San Ignacio
Macal River canoeing
The cave trip was pretty exhausting, so the following day we were looking for something a little less active. We decided to rent a canoe at a tour operator in San Ignacio. We had two choices: put in at San Ignacio and paddle upriver for about six miles, or get dropped off 14 miles upstream and float downriver. Guess which one we picked.
The first 8 miles or so went by pretty quickly as the water was moving along briskly. There were even a couple of (very small) rapids to navigate. We stopped for lunch at Chaa Creek resort -- very expensive to stay at, but it looked pretty nice. We wandered around a bit there, visiting their butterfly farm and natural history museum.
The river was noticably slower moving after the resort, so we had to paddle more than on the first part, but it still ended up being a pretty relaxing day overall. We made it back in time to watch the Super Bowl at a sports bar we'd noticed walking back to down from Cahal Pech.
The first part of the river had lots of overhanging trees.
Half of this tree's roots were exposed.
We think these are bird nests in the tree.
A little blue heron flying off after we startled it.
The river wasn't entirely wild; these cows were drinking as we approached.
While eating lunch at the Chaa Creek resort, we had a view of these colorful toucans.
After lunch we visited the butterfly farm, a screened-in room with tons of blue morpho butterflies flitting around.
These butterflies had just emerged from their chrysalides hours earlier. The green things all around them are more chrysalides that aren't ready to hatch yet.
The adult butterflies had all the fruit they could eat in here.
These butterflies are obviously used to people tromping through.
The females have two rows of white dots on the edges of their wings.
And the males have just one row of dots, and are more iridescent.
The butterfly farm tour included a lecture on thier life cycle, including up-close views of all the various caterpillar stages. The blue morpho life cycle is about four months long, with only two or three weeks as a butterfly.
That blob that looks like a drop of water is actually a fertilized egg. The caterpillar molts between each of the five different stages, called instars. Finally, the caterpillar spins a chrysalis and transforms itself into a butterfly.
The river was a lot calmer at this point, almost still in places.
This tree had a large plant growing on it.
Two blue herons sharing a log with an egret.
The guide at the butterfly farm had mentioned that we could see bright orange iguanas sitting in the tops of trees. We were beginning to think he was pulling our leg when we saw this guy.
These two vultures were eating a dead gray iguana. The vulture on the left is standing on it.