Archive for July, 2014

A little fishy story

Posted: July 30, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
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One thing we’ve come to really appreciate in Belize is fishing. It ain’t that hard, even an 8 year old can do it.

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Extreme Homes Belize

Posted: July 24, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Organic architecture, landscapes with permaculture, energy efficiency living!  Is it possible to use all these accolades to describe a new level of living standard in Belize? Not likely, until now. Rarely will an opportunity like this present itself. A unique living environment, income producing, and  retirement all rolled into the very best luxury accommodations.

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Welcome to Swan Villas.  Now under construction here in Placencia Belize at a half mile past mile marker 16. Swan Villas is by far one of the most technically advanced, aesthetically pleasing, while adhering to the principles of sustainable living.  There are numerous reasons you should consider making one of these unique homes yours now.

Let me further explain. These impressive organic handcrafted homes are nothing like anything you’ve ever seen, and are the only kind of its type in the entire caribbean. Each 2 story home is shaped like a Swan. Located just 75 yards to the beach and having the beautiful Placencia Lagoon as your backyard, you’ll want to experience the natural environment of the lagoon.  Filled with wildlife such as dolphins, manatees, crocodiles and a great variety of fish and birds, it’s a nature lovers paradise.

Less than a 15 minute drive from the Placencia Village, each of the 5 two story villas will feature  four units each with two apartments and 2 studios. All villas will be fully-equipped with comfortable accommodations. Each bedroom will have  a king-sized round bed, air-conditioning, and a personal bathroom with Jacuzzi and shower.

These villas will make the perfect holiday accommodations for couples, families with children or groups of friends travelling, as the villas have gardens (permaculture) a play space and a swimming pool for your ultimate relaxation. Additionally, the infinity swimming pool area can be easily monitored from the living room. Furnishings are simple, integrated into the structure, and tastefully arranged. The living space incorporates a dining area and equipped kitchen. These homes will come fully equipped with all the  furnishings, and will be turn key ready upon completion. All exterior maintenance is included.

Financing is available through Atlantic Bank Belize. With a cost of $600,000 per home, these villas are very attractively priced and won’t last long. Like we say in real estate, location, location, location but in this case you get that and much more.  Of course if you decide to rent your entire unit, property management is available.

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About the developers. This unique and one of a kind project is being developed by Montse and Rodolfo Saenz de Ugarte, a spirited young entrepreneurial couple, with 25 years’ experience in the world of finance, tourism, infrastructure, and construction. They are amateur athletes who enjoy nature and private pilots among many other hobbies and interests. They fell in love with Belize on their first flight two years ago, and after going through the cold Boston winters for three years, decided to settle in this country. Montse has a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism, and Rodolfo is an engineer with an MBA. They decided to undertake a second part of their life in beautiful Belize. ” We want to offer to our clients and ourselves (as they will be living in one of the villas) an opportunity to live in a unique environment, a work of art, and as an investment. ” says Montse.

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The villas are inclusive of the following:

 

  • Fully-furnished
  • Some furniture is integrated with the building,  beds and sofas
  • Covered patios overlooking the endless swimming pool
  • Air-conditioning
  • Flat-screen television
  • Stainless steel appliances
  • Luxurious linen on a pillow top king bed
  • Jacuzzi
  • Security system and video cameras
  •  Fully equipment kitchen
  •  Coffee bar
  • Infiniti pool
  • Wi-Fi
  • With a cost of less than $600,000 per home
  • Financing is available through Atlantic International Bank
  •  Of course if you decide to rent your entire villa or some of the units, property management is available
  •  Phase 1 is currently underway and will be available in January 2015

If you’ve been sitting on the fence thinking about when, where, how, and why to retire to Belize, here’s your moment. Think about it! Each villa  is a work of art, with the highest quality finishing materials in the form of green and sustainable buildings and are income producing while you live there. I’d say it’s the perfect combination of retirement, income, and a unique quality of life !

 

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Jaguars, man eating Ants, and dangerous waterfalls

Posted: July 22, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx1NuMUzi-c

Our new release of Belize’s Cockscomb Sanctuary.

Conquering the Cockscomb with a Legend !

