Hello Sirenian Bay friends!
We all know by now that Monkey River is Brian’s stand-out Placencia experience. Come rain or shine (who am I kidding? It’s always “shine” here – even when it does rain), he recommends it to everyone.
Today your favorite Sirenian (did you know that means “manatee” by the way?) reporter is going to take you on a trip to Monkey River so that you can see what all the highly deserved fuss is about.
Winding through the jungle and the Maya Mountains, Monkey River is about half an hour from the stunning Belize coast. Its beginnings are marked by Monkey River Village, a tiny village that’s well worth a look. Dating all the way back to 1891, it first came to life with the banana industry. Consisting mostly of wooden houses and a small boardwalk where the fisherman tie up their boats, it’s a quiet, picturesque spot still some without electricity – and it’s perfect for a lunch break. You’ll love the home-cooked creole cuisine served up by locals.
When it’s time to hit the river, you’ll head off with our favorite guide, Percy. Percy is also known locally as The Voodoo Doctor or Rambo. Percy picks you up at the dock in his boat and you travel up through the mangroves and the lush forest. You’ll quickly see just his passion for Monkey River and his village. And he’s quite the character, too.
You’ll want to be on high alert for Belize’s most captivating wildlife. Tropical birds zoom overhead and sing in the trees. And crocodiles, iguanas, huge boa constrictors and howler monkeys abound. Not sure why howler monkeys are called that? When their ear-splitting voices fill the air, you’ll soon know. Fun fact: their cries can be heard a whole mile away!
Now, there’s plenty to see from the boat, but a jungle hike takes things up a notch again. Percy will have a machete ready to hold back the lush jungle, which grows at an unbelievable rate. You’ll see first-hand the plants and trees used in traditional herbal medicine. Tapirs and jaguars lurk among the greenery, and if you’re lucky you might just get that perfect photo op. While it’s not likely you will actually see a jaguar, the paw prints on the river bank prove they are watching you.
As you travel back you’ll also get to see old-school fisherman going about their daily work – and if you’re really lucky, you’ll spot one my friendly manatee cousins browsing about beneath you.
Monkey River tours run pretty much all year around, although if the river swells during the rainy season there may be a cancellation or two. A word of warning: manatees have thick enough skin that we don’t need to worry about bugs and thorny plants, but I highly recommend bringing proper shoes and long pants if you’re going to head into the jungle. And bug spray is definitely advised!
That’s all for now, but I’ll be back in a jiffy with all you need to know about one of our favorite annual events: Lobsterfest. Stay tuned!