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Old November 13th, 2007, 05:43 PM
Cassandra Cassandra is offline
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Default Dangers of Cave Tubing - Any Island

Just a FYI for folks that are doing trips during the rainy seasons. This was copied off the other cruise site. It's good information to keep in mind if you are cave tubing either at Belize or another island.
You just never know...
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Despite all the wonderful reviews of this excursion, everyone needs to know that cave tubing in Belize can be very dangerous. We very nearly could have lost two or three people to drowning last Thursday, July 14. It is the rainy season right now and the river had risen to a high level and was moving swiftly. We had a bit of trouble crossing with the rope at the beginning, but at that point I thought it was just part of the adventure. Having never done this and having seen so many great reviews, my danger indicator did not stop me from calling off the excursion. I deeply regret this as I brought a family group of 9 people, including my 80 year old mother and two 11 year olds. There was also a family of four with us.

Our guide had us pair up but as soon as we entered the water the group was immediately split up by the fast moving water with no hope of hearing further instructions. It was chaos after that. In the last cave I noticed the other woman in our group who was ahead of us with her husband was struggling in the water at the edge of a wall. She was out of her tube, trying to hold onto the wall and not get sucked under. The river had risen over the opening at this part of the wall but was still flowing beneath her. She said her husband had gone under and he was nowhere to be seen. It was frightening. In my own struggle to get to her I let go of my niece and away she went down the river. I will forever feel bad about that. I helped the woman move over away from the fierce sucking and then my sister and step-son slammed into the wall between us, knocking my sister out of her tube and down she went before I could grab her. I thought she, too had gone under the now underground river. But then she popped up on the other side of me, and my son and I were able to get her back on her tube. I got the other lady back on her tube and told her to follow me out to the middle so we could get out of the cave. She was in a bad state, fearing she had lost her husband and I couldn't see since my headlamp had been knocked off.

I managed to get out of the cave and pull over to the side of the river. I couldn't see my neice or my mother but knew that she was with the guide. Then my brother-in-law told me they were OK and ahead of us. My niece had managed to get to the middle of the river and had floated down the river to where the guide could grab her. The distraught woman was finally helped back onto her tube by some other locals/guides after hearing her pleadings. They told us we couldn't get out here and had to travel further down the river. We did and then saw a large group pulled over to the side with several guides grabbing people as they went by and pulling them to safety. Everyone was there and safe, even the missing husband, who had somehow gotten away from the sucking action and floated down the river without a tube, finally grabbing onto my niece's tube as she went by. We were all frightened, emotional and thankful that we were all alive.

But we still had a ways to go. The guides told us there were no more caves and that we were only two minutes away from getting out. I told them we did not want to get back on the river but they said it was the only way out. Incredibly, back in we went and managed to get to the pull out spot safely. Again, there were many guides/locals at the pull out helping to grab people and pull them to the side.

As you can imagine, we were quite shaken up by the ordeal. I feel so guilty for getting my family into this excursion and not sensing the danger early enough. I was very grateful to our guide for taking care of my mother and keeping her safe. Though she's in great shape, this was something none of us anticipated. But I also let the guide know he made a tremendous error in judgement in allowing us to go forward. The speed and level of the water at the rope crossing should have been his warning signs.

So here are my new rules for cave tubing in Belize:
1. Err on the side of caution. If you see lots of rain clouds above and up river and the paths are very wet, don't go. Enjoy the lunch! It was great, even though we were shaking.
2. Don't take any weak swimmers, no matter their age.
3. Don't take children under 11 or 12 or older folks who aren't in great shape.
4. If it's hard to cross the river, Don't! Go have lunch.
5. Remember you're in a rain forest and conditions change. Be aware of your surroundings. You are ultimately responsible for your party.

I hope everyone will take these rules to heart. I'm sure this is a great excursion most of the time. But not all. God bless.
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