Overlooking the rainforest at Xunantunich ruins (Julia Kocubinski)
We woke this morning to the sound of a howler monkey, in the trees above our cabin! Evan was glad I had explained their sound before we went to bed. It sounded like there were dinosaurs outside our door! We got up out of bed and wandered around outside, watching and listening to the howlers call back and forth across the grounds. After nearly half an hour of this, they slowly worked their way further in the jungle. What a cool way to wake up on our first day in Belize! We ate a filling breakfast of eggs, toast, beans and fruit and then set off for our day of fun! Our guide Miguel is such a gem. He brought us to the town of San Ignacio where we loaded up in our canoes and started paddling up the Rio Macal. He spotted iguanas, birds, bats and even a rather large rodent (that I of course forgot the name the moment he told me!) along the banks of the river. After a couple hours of canoeing up and back down the river, we then drove to Xunantunich where Miguel explained to us all the history of this amazing ruin. We walked through each area of the grounds, and then climbed El Castillo, the second largest ruin in Belize. The views from the top were spectacular! We could see for miles in every direction, and with just the six of us sitting at the top, it was quite peaceful to just sit and enjoy. On our way back towards the car, Miguel stopped in his tracks and turned a 180 to take us to a family of howler monkeys he had somehow spotted from across the courtyard. We watched them until the rain hit again and we quickly made our way back to our car. On the way back to Pooks, we came across Hot Mamas, a hot-sauce, chocolate and honey factory. We sampled all they had to offer, and bought a few souvenirs for home. After a hot shower and a little time to relax, another delicious dinner was served. After dinner, Hector prepped us for our early departure for the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave visit the next morning. We were told to wear shoes and socks, be prepared to be wet all day, and to leave our cameras in our rooms. They were not even allowed on the trail into the cave.
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