Belize City is not the kinda place you wanna spend much time, but there’s one thing you HAVE to do if you’re transiting through, it’s just 40 minutes or so from the city that you have to try – cave tubing. Only a couple of operators offer the service for independent travellers (the clientele is mostly made up from cruise passengers), but the guys at CaveTubing.Bz can both sort you out and pick you up for the day trip tour.
The story behind the owner from CaveTubing.Bz is pretty cool – he grew up super poor, became a dishwasher at an American owned tour company in Belize, eventually promoted to tour guide, then cave tubing guide. He saved all his tips, all his salary and opened his own operator and it’s now the second biggest tour company in the region – he owns a zip line centre, about 7 buses, 50 staff and he is super nice too. I love success stories like this, so I was only ever going to go with these guys.
Anyway, they picked me up for the cave tubing around 10am, even if you book solo they’ll still run the tour (like me!), which is unheard of with operators around the world. We drove the 40km or so to the centre and they told me they had just opened a zip line centre too. I was chatting to the owner about his story, so when he saw my eyes light up at the zip-lining he asked me would I like to try a couple of lines? For free, of course. Wow, so I did just that. It’s so much fun, but beware of not breaking fast enough or you’ll crash straight into a tree and have the entire crew laughing at you from below. See pic for proof:
Anyways, after entertaining everyone with my awful ziplining technique we continued onto the cave tubing in the nearby national park. Basically, the Mayans used to use the cave complex as temples, sanctuary, storage but now with the rainy season causing a nice flow of water you can float on large inner tubes through the cave system, some of it in pitch black, and pop out the other side. You’re supplied with a helmet, headtorch and a guide is compulsory.
As you meander through the caves, the guide (also on a tube) gives you a few insights into the history of the cave. The journey is really smooth, and the caves are pretty epic, sometimes they’re so open that its tough to see which direction you’re going to go in whereas sometimes it’s so cramped you have to duck to avoid clipping your head. After about 20 minutes of floating in through the darkness, you come out the other end and float for another 20 minutes or so downstream through the jungle where you eventually get out.
Another huge perk about cavetubing.bz is because he is so established with all the local guys, you don’t have to carry your tube for the 20 minute hike. Watching all the wealthy cruise passengers lugging their tubes up the hill was a dirty secret pleasure of mine, as I bounded past them in my battered flip-flops and swim shorts. Later!
The guys then drop you back to the ‘office’ where the wife of the owner cooks you up some delicious chicken, rice and beans and after you have that down your neck your sent on your way back to your hostel (hopefully not the Sunrise guest house though, that place is dingy as hell!). This was a great introduction to Belize for me, and with Caye Caulker up next I had high hopes.