Exotic Bird Watching and Adventure in Belize

This is the fourth post in the Adventures in Retirement Series highlighting how independent living residents at South Franklin Circle are making the most of this next chapter of their lives. Here resident Marty Pope recounts he and his wife Pat’s recent trip to Belize with family.

On Valentine’s Day 10 of us flew to Belize for an eight-day trip put together by our older son Stephen in conjunction with his friend Raymond VanBuskirk, co-founder of a birding tour group called Birding, Research and Nature Tours. They operate tours from Alaska to Southwest USA to Latin America.

We spent the first three days on Caye Caulker, a small island off of Belize City, where we snorkeled along the world’s second- largest barrier reef, bird-watched, and enjoyed music and food with an eclectic mix of tourists and locals. The island has no paved roads; vehicles, including taxis, were mostly golf carts! Our visit coincided with the Great Backyard Bird Count, and Raymond was able to post the only worldwide sighting of a rufous-necked Wood-Rail.

Flying in a small plane back to the mainland, we headed for our next accommodations at duPlooy’s Jungle Lodge near the Guatemalan border. On the way, we couldn’t resist the chance to experience the Belize National Zoo. The animals and birds therein were all native to Belize and beautifully displayed in a naturalistic setting.

The lodge was situated well off the main road overlooking the Macal River, and included a number of individual cabins, complete with electricity and running water. The bar area was a popular gathering place all day long as it featured a wooden deck 30 feet above ground right among the trees. The staff would put melon rinds and other goodies on small platforms attached to the railing, and in the mornings the melons were attacked by numerous varieties of birds, including the spectacular collared aracaris. Every evening, a mother kinkajou and her baby came to feast, and they were not disturbed by all of us “oohing and ahing” over them!

The 45-acre Belize Botanic Garden was right next door with native and exotic plants (and a goodly number of birds!). In addition to birding hikes, we tubed on the Macal River, visited the Mayan ruins at Xunantunich (20 minutes away from Belize by way of a hand-cranked ferry boat) and Tikal (two hours away in Guatemala). The younger ones in the group did cave tubing and zip-lining above the jungle, while Pat and I watched from the safety of the ground.

All in all, it was a wonderfully exciting and varied trip. More pictures and commentary can be found on Raymond’s website.

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Did you like this post? Read Part 5 of the Adventures in Retirement Series.

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