Posted: July 21, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Doyle Gardiner has a passion for educating visitors to Belize about his jungle, the Cockscombs Sanctuary as a matter of fact! In our opinion, he is one of the most  knowledgeable, professional, and entertaining guides we’ve ever had the pleasure of doing an excursion with. He’s guided World Wildlife Fund Photographers and had the opportunity to take Jessica Biel and many other notable guests on his tours. While we’re just an expedition crew looking to experience all aspects of Belize’s Flora and Fauna, we felt privileged to go with such an esteemed guide. From all accounts, word of mouth, social media and locals alike praising his passion for educating, inspiring and creating a new level of awareness about the Cockscomb, I don’t think it would be to far of a stretch to say he’s a local legend. So how would we rate our experience ? Most excellent, the best ever, a no miss must do if you’re coming to Belize! All of the above.

Booking our tour to Cockscomb with Doyle was very easy. After we had recently toured Monkey River with Nite Wind Tours in which his family owns (we did not know previously), we asked Dana at the front desk about the Cockscomb Sanctuary tours. She then gave us Doyle’s card and we emailed him (doylegardiner@yahoo.com) to set it all up. At the time we did not realize that Dana is Doyles mom. That’s one thing we certainly love about Belize is the family relationships. Also he has office located on the main road in town you can’t miss.

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On Saturday morning we woke up early excited for adventure. Here we were heading to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary for a day of outdoor adventure and fun not realizing just how special this day was going to be.  Anxiously awaiting  to be picked up, we  went over our checklist for what seemed like the tenth time in the last 30 minutes. Doyle had prepared us concerning what to wear and what to bring so we knew we were in excellent hands. ” Swimming gear, towels, extra sunscreen, sunglasses, binoculars, camera, hiking boots……check! ”

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The 45 minute road trip up the leading  up to the Cockscomb entrance road was great and seemed to go by quickly as we enjoyed the scenery diving through the banana plantations and the savannah. After a brief stop at the Mayan Center Womens Group Center and gift shop, it was time to take a seven mile bumpy road to the sanctuary.  It’s located deep in the jungle off the Southern Highway and accessible only by this road that is difficult to traverse in the rainy season.

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What does the Belize Audubon Society have to say about Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary?  People who understand the value of Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary know that it is much more than a natural area set aside for jaguars. The area was designated to protect the upper watersheds of important river systems that deliver ecosystem services to people. Cockscomb has two distinctive basins, which are separated by a ridge of land. The East Basin drains into South Stann Creek and the West Basin drains into Swasey River, a tributary of Monkey River. In the Maya Mountain extension of the Sanctuary is Trio Branch, this ultimately drains into Monkey River Watershed .

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Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is a reservoir for biodiversity. Hundreds of species of plants with exotic leaves and flowers, colorful insects, singing birds, furry mammals, scaly reptiles, and wide-eyed amphibians live in this complex tropical forest. Each one is adapted to the conditions that make the community unique. The mosaic of ecosystems in this rugged landscape suggests the limited extent of our knowledge of the Sanctuary’s biodiversity.

Upon arrival in the sanctuary, Doyle guided us through the jungle educating us about the history of the sanctuary, how it began, why and what the sanctuary is and means to Belize’s ecosystem today. Pointing out animals that we would have never seen on our own, and demonstrating just how awesome the flora and fauna are, he continued to amaze and surprise us with his inexhaustible and extensive knowledge. “Watch this” he said as he picked up a supersized ant. Showing us the strength of its bite by having it bite a stick one hundred or more times its weight and hold on to the stick in its teeth. I was mortified thinking about the damage an ant like this could do to you. ” You don’t want to get bitten by one of these. ” he exclaimed, as he was holding the ant whose bite was so strong that the stick did not fall to the ground. We were blessed to see and experience birds and insects of all sorts.

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After our Flora and Fauna hike we had a good lunch to prepare us for our next activity, tubing!  We each picked up an inner tube and hiked about 20 minutes or so to the South Stann Creek River. River tubing down a jungle river should be on everyone’s bucket list. The sites, the sounds, the smells cannot be imagined. The water was very refreshing after the humidity of the jungle hike, and I can tell you lazily floating along on the gently flowing river through the  jungle is one of the most relaxing and effortless things we’ve done since being in Belize. We did not want the tubing to end.

