Today we headed out early to explore Monkey River by boat. The river is a hot spot for wildlife of all varieties. Howler monkeys greeted us near the coast, and countless birds flew overhead as we motored upstream. Some guests even caught glimpses of the American crocodile lurking beneath the surface in the shallows. It was well worth the early wake up call to see so much diversity and beauty. In the afternoon, we headed over to Laughing Bird Caye, our third national park of the journey. Snorkelers headed out to explore the reef, and divers motored off to a nearshore drop-off to view the corals up close. The highlight of the day was a group of bottlenose dolphins buzzing underwater as they clicked and called to one another. I know we will never forget it!
National Geographic Sea Lion
Shortly after National Geographic Sea Lion dropped her anchor, we awoke to very calm seas with overcast skies and a light southwest wind coming off the land. Our guests prepared for early morning adventures and headed out in Zodiacs and local skiffs to explore the meandering lower reaches of Monkey River, the largest estuary of southern Belize. Great blue herons and great egrets stood knee deep on the sandbars near the shore while yellow-crowned night herons and black vultures hunkered down in the drizzle that accompanied us. Guides and guests gazed up at the treetops, hoping to see green iguanas with the males in their bright orange breeding colors and perhaps a troop of Yucatan black howler monkeys. We walked the trails through the gallery forest a few miles upstream. Our luck was shining brightly, and several monkeys were sighted high above. We returned to the ship to savor the delicious brunch prepared by the amazing hotel department. Ranguana Caye was our base for the snorkeling and island activities this afternoon. Guests had a wonderful experience swimming among the bright and beautiful fish and the other tiny critters that live in the hard and soft corals of the fringing reefs. Parrotfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, and sergeant majors were some of the familiar friends seen. As the trip wound down to the final stages, contact information was exchanged among new friends, experiences were shared, and future trips were discussed. Guests bid farewell to the crew and staff. Glasses were raised, and a guest slide show put smiles on our faces.