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TIDE Tours, a subsidiary of the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, a nonprofit organization promoting ecotourism in Toledo, does not itself run tours but instead acts as a clearinghouse for several good tour operators. It can arrange fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, trips to Mayan ruins, and cultural tours. Bruno Kuppinger at Sun Creek Lodge and IBTM Tours specializes in adventure tours, some definitely not for couch potatoes, including the weeklong Maya Divide hiking trip and trips to Doyle's Delight, the highest peak in Belize. Garbutts Marine offers dependable boat trips to the Snake Cayes. Another sizable tour operator is TASTEE Tours, associated with Requena's Water Taxi Service. Romero's Charters and Tours, while not a tour operator, has a driver service that can take you to any of the inland destinations. For birding, it's hard to beat George Alford, who can be contacted through TIDE. Several of the hotels, including Hickatee Cottages, offer kayaking on the Moho River.
During the Cacao Festival in May, and by advance arrangement at other times, the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA), which represents over 200 cacao growers in southern Belize, offers tours of working cacao farms.
New for 2010 are "ranger patrol hikes," organized by the Ya'axche Conservation Trust, a nongovernmental organization that among other things owns and manages the 15,000-acre Golden Stream corridor preserve north of Punta Gorda. These hikes will start at the field station at Golden Stream, with a climb of the fire tower for a bird's-eye view of the area, and then "ranger work" such as wildlife logs, patrols, and biodiversity transects. This is something of an adventure in an area not normally accessible to visitors. Check with Hickatee Cottages for details.
The Toledo Tour Guide Association has about 20 members. All are licensed by the Belize government. Some of these tour guides work for the larger tour operators, and others work independently.
Bruno Kuppinger Tours. Among other things, Bruno Kuppinger specializes in adventure tours, most definitely not for couch potatoes, including the Maya Divide hiking trip and trips to Doyle's Delight, the highest peak in Belize. Sun Creek Lodge, Off Mile 86, Southern Hwy., San Marcos. 604/2124. www.suncreeklodge.de.
Garbutt's Marine. Garbutts Marine on Joe Taylor Creek offers dependable snorkeling and dive trips to the Snake and Sapodilla cayes and to Port Honduras Marine Reserve, along with fishing trips. Garbutts also has cabins to rent. Joe Taylor Creek, Punta Gorda. 722/0070 or 604/3584. www.garbuttsfishinglodge.com.
Romero's Charter and Tours. Romero's Charters and Tours, although not a tour operator, has a driver service with vans and other vehicles that can take you to any of the inland destinations. Forest Home. 722/2625. firstname.lastname@example.org.
TIDE Tours. TIDE Tours, a subsidiary of the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, a nonprofit organization promoting ecotourism in Toledo, does not itself run tours but instead acts as a clearinghouse for several good tour operators. It can arrange fishing, kayaking, snorkeling to the Sapodilla and Snake cayes, as well as cultural tours, caving, and trips to Mayan ruins. Full-day snorkeling trips cost around BZ$160 per person for four persons, plus 12.5% tax and BZ$10 per person marine reserve entry fee. The cost includes lunch and snorkel equipment. 41 Front St., Punta Gorda. 722/2129. www.tidetours.org.
Toledo Cacao Growers Association. During the Chocolate Festival in May, and by advance arrangement at other times, the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA), which represents more than 1,100 small organic cacao growers in southern Belize, offers tours of working cacao farms. Main St., Punta Gorda. 722/2992. www.tcgabelize.com.
Blue Belize Tours and Charters. Blue Belize Tours and Charters, run by fishing and tour guide Dan Castellanos, can arrange sea and inland tours and trips. Full-day fishing tours run around BZ$610 for two persons, with additional guests around BZ$50 each. Prices include boat, guide, taxes, marine reserve fees, lunch, snacks, and drinks. 139 Front St., Punta Gorda. 722/2678. www.bluebelize.com.
Barranco Village Tour. For a tour of the Garífuna village of Barranco, where famed Belize musician Andy Palacio was born and now is buried, check with tour guide Alvin Loredo, reachable by the community telephone in the Barranco. Two-hour tours of the little village (population has now dropped to under 200) include Palacio's burial site, a visit to the Garífuna dabuyaba temple, the tiny House of Culture museum, and a lunch of Garífuna food. Cost is around BZ$15, including admission to the House of Culture but not lunch. You'll have to get to Barranco on your own, by rental car, taxi, boat, or tour. You can combine a tour of Barranco with a visit to to the nearby 42,000-acre Temash-Sarstoon Wildlife Sanctuary Barranco. Drive on the Southern Highway north to Jacintoville; turn west on the dirt road via San Felipe and Santa Ana to Barranco and go 9 mi (15 km). Figure a little over an hour from Punta Gorda, depending on road conditions. 709/2010 Barranco community telephone.
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