Sorry it’s been awhile, but here is my final Belize post. This is the last excursion we took with the Caves Branch resort. It was probably my favorite day, despite being the toughest day! Here’s a summary of this excursion:
First, we rode the rickety old school bus about 10 miles to the middle of a jungle. We got off, and hiked for a mile and a half uphill to the top of a cave. Once we arrived at the top, we got suited up to rappel down 300 feet to the jungle floor. One at a time, with the help of 3 professional guides, we each rappelled down. It was part rappelling and part slow-motion bungee jumping. Once we all got to the bottom, we had lunch, then climbed back up to the trail, then hiked another mile and a half to get back to the bus! It was really tough and dirty, but really fun. So without further adieu, here are some pictures!
This is the top of the cave. We hiked to this top of this point, then rappelled down 300 feet.
This is the trail we hiked up for a mile and a half. It was definitely within the dense jungle, but we had the rail posts as markers. There was some climbing over big rocks too. I’ll be honest, I was HATING myself during that hike. It was uphill, and very hot outside. Not to mention, I was carrying all the rappelling gear in a backpack. At points I was definitely asking myself why on earth I felt compelled to do such a thing. We had been advised by this British couple we met at the resort to definitely not miss this excursion, and sometimes what kept me going was thinking, “Okay, that woman survived this whole thing. And she’s a smoker!! I don’t smoke, so surely I can do this!” I did survive, and I’m glad I did it, it was definitely worth it. I can say that I’ve probably never gotten that sweaty in my entire life (and I grew up in Texas, people!), but it was really an amazing experience.
The above two pics are more of the trail we hiked up. As you can see by the second one, we’re getting higher! We also had to be very careful of poisonous snakes on the trail too. We never saw one, but according to our guide, it would not have been surprising if we had.
So this was… interesting. I guess. See the black spot on the tree? You think maybe it’s tar, or just dark sap? No, it’s a poison the tree secretes! We were warned not to lean against it, touch it, so even accidentally brush up against it. Great…
Time to go rappelling!!! Here is a step by step process of what we actually did. Like I mentioned, we began on the top of this cave. We were attached by a system of ropes and pulleys to the top. When we gave the go-ahead, the guide at the top would let out more rope, and did this until we got to the jungle floor. We began standing up, but leaning back with just our feet on the rocks. We then leaned back a little further, they let out more rope, and we walked down the rock. This went on for about 5 or so feet, and that’s when the rock stopped, and we had to slowly freefall to the ground.
All suited up and ready to go!
Our guide is helping me go off the top of the cave.
SEE YA!!! Only 300 feet to go!
The next series of pics were taken by Matt during his actual drop. The first is by far my favorite picture from the whole day. This was taken just after he began the freefall. He claims he did not look down per se, just pointed the camera down and snapped the pic. But you can see how high up we were at that point. The green leaves you see are not the ground, that’s just the top of the trees. It was at least another 100 feet to get to the floor.
After we ate lunch, it was time to head back to the resort: easier said than done! First, we had to get back up to the trail to hike back to the bus. This involved some climbing up rocks until we got to a flat surface, and I thought that was the hiking trail. Was I ever WRONG! This next part was definitely the scariest part for me. I’m actually glad I wasn’t told about it beforehand, and it’s probably for the best that we have no pictures from it. We were on that flat surface, and then we were told we had to climb a ladder to get to the actual trail. Okay, sounds innocent enough at first. Then I realized that this ladder is a ghetto wooden one that looks like it’s about to fall apart. It was roped to this huge rock that was smooth and went straight up about 12 feet. So we were each hooked to the ladder via our pulley and ropes system we were still wearing, and then had to climb it. This doesn’t sound too scary at this point, but remember that the ladder was about 100 years old, and it moved violently every time I did. Then I finally got to where I could put my hands on the top rungs, I realized that there was another 5 feet of rock past the top rung! How exactly does this work?? One of our guides was up there to pull us up once our feet were on the top rung. Did I mention that this particular guide didn’t speak ANY English??? And the rock is completely smooth at this point, so there is NOTHING to grab onto? Yeah, that was easily the worst part of the whole excursion. But, we all made it safely, and then had to hike another mile and a half to the bus! At least this time it was mostly downhill or flat. 🙂
Here are a few more pictures from the day, mostly of the cave.
Blogging Belize is now finished! I hope you enjoyed reading about it and seeing the pictures as much as I enjoyed posting it and reliving such a wonderful vacation. Stay tuned for the next trip! 🙂