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Canoeing and Kayaking
The Cayo's rivers, especially the Mopan and Macal, make it an excellent place for canoeing and kayaking. Most of the larger resorts, like Chaa Creek and duPlooy's, have canoes or inflatable kayaks. Generally you put in the Macal around Chaa Creek and paddle and float down to the Hawksworth Bridge at San Ignacio, a trip that takes about two hours. You'll pay about BZ$50 a person for canoe rental and pickup. You'll see iguanas and birdlife on the banks, and if you dip in for a swim, don't be surprised if tiny (toothless) fish school around you to figure out if you're food. River Rat. River Rat arranges canoeing and kayaking trips, both for beginners and experienced river runners, as well as tours to Caracol, ATM, El Pilar, and elsewhere. no physical address for office. 628/6033. www.riverratbelize.com.
Do exercise caution. You won't believe how fast the rivers, especially the Macal, can rise after a heavy rain. Following rains in the Mountain Pine Ridge, it can reach a dangerous flood stage in just a few minutes. Also, in the past there have been some incidents of visitors in canoes being stopped and robbed on the Macal. Watch weather forecasts, and ask locally about safety on the rivers. In mid-2009, after a series of heavy rains, silt and sediment that had accumulated over several years was released by the Chailillo hydro-electric dam upriver on the Macal, making the river a dirty brown. This resulted in official cautions not to swim in or use water from either the Macal or the Belize River into which the Macal feeds. After several months, the rivers cleared, and as of this writing government officials say the rivers are now okay for recreational uses. However, after heavy rains in Cayo it's advisable to check locally on the status of the rivers, in case additional sediment is released.
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