Video: Documentary Filmed in Belize at Lower Dover, Cahal Pech, and Caracol about Maya Equinox Celebration

Last September we went to the Maya city of Caracol for the Fall Equinox celebration that was being preformed by a Maya Itza Leader from Peten Guatemala. It was a very special event that we were extremely fortunate to witness and document on film. Hopefully the Belize Film Festival will accept the picture so we have an excuse to visit Belize City for the party.

The Maya leaders told us we must stay up all night if we were to experience the ritual the proper way.  Pretty plainly this was the most trying part of the trip because we were not planning on staying up, but camping and waking up before dawn for the fire ceremony. Special thanks to the park ranger Mike for sharing his coffee and making it possible.

Also we would like to thank John Chuc of Kin Winik Tours, Dr. Jamie Awe from Belize Archaeology, Maria Garcia from San Antonio Village, and especially the Marimba players from Succotz who got up at 3:30am to start jamming until the ceremony was finished after sunrise and the fire was out. Finally our condolences to the family and friends of Don Beto Cocom who was supposed to be there holding hands with us.

Outside of the trip to Caracol, the documentary contains some interviews with our family and a bit of archaeology talk about the possible correlation between Lower Dover and the Maya city of Cahal Pech located in San Ignacio.

 

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Photos, Video, and Audio of Wild Toucans in Belize

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Wild Toucan and Iguana in same tree!

This morning the Keel Billed Toucans that live at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge in Belize decided to stop by a large Fig Tree located near the entrance to the hotel grounds. Maybe they had a message for the large male iguana also sharing the space. More likely both animals were all there to eat the ripening fruits.

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Hey Iguana what happened?

Normally it is the distinct call of the toucan that alerts guests and birdwatchers that these beautiful animals are nearby. The song of the toucan sounds almost like a croaking frog if tropical birders do not know what they were listening for. When multiple birds get together in the same tree, the noise is unmistakable.

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Multiple toucans in one tree

Each bird was calling and croaking like a frog. They were bobbing their heads and doing the Toucan shuffle, trying to get lucky no doubt…


Because there were so many Toucans we though it might be a great opportunity to hear the audio of the birds with some video, so we rushed for the point and shoot camera and took this quick 1 minute video of the bird calls. This is a nice reference to understand what a toucan sounds like. A top birdwatcher is an even better bird listener.

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Easy toucan bird watching in Belize

It was another great moment in birding that our guests can expect to enjoy every time they arrive at our 100 acre property. It is not guaranteed that you will see 5 toucans in a tree but if you hang around long enough, we are sure you will be happy with what you find and photograph. Here is a run down of some other birdpics we have been lucky enough to get.

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Three’s company and four’s a crowd

Hopefully the lady toucans liked what they saw from the fancy red bird butt feathers this guy was showing off this morning.

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Peace out cuz!

Or maybe he was just telling his sisters to kiss mine before he flew off to the next tree!?!

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Keel Billed Toucan bird call sounds kinda like frogs croaking

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It seems as if this toucan was gesturing with his wing feathers in front. Throwing up his westside gang sign?

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Toucan mating ritual or unknown gang affiliation?

In all seriousness it was likely some form of mating exercise which we were lucky enough to witness. One every guest can hopefully see for themselves by visiting the lovely grounds at Lower Dover located between Belmopan and San Ignacio, only 1/2 mile from the Western Highway. toucan14 toucan15 toucan17

Remember what happened this time last year? We think these toucans might be considering having babies in the Bullet Tree on the Medicinal Plant trail. These baby bird photos below were taken in late May 2012 so only time will tell!

Baby bird photo of Keel-Billed Toucan

Baby bird photo of Keel-Billed Toucan

Baby toucan at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Hostel

Baby toucan at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Hostel

Belize Bird Video: Collared Aracari family at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge

Since we posted the bird pics of the Social Toucanettes eating last week, we decided to try our hand at some video. I was watering the garden in the afternoon and the birds flew so close to my head I could hear their wings. They were hungry! You can hear me sneaking off to turn the water off 30 seconds into the vid…I’m not sure they even cared.

Leaf Cutter Ants Harvesting Cashew Leaves at Lower Dover

These Leaf cutter Ants were caught red legged with our cashew leaves the other day! We had to get a camera before spraying our organic poison on them. In a spray bottle mix dish soap, dirt from the ant nest, and water around the base of the tree and on the leaves. This does the trick 90% of the time. Supposedly there is a Maya prayer for the other 10 percent? We have to learn that one!

Cheap Vacation in Belize – AdventureTravel by Bus from Caye Caulker to Western Belize

Belize Local Bus to Belize City

Belize Local Bus to Belize City

For tourists looking to travel affordable in Central America, Belize is often surprisingly expensive. Occasionally there are vacation deals from Canada or the U.S. offered through Delta, United, or American Airlines into Belize City International Airport. Most often European travelers will find Cancun to be the cheapest and most direct option. The “Mundo Maya” travel route also helps to avoid visa conflicts with America. Regional airfare is quite expensive to Belize. Connections from Flores, Guatemala (Tropic Air) and San Salvador, El Salvador (Taca) often run in the hundreds of dollars.

