Experience the heights and depths of jungle exploration with cave tubing/zip-line combo

Just donít brake too soon! Thatís the advice the guides on Jaguar Paw Resortís Aerial Trek Zip Line Tour give to all those brave enough to experience this unique activity, which has attracted visitors of all ages to the jungle resort.

In fact, Jaguar Paw had a visit from an 88 year-old grandmother in January 2005 who successfully navigated both the zip line tour and its sister adventure sport, cave tubing.

But even if you donít remember the sage advice to keep forward momentum going until the last possible moment, fear not: all of Jaguar Pawís 19 in-house zip-line guides are trained to ensure that their guests safely traverse the aerial route between the tourís eight stations. Almost three years since the sport was first introduced at Jaguar Paw, their efforts have been extraordinarily successful.

As the first resort in Belize to offer this increasingly popular activity, Jaguar Paw sees literally hundreds of zip-liners per day during the height of the season, according to Cy Young, who co-owns and operates the resort, along with his wife Donna.

The sport of zip-lining originated from rappelling, a form of mountain climbing where safety harnesses and ropes are used to rappel, or jump, from one point to another on the climbing surface. Zip-lining likewise employs a series of steel cables and platforms, suspended high above the ground amidst the rainforest canopy, to propel guests from one station to the next. These cables, or zip lines, are stretched between stations, allowing guests to slide from one platform to the next via a safety harness and pulley attached to one of the double cables (the other is used for braking).

And if a birdís-eye view of the jungle as you zip through the air suspended from steel cables isnít thrilling enough, resort guests and visitors can pair that experience with Jaguar Pawís other signature activity: cave tubing.

By taking the half-day cave tubing tour, you can experience both the highs and lows of jungle exploration, as you float down the Caves Branch River on large inner tubes, navigating your way through five underground caves along the river route, which winds its way through Jaguar Pawís 215-acre jungle reserve and rainforest wildlife sanctuary. One must-see stop is the spectacular Crystal Cave. One of the largest caves in Belize, it is an inner sanctum of crystal stalactites, stalagmites, rim stone dams and Mayan artifacts. Trained guides lead visitors underground through a living natural cave to the ďCrystal Room,Ē which has many beautiful formations that are enhanced by indirect lighting.

Jaguar Paw Jungle Resort, located about 75 minutes from the Belize International Airport in the heart of a 215-acre jungle reserve, offers these and a wide variety of other guest activities such as horseback riding, rappelling and mountain climbing, birding and jungle walks. The resort itself features 16, air-conditioned guest rooms, each decorated in a different theme, ranging from Wild West to Chinese, English Country Garden and African. Its restaurant and bar features 25-foot ceilings with a centerpiece rock wall that has water cascading down to a basin below. Its seven on-staff chefs, each hailing from a different Central American country, offer some of the best, authentic Belizean gourmet food to be found anywhere, featuring fresh-picked fruits and vegetables, taken from the wild and from the resortís own gardens.

However, if you choose not to stay at the resort, you can still experience the cave tubing/zip-line combo via a day trip booked from one of Belizeís other top-flight hotels and resorts, including those on Ambergris Caye. (Lunch is usually included.)

For those seeking adventure beyond what the resort offers, Jaguar Paw also features a variety of day or night excursions within the context of forest and wildlife conservation that can be tailored to each guestís interests. One important reminder to prospective guests: Jaguar Paw is a jungle reserve ó a safe haven for native wildlife ó so hunters will need to leave their guns with the front desk concierge during their stay!

from Magnum Belize