Saturday, March 10, 2012


We spotted this place along the Hummingbird Highway on our way to Placencia and stopped in at the visitors center.  We learned that we could hire a guide to lead us on a tube float though St. Herman's Cave.  A couple of days after arriving we called and made arrangements to meet with a guide the following morning.   We arrived at the appointed time and met Omar Deras, who was to lead us into the bowels of the earth where we would be floating along an underground river.  Omar owns Belize Inland Tours and has been guiding people in jungle tours, rappelling, vertical caving and cave tubing for the last 10 years.

Here you can see that we've been issued our safety equipment which will be used to transport us through the deep and dark underground river.  Omar led us though the jungle to the cave entrance.  Along the way he pointing out various plants and taught us about which plants would kill us.  He explained that this information might become useful if we should become separated from him.  He suggested that shouldn't do that as we would in all probability die without his help.   Omar said that he recently saw some jaguar tracks in the area, all the more reason to stay close.


After making it though the jungle without getting lost, not to mention being eating by a jaguar, we arrived at the cave entrance and then descended into the earth.




Ok, so we got down into the cave at river level.  Omar issued  us headlamps and filled us in on the rules.  Try not to touch any of the formations, stay together and don't let the air out of your tube.  Omar explained to us how the cave was formed and informed us that the river appears out of an underwater cave and flows though the section we were now in.  Some distance down stream it disappears once again before coming to the surface further downstream.

Having entered the cave about midway, we had to walk along the river to the upper end of the of the cave.  Actually the cave continues on as a dry cave, but rope climbing and repelling is required to travel deeper into the earth.  Since we were only paying for tubing, this was far enough for us.  The river, really more like a large stream, is clear and about 65 degrees and drinkable.  The depth varies from 15 feet to a couple of inches and it's speed changes with the depth.  So the idea is to sit in your tube and float down the river, only Omar said before going downstream, we had to paddle upstream to the beginning of the navigable river.  The shock of entering the water was soon forgotten and we began paddling up river.  It wasn't long before we couldn't go any further and we began the float down.

At first it was kind of an strange sensation, floating through the dark with only your headlamp to illuminate the way, but it soon became relaxing and fun.  With Omar in the lead we twisted and turned, following the course of the river.  Omar was in the lead issuing commands, "keep right, rock in the center" and the all important, "butts up", for the shallow sections.  It was a very comfortable ride with the exception of bouncing off the walls of the cave from time to time.  Shinning one's headlamp on the ceiling of the cave reviled not only interesting and beautiful formation, but the occasional bat.  A really neat sensation was to be at the back of the line and turn off your light.  You could see the lights of your party in front of you lighting the way.

Soon we could see daylight ahead and came to the spot where we entered the cave and we floated right past it!  "Hey" Omar, isn't this where we're supposed to get out?"  Omar was still issuing his commands, "keep left, watch your head", and "butts up", but nothing about, "this is where we get out".  On we went, lazily floating to our impending doom.  After some time, we came to the point where the river disappeared into the rock and we couldn't go any further.  We got out of our tubes and our fearless leader told us we walk from here.  With the river covering the entire bottom of the cave, we waded and half swam back upstream to the entrance.


All kidding aside, this was one of the best guided tours I've ever taken.  Our tour group consisted of just us, which made for a personal experience.  Omar was great, with his knowledge of the rain forest, caves and the Mayan Culture.  If you are ever in Belize and need a guide, be sure to contact Omar at: Belize Inland Tours.

Of course after our adventure we had to stop for refreshments and sustenance and we found this place along the highway.

We don't always eat in the restaurants that cater to the tourist.  Some of the best places we've eaten have been the ones that the locals frequent.  This spot served simple fare but I really enjoyed the chicken tamale served with rice and beans.


1 comment:

Nick Saraceni said...

You are certifiable but sounds like a great tour. I always get a chill before we start on these third world kinds of tours. It's not like they're regulated by OSHA. It's like a box of chocolates.