memorable, comfortable, affordable ... Punta Gorda, Toledo, Belize

Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, and Ya'axche Conservation Trust

Ya'axche Conservation Trust (pronounced "yah-shay") is a community-oriented organisation which manages two pieces of pristine natural forest in southern Belize - the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, and the Bladen Nature Reserve. They work closely with the five buffer communities, educating and promoting alternative livelihoods through community outreach programmes.

The 15,000 acre Golden Stream Corridor Preserve forms a strategic biological corridor stretching from the Maya Mountains to the Port Honduras Marine Reserve. In addition to its role as a biological corridor, the Preserve is home to 17 identified major ecosystems containing hundreds of plan species as well as 19 amphibian, 270 bird, 20 fish, 59 mammal, and 54 reptile species.

You can visit the Corridor through Ya'axche's "Ranger for a Day" programme (click here for PDF flyer). Don't expect a gentle tour - this is a genuine jungle experience! You'll be joining the Rangers on their daily patrol of the Preserve, helping to monitor key species (including toucans and spider monkeys), and noting jaguar, tapir, and armadillo tracks. In return, you're likely to get muddy and sweaty, have an unparalleled experience of the Belizean jungle, and help contribute to the conservation of the area (100% of the fee goes towards the protected area's ranger salaries). And, if water levels allow, you can opt for a combo hike and river patrol, returning by boat!

You should have a medium level of fitness, as you'll be walking for up to two hours in hot and sometimes wet conditions. Wear long pants and sturdy shoes, and bring a hat, insect repellent, water, and snacks or a packed lunch. For more information, visit Ya'axche's website.

Riverside hike: suggested donation US$30pp
River patrol and hike: suggested donation US$45pp

Patrols are timed to allow for travel from Punta Gorda by public transport - take the 7.50am James Bus and ask to be dropped at the Ya'axche field station at Golden Stream, bus fare US$2.50 pp each way.