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Old November 13th, 2007, 06:41 PM
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Default Dangers of Cave Tubing in Belize

This is a post from another cruise site. The dangers they faced after a storm. It's something to keep in mind no matter what island you do Cave Tubing at.
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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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Old November 14th, 2007, 01:35 PM
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Thanks for the info. My DH loves this excursion and does it every time we go to Belize. One other little warning. The water is full of bacteria, as is any fresh water in tropical areas. If you have any cuts or open sores, even if minor, coat them heavily with an antibiotic salve...one that won't wash off, or something like Nuskin. And, try not to swallow any of the water.
Glad everyone was okay in your group. I do wish my fellow travelers would use a tad more caution sometimes. Just because we are on vacation does not mean that nothing bad can happen. I was with a group, exploring Mayan ruins in Belize, noticed a small group of us huddled around the base of a tree, taking pic's. They were surrounding a type of tarantula that is extremely poisonous and aggressive. Beautiful creature, but not one to mess with. Our North American tarantulas are virtually harmless, but there are others which are not. It's why my camera has a telescopic lens!
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Old January 13th, 2008, 12:02 PM
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This question is for colorcrazie...As far as cave tubing in Belize, can you get parasites through open cuts as well or bacteria only? We're planning on not ingesting anything on shore, so we're not worried about drinking them, but we're wondering if it's even worth the risk or if we should just go for a hike or something. We'll take our DEET!

Thanks for any help!
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Old January 13th, 2008, 02:17 PM
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Cassi,
I have no clue about parasites. The bacteria alone were enough to scare me off. Actually, I can't do that tour physically anyway. But, I think that if you protected any cut or wound enough to keep bacteria out, it would also be enough to keep out parasites, which are likely to be larger than bacteria. Jusy make sure that whatever you use is waterproof....for so obvious reasons. Hope this helps. I am not a medical expert.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 10:09 PM
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This information is not to scare but to help aid understanding. Use common sense when swimming and cover any open cuts before entering the water.

Make sure you've had all the travel shots you need before travelling and you should be just fine. Swimming in fresh water in the tropics can cause schistosomiasis. Drinking contaminated water (or using ice cubes made from it), including water in streams in wildlife areas (also in the USA), can cause giardiasis (The most common source of chronic diarrhea picked up while traveling worldwide ie. even in the USA not just abroad). Mosquitoes carry dengue. Travelers who have been to areas where these diseases are found and who feel ill should see a doctor for tests and treatment.

Schistosomiasis is a fresh-water parasite found in the Caribbean, South America, Africa and Asia. Dangerous areas for travelers are Brazil, Puerto Rico and St. Lucia, Egypt and most of sub-Saharan Africa, southern China, the Philippines and Southeast Asia. So the Caribbean looks OK for the most part.

The flatworm that causes this disease uses fresh-water snails as the intermediate host. The snails release larvae into the water, and these enter humans through the skin. There may be no symptoms initially; if there are, those exposed for the first time may have fever, chills, cough, diarrhea, weakness and headaches. But many people who get a chronic form, with involvement of the lungs, liver, intestines and bladder, may recall no acute symptoms after exposure.

Once diagnosed through blood and other tests, the disease is treated with a single dose of a drug, praziquantel, which the doctors interviewed say is easily tolerated.
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Old February 10th, 2008, 05:52 PM
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I did this with Carnival and i ha dlots of fun but good job telling people to wtch out for certain things!! this shore excursion is really for people 13 and up and good swimmers! don't go if you cant swim because there are points where the gudie is off somehere and you need to take care of yourself little kids would flip out way to much!!! thanks but also remeber it can be FUN!!!
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 12:39 PM
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My family and I went cave tubing in Belize. I'm a good swimmer but there was one part in the cave that I got seperated from the group due to fast current. I can see how it could get dangerous in the rainy season.

Although we had a great time on this excursion, I agree.....this excursion is not right for little kids or seniors. It's very strenuous at times.

Thanks for sharing![/b]
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Old February 28th, 2008, 12:29 PM
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It wasn't my trip, I've never been to Belize, but I copied the story from someone else who did this tour.
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 12:06 PM
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I did cave tubing with Yhony in Belize (I was about 55 at the time),and it was one of the best excursions! I did my research and chose his staff. It was also in Feb..if the ship cancels this excursion, you know that you should cancel yours even if your guides do not. And as the poster stated, if the water is high and threating rain, I would think twice about it. That being said, Yhony has a great staff and I ALWAYS felt safe. I did feel very sorry for the cruiseship booked ppl ..Yhony even had to help one lady that had fallen off her tube as there was NO guide from the cruiseship excursion staff around to help her..He was even telling them when they just do "butts up" and when we were approaching any faster currents. If it had not been for Yhony and his guys, the cruiseships excursion could have encountered problems..know who your going with and then know that this river is part of Nature, and we all know that can NOT be predicted! Dot
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