Adventure Travel with Tropic Air Belize

Garifuna Drummers, Hopkins Bay Resort

Garifuna Drummers, Hopkins Bay Resort

Watch the video Up up & Away – Tropic Air Belize

story and photos by John Lamkin

Aside for being one of Belize’s best airlines, Tropic Air is known for their adventure tours

As much as I love adventure travel this trip was business, an assignment to review some of Belize’s finest luxury resorts and to investigate the luxury real estate scene in southern Belize. I would have wait until next trip for Tropic Air to show me more of what this wonderful English-speaking country had to offer in adventure.

In the past, I had visited the Mennonite community at Spanish Lookout, boated up the New River from Orange Walk Town to the ruins of the old amazing Mayan city Laminai passing alligators, howler and spider monkeys, lone Mennonite farms, so many types of exotic birds, animals and plants, I had gone on nightime alligator hunts, explored the Maya mountains, walked jungle trails. Broken down on lonely jungle roads, just to have a local chicken bus come to the rescue, canoed up the Macal river, and more, But Belize has even more adventure to offer me, soft and hard.

Here are some of the Tropic Air adventures I will be able to select from on my next trip. According to Tropic Air, “Not only can we take you there, we can guide you on your adventure too.”

Lamanai Mayan Ruins

A boat ride through mangroves. See birds, bat, flowers, turtles, and crocodiles along the way.

Arrive at The New River lagoon where the boat docks up. You have arrived at Lamanai, situated on 950 acres of archeological reserve. Walk through dense jungle and learn about Belizean Bush medicine. Explore impressive monuments built in 100BC.Hike up 33 meters on the huge El Castillo Temple of the Rain and take in the surrounding views. Listen to the loud sounds of the Howler monkeys, and look out for Toucans as you stroll through the rain forest.

Visit the Museum and enjoy a tasty Belizean lunch under the palapa. Visit the gift shops before you get back on board the boat.

ATM Day Tour

Another spectacular tour from Tropic who have teamed up with Pacz tours to bring you the amazing world renowned Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave (as seen in National Geographic magazine).

A 45 minute hike through the Tapir mountain reserve , through jungle crossing creeks along the way. (Watch out for the tapirs). Enjoy a quick snack and orientation from your guide on cave history, preservation and safety, then proceed to the cave entrance and the fascinating Maya underworld. The 3 hour tour is filled with excitement and wonder as you swim and climb to the inner chamber seeing Maya pottery used for sacrifices to the gods, along the way. The culmination of the tour is the Crystal Maiden, a young virgin sacrifice and “The Cathedral” with its stalactite and stalagmite formations. A not to be missed tour while in Belize.

Barton Creek: Maya, Mennonites & Medicine

Fly west to Belmopan and take a short drive by road to the Barton Creek area where you see the traditional and non-mechanized ways of life of the resident Mennonite community. Learn about traditional forest medicine, folk remedies and healing techniques from a local healer as she escorts you through her rainforest home. Sample seasonal fruits fresh from the organically grown trees on the property. After lunch, take a guided canoe adventure into Barton Creek Caves where you can learn about the natural formations carved by water and time, and see the evidence of ancient Maya sacrificial use. On a hot day, cool off by taking a refreshing dip at the cave entrance before your return flight to San Pedro.

Snorkel Day Tour

Your tour starts with a morning flight from Belize City to San Pedro. Arrive in San Pedro and walk to the SunBreeze hotel dock located directly across the street from Tropic Air. Board the boat and head for Hol Chan. Soon you will be enjoying a snorkel tour of the reserve and around noon you will be at Shark Ray Alley enjoying another fun snorkeling experience. Enjoy lunch on board your boat. Later you will return to the Sun Breeze Hotel dock to go to Tropic Air to catch your return flight to Belize City.

Zipline and Waterfall Adventure

Take a flight down the coast of Dangriga in Southern Belize where you will be able to soar above the Mayflower Bocawina National Forest on a 12 platform zipline. It has the longest, fastest and tallest runs in Belize, and allows an up close view of pristine rainforest. After a quick lunch at Mama Noots Restaurant (on-site), take a short jungle hike to cool off at Bocawina Falls. Swim in its refreshing pools or rappel down its face for an even more unbelievable experience. For adrenaline junkies, an optional upgrade of rappelling down Antelope Falls is available on arrival at the tour site. The zipline is the only one currently certified in Belize by the ACCT, and experienced guides will ensure a great experience for every age and skill level.

