Lamanai – the Orange walk district. This is a land where jaguars, wild pigs and armadillo’s stalk the forests and crocodiles patrol the rivers. Howler monkeys and ciccada’s pierce the quiet of the evening with their wild calls. Bands of bats swoop and dive in and out of the trees. Toucans and vultures all reside around the waters of the New River. Rare Cormorants are seen flying downstream, skimming the ripples of the water. There is no place quite like it for nature enthusiasts.

We were really excited about the ‘spotlight river boat cruise’ and it didn’t disappoint. You set out at 8pm in one of the open air ex-army boats converted by the lodge owners, with the moonlight as our guide as we travel upstream. Birds called Fire lights stare out at you from the black night with eyes glowing like amber traffic lights. Numerous ripples in the shallows are clear signs that crocodiles are in residence. We saw several 2 footers and a 6 footer near the end. Its quite thrilling to find the croc just inches from the side of the boat glaring up at you showing its teeth! Apparently the one we saw is renowned locally and known as an old battleaxe having recently been involved in a fight with another croc. Jaguars are most often seen at night – however our guide told us that he had only seen jaguars 10 times over the last 25 years as a guide. The wild pigs can travel in groups of 50 or more.. and can be extremely vicious. They have been known to approach humans by the ruins and our guide has had to quietly encourage his group to quickly climb the temple to safety!

The ancient city of Lamanai – meaning ‘Submerged crocodile’ in Yucatec Mayan – is situated on the fresh water lake on the New river. It is the longest occupied Mayan settlement in Meso-America having been home to Mayans since 4th Century BC up to 1988 where there was just a single family residing at the site. There are almost a thousand identified structures, however just 1% of these have been fully excavated. It is a truely beautiful setting right by the lake and the lodge provides guided tours both into the ruins and the surrounding area which is abundant with wildlife.

A wonderful way to travel here is by river boat – you get a real feel for the local birdlife and you can also see the Mennonite communities. Plus, its a very relaxing form of travel. This is a fantastic destination for those who love to feel submerged in the wilderness and away from it all.

We stayed at the Lamanai Jungle Lodge

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