Going East: Zoo & Cave Tubing
You will need a guide for the cave tubing. You can take your chance at the site—there are plenty of qualified guides and you’ll be quite safe, or let us know and we will arrange Jorge for you: he’s a friend of ours and has been doing this tour for years.
You’ll need a change of clothes for this trip– we recommend shorts/swimsuit and t-shirt for the tubing, and for the zoo light pants during rainy season (the bugs can be fierce) or shorts when it’s dry (or bug spray!)
The Belize Zoo (spend 1½ - 2 Hours)
This ‘Best Little Zoo in the World’ is about 25 minutes from Belmopan travelling east on the Western Highway (toward Belize City) It’s on the left hand side and has a large banner over the entrance (it’s about 2 miles after Cheers & Amigo’s Restaurants and at the top of the hill after the turning to Dangriga on the old coastal road)
They charge $15US per non-Belizean adult and $10US per child 12 and under. There are reduced rates for Belizeans. They are open 8am to 4pm.
You can spend anything from one to two hours depending on your level of interest. If you ask nicely they will let you handle the 9 foot boa at the entrance and you can pay extra to help feed some of the animals or go into the enclosure with Junior Buddy the jaguar (honestly). All of the animals are indigenous to Belize and most are rescued, orphaned, injured or born at the zoo. The animals are most active early morning or late afternoon.
There are two good lunch venues: Cheers and Amigos. I personally prefer Cheers, but they both have their charms and the food is good at either establishment. They are back toward Belmopan on the highway about 2 miles from the zoo.
Cave Tubing (spend 2 Hours) Must have a guide
Go back toward Belmopan and you will reach signs on the left hand side for ‘Caves Branch Outpost’ just before St Matthew’s village. The road is a little bumpy, but the scenery beautiful. You need to pay the parking fee at the car park toll booth, then park up and wait for a guide to approach (and they will!) They are all good and mostly charge the same price: you can try shopping around, but chances are they won’t differ that much. It’s probably around at around $60-$70US per person, which includes flashlight, tube and guide. Try haggling though; you could get a deal. The guide will store your valuables in his dry-bag, but your car is reasonably safe in the car park. Don’t take a camera into the caves unless it’s waterproof. The hike to the start is interesting and not too arduous: act pathetic and the guide will carry your tube for you. Once you reach the top, it’s a lazy float back down. There are bathrooms and changing rooms in the car park so you don’t have to go home wet. There is an evening tour that starts at 3pm. You can see the sun go down and experience dusk falling in the jungle.
Of course, you’ll need souvenirs. Stop at the Art Box, a large colourful square building on your left hand side just as you enter Belmopan City Limits, just before the airstrip. They have some very stylish Belizean-made woodcrafts, not to mention a fine collection of Carolyn Carr’s paintings, amongst other artists. Opening hours 10am to 6pm
9:30am Leave Roaring Creek
10:00 Arrive Belize Zoo
11:25 Leave Belize Zoo
11:30 Arrive Cheers Restaurant for lunch
12:30 Leave Cheers
12:40 Reach turning for Jaguar Paw
12:55 Arrive Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve for tubing
15:00 Leave Reserve
15:35 Arrive Art Box for shopping
Return to Roaring Creek