring some type of rice and beans, meat and salad or coleslaw. In the rural areas meals may be more simplified than in the cities; the Maya use corn or maize for most of their meals, and the Garifuna are fond of seafoods, cassava (particularly made into hudut) and vegetables.
What time zone will I be in?
Belize is six hours behind GMT.
How can people reach me in an emergency? Can I call home?
If you'd like to give a contact resource to family and/or friends while you are away, you can give them either Northwest Passages contact information (see the bottom of this page) or the name and number of the hotel we will be staying at on the first and last night of the trip. Communication to and from Belize can be difficult and it may be easier to let NWP get a message through. We will be difficult to contact for the majority of our trip, however upon returning from the cayes you will be able to call home.
How much time do we spend traveling each day? How many miles? Do I have free time?
We paddle between 4 and 14 miles a day, which allows for free time in the afternoon.
What kind of equipment do you use?
We use single and double plastic kayaks and foldable double kayaks.
How many people are on this trip? How many guides? Who are the guides / what are their qualifications?
Our group sizes for this trip range from 6 to 16 participants. We generally have two guides on the water and one or two additional staff members as van drivers. Your guides will be knowledgeable Northwest Passage staff members who are highly skilled in all aspects of sea kayaking and wilderness travel and have years of experience leading groups. They all have training and/or certification in Wilderness First Aid.
How can I prepare physically for the trip? How much prior experience is needed?
We have had participants on this trip who have never been in a kayak before and others who have been paddling for years. We have found that all levels of kayakers have enjoyed this adventure. A good level of personal fitness makes the journey more enjoyable. For kayaking, upper body exercises that strengthen your shoulders, back and arms are recommended. Strengthening exercises with free weights can be very beneficial. Upper body stretches and exercises such as rowing are also useful. Keep in mind that we have had folks at all different levels of physical conditioning thoroughly enjoy this trip and the van is always an option! It is extremely important that you know how to swim and are comfortable in the water. Please don’t hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions or concerns about your physical capabilities for this trip.
As you prepare for your trip to Belize we encourage you to learn as much about the land, culture and people as possible. To spark your interest, we have included some basic information about this wonderful country.
Belize is a beautiful, small country in Central America that lies on the southeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Belize is bordered on the north by Mexico, South and West by Guatemala, and the beautiful Caribbean Sea washes its 174-mile coastline to the East. Geographically Belize is located between 15° 52' 9" and 18° 29' 55" North Latitude, and 87° 28" and 89° 13' 67" West Longitude with an area of 8,866 sq. miles including 266 square miles of islands.
The natural vegetation of the country reflects the varied soils and climate with over 49 distinct types of forests identified to date. The pattern of diversity and high environmental quality of the land also applies to the coastal zone and marine waters. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. It is, however, only part of a complex and largely intact coastal ecosystem of exceptional value. Most of the coastal area of Belize is swampy lowland. Inland, in the south, the land of Belize rises gradually to the low peaks of the Maya Mountains. This range includes the country’s highest point-Victoria Peak-which rises 3,680 feet above sea level. Northern Belize is generally flat. The country was once nearly all forested, but over half of the forests have been harvested for lumber, other products or cleared for farming.
Belize has a hot, humid climate. Temperatures range from 60-90 degrees F. along the coast but are often hotter inland. There is a rainy season (generally from July-early January) and a dry season (January-June). The rainy season contributes to annual precipitation between 50 inches in the north to over 150 inches in the south.
The population of about 200,000 (1991) is very young with over 50 percent being less than 18 years old. Belize is truly a melting pot of Central America. Some of the major cultures represented in Belize include: Creole, Mayan, Garifuna, Spanish, East Indian, Mennonite, Chinese and European/North American. The official language is English but Spanish, Creole, Maya, Garifuna and others are widely spoken. About half of the people in Belize have full or partial black ancestry.
Belize's capital is Belmopan, which is the seat of government. The government is a Parliamentary Democracy with a Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister, and a bi-cameral National Assembly - a House of Representatives (elected every five years), and a Senate (appointed). It belongs to the commonwealth, an organization of former British colonies (Belize was formerly known as British Honduras), and the Organization of American States, an association of North and South American countries. Belize has six districts. Each one has elected officials responsible for representing the people of the district. Each district has a main town that acts as the center of government for that portion of Belize. Each town has elected officials responsible for local services. Every citizen over the age of 18 can vote.
Belize is a developing country. The economy is based on agricultural products which are mainly sugar, citrus and bananas, along with marine products such as lobster, shrimp, conchs and fish (grouper and snapper). Tourism is growing daily in importance. Belize receives much financial aid from other countries. Its government encourages foreign investment to create jobs.
Belizean children between the ages of 5 and 14 must attend school. Belize has three colleges. The country faces shortages of technicians and of professionals, especially doctors. Many Belizeans who learn such occupations move to other English-speaking countries in search of advancement. The preceding information was quoted from the Belize by Naturalight WebPages and the World Book Encyclopedia.