This can be seen through-out the lowland savanna zones as charred stumps and burned bark on many of the trees, which seems like a destructive force to the untrained eye, however, this is an important factor in the regions ongoing renewal. The cycle of burns renews growth in the region, and certain species cannot release their seed without fire! The lagoons and riverine environments of the lowlands also harbor an tremendous diversity of plant-life, which ranges from small thinboled trees, to large kapoks along the floodplain. Also, small Cecropias and various leguminous trees are abundant, and helicon tend to dominate the under story. Various arums are also common as are palms, especially morichie palm.
While traveling inland into the savanna and wetland habitats of northern Belize, we have great opportunities to view a diverse array of wildlife. Travelers flock to the region to see the diverse bird life found throughout the savanna and marshlands; over 250 different species have been spotted in this region (approximately 2/3 of Belize's total). During the dry-season, when the birds tend to congregate in shrunken pools and rivers riverbed, it is not uncommon to see one hundred species or more on an average day.
Some of the birds seen are: the jabiru stork, the belted kingfisher, the tri-colored heron, the boat-billed heron, the great and snowy egret, the snail kite, the tiger heron, the osprey, and the black-collared hawk. While traveling through any of the riverbeds or lagoons, we are also likely to spot some of Belize's interesting land creatures, such as the Morelet's crocodile, turtles, and green or spiny iguanas. Also, some of the mammals common to the area include collared and white-lipped peccary (warrie), brocket and white-tailed deer, opossums, weasels, porcupines, and armadillos.
Day 1: For those beginning their Island Expeditions trip with this extension. Arrive at the Belize International Airport where you will be met by an Island Expeditions representative and transferred to the Birds Eye View Lodge, in the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. After checking into our accommodations we have a chance to meet our fellow travelers. This day is your day to arrive before the trip starts, meet your fellow travelers and acclimatize to your new tropical environment.
Transfers from the airport are included
Day 2: Your breakfast is pre-arranged in the hotel restaurant. Please enjoy your Breakfast and be packed and waiting in the lobby by 8:15am. We will return to the hotel briefly at the end of the extension so a bag may be left at the hotel lockup. A vehicle from the hotel will transfer your group to the Mayan Ruins of Lamanai. This day of exploration includes a complete guided tour, visiting the many temples, plazas, palaces, and museums within the park boundaries.
Once we have had a chance to tour the ruins, we depart Lamanai by boat for a scenic ride into the crooked Tree Area where we have tremendous birding and wildlife opportunities: Iguana, Parrot, Toucan and even Morlettes Crocodile can be seen along the banks of the new River Lagoon. Upon arriving on the shore, we transfer overland for 45 minutes to Crooked Tree Village. We will be overnight at Birds Eye View Lodge, along the banks of the Crooked Tree Lagoon.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 3: An early morning coffee and binoculars in hand, we enjoy the waking wilderness and many hundreds of birds feeding along the shores of the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary Lagoons. The protected area was created in 1984 primarily to preserve resident and migratory birds, and consists of a network of inland lagoons, swamps and waterways that shelter one of the world's largest flying birds, the jabiru (jabiru mycteria.).
After breakfast we enjoy a morning boat and birding boat tour enroute through this area to the 3200-year-old Mayan site of Chau Hiix. Visited by very few tourists this remote site accessible only by water is thought to have had one of the largest raised bed agricultural systems in the Maya area. After lunch we have time to relax and gather our bags before departing to the Mayan site of Altun Ha, enroute to Belize City.
Considered one of the major Mayan ceremonial centers of Belize, Altun Ha also functioned as an important trading center between the interior and the Caribbean Sea during the classic period (250-900 AD). However, Altun Ha has been dated as far back as 600 BC. Within the site, there are more than 275 structures and there are up to 250 to 300 excavated mounds. After we tour the site, we continue to Belize City to meet up with your other arrangements.
Those people traveling onto another program with Island Expeditions will continue from here to the Tropical Education Centre. All other travelers will be dropped off at the Belize International Airport, or will be dropped off at the Belize Biltmore Plaza, in Belize City, to continue with their independent arrangements.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.
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