Tropic Air in Belize

Tropic Air in Belize

Therefore if you plan on a cheap tropical vacation, its best to first try flying into Cancun. Also, Chetumal on the Mexico/Belize border, has airport that occasionally runs airfare deals from Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal, and Ottawa, Canada. From Cancun, Playa, and Tulum, Mexico it is possible to travel to Belize City directly by overnight bus.

ADO Ticket Stand at Cancun Airport

ADO Ticket Stand at Cancun Airport

The ADO bus service from downtown Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum has become very popular and occasionally sells out. It is possible to travel to Chetumal regularly from Playa or Cancun if you do not catch the late night bus (10pm Cancun first stop). Buy your overnight bus ticket at the Cancun airport up to 3 days in advance to secure your seat. ADO does not offer refunds on tickets for missed buses so make sure you plan enough time to board.

ADO Bus from Cancun Terminal direct to Belize City

ADO Bus from Cancun Terminal direct to Belize City

We have a story bout the overnight ADO bus ride to Belize City from Cancun here.

Cancun Bus Terminal

Cancun Bus Terminal

If you are traveling straight to the Belizean cayes from Mexico it is possible to connect to a water taxi from Chetumal. Here is a link to how this is done. It is also possible to by pass mainland Belize entirely by catching the San Juan or The Línea Dorada / Mundo Maya bus from the Swing bridge water taxi terminal in Belize City. This bus goes right to Flores, but then you end up missing the wild nature of Western Belize. NOT SUGGESTED !

Baby toucan at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Hostel

Baby toucan at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Hostel

Wild Tapir at Lower Dover!

Wild Tapir at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Lodge in Little Barton Creek!

It is really a shame many tourists only see San Pedro or Caye Caulker when visiting Belize. The country has much to offer beyond the constant party on the cayes. There is something for everyone, and taking public transportation is easy enough in Belize.

Bus back to Belize from the Benque Border Crossing in Belize.

Bus back to Belize from the Benque Border Crossing in Belize.

Renting a car makes sense 75% of the time if traveling to Belize on a family vacation. Remember that Crystal Auto Rentals at the Belize International Airport is the only company that will rent a car traveling across the western border into Guatemala to visit Tikal.

Crystal Auto Rental- Belize

Crystal Auto Rental- Belize

Backpacking is easy in Belize because of the public transportation, but also because many pickup trucks make hitchhiking possible, especially if traveling alone or with one other person. It is not uncommon to see locals standing at speed bumps hoping to catch a ride before they pay the already cheap bus fare. Rides from Belize City to Belmopan on the express bus (to Dangriga, Belmopan, or Benque) cost $5BZE per person and take about an hour. Express service to Belmopan happens at least every hour, often every half hour or even less during the early morning “rush” hour.

Road map of Belize

Road map of Belize

Once in Belmopan it is possible to find multiple banks with international ATM machines. It is also possible to eat cheap and good local Belizean food at the market. The market happens on Friday and is worth visiting if traveling through. Internet cafes and photo services are all readily available, along with passport services at many countries foreign embassies.

Belize immigration is located on the road immediately across from the Department of Archaeology if you are trying to extend your tourist visa for another 30 days. The cost for a visa extension is $50BZE for the first 6 months and $100 BZE after, should you decide to stay!

Lower Dover is Located only 1/2 Mile from Mile 59 on the Western Highway

Lower Dover is Located only 1/2 Mile from Mile 59 on the Western Highway

When looking for a place to stay, Lower Dover Field Station and Jungle Lodge in Unitedville offers affordable private cabanas and hostel bunks on 100 acres of jungle, farm, and unexcavated Maya monuments. It is possible to reach us by local bus because we are only a 5 minute walk to the highway. Make sure you are not on an express bus to Benque and let the bus porter know you want to get off at Lower Dover sign in Unitedville.

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Guests looking to experience the top tour in western Belize, ATM Cave, would be advised to stay at Lower Dover because tours depart a full hour later from here than many lodges near San Ignacio, the drop off is also an hour earlier…less time in the tour van and more time in the jungle.

Mayan Skull in ATM Cave - Cayo, District - Belize

Mayan Skull in ATM Cave – Cayo, District – Belize

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Swimming into ATM CAVE Belize Adventure

Swimming into ATM CAVE Belize Adventure

ATM Cave Entrance in Western Belize

ATM Cave Entrance in Western Belize

Guests looking to just relax and enjoy nature will enjoy our multiple hiking trails linking the Maya ruins to the Belize River and our medicinal plant loop.  Every paid guest to Lower Dover gets a free 2 hour guided tour of the plants and known Maya history at the site and surrounding area.  Bring your camera because you never know what you will see! Or sit back on a hammock with a Belikin and let the birds come to you!

Iguana seen hiking on jungle trails at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge

Iguana seen hiking on jungle trails at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge

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Jungle pictures from Belize nature hike - Christy Brinnehl

Jungle pictures from Belize nature hike – Christy Brinnehl

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Male and Female Collared Aracari

Male and Female Collared Aracari on Papaya at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Lodge