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Existing the river was hard to do, but there was more jungle to experience.  Hiking another 20 minutes to a gorgeous waterfall over  fairly steep and sometimes difficult terrain was slow going but was worth the effort. The waterfall is an oasis in the middle of paradise. We swam and played, enjoying the rewards of our effort and under Doyle’s advice drank the unbelievably clear and clean water. It felt as if we were the only people on the planet.

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Prepared to hike back down back down as we came, Doyle gathered us up for a safety briefing and explained to us about his plans to get us back to the main camp site via the cascading rocks and falls. We got the biggest smiles and giggles just hearing the news and honestly I started to feel like a ten-year old. How much more could this adventurous jungle venture get? ” Trust me !” shouted Doyle. “I got you” he shouted over the roaring rushing water, as we slid precariously over slippery rocks on our butts. Just like a slip and slide back in the day, we went from one refreshing pool to the next for what seemed like a half mile before we exited the water and got back on the jungle trail. Under the expert guidance of our fearless leader, we slid down and jumped, dove and cannonballed in and off numerous rock formations. This experience was the highlight of our entire adventure.

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In conclusion, we’d do this tour again.  Now, of course you could explore Cockscomb on your own, but we bet you wouldn’t experience as much. Doyles expert knowledge, years of experience and training, made this tour what it is. He’s a walking talking encyclopedia of all things jungly and specifically the Cockscomb. He shared with us so many things that we would never have seen, taught us more than we could imagine, and allowed us to experience Cockscomb on a whole new level we never thought possible.

You can connect with Doyle at 011- 501-600-2318 / doylegardiner@yahoo.com


“Stop the boat!” I managed to stammer in my excitement. ” I see one! ” I continued to shout. Since we had begun our expedition up Monkey River we started joking around about how many logs we had seen that we easily confused for a Crocodile. “Green Horn” I’d shout at  the others on the boat. Then Buck, our jungle guide would join in with his “city slickers talk” that we couldn’t tell a log from a Croc. “Ha ha ha ha” he’d chuckle. Honestly, there was really no way to tell until you got close enough to identify exactly what it was, and that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. “It’s all a part of the fun discovering the river.”  Buck said. “Every time I come up the River there’s no telling what we’re going to see.” So, with that said, there began a little friendly competition to see who would identify the first real Crocodile. Someone would shout Crocolog or Crocodile and we’d all laugh.

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Finally I spotted one as we lazily cruised the river. The Croc actually let us get pretty close before swimming away, going under our boat to add a little more excitement.  So far so good, I began to think, this is really exciting stuff. When we booked our tour with Nite Wind Tours in Placencia, we were told we might glimpse a few animals, but what we were experiencing now was above and beyond our expectations. Our boat Captain, Kimani, was deliberately taking his time to ensure we didn’t miss anything. ” Look ” he quietly shouted out as he swung the boat around and took us directly into a little hidden cove to show us a rare Snowy Egret with her hatchling in the nest.

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Seeing this was beautiful but we were still chatting it up with excitement about our Howler Monkey encounter just a few moments earlier. With my Niece and Sister fresh off the plane from Miami, I knew they were overwhelmed, excited and mesmerized to find themselves straight from civilization and deep into the jungle.  “We nearly got a golden shower!” my Niece said several times in disbelief! Standing right under a troop of Howler Monkeys we didn’t hear or see until my sister hollered out “There they are!”  I don’t know who was more excited them or us, but they let us know their excitement to see us by raining down their Jungle Blessing on us. ” Get out the way!” Buck shouted laughingly. We could tell, Buck, our guide we picked up at the mouth of the river was enjoying us almost getting our “Jungle Blessing” with his hysterical laughter.

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As our expedition in the jungle progressed, Buck proved to be most knowledgeable about all things  jungly. Consistently pointing out what to eat, what to put on your skin for certain cures, what plants and trees are used for building shelter, and more, we felt totally confident and at ease. It was surprising, inspiring and educational to learn how to survive in the bush. We saw Termite Temples (mounds) as big as beach balls, and with Buck’s prodding I ate some. Kinda minty I might say, but you won’t get full on them. My wife exclaimed “I’m not kissing you again.”

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After navigating the river we stopped back in Monkey River Town to drop Buck off and have a late lunch. The authentic Belizean meal we had a Alice’s Restaurant was great. We were also given the opportunity in Monkey River Village to buy local handicrafts. With full stomachs, Kimani safely navigated us back into the open ocean towards our last destination to see the Manatees. Slicing and dicing our way between open ocean and coastal mangrove we slowed to almost a stop to watch for Manatees. Almost as if on cue we spotted one. “It’s a female.” Kimani explained, and wow did we feel lucky to encounter her. Manatees don’t surface very long, but we were fortunate to see her come to the surface several times. What a great day!  Crocodiles, Turtles, Bats, Manatees, huge Iguanas,  birds of all types, a great lunch, Howler Monkeys, jungle, river and open ocean. A lot was covered and there’s a lot to be thankful for!

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We enjoyed our tour with Nite Wind Tours. Going out with Kimani and Buck proved to be a good decision. There are many tour operators on the Peninsula to choose from, however after talking to many people about our experience, we were informed by many that they did not have the opportunity to experience Monkey River the way we did. We feel that Nite Wind Tours has what it takes to ensure you have a great experience. Taking the time, patience, being very knowledgeable and having a very skilled and experienced boat captain counts. Kimani slowed the boat down on several occasions in order that we were not totally soaked by high waves crossing the ocean. He also explained to us in advance everything that was going to happen, was patient and made sure we didn’t miss anything. The pricing was favorable, and more importantly we were told that this is ” a jungle tour, so wear and bring sunscreen, bug repellent, a hat, sunglasses, good shoes and so on” Dana told us when we booked the tour. We saw some people out there with sandals and shorts on and they did not look to comfortable. We highly recommend Nite Wind Tours.

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Nite Wind Guide Service office is located at the end of the peninsula, mile marker 24. Phone number  501-660-6333. It’s a good idea to book your tour at least one day in advance or more. In addition to Monkey River Tours they also offer tours to Laughing Bird & Silk Caye, Cocksomb, professional fishing charters, Maya Ruins and more. They have been in business for over 15 years.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nite-Wind-Tours/114191035258058?fref=ts

 

 

The face of Central America is about to change.

Posted: July 8, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Nicaragua just approved a proposed route for a $40 billion shipping channel across the Central American country that would compete with the Panama Canal. The proposed canal would pass through Lake Nicaragua, Central America’s largest lake, and will be between 230 meters and 520 meters (755 feet to 1,706 feet) wide and 27.6 meters (90 feet) deep. The proposed route still faces environmental and social impact studies that could recommend some changes to the plan, but those studies should be finished later this year to allow work to begin by December.

The plan is to finish the canal in 2019 and begin operations in 2020.

The proposed channel would be more than three times longer than the 48-mile (77-km) Panama Canal.

What are your thoughts?

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031 032 033 034 035 037Oh my, dear followers family if no one hears from us tomorrow, just know we died with full stomachs. We bought a big bag of Lionfish from our local fisherman here on the Peninsula. “It’s deadly, but it’s one of most delicious fish you’ll ever eat,” we were told. ” But we’ve cleaned them and they are ready for the pan” he added.

After trying desperately to eliminate the lionfish, a venomous predator that ravages local reefs and devours other sea creatures, the Belizeans think they have a solution: Serve the darn thing for dinner with some lemon and tartar sauce.

“Anything that removes them out of the water is a good thing.” we were told!

As it stands, the lionfish – able to produce 30,000 eggs in a shot – is proliferating so quickly that it is jeopardizing the populations of other fish, such as snapper, and scouring local reefs, “Lionfish are the biggest threat to ecosystem, in the Caribbean,” he said. “We all know this is a problem, so let’s speed up the process.”

Without any known predators, and apparently no significant diseases or parasitic controls in Atlantic ecosystems, their numbers continue to skyrocket.

We also learned, because the lionfish “is such a good eating fish, light and delicate”, there is now a “Lionfish Cookbook.” Now in its second printing, it includes 45 recipes. Additionally, lionfish contains a low amount of omega fat, making it one of the healthiest fish to eat.

Hopefully we’ll report back by breakfast time in the am. I hope we’re still around to celebrate the 4th of July in Belize, but that’s another story.