kann123air From United States of America, joined Jun 2009, 1363 posts, RR: 4 Posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 6252 times:
I am a professor at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith (UAFS). This is my first posting, so bear with blemishes if any. I was inspired to do this by my 15-yr old, Amrit, who is now a seasoned airliners guy (and a regular forum poster). Every year, I teach an exciting tropical biology class in Belize, Central America. Enjoy this report of our 2013 trip with 19 students!
We started in Fort Smith Regional Airport (FSM) and flew via DFW to BZE. Here's our Embraer 145 parked at FSM.
At DFW we saw Korean and Emirates 777-200s.
We boarded this 737-800 to BZE from terminal D.
We were treated to this sight of the Korean taxiing toward departure for ICN.
Boarding our flight to BZE
Thanks to my gold status, I got a free upgrade to Business class (as it happens every year!)
I walked back to the Economy cabin and captured a glimpse of the excited students.
Good bye, USA (leaving the Louisiana coast somewhere near New Orelans)
The snacks came timely.
The FA was a genial elderly lady with a nice smile.
The salad was tasty.....
and so was the bread.....
I took my customary two-sips of Merlot
Time for the yummy lunch, an aromatic spicy sea food dish.
Not long after lunch, we saw the Yucatan peninsula slide by, and I went back and reminded students that this is where a giant meteorite slammed into earth causing (in most likelihood) the demise of the dinosaurs
Minutes later, we were landing in Belize!
We passed right over the emerald green Belize river.....
....and touched down in BZE, welcomed by the sight of Cessna Grand Caravans serving the offshore islands (cayes)
We taxiied right by the Belikin brewery, site of the plant which makes Belize's signature beer
Phillip Goldson International Airport, Belize City
Exiting the aircraft and stepping into the warm tropical air
Sneakily took this photo of a Tropic Air Cessna before being politely reminded by grounds crew that photography was not allowed
The noisy and crowded arrival hall
After clearing customs, we were welcomed by Eric Tut, our knowledgeable tour guide for the next 7 days
Eric runs Paradise Expeditions, one of Belize's best nature tour companies. This van took us right around the little country in nice airconditioned comfort.
Exhausted, the students took to the hammocks for a catnap shortly after reaching Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
We stayed in this wonderful lodge right by the lagoon teeming with waterbirds.
The lagoon offered good views of the spectacular Jabiru Storks, the tallest bird in the Americas (not seen in this photo)
Birding was awesome in the scrub around
Wildflowers were plenty and in full bloom
The stately Guanacaste tree, one of the iconic giants of the neotropics! From beneath this cathedral like tree I lectured on the current role played by livestock in the dispersal of its large seed pods. In ancient prehistoric times, the tree was dispersed by the Pleistocene magafauna like wild camels and horses.
Back at the lodge, this poor Tropical Kingbird had blundered against our windows. It was a teachable moment for me, as I explained the adaptations of Kingbirds to hawk insects in mid air.
We were accompanied by Prof Douglas A. James of the University of Arkansas, my mentor and best friend of over 25 years. Doug is an encyclopedia of Belize natural history and the students learned a great deal from him. At 88 yrs of age, he still leads trips to the tropics!
Food at the Bird's Eye View lodge was phenomenal! Fresh, sumptuous, and local.
My friend Paula who is a Chemistry prof in my college, at the Macal River......
.....and some of our students relaxing and cooling off at the river.
Crystal Paradise Resort is a haven for tropical birds. Wild toucans (Collared Aracaris) come down to feed on the papayas we have laid out for them, within about 30 feet of our students, who stood around and photographed them like paparazzis!
Next morning, we crossed a quaint hand-cranked ferry to cross the Mopan river en route to the Mayan ruin of Xunantunich, a masterpiece from the Classic Mayan civilization (circa 900 A.D.).
The tallest temple, El Castillo, stands 150 feet tall......
....offering great views all around, including that of adjacent Guatemala
Delightful house geckos kept us entertained in our rooms at the Crystal Paradise Resort
One afternoon we canoed the Macal River for 5 miles and saw lots of birds, including rarely seen ones like Tody Motmots and Sungrebes.