Blue Hole

Fly from San Pedro following the reef line south to historic St. George’s Caye, then head east to Half Moon Caye and Lighthouse Reef Atoll to the Blue Hole. Make several passes of this wonder of the world, and return via Northern Two Caye and northern Ambergris near Rocky Point. From there, fly down the Barrier Reef back to San Pedro. Also see Turneffe Atoll, the Booby Bird Sanctuary, shipwrecks, Manatees, and other animals and points of interest.

It will be hard to wait another year (maybe, just maybe, I can sneak off before then).

Resource Information

Getting to Belize:

Both United and American Airways have flights from the U.S. to Belize City, Belize

Tropic Air

Tropic Air Tours http://www.tropicair.com/en-us/tours/alltours.aspx

For more information:

Belize Tourism Board

Ambergris Caye, Belize, Central America
Placencia, Stann Creek District, Belize, Central America
Hopkins, Stann Creek District, Belize, Central America
Stann Creek District, Belize, Central America

Where to stay in luxury:
Chabil Mar Villas
Robert’s Grove Beach Resort
Hopkins Bay Resort
Victoria House

John Lamkin is a born-again travel journalist and photographer based in Taos, New Mexico and in Mexico. He writes (and photographs) about travel, food, wine, luxury, budget, gear, tech. and more. He is Global Membership Chair of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. He travels the world in search of something new in culture, cuisine and drink.
Look for John Lamkin’s upcoming book:
OUR INTERWOVEN LIVES WITH THE ZAPOTEC WEAVERS:
An Odyssey of the Heart
by Susanna Starr
with Photographs by John Lamkin

Read the article on the Examiner

The International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) awarded prestigious Certificates of Appreciation to industry partners in Cancun and Riviera Maya, Mexico

IFWTWA certificate presentation to Nizuc Resort & Spa Maria Oliveira, PR Mgr; Louis Daniel, Gen Mgr; IFWTWA's John Lamkin

IFWTWA certificate presentation to Nizuc Resort & Spa
Maria Oliveira, PR Mgr; Louis Daniel, Gen Mgr; IFWTWA’s John Lamkin

The International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) awarded two prestigious Certificates of Appreciation to industry partners in Mexico for their gracious hospitality, continuing education and contributions to the travel & tourism industries.

The businesses chosen for this award were Nizuc Resort and Spa in Cancun and Esencia Estate in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

These certificates were awarded for outstanding work in the hospitality field and exemplary guest services. These resorts provide excellent help to journalists in the form of relevant story ideas, angles, and destination and tour information. They are well-connected with excellent knowledge of the region and proactively stay in touch with journalists.

The above mentioned travel industry partners were very generous in help with arranging travel, hospitality, tour and story suggestions to help complete journalism assignments in Mexico.

According to the IFWTWA’s press releases:

The International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) is a dynamic nonprofit organization based out of Southern California. What started out as a small group of prominent Frenchmen rating restaurants in 1956 is now a global network of journalists and photographers who cover the hospitality and lifestyle fields, and the people who promote them.

Members cover a broad spectrum of travel destination attractions such as active and passive adventure activities, ecology, historical features, culture, fairs, festivals, food, wine, and special events. The association’s membership includes professionals in culinary arts and sciences, the wine growing and production industry, and hotel and hospitality management industries.

These businesses are all deemed to be among the best serving Cancun and Riviera Maya and are highly recommended.

 

Resources

Getting there:

Most major airlines fly into Cancun International Airport (CUN) and Riviera Maya is easily accessible from CUN by land transport.

