Archive for February, 2010

Posted by: Tori Wong | 18th Feb, 2010

Belize ZOO!

Add to my list of things I love about this country: the Belize ZOO!

Top Reasons this zoo is rad (and different from any zoo I’ve ever been to before):

-It was never supposed to be a “zoo.” The Belize zoo began in 1983 as a as a last ditch effort to provide a home for a collection of wild animals that had been used in a documentary about tropical forests. It has since grown into an educational center that stresses the importance of conservation for future generations.

-All the animals at the Belize Zoo are “special,” none have been taken from the wild-they have either been orphaned, injured, or born here. As we were taking our tour of the property, our guide was constantly saying things like: this is Patty the Tapir, she was shot in the head and can’t see anymore, or Junior (the jaguar’s) mom rejected him as a cub, and he would have been eaten in the wild, so we brought him here.

-One of my main problems with zoos (in the states-the only other type of zoo i’ve ever experienced) is that we remove wild animals from their natural habitats, put them behind bars and subject them to screaming children and flash photography. But this was different. The animals here were rescued, essentially placed back in their natural environment (the zoo itself was located in the middle of the rainforest), and used as a connection to get people engaged in conservation.

-I got to hold a boa constrictor around my neck, feed a tapir (Belize’s national animal!) and play with a jaguar. Can’t get much cooler than that.

Holding a boa constrictor! Around my neck!

“We live in a beautiful world.” So true. There were hand-painted (often times rhyming!) signs all around the zoo.

Awesome Macaw Parrots sign.

Spider monkey. Straight chilling. None of the monkeys were in cages; they just ran all around the zoo’s property and came back to the home base when they knew it was dinner time. how cool is that?

I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to something so graceful and powerful.

Posted by: Tori Wong | 4th Feb, 2010

Hiking and Sleeping in the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve

Yes. I slept in a Jaguar reserve. No. I did not see a Jaguar.

I did however hike the “Tiger Fern” trail through the rainforest in the Maya Mountains to jump into a waterfall! Aside from the intense humidity, tropical fauna, and possibility of Jaguar sightings, it was just like hiking the Appalachian trail back at home! haha.

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Our Tiger Fern group at the halfway point! This is where our tour guide, Em sang us the Belize National Anthem. so great.


Tiger Fern Waterfall!

We made it! And got to swim in the waterfall!


DSCN7623Kate and me at the waterfall! I probably could have been sweating a little more…just a little.


DSCN7591A Blue Swallow butterfly flew right past us right as we were starting our hike…the blue is hidden right now, but still pretty rad.


DSCN7668Sunset sky in Cockscomb.


DSCN7650FULL MOON IN COCKSCOMB!

Posted by: Tori Wong | 4th Feb, 2010

Blue Creek Hike and Hokeb Ha Cave

Hiking Hokeb Ha was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It was so untouched and pure, yet it was clear that people had been there before (when we reached the cave, we saw a Belkin Beer bottle hanging from the end of a vine, and names/initials scratched into the rock at the water line of the cave.)

I almost don’t even want to put up pictures because there is no way that a snapshot could ever capture its true beauty, (that, and I didn’t bring my brand new nikon hiking because I knew i’d probably be swimming in the cave at some point) but here are some (taken by others in the group) that at least give you an idea of where I was last weekend.


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On the way to Hokeb Ha! There wasn’t really a trail cleared, so we got to scale and climb all over these rocks!


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At the mouth of the cave. The current was too strong for us to swim any further than the entrance, but we got to hang out on rocks in the rapids and listen to our voices echo!


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We found an awesome ROPE SWING in the rapids! We were all pretty bummed that we couldn’t swim in the cave, but we ended up spending an hour swinging off the rocks in to the white water from a 15 foot  overhang! So tight.


Posted by: Tori Wong | 4th Feb, 2010

Toledo!

Sorry for my horrendous lack of posts in the past week- my recent and recurring loss of internet and electricity coupled with my increasingly busy schedule has made for an extreme procrastination of writing about my weekend trip to TOLEDO (January 29-31)! In 3 words: it. was. amazing!

Toledo is the southernmost district in Belize, home to the Cockscomb Basin, Punta Gorda and several protected areas reserved as national parks.

The whole weekend, I was a lovely shade of damp from hiking in the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve in 90% humidity, rope swinging into rapids in Blue Creek and Hokeb Ha Cave, and taking a tour of the Tumul K’in Maya Education Center in the pouring rain…and I loved every minute of it.

Because I have so much to talk about, I’ve divided some of the cool stuff I did in Toledo into different posts with pictures! Enjoy!

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