Clarissa Falls, Belize

What’s around that corner? Greener grass? Whiter beach? On this trip, I often ruminate, sometimes pontificate, on those questions. I’m also innately antsy. And when you’re constantly looking elsewhere, you struggle to see what’s right in front of your face. I’m sure some famous person said that. Or something similar.

Third Day

We spent the first two days at Clarissa Falls, a campground a few miles outside of San Ignacio, Belize, debating if we should leave the campground. Go see those ruins. Tube in that cave. Cross into Guatemala. The debate occupied most of our free conversation — all while a beautiful river and jungle surrounded us.


We saw a Keel-billed Toucan perched atop a ceiba tree at our first meal in the campground’s restaurant. That should’ve been the first smack on the side of the head to stop and look around. Smell the jasmine. The next morning we saw two Collared Aracaris, named for the apple red collar that wraps around it’s berry black and banana yellow belly. It has a black sawtooth pattern on its red, yellow, and orange bill.

[Can you spot the aracari in the picture below?!]

Fun fact: Toucans, at least the keel-billed ones, croak. Like frogs. You can hear them above your head every other hour of the day. Yet even when you hound the sound, and despite their crazy colors, toucans remain difficult to spot.

Jade Water

Green water is suspect. Like swimming through algae. I’m much more inclined to hop into blue, or even brown, provided its brown from mud and not other sources, water. Perhaps it’s just unfamiliarity.

Hence my hesitance to swim or paddle board in the Macal River. The water was clear. But jade. Clear…. But jade. I contemplated that as I contemplated jumping off the dock below our campsite. I mean, there’s a difference between apparent and true color, right? And this river is surrounded by jungle. And limestone. It’s reasonable, almost rational, that the color would be a shade of green. Plus its clear. Yet jade….

I eventually took the plunge. We all did. The temperature was the perfect amount of cool to offset the, at times, stifling heat. We spent as much time in the water as on the land, mainly jumping from a deceased tree and then floating to the dock (see video below). This kids also caught minnows — using crackers and plastic bags! — off the dock. It was incredible. Refreshing. Though I now may have a horn growing from my back….

Electric Fireflies

The kids spotted fireflies the second night. Compared to the fireflies we’ve seen in the Northeast and Southeast US, which have more of a candlelight glow and casual flight, Belizean fireflies are electric, both in color, neon green, and action, swiftly zagging through the night, leaving a trail of light behind them.

Awesome Host

A host is as much as part of the overlanding experience as the site. Chena, the owner of Clarissa Falls Resort, was as good of, if not the best, host we’ve encountered on this trip-venture. Amazing, friendly, accommodating. She also cooks mean tacos and Belizean dishes. She cares, sincerely cares, about her guests, not just what’s in their wallet. You’d love her smile. And you, like us, would be excited just to order a meal from her.

2 thoughts on “Clarissa Falls, Belize

  1. I love jumping into, and swimming in fresh bodies of water. I admire your courage jumping into this one. I agree that something about the color and being in a jungle would make me nervous. Seeing E and P jump off the log is awesome!


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