For more information:

Mexico Tourism http://www.visitmexico.com/en/

Cancun http://cancun.travel/en/

Riviera Maya http://www.rivieramaya.com/

Adventure in Quintana Roo http://visitmexico.com/en_us/VisitMexico30/Adventure_In_Quintana_Roo

Mexican Caribbean http://www.mexicancaribbean.com/

Where to stay in luxury:

Nizuc Resort & Spa http://www.nizuc.com/

Esencia Estate http://www.hotelesencia.com/

 

The Book is Now Available

Our Book is Now Available

OUR INTERWOVEN LIVES WITH THE ZAPOTEC WEAVERS: An Odyssey of the Heart

by Susanna Starr  with Photographs by John Lamkin
is now available through Starr Interiors Gallery in Taos, New Mexico
Front Cover - Our Interwoven Lives with the Zapotec Weavers

Front Cover – Our Interwoven Lives with the Zapotec Weavers

 

Back Cover - Our Interwoven Lives with the Zapotec Weavers

Back Cover – Our Interwoven Lives with the Zapotec Weavers

I hope this story serves as a reminder that business is not a negative word. Trading is as old as human history, whether for goods or services. It doesn’t have to be exploitative nor impersonal to be successful. Rather, if it is infused with joy and happiness, it can provide a vital, important and enriching aspect of our lives.  –  Susanna Starr, Taos, NM

Advance Praise:

“OUR INTERWOVEN LIVES WITH THE ZAPOTEC WEAVERS is a beautiful book, both the writing and photographs.  I own a Zapotec rug and appreciate the work of these artists. This book gives them credit where credit is long overdue.” –Tom Aageson, Executive Director, Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship

“A must read for anyone who wants to do well by doing good in the world . This improbable story about an American “hippie” and traditional weavers in the Oaxaca Valley of Mexico will fire your Imagination and touch your heart. Susanna Starr’s life story proves that love, respect, learning and success in business can go hand in hand.–Judith Fein, Author of LIFE IS A TRIP: The Transformative Magic of Travel and THE SPOON FROM MINKOWITZ: A Bittersweet Roots Journey to Ancestral Lands

Pages: 136

Hardback (gloss laminate)                Paperback (gloss perfect bound)
 Price: $29.95                                      Price: $19.95
Publisher: Paloma Blanca Press
Pub. Date:   June 2014 (available now through Starr Interiors)

One of life’s memorable intersections…

OUR INTERWOVEN LIVES WITH THE ZAPOTEC WEAVERS: An Odyssey of Heart celebrates American entrepreneur and gallery owner Susanna Starr’s forty years of working with the Zapotec weavers of the Oaxaca Valley in Mexico. Starr  takes us back to the moment when she first navigated dirt roads into the remote village of Teotitlan in the 70s, and fell in Heart with the vibrant Zapotec hand-loomed weavings and the warmth of the weavers themselves. She leads us on a three-generational trek of mind and spirit, as the Zapotec families and her own grow in parallels of symbiotic prosperity and mutual respect that reminds us that “business” does not have to be a negative word.
Susanna Starr is the owner of Starr Interiors in Taos, New Mexico, which began as La Unica Cosa in 1974, and features hand-dyed 100% wool rugs, wall hangings, and pillows traditionally dyed and loomed by the Zapotec weavers.
OUR INTERWOVEN LIVES WITH THE ZAPOTEC WEAVERS: An Odyssey of Heart reflects Starr’s philosophy that business need not be kept separate, but can be an integral and meaningful part of everyday lives.
“I hope this story serves as a reminder that business is not a negative word,” says Starr. “Trading is as old as human history, whether for goods or services. It need not be exploitative or impersonal to be successful. Rather, if it is infused with joy and happiness, it can provide a vital, important and enriching aspect of our lives.
The weavings have been purchased by numerous celebrities including Paul Simon, Sting and Diana Ross, and featured in style magazines such as “Architectural Digest.”
With Love it began…With Love it flourished…And with Love it continues.

The International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) awarded five prestigious Certificates of Appreciation to industry partners in Belize,Central America

 

Brent Kirkman and Janet Woolam managers of Victoria House  accept certificate from IFWTWA's John Lamkin

Brent Kirkman and Janet Woolam managers of Victoria House accept certificate from IFWTWA’s John Lamkin

 

The International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) awarded five prestigious Certificates of Appreciation to industry partners in Belize,Central America for their gracious hospitality, continuing education and contributions to the travel & tourism industries.

The businesses chosen for this award were Chabil Mar Villas and Robert’s Grove Beach Resort in Placencia, Stann Creek; Hopkins Bay Resort in Hopkins, Stann Creek; Victoria House in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye and Tropic Air Belize.

