Port Angeles, Washington
July 16, 2004
We first spent 1.5-2 hours on the public bus (Cayo to Belmopan at US$1.50 per person, then Belmopan to Blue Hole at US$1 per person). At the ranger station just off the highway, our questions were answered by a friendly ranger named Patrick, and we also paid our US$4 per person entrance fee. Then we hit the trail into the park.
The first part of our hike was not super interesting, but the trail took us to St. Herman’s Cave. This cave is the only one in Belize that visitors can see without a guide – a least for the first 300 yards or so. At that point there is a sign that a guide is necessary beyond that point. A guide was available in the ranger station. A three-hour guided tour of St. Herman’s Cave was priced at US$50 per person, and a six-hour guided tour of Crystal Cave was US$75 per person. The guide we met was extremely friendly and knowledgeable. He has been trained in high angle rescue, technical climbing, and is a volunteer firefighter. This is definitely a guy I would want to take me on a cave tour. Here is his contact information:
Marcos, www.mayaguide.bz, Marcos@mayaguide.bz, cell 600-3116, PO Box 485, Belmopan
After we explored as much of the cave as we were allowed without a guide, we headed back out to the trail. This time we followed a loop trail through the rainforest. Unlike the trail leading in, this trail was more rugged and wild. And I think the rain (imagine that, rain in a rainforest) made the whole thing more interesting. In addition to the wonders of vegetation, there were modest limestone rock formations, with plants growing on and hanging from them. Part way around the loop trail was an observation tower. We climbed up and had our lunch on top (the rain had temporarily stopped as well) while enjoying sweeping views of the tops of the rainforest to the west, and massive citrus groves to the east.
After another brief stop at the ranger station, we followed a trail that paralleled the highway to the actual Blue Hole, which is a limestone sinkhole filled with water. The turquoise water was inviting despite the rain and cold, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of a wet bus ride back to Cayo. Instead we watched a few others play in pretty swimming hole before catching the bus back.
To see what we did, plus take a swim and hike the Hummingbird Trail (which we skipped), allow around 6 hours. Allow more time if including a cave tour. The park is open 8am-4pm daily. Bring your own food, water, and raingear.
From journal Cayo is Cool