I gave the students a free day in the middle for them to do optional activities like Ziplining and Cave tubing.
Ziplining through the rainforest was a thrilling experience!
After 3 days at Crystal Paradise Resort we spent 2 days at Caye Caulker, a delightful offshore island, where our main activity was snorkeling in coral reefs to get a feel for tropical marine life diversity.
At the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, we swam with hordes of Sting Rays and Nurse Sharks!
Watch the Remoras attached to the Rays. They are the hitchhikers of the ocean.
The massive Sting Rays glided right by us and sometimes between our legs, apparently oblivious to our presence!
The Bally-ho or half-beak was one of the 17 species of fish we identified, along with Yellow-tailed Jacks
This was one of our most coveted fish--the Blue-headed Wrasse--a fish well-known for the fact that the all-yellow female changes into this spectacular male when the local dominant male dies.
I conclude this TR with an image of the iconic Black Orchid, the National Flower of Belize!
I would any day recommend Belize for a fun-filled, informative, nature and archaeology tour! It was really unBelizeable!
Schweigend From United States of America, joined Jun 2010, 691 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 5231 times:
Mr. Kann, thanks for taking the time to compile and post this very nice trip report!
From the airport to the monkeys and beyond, it was wonderful.
I've only been to Maya ruins in the Yucatan, never in Belize. Now I will certainly consider a visit to Xunantunich, "Stone Lady" -- it's amazing what can be hidden under hundreds of years of foliage growth. Especially if I can get service as nice as Mr. Eric Tut provided you guys!
Your meals in AA F-class looked tasty and well-portioned, although I object to dessert being served with the main course.
Since I live in Houston, any trip to BZE for me would be on UA, FWIW.
Sir, I now want to see a trip report from you of a group visit to Tikal -- Flores FRS Guatemala is the nearest airport!
kann123air From United States of America, joined Jun 2009, 1363 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 5198 times:
Quoting Schweigend (Reply 5): Sir, I now want to see a trip report from you of a group visit to Tikal -- Flores FRS Guatemala is the nearest airport!
Hi Scottie, thanks for the nice feedback. Yes, we do go to Tikal sometimes, but we do it by road from Belize. We see more birds and other wildlife that way, and it is a lot cheaper. Tikal is a spectacular place, both for ruins and for rainforests.
jetsetter629 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 506 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 4781 times:
Thanks for the trip report - it brought back many memories of my trip to Belize in 2009! I still think it's one of the greatest countries with the wonderful Caribbean coast, wildlife rich rain forrests, and anchient Mayan ruins!
Quoting kann123air (Thread starter): We taxiied right by the Belikin brewery, site of the plant which makes Belize's signature beer
Love Belikin beer!! Now only if I can find it in the US...
Quoting kann123air (Thread starter): After 3 days at Crystal Paradise Resort we spent 2 days at Caye Caulker, a delightful offshore island,
Caye Caulker is a great island - IMHO, I think its waaayy better than Ambergris Caye. I got scuba certified there in the pristine offshore reef. My wife and I took the Tropic Air flight from BZE - it stopped in Caye Caulker to drop the two of us off before continuing onto Ambergris Caye - great memory!
jns13 From United States of America, joined Jul 2013, 56 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 3456 times:
Great pictures on this one, I really enjoyed hearing about your trip! I just posted my first trip report a few days ago, so I understand where you're coming from-but you did a really nice job and it was certainly a unique destination! All of the food on the trip looked delicious-from the inflight meal to the home cooked offerings!
kann123air From United States of America, joined Jun 2009, 1363 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 3163 times:
Quoting jns13 (Reply 11): Great pictures on this one, I really enjoyed hearing about your trip! I just posted my first trip report a few days ago, so I understand where you're coming from-but you did a really nice job and it was certainly a unique destination! All of the food on the trip looked delicious-from the inflight meal to the home cooked offerings!
So nice of you to not let my blemishes get on the way to enjoying the TR! Thanks for such a nice feedback. Makes the time it takes to post these TRs well worth it.