Feb 13th

We had an exciting adventure planned for today. We signed up with Maya Guides for a kayaking trip on the Caves Branch River. The stretch of the river we would be paddling upon passed through caves - we would underground for several miles. I thought this would be a unique trip.

There was only one other couple signed up for the trip that day. Our guide loaded up a truck with enough kayaks and drove us out to the launch point. We wore helmets with flashlights attached. Again, I wish I had brought a waterproof camera. But I did not, so I have no photographs from while we were paddling underground. (My camera was in a dry bag that the guide carried, so I got a couple of shots when we sat on the shore eating lunch). The river is slow moving, there are no rapids or obstacles to be concerned with. The water is also quite shallow, at one point the guide had us get out of our boats (on an underground shore) and wade ahead so he could show us how he wanted us to manuever through a particular rock formation.

At one point, we had to portage our kayaks to another branch of the river. This meant dragging our plastic boats by a rope along a muddy path for about a quarter of a mile to the next point where we launched. The boats are not heavy, so it didn't take that much effort to drag them along.

Once we were on the water again, we re-entered the cave system and paddled along. The caves are huge, you don't have to worry about ducking your head. Beyond the last cave we had about a mile of above ground paddling to the pickup point. We passed a tubing group - where the tourists each sit in a giant tire tube and float down the river - but the tubes were all lashed together and being towed by a guided who simply walked in the water - I think kayaking is much more interesting option.

The river passed underneath a zipline, and I got so involved in watching the people zip over head that I didn't pay attention to what I was doing and I flipped my kayak. Like I said, the water was shallow, so it wasn't too hard to stand up and get back into the kayak, but I didn't realize until later that I had lost my glasses.

From the kayaking site we then drove off to San Ignacio, which is the center for all the on-shore tourist activities. There are dozens of tour guides offering all sorts of activities in San Ignacio, there is one street reserved just for pedestrians which is lined with restaurants and tour operators. We stayed at the Western Guest house, which was just a few blocks away.

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