Series – Belize Family Adventures 2015
The second half of this Belize Family Adventure is all about a calmer, slower pace of adventure in and around the quirky coastal town of Placencia, Belize. First up on our list? A not-to-be-missed eco tour of the nearby Monkey River.
This tour is not your typical boat cruise filled to bursting with tourists. It’s really quite the opposite! A Monkey River Eco-Tour is all about a personal experience with a Creole guide from Monkey River Village, along a river not yet overrun with gobs of big tourist-filled boats.
As the sign says, Welcome To Monkey River! Enjoy your eco-tour with us.
Sights & Sounds Along The Monkey River
The adventure begins in the tiny coastal community of Monkey River Village, situated at the confluence of the Monkey River and the Caribbean Sea. Monkey River Village is one of a very few remaining authentic Creole villages in Belize, and worth the trip alone to experience its local character. With only 200 inhabitants and a handful of buildings, it wont’ take long to explore, but it will leave a lasting impression. Don’t forget check out the local crafts for sale!
Village explored and local crafts purchased. Time to begin our sojourn several miles inland along the Monkey River waterway. Keep a keen eye open and ears listening for the sights and sounds of all kinds of local inhabitants.
You never know who might be stealthily hiding along the river banks. Sometimes you have to look real close to spot what hides amidst those verdant green leaves. Do you see him now? An almost equally matched green iguana poses ever so quietly on his jungle perch.
Encounters of the wilder kind are everywhere. Perhaps today’s experience will include a beautiful little song bird flying past, close enough to identify the blue tint of color on its head, the soft yellow of the underside feathers of its wing.
Iguanas, tropical birds, and yes, the occasional crocodile lazily sunning himself in the morning sun on a half submerged log, are on the agenda this morning. Hmm. I don’t think now is the time to go for a river swim, is it!
Tropical birds large and small call the Monkey River eco-system their home. Listen closely and you might hear their calls. Watch across the waters and you will most certainly see them fishing along the riverbanks, or taking wing across the water, as this blue heron does.
Yes, the wildlife of the Monkey River ecosystem is everywhere, if one looks closely. Like this little family of bats clinging onto an overhanging jungle tree just beyond our boat.
Exploring A Monkey River Jungle Trail
The cruise up-river is nearing its turn-around point for the trek back to Monkey River Village. But that doesn’t mean this adventure is over! Time to put this boat ashore and explore along a Monkey River jungle trail. Listen carefully. You might hear howler monkeys frolicking high above in the jungle canopy. Be prepared for their deafening howls if your guide decides to wake them up with a slap of his machate against a nearby tree. It’s said that their howl is loud enough to be heard over a mile away!
Thirsty anyone? With a quick swing of the machete through a nearby vine as thick as a fist, thirsts are quenched with the sweet taste of refreshingly cool water. Oh yes, we are feeling quite the survivalists now, aren’t we!
All this hiking sure has stirred up an appetite. Feeling a bit adventurous? Great, because tasty termites are on the menu! Yes, you read that correctly. Termites. Hmmm. Tastes like chicken!
The fun continues as our Creole guide introduces everyone to life as a local in these jungle lands. From spotting howler monkeys to finding fresh water, to identifying medicinal plants, he knows what to show us. Like these sticky fronds that are just what’s needed to create great family trailside entertainment.
I wonder who can be most creative in the personal use of sticky fronds? A giant sticky frond rain visor. Sweet! I think we have a winner! This sticky frond adaptation takes the prize.
One More Eco Tour Experience
Monkey River explored, and a tasty lunch in Monkey River Village consumed. The time has come to return to our domicile in Placencia. I wonder what we might find on the ride back?
We’ve heard that West Indian Manatees frequent the nearby mangroves and open waters along the waterways back to Placencia. Maybe we will be fortunate to see them today.
Look over there! There’s several manatees swimming near the boat right now! Yes, a fitting end to an amazing eco-adventure along the Monkey River.
Plan Your Own Monkey River Eco-Tour
Monkey River eco-tours depart daily from Plancencia Belize, weather permitting. Don’t forget the sun screen, bug spray and your camera! Here are several more helpful details for planning your own Monkey River Eco-Tour.
- The mouth of the Monkey River is a 45 minute open water boat ride from Placencia.
- Tours are about six hours long, including the ride from Placencia.
- Tours travel about 3-4 miles up the Monkey River.
- The main adventure is bird watching and the local flora and fauna.
We booked our Monkey River Jungle Tour through Laru Beya Resort. It included both lunch at Monkey River Village and a guided jungle hike. It was made especially memorable by our incredible, knowledgeable, and fun Creole guide who grew up in Monkey River Village. Monkey River Eco-Tours offers a similar tour. Be sure to request a tour lead by a local Creole guide to get the most out of your adventure.
Have You Been to Placencia & Monkey River?
Spending the better part of a day exploring along the Monkey River was just what we needed after several days of high adventures deep in the Belizean jungles. It set the tone for our next few days, and introduced us to yet another ecosystem of this diverse gem of a country.
Have you been to Placencia, Belize? Did you experience the Monkey River by way of a Monkey River Eco-Tour? Do share!
Check out the full details of our other adventures during our Belize 2015 family vacation:
- Belize – 7 Experiences in 8 Days
- Tikal – Exploring Inside Ancient Mayan Ruins of Guatemala
- Caracol – A Photo Journey Through Mayan Ruins Not Ruined By Mass Tourism
- Actun Tunichil Muknal – A Journey Into An Ancient Mayan Underworld
- 7 Reasons You Will Love The Mystic River Resort, Belize
All images by C.Biederman.