These certificates were awarded to Chabil Mar Villas, Robert’s Grove Beach Resort, Hopkins Bay Resort and Victoria House for outstanding work in the hospitality field and exemplary guest services. These resorts provide excellent help to journalists in the form of relevant story ideas, angles, and destination and tour information. They are well-connected with excellent knowledge of the region and proactively stay in touch with journalists.

Tropic Air of Belize, Central America has been awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for exemplary work in promoting the diverse aspects of Belize, the world-renowned region they service and for providing excellent help to journalists in the form of relevant story ideas, angles, and destination and tour information. They, also, are well-connected with excellent knowledge of the region and proactively stay in touch with journalists.

The above mentioned travel industry partners were very generous in help with arranging travel, hospitality, tour and story suggestions to help complete journalism assignments in Belize.

According to the IFWTWA’s press releases:

The International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) is a dynamic nonprofit organization based out of Southern California. What started out as a small group of prominent Frenchmen rating restaurants in 1956 is now a global network of journalists and photographers who cover the hospitality and lifestyle fields, and the people who promote them.

Members cover a broad spectrum of travel destination attractions such as active and passive adventure activities, ecology, historical features, culture, fairs, festivals, food, wine, and special events. The association’s membership includes professionals in culinary arts and sciences, the wine growing and production industry, and hotel and hospitality management industries.

These businesses are all deemed to be among the best serving the Central American country of Belize and are highly recommended.

Resource Information

Getting to Belize:

Both United and American Airways have flights from the U.S. to Belize City, Belize
Placencia, Hopkins (Dangriga) and San Pedro are all serviced by Tropic Air.

For more information:

Belize Tourism Board

Ambergris Caye, Belize, Central America
Placencia, Stann Creek District, Belize, Central America
Hopkins, Stann Creek District, Belize, Central America
Stann Creek District, Belize, Central America

Where to stay in luxury:
Chabil Mar Villas
Robert’s Grove Beach Resort
Hopkins Bay Resort
Victoria House

Read the article at the Examiner.

John Lamkin is a born-again travel journalist and photographer based in Taos, New Mexico and in Mexico. He writes (and photographs) about travel, food, wine, luxury, budget, gear, tech. and more. He is Global Membership Chair of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. He travels the world in search of something new in culture, cuisine and drink.
Look for John Lamkin’s upcoming book
OUR INTERWOVEN LIVES WITH THE ZAPOTEC WEAVERS:
An Odyssey of the Heart
by Susanna Starr
with Photographs by John Lamkin

 

Travels in Belize, Central America

Garifuna Drummers

Garifuna Drummers

Beautiful Belize – We travel to the south–Placencia and Hopkins, then to San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye. Stay tuned for more on this trip….
with Tropic Air Belize

See it on You Tube.

And the dream goes on…Rancho Encantado, Laguna Bacalar

Rancho Encantado was carved from the jungle starting in 1986, the dream of Susanna Starr, Ramon Childers, the Starr family and friends. It was purchased a few years ago by Elias Selem who has continued the dream.

According to the Rancho’s former owner, Susanna Starr, “From the time of clearing the land, planting more trees, shrubs and flowers until the time we sold the Rancho, it was a labor of love and creativity, adventure and challenges. Over the next more than twenty years, it evolved to the place where it was ready to enter it’s second stage of ownership and development.

Seeing the Rancho today is testimony to the perfect fit when the new owner bought it and continued building, establishing his own dream. From the original four casitas to the twelve when it was sold, there are now four additional accommodations, modern, spacious, and beautiful. From the dining room palapa on the water’s edge there is now a large outside dining deck that has been added with tables, chairs and umbrellas arranged in an inviting manner. The smaller dock and palapa at its end has been transformed, with a much larger, nicer palapa at the end of a more spacious dock.

Also new is the addition of a new building that houses facilities for recreation, especially welcome for those times when being outdoors is not the first choice. Above the new building is a spacious upper deck with a fine view of the water. Changes in the rest rooms and expansion of all the paths are excellent modifications. Most of the casitas/cabanas have been updated and enhanced while leaving the original feeling intact. A new catamaran provides guests the opportunity to glide on the beautiful waters of Laguna Bacalar, getting a completely different perspective and appreciation.

The existing landscaping has been greatly added to and enhanced. The care of the gardens and lawns is obvious, lush and green. But, for me, the most exciting addition has been the entry to the Rancho, the new parking lot and the stunning new unloading area. The large new palapa extends the invitation to enter this very special small resort. The pools in front with their fountains provide not only beauty but a cooling and refreshing atmosphere. What a beautiful entry to a truly beautiful place!”

