“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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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.