For my birthday my colleagues unexpectedly gave me $60.00 towards a shore excursion of my choice. Thank you! Trudy and I have been talking about going cave tubing in Belize since the beginning of your contract.
This week we went. We asked the shore excursions staff for their recommendation and they said Darknight. So Darknight it was. The blurb from the shore excursion brochure:
"Experience breathtaking dry caves, archaeological artifacts, followed by a jungle trek with the grand finale. Enter an open air cave and enjoy the beauty of the formations. Begin at Clevis point, found at the entrance where you will hear of the importance of the caves to the Mayans. You will be amazed at the Shear Limestone walls that extend out offering shade. Pass by Drop Cave before entering the jungle, then hiking a trail that leads to the North entrance of Jaguar Cave.You will be taken back by the size of this Cave, with 100 foot ceilings, teeming with stalactites, "the finger" a fallen stalactite, as well as sparkling crystal stalagmites. You'll exit through a "secret" side entrance and hike a jungle trail along crystal clear Indian Creek to start your Darknight Cave Tubing float. As you float in the Creek; each turn brings a visual display, with polished walls from over 1000 years of flow. As the creek narrows you feel the rush as the rapids rappel you forward. Passing through the exit you turn the corner of the canopy that awaits the end of the float. "
Mmmm. Should have read that more carefully. We spent more time on the jungle trek than in the caves. The trek to Jaguar Cave. The trek from Jaguar Cave along Indian Creek to Darknight Cave. The trek after finishing the tubing back to the starting point. All up the excursion lasted about 90 minutes. Over half of it was spent trekking.
Our guide did point out some flora along the way...Ceiba trees, cohune palms, give and take palms, Mahogany, chicle, fish tail palm... but not "the importance of the caves to the Mayans."
For tubing the river, 8 tubes are tied together and the guide pulls the whole floatilla along. The water level was very low when we were there and we bottomed out quite a bit. Literally. More than once we had to lift our bums out of the tubes so our guide could pull us off the rock, sandbar or whatever else we had stranded ourselves on.
Because of the low water level the creek also moved very slowly. Which was good for a nice relaxing float but it would have been fun to have some swifter moving water occasionally.
This was an okay excursion but far from my favourite. Excursions in Belize are expensive and time consuming. It's a tender port, which means at least 30-40 minutes are waiting for and riding the tender. Then most excursions require a 90 minute bus ride in either direction, so the time spent travelling to and from the excursion is often more than the event itself.
Maybe that contributed to my underwhelmedness. (I know that's not a word). I enjoyed the cave-tubing, I just wish the trekking had been shorter and the tubing longer. Or maybe if we'd done the zip lining and tubing option I'd have been more impressed.