 Rancho Encantado

Hover over the images to see the captions.

 

Our Interwoven Lives

Two women in village market, shopping for #DayOfDead altars from upcoming book, INTERWOVEN LIVES..., by Susanna Starr, photos by John Lamkin.

Two women in village market, shopping for their #DayOfDead altars from upcoming book, OUR INTERWOVEN LIVES WITH THE ZAPOTEC WEAVERS…, by Susanna Starr, photos by John Lamkin.

Two women in village market, shopping for their Day of Dead altars from upcoming book by Susanna Starr, photos by John Lamkin.

“It began with Love. It grew with Love. And with Love, it continues.

OUR INTERWOVEN LIVES WITH THE ZAPOTEC WEAVERS traces the parallel paths to prosperity and friendship set in motion when author and New Mexican gallery owner Susanna Starr first fell in love with the weavings of the Zapotec Indians in Teotitlan del Valle, and then with the weavers themselves. Knowing nothing about buying or selling, Starr embarked on an odyssey of the heart that led to a 40-year inter-generational relationship between her own American family and the Mexican families she came to appreciate as deeply as their inspired weavings.”

Publication date: June 2014
Paloma Blanca Press

 

A memoir of Susanna Starr’s three generations of working with the Zapotec Weavers of Oaxaca Valley

Zapotec woman

Zapotec woman

Well, our new book is finally under way. It’s a memoir of Susanna Starr’s three generations of working with the Zapotec Weavers of Oaxaca Valley. The photographs will be mostly by me. We haven’t decided on a title yet. Stay tuned for more updates.
The photo is of weaver Sergio Martinez’s mother.
©John Lamkin

 

BECOME A REGIONAL MEMBERSHIP COORDINATOR

This column appeared in the  International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association’s. Press Pass newsletter. It might be of interest to IFWTWA members or potential members.

IFWTWA's Press Pass newsletter

IFWTWA’s Press Pass newsletter

BECOME A REGIONAL MEMBERSHIP COORDINATOR
Be involved with your IFWTWA
By John Lamkin, Global Membership Chair

We are currently taking applications for Regional
Membership Coordinators (RMCs). The RMC is a
prestigious volunteer position. It is a great opportunity
to meet other members and to meet local
tourism departments, CVBs and PR people, chefs,
winemakers, sommeliers and people from the restaurant
and hospitality industries. Being an RMC is
a good way to help advance IFWTWA and, at the
same time, one’s own personal career in the fields
of food, wine and travel.
The function of a Regional Membership Coordinator
is to assist our members network, to recruit
new members (and with so many new membership
benefits being added all the time, this should become
easier), to plan local events (we will provide
helpful information and handouts), and, when
possible, assist our Press Trip Committee to create
press trips in the region the RMC covers by providing
contact information for the valuable connections
they make.
All of our RMCs are volunteers and use their time
and contacts to promote IFWTWA. We appreciate
their efforts and support them with suggestions,
brainstorming and working together to provide
ideas on how to offer networking on a regional
basis. We publicize local activities by RSS feeds,
on IFWTWA’s blogs, on Social Media such LinkedIn,
Facebook, Tripatini, Pinterest, and Twitter as
well as having the Administrative Director send
announcements to members. We also see that
press releases go to the particular area of the world
through TravMedia, Food4Media, Travel4Press and
other outlets. In addition our Publicity Chair, Linda
Kissam, will send press releases out to her list of
valuable contacts.
New members may become RMCs; they just need
to live in an area that needs an RMC and be willing
to help build the Association. If there already
is an RMC in your area, we can also use Assistant
RMCs. Help create an IFWTWA group in your
area. For every new member who puts your name
on their application as a referral, you’ll receive a
$20 credit on next year’s renewal. For more information,
please email me at john  @  ifwtwa.org.
If you would like to read the RMC Guidelines, go
to the IFWTWA website, sign in and click on “Regional
Membership Coordinators.” The link to the
guidelines will appear below.
In addition, I’m looking for a volunteer for the position
of Global Membership Coordinator to assist
me in working with the RMCs. Email me at john  @
ifwtwa.org