Traveling to T.R.E.E.S.

In order to make your trip to Belize go as smoothly as possible, we suggest the following tips!!!

Passport

To enter Belize you will need a passport valid for more than six months before its expiration date. It can take as many as 6 weeks to obtain a passport, so get ready in advance. Nationals of the United States, Canada, Mexico, European Union countries, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Venezuela and members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) don’t need a visa to enter the country.

Tourists who aren’t from the previously mentioned countries may be required to apply and pay for a tourist visa before coming to Belize and, in some cases, might have to acquire permission from Belize Immigration to enter the country. Visas can cost anywhere from USD$100 to USD$2,000 depending on your nationality. Belize allows visitors a maximum of one month’s stay in the country before they require an extension obtained through the Belize Ministry of Defense and Immigration. Longer stays can be granted on a monthly basis for $25 US per month, up to 6 months.

Vaccines and prophylactics

We highly recommend the use of a travel clinic in preparing for travel to any foreign destination.  These clinics will check the current recommendations for your destination country and then provide the appropriate vaccines and medications for such things as malaria prophylaxis.  Although the incidence of malaria is very low in Belize, a prophylactic drug could be taken, this is a personal decision and that of your travel clinic doctor. As travelling anywhere in the world Hepatitis A and B shots are highly recommended as well as Tetanus and Typhoid. There is a low risk of dengue in the country but it is present. Unfortunately, there are no vaccines to be taken for dengue.

Flights

We recommend that you purchase your tickets online using any of the various travel websites (e.g. Travelocity.com or Hotwire.com).  These will provide you with flight options in order of cost.  Remember to shop around, as different sites will offer deals through various carriers.

From the U.S., most people can still find flights for under $700 from a major airport.

From Canada, most can still find flights for under $800 from the big cities.  As of yet, there are no direct flights from Canada. There are rumours that West Jet may fly to Placencia shortly, but these are still only rumours.

Be sure of your travel dates, as changing flights can be expensive or impossible for certain deals (e.g. hotwire does not allow any change of flights).  Your destination will be the PHILIP S W GOLDSON INTL in Belize City.

Language

English is the official language of Belize and is spoken throughout the country, although only 4 % of the population speak it as their first language. English is the primary language of public education, with Spanish taught in primary and secondary school as well. Bilingualism is very common. Literacy currently stands at nearly 80%.

All courses at T.R.E.E.S. will be taught in English.

The Belizean Kriol, an English-based Kriol is spoken throughout the country as well as Spanish. Then there many other languages regularly spoken in specific areas of Belize., the breakdown of spoken languages is as follows: Spanish 46%, Creole 32.9%, Mayan dialects, 8.9%, English 3.9% (official language), Garifuna 3.4% (Carib), German (Germanic Plautdietsch, spoken by the Mennonites) 3.3%, other 1.4%.

Money

The Belize Dollar is the official currency of Belize. For several decades now the Belize Dollar has been tied to the U.S. dollar at an official rate of two Belize Dollars to one US dollar, thus, one U.S. dollar equals two Belize dollars. While not recommended as a day to day practice most establishments will accept American money, this even includes the little food stores, as long as the bills are not too big.

There is a bank machine in the Airport that will hand out Belize dollars as well as a Money Exchange office. There are also bank machines in the larger cities (Belmopan, Dangriga, Placencia, etc.). We recommend travelling with some cash but there is no need to travel with large amounts as you can withdraw money from bank machines using foreign cards in all major towns.

Most larger stores, particularly tourist shops, will nearly always accept credit cards. 

Packing

Pack light, but bring everything you may need.  Goods purchased in Belize (such as batteries and film) may be much more expensive and of inferior quality to those you are accustomed to purchasing. We supply bedding (sheets, pillows, and blankets) and towels at T.R.E.E.S (though towels are supplied for eco-tourists only, not for student groups). We do not supply bath products (soap, shampoo, conditioner) and students must remember to also bring their own towels. Many field stations and some other types of rustic accommodations in Belize do not supply bedding. Make sure you check with all of your accommodation providers to ensure you are bringing everything you may need. Cabins at T.R.E.E.S have screens as will most other accommodations. However, some people feel more comfortable sleeping under a mosquito net and we recommend bringing a bed net to anyone that wishes. There are hooks above all of the beds for hanging these nets.

Remember, you will be limited to one checked bag on most American airlines and two carry-on bags. We recommend packing light clothes. In most seasons (wet and dry) we recommend gear and clothes that dry quickly, either the wetness of the rainy season or the humidity of the jungle even during the dry season causes things to go moldy rapidly. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts are great at keeping the biting flies away and we usually recommend wearing pants at all times at T.R.E.E.S.

Flash rains do occur during the dry season up in the mountains, so we highly suggest that you bring some boots to work in the jungle as well as some rain gear, at least a fast-drying rain jacket.

  • Rain gear
  • Insect Repellent (bug spray)
  • Sturdy hiking shoes/boots
  • Rain (rubber) boots and/or Tevas or other hiking sandals that can be used in the water
  • Sandals and summer clothes
  • Bathing Suit
  • Towel
  • Long pants (preferably light, quick-dry material)
  • One warm shirt
  • At least one quick-drying long sleeved shirt
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • A good book, during those off times
  • Headlamp/flashlight
  • Binoculars and/or Camera
  • A Rite-in-the-Rain book with waterproof paper to use as a field journal

Other precautions

There are some thefts in Belize; while most incidents are in Belize City and crime is not directly targeted at tourists we recommend that you take the usual precautions.

The first tip is to not look flashy, don’t flaunt nice watches, purses, etc. Always carry your money and passport on your person when travelling. Although we have never had any incidences of thieving at T.R.E.E.S., these people are still around, and you can keep your passport and money in our safe when you arrive at the station, if you so desire.

Make a photocopy of the photo page of your passport and keep this in a separate place from your actual passport.  This can aid in getting a new passport should you lose yours.

Bring your driver’s licence but leave your school ID and unnecessary credit cards at home.  If it is difficult to replace, if you don’t need it, or if you can’t afford to lose it, leave it at home. The only necessary documentation in Belize is your passport and driver’s license if you decide to rent a car or drive for any reason.

If you take medication for any reason, be sure you have an adequate supply.

We suggest that you bring plenty of insect repellant with DEET (25%), although it can be found quite easily in the country (but more expensive than home). One must remember that DEET eats plastic and 100 % DEET is not recommended for direct contact with skin. Citronella insect repellents seem to work quite well for the Botlass flies which are the most common biting insects at T.R.E.E.S.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@ecorana.ca

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