Howler House Blog: stories, photos & videos
Facts About Traveling to Belize
Languages in Belize
English is the official language of Belize, and is widely spoken throughout the country. Spanish is also spoken in most parts of the country, and various indigenous communities speak Maya, Garifuna, and Creole.
Here are a few different ways you’ll hear “good morning”
• “Gud Mawnin” – Kriol
• “Buiti Binafi” – Garifuna
• “Buenos dias” – Spanish
Belize has approximately 361,000 residents, including Creoles (Afro-European), Garinagus (people of African descent who emigrated from neighboring Caribbean islands), Mestizos (of Spanish and Native American descent), Maya, North Americans, and Europeans.
Taxes in Belize
Belize imposes a flat 9% tax on hotels and lodging. A sales tax of 12.5% is imposed on general goods and services.
There is an airport departure tax of $15 US required plus a $1.25 US security tax plus a Protected Areas Conservation Trust fee of $3.75 US which is used to conserve Belize’s protected areas.
Belize Time Zone
Belize is on Central Standard Time, and does not observe daylight savings time adjustments.
Tipping in Belize
Tipping is a commonplace practice, generally 10%, or up to 15% for exemplary service. In some establishments, a gratuity may be automatically added to your bill.
Geography of Belize
Belize measures 8,867 square miles, and is located on the eastern side of Central America, with a long coastline fronting the Caribbean Sea. Belize shares a northern border with Mexico while the western and southern part of the country borders Guatemala.
Water in Belize
The water in Belize is generally safe to drink.
Climate in Belize
Belize has a subtropical climate, with brisk eastern winds coming inland from the Caribbean Sea. Annual temperatures average 80F, with a green season occurring annually between June and August.
What to Wear in Belize
Belize is an informal country, so casual, comfortable and light clothing is generally commonplace. Visitors embarking on jungle excursions should wear appropriate clothing to protect against insects and thick undergrowth. Early mornings and late evenings are often cool enough to require a sweater or light jacket.
Money in Belize
The official currency of Belize is the dollar (BZD), officially pegged at 2:1 to the U.S. dollar. American dollars are generally accepted throughout the country.
Entry Requirements in Belize
Citizens of the United States, British Commonwealth, European Union, CARICOM nations, Mexico, and Costa Rica do not require a visa, but must hold a valid passport and proof of return/onward tickets.
Citizens of other nations must obtain a visa beforehand. For more information, contact your local Belizean Embassy or consulate, or inquire at the nearest British Embassy.
Belize is a sovereign democratic nation with an elected representative parliament. Belize is also a member of the British Commonwealth.
Airlines that fly to Belize
|American Airlines||+(501) 225-4145||www.aa.com|
|Maya Island Air||800-225-6732||www.mayaairways.com|
|Southwest Airlines||+(501) 225-4902||www.southwest.com|
|Tropic Air||+(501) 226-2012||www.tropicair.com|
|Southwest Airlines||879||15:05||Houston (Hobby)|
|Southwest Airlines||1013||16:00||Houston (Hobby)|
Facts About Belize – Essential Information for Visitors by Joyce Balase
Meet Andrew: aka ‘Curly’
Andrew provides transportation for all the Howler House guests who do not want to bother with renting a vehicle, but want to get out to do some exploring or tours. His prices are as reasonable as you will find in Belize. Most transportation charges per person – not Andrew, his prices are per trip. But more significant, Andrew is a wealth of local information and he will take you anywhere you please at any time you please. No need to book in advance because Andrew only drives for the Howler House guests. If you check
out the reviews for the house you will see people really enjoy traveling with him; he has the most infectious smile and is simply a delightful person to get to know. If you do want to rent a vehicle, Andrew usually has an inexpensive, nothing fancy SUV with AC and an entertainment device for rent.
This is what guests have to say about Andrew’s service:
It was special having Andrew because he is extremely knowledgeable and makes special stops to tell you about the country, this was a real treat and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. He was never more than 10 mins late (I mean come on that’s just the reality of life) You pay Andrew to drive and the the adventure cost is separate, so if you want a total cost for an adventure before you get to Belize you can look at the black orchid website. When prices dropped because of the low season Andrews connections always would meet or beat the price. Plus we got special guides and few other people on the tours with us.
You can see more reviews on the Howler House face book page – which you are welcome to join!
Even if you want to rent a vehicle, I always advise people to let Andrew pick you up at the airport when you arrive – or anywhere in Belize, and he will take you shopping for supplies, he will give you a tour of the village and get you all settled into the house, you can relax and when you are ready to go exploring, Andrew will help you arrange a vehicle rental. There is a cell phone for your use in the house, and you can call Andrew any time you want to take a tour or go off exploring, he is pretty much always available.
Andrew will help you design your own tours, you can get as creative as you like.
Here is a list of possible tours with Andrew’s rates per trip: NOT per person [most tour guides charge per person] .
Airport Pickup, shopping and village tour: $50.00 USD
To Water taxi for the Cayes: $60.00 USD
The Amazing Belize Zoo $ 70.00 USD
The Howler Monkey Sanctuary $ 60.00 USD
Atlun Hu Mayan Ruins $ 80.00 USD
Visit Local Exotic Wine Makers $ 60.00 USD
Bacab Eco Nature Park with Pool and Horse back riding: $ 60.00 USD
$ 200.00 USD
Crooked Tree Wild Life Sanctuary and Bird Watching: $ 75.00 USD
Laminanai Mayan Ruins: $120.00 USD
Xunantunich Mayan Ruins: $150.00 USD
Actun Tunichil Muknal: ATM caves [National Geographic names this site as “one of the world’s greatest caves to explore”] : $135.00 USD
Zip-linning: $110.00 USD
Cave Tubbing at Cave Branch: $ 110.00 USD
It has been a busy few months at the Howler House; Beans has built a NEW beautiful bird watching deck that joins the NEW 1,500 foot wooden walkway to the house that is attached to the NEW wooden parking spot up the road. All is beautiful! We also have new bikes and a new canoe – and next comes a new little studio on the other side of the crocodile pond.
When Beans was building the new deck, there was a little humming bird nest with two tiny pearly white eggs inside, hanging in the bushe over the new deck construction. The mother hummingbird sat determinedly on the eggs while the deck was being built, and everyone was careful not to disturb her. Just a couple of days after construction had ended, the babies hatched!
Welcome to my small collection of Howler House short videos; all of the wild life videos are shot from the Howler House deck and help to explain why many guests never leave the deck; enjoy, and then please do come and see for yourself. Send me an email to inquire about rentals, check out my reviews on Trip Adviser, and come visit us in Burrell Boom, the most peaceful and exciting unique little spot in the world. Enjoy.
This little video is a collection of shots from the deck and the back porch; the crocidile pond is in the back yard, and I have just completed the construction of a wooden bridge to park for parking, a 150 foot boardwalk around the back of the pond, and a bridge over the pond to the back door of the house. I will post a blog with photos soon.
This video of the Howler and Giant Iguana Stand-off was such an amazing afternoon; we were all hanging out on the deck: Val and Tony and Tinnie and Miss Erelen, enjoying the setting sun, when the Giant Iguana came and set himself down on the wrong branch; he was on the Howler family’s branch. The usual routine is for this beast of an Iguana to settle himself down with long tail dangling over the branch, on the branch above — while the Howler family makes it way across the lower branch. But, not this day. You can hear our chitter chatter in the background as we watched this unusual encounter between the Howlers and the Giant Iguana, enjoy.
Just a day on the deck of the Howler House …… breathing deep and feeling so very peaceful.
I had fun making this little video, I was sitting at the table checking out our Trip Adviser reviews when the Howler family came to visit; the “kids” were still babies then, now they are two.
This is one is a fun little video I made to apply for a job traveling around the world making short videos and blogging for Jauntarista — it was called the best job in the world, and I made it to the short list of 50; what a fun experience. Enjoy.
Every time a guests leaves the Howler House, I ask what improvements would make your next visit even better? My list included a canoe, more dishes and baking equipment for the kitchen, and more comfortable seating. A list that I managed to check off this winter, thanks to all our guests. The house has a beautiful new three seater canoe built by a local canoe builder, Derick Stewart, and just in time for canoe season, the river is a beautiful smooth flowing green at this time of year. Local carpenter, Nicholas Newman, who built the kitchen cabinets and the bedroom furniture, came back to build some living room seating that is nice and comfy cozy, he also built a big completely screened in dinning area on the deck. Tony and Beans painted the entire house a beautiful bold deep blue and bright yellow trim, the new paint job looks stunning from the river, and while I loved the wooden look, paint is much easier to keep clean. For those of you who like to cook and bake – we now have some beautiful good quality pots and pans and baking bowls and dishes and spoons and casserole dishes too. I am looking for some good cookbooks on Belize dishes as well to add to the new kitchen utensils. And, oh yes, Beans and Rudy also built a new little (temporary dock) for the new canoe.
My dream would be to see the Howler House become a place that guests return to enjoy another time, and my hopes are that with each visit the Howler house will become more beautiful and well equipped. The big plan for the next couple of months is to build a wooden driveway attached to a 150 foot boardwalk, on the other side of the pond, with a bridge over the crocodile pond that leads to the house — and, a wooden deck over the backyard septic field ;).
Sweet dreams, indeed. Thanks to all the Howler House guests!
This giant Iguana often hangs out on the same branch over the river in front of the Howler House, he is the biggest of the many and diverse Iguanas and lizards that live on the river bank — and certainly the most magnificent. When the setting sun casts a golden glow on his lizard skin he is truly a work of art; nature’s art. But, one evening he decided to hang out on a different branch, the branch that the Howler Monkey family that lives in the canape always uses:
Watch the video to see what happens: another howler house vacation rental moment!
What a beautiful friend. Tinnie and I met about 5 years ago now, I’ll always remember how she laughed as she told me, I work hard, I have five ‘pickney’ to care for. And she had a 6-day-a-week retail job in Belize city, which meant she had to travel the local bus an hour each way, bumping and stopping and sometimes letting her off five miles from home — if she was late for the last bus to Boom. And — she was cleaning one of the local schools every single evening.
Yes, Tinnie is a hard working woman with a big soft heart and a singing voice that is beautiful. When I decided to try to run a little vacation rental business with the Howler House, the first thing I did was ask Tinnie if she would work with me and keep care of the house and the housekeeping for guests.
Once again, how blessed I feel to have such a wonderful friend working together with me to create this little vacation dream spot in the jungle. Tinnie and I have worked together since the beginning, and now — thanks to all our visitors, Tinnie has been able to quit her $3.00 BLZ an hour job in the city – yahooo! But, keeping care of the Howler House is not her only job – she still works plenty hard cleaning the school, the preschool, and now she is also working with the new vacation rental next door. (If you are looking for a vacation rental that offers two large bedrooms and two bathrooms and an amazing tree house over the river, check out Tony and Val’s place: Belize River Home)
Tinnie dreams of becoming a farmer, like her father who taught her all about agriculture in the jungle, and herbs and medicinal plants — she has a beautiful piece of land just down the road – and, if she can sell an acre of her river-front, she will be able to finance her agricultural dream! So, if you are dreaming of building a home in the jungle – be sure to talk to Tinnie.
You can also drop your clothes off at Tinnie’s house if you need extra laundry done while staying at the Howler House.
I first met Ms. Erlene back in 2008 on my first trip to Burrell Boom. I was traveling with her brother, Tony (RIP) and my best friend Val, Tony’s wife. That was on our first expedition when we set out to explore the country and see if Belize was really the place we wanted to be — and, you know, it is people like Ms. Erlene that most definitely made Belize the place to be for me — and especially Burrel Boom.
Erlene has the biggest heart and the biggest spirit and the most wonderful laugh. She has been an amazing friend for me, she knows every thing there is to know about getting things done in Belize, and everyone you need to know, and I don’t know what I would do without her constant help and wonderful friendship.
Yes, I am certainly blessed in Belize with a friend like Erlene — and now she is the Howler House manager! Indeed, the village of Boom is blessed with her too. The first year I met her, she took me along on her annual Santa delivering presents trip from the back of a pick-up on Christmas morning. That Santa suit has gotta be hot, but she danced and laughed and sang and played on an old wash board shaking her booty like only she can! Check out the video: Christmas with Erlene!
Erlene lives at the top of the driveway, and if you arrive in a rental car, you must stop at her house and honk your horn, and IF she is home, she’ll ride down to help you get settled into the house and give you your receipt and keys. If Erlene is not home, the keys will be waiting for you at the house, and Erlene will come down with your receipt before you leave – or, you can stop and pick it up at her house. We have a courtesy cell phone for you in the house, and you will find Erlene’s number there as well. Erlene is your contact person for any problems.
You can find driving directions to the house on this Blog Post: Driving Directions
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Meet Ms. Carol
Ms. Carol is one of those unique and wonderful people who welcomes everyone with a big beautiful smile that is as delightful as the meals she cooks up in her little kitchen in Burrell Boom. Fresh fried fish and chicken and delicious burgers are her specialties.
Carol will serve you up a yummy dinner or lunch along with lively conversation and answers to all your questions about the village.
Originally from Boom, Carol, like many Belizans, spent part of her adult life “up North” before returning to this sweet little village. But, I’ll let Carol tell you her own story. Carol volunteers at the local not-for-profit internet cafe on Tuesday nights – so, that is where you’ll find her until after 7 pm. You can always give her a call to see if she is open before walking up that way – her number is in the Howler House Guest book.
Be sure to spend at least a day just hanging out around the village – take a nice walk or bicycle ride in the morning down to the Black Orchid for a swim. You can also paddle the canoe to the Resort. In the late afternoon, go on up to Ms Carol’s and enjoy the cooling of the day with a cold drink while you let the smells from her kitchen wake up your appetite. Often the local kids/adults will be playing ball in the field right in front, it is a very pleasant way to pass away the end of the day. If you want, you can even arrange to have some meals pre-cooked to keep in the house fridge, just ask Carol. And, don’t be shy to go into the big pub right next door, run by Hector [aka Yellow Man] and Ms Carol’s partner. There’s a couple of pool tables and dominoes is a popular game, sit down and pass some time with the locals – you will find the friendliest people with the most entertaining stories.
- Hector [aka Yellow Man] - proprietor of the pub
- Yellow Man's Pub
- Yellow Man's Pub
- Ms Carol's Place
