On May 23, 2024, Jamie Madrill (from the village) and I embarked on a 300+ kilometer canoe adventure from the Macal River in San Ignacio to all the way down the Belize River to Haulover Creek reaching downtown Belize City on May 29th.  I have split up the story in three blog posts. All post links are at the bottom of this post.

***A note about any written down kilometers.  According to Google, the Belize River is 290 kilometers long.  We paddled at least 15 kilometers of the Macal River and probably the same for Haulover Creek.  I recorded the daily kilometers and our route via my Strava app.  The problem is that according to Strava the total amount of kilometers paddled is only 260 kilometers for the entire trip.  And I was using Strava as my recorder whenever I made any kilometer reference in my blog posts.  The point is I am not sure how accurate any of the numbers are other than I paddled over 300 kilometers.

May 25, 2024
Km’s Paddled: 47 kilometers
Tonight’s Destination: Whitewater Lagoon

Life in the Jungle: I was woken up at 6 AM.  A pickup truck with a trailer had come to (Banana Bank) park to steal river stone off the beach area.  With no shame, they took two trailer loads of river stone while we packed and made breakfast.

Views from this mornings camping site

Stealing River stone from Banana Bank Park

We started paddling at 8:45 AM and were able to find a camping spot right before dark.  We got lucky with this spot as mentioned earlier, camping spots are fairly difficult to find as the Belize River is not conducive to getting to the river bank because of thorny bamboo and steepness.

Along the Belize River

Today was extremely isolating.  We saw very few people along the way.  Except for at Banana Bank we couldn’t get water or cold drinks anywhere along the river.  But today was amazing.  We saw 7-8 Morelets crocodiles including a good-sized one swimming underwater, and one large one run and diving off a sandbank.  We also saw one on some rocks in the middle of some rapids that I got some pretty good video footage of.  I also saw my very first Barn owl ever.  And even more unbelievable was we saw three Baird’s tapirs (mountain cows).  Well, I saw two of them but Jamie saw all three, but I saw the commotion in the bushes of the third one.  I was only able to get really bad video footage of them.  For the longest time, it has been my dream to see tapirs in the wild.  Crazy enough tapirs have been spotted on my road back home in the past but I have yet to see one there.  Also, today we must have seen over a thousand green iguanas along the bank sides.

Baird’s tapir – photos taken at the Belize Zoo in 2010

The Belize River in the evening

Tonight, we are camped near an area that is close to a place called Whitewater Lagoon except I am not convinced that it is a place.  We are about 18 kilometers from Big Falls.  Physically, I am feeling fairly good for someone who has just paddled over 130 kilometers.  Camping in the jungle tonight was very hot and humid in the tent tonight.

This evening’s camping site


Tonight’s destination and millage. Also according to Strava we paddled 4.9 km per hour

May 26, 2024
Tonight’s Destination: Scotland Halfmoon Village – home
Km’s Paddled: 46 kilometers

Life in the Jungle: Today we started paddling at 8 AM.  I noticed that there were considerably fewer green iguanas along the bank sides.  I noticed that today a little bit dragged for me.  After about 18 kilometers we reached Big Falls.

This mornings views from last nights camping spot

Views of the Belize River today.

Not too long into our day we saw and got a good view of another Baird’s tapir this time resting in the river alongside the bank.  I was able to get some pretty good video of that and him racing up the river bank when we got too close.  Ever since seeing the tapirs yesterday, we have been noticing tons and tons of access pathways the tapirs use to get in and out of the river.  The crazy part is the trails go straight up the river bank and these animals can weigh over 500 pounds.  Most of these pathways would be impossible for me to climb.  We also had another green iguana drop 20 feet from a tree and splash into the river right in front of us.

After reaching Big Falls the villages we paddle past were Double Head Cabbage, Bermudian Landing, then Scotland Halfmoon, and Isabella Bank on the opposite side of the river.  I have to admit that it was pretty cool to paddle right up to your backyard on such a long canoe trip.  Jamies father lives right across the river from me.  So, I live in Scotland Halfmoon Village and Jamie is from Isabella Bank.  I noticed that the river bank jungle vegetation is nice and pristine all the way to my place on my side of the river.  That was nice to see.  On the other side of the river, the jungle was not so pristine.  We reached home at 4:30 PM.

The bridge at Bermudian Landing. Almost home.

When I got home, I mostly spent time reorganizing my stuff, but in the spirit of the canoe trip, I slept in my tent on my bank side.  And it was very hot and humid.  How I wish I had a fan.

This evenings camping spot on my river bank

Tonight’s destination and millage. Also according to Strava we paddled 4.8 km per hour

May 27, 2024
Km’s Paddled: 42.5 kilometers
Tonight’s Destination: Burrell Boom

Life in the Jungle: First thing this morning I headed to the village for groceries.  I cleaned the chicken coops and watered my seedlings waiting for Jamie to get organized with some equipment modifications.  We got a late start and left home at 11 AM.  About 20 kilometers down the river, we came to Black Creek.  Black Creek is a creek that flows to Crooked Tree Lagoon.  What makes this creek unusual compared to any other creek along this river is that when the Belize River floods the creek flows into Crooked Tree.  When Crooked Tree floods it flows into the Belize River.

Views from last nights camping spot and my river bank

I was surprised when we came across a few more rapids this far down the river.  Jamie counted 36 sections of rapids that had given us a little quick push down the river since Black Rock.  We also came across a few Black Howler monkeys throughout the day. We seen our first Black Howlers on day 2 of the canoe trip and have seen some everyday since.

We entered Black Creek to the bridge and turned around.

An old time hand carved dory (canoe)

Taking a stretch break. Our last set of rapids on the Belize River just ahead.

The Belize River this evening

After paddling through Isabella Bank, we came to Flowers Bank, Mopan, Grace Bank, and then Burrell Boom.  We paddled until 7:30 PM, or almost an hour in the dark to Burrell Boom.  Burrell Boom is another staging area for the La Ruta Maya canoe race.  Paddling at dark did not put us at the same risk as earlier in the trip as this part of the river seemed absent of dead trees right under the surface of the water that were so common during the first few days of the trip.  I also wanted to put in a good position for tomorrow and I was pretty certain for a good camping area at Boom.  But tonight was my turn to feel the pain.  My back was sore tonight.

This evenings camping spot in Burrell Boom

Tonight’s destination and millage. Also according to Strava we paddled 4.9 km per hour

Check out video footage of this amazing trip on

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YouTube @ Safari Arie

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Facebook @ Safari Arie

Belize River Canoe Adventure – Post #1 May 23 to 24

Belize River Canoe Adventure – Post #3 May 28 to 29

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