You know when you’re just having one of those days where everything that can go wrong does? The cave kayaking tour was kinda like that – and yet, it was one of the most fun adventures of our vacation.
If you’re a fan of off-the-beaten-path adventures, Maya Guide Adventures delivers. They’re a small local outfitter, and instead of trying to compete with the large expat-run operations that are all over Belize, Maya Guide does something different: they take you away from the tourist traps.
Their cave kayaking tour puts you on the Indian Creek River in the Five Blues Lake National Park. You meander through the jungle as you pass through 3 very different caves. We had assumed that all the caves would be the same, but we were wrong.
The video below summarizes our trip, including all the little things that went wrong along the way (plus a blooper reel), but if you prefer not to watch, then read on.
The experience started with a 4×4 ride that took us out into the middle of seemingly nowhere.
Jinx #1: Truck Troubles
The main truck pulling all the kayaks developed a pretty gnarly radiator fluid leak. This meant stopping off at every watering hole available to fill the truck up with water on the way in and out.
Jinx #2: Muddy Woes
After rainfall all night, the trail was muddy, muddy, muddy and the main truck slid off the trail, getting stuck in the mud. After multiple attempts, they eventually needed to get another truck to tow them out.
Jinx #3: My Motor Skills Take a Flying Leap out the Window
Now let me say right off the bat that I’m a pretty coordinated person. Sports have always been my thing, and while figure skating is the only one I’d say I was capable of reaching Olympic standards, I always felt I could at least hold my own in most sports – at least where I don’t look like a complete idiot doing it.
Not so today. I have been river and sea kayaking in Kauai, Oahu, Thailand, and Laos. Never had any problems – until today.
The river was shallow with a slow-moving current. And I could NOT navigate it for the life of me! I have no idea what had happened to me, but if there was a log or sandbank to get stuck on, I did. If there was a clump of bushes to crash into, I did. If there were any hanging branches to run your face into, I did. It was one of the most physically incredulous things I had experienced to date. And all I could do was laugh. I’ve included a snippet of this comedy of errors in the video, so you too, can laugh with me.
Finally, a break from this farce and a chance for my motor skills to regroup. The guides worked hard to lay out this do-it-yourself burrito feast which was quite filling.
I am happy to report that post-lunch, my kayaking skills were more-or-less back on track, and my laughter turned from being derisive to joyful. Whatever that physical fluke was, I hope it never visits me again! So with the return of some coordination came…
Jinx #4: Rain
The five previous days in Belize, we had been lucky and had only been rained on at night or in between activities during the day. Not so today. I suppose if you’re going to get rained on, it’s best for it to happen while you’re already outside doing a water sport…
Getting through the final cave meant having to hike through a part of the cave while the guides pulled the kayaks through a different opening that’s too gnarly for us mere mortals to paddle through. It took a little while for each person to get through the cave and back onto their kayak, so the rest of us had to wait outside. And this was when the rain decided to come down the hardest. It was just one of those days.
After getting through the last cave, the rest of the trip went by without a hitch, and we were finally returned to our lodgings in time for dinner.
Neither the pics in this post nor my video do this trip justice. The location is out of the way from other tours, the kayaking was peaceful and beautiful in the jungle, the caves were all different and fun to pass through, and the whole tour is just rugged enough to make you feel like an outsdoorsy badass without endangering yourself. Definite thumbs up in my book.
The other great plus of going with this tour is that it allowed us to see the countryside and catch a little peek at local life, which I’ve documented in my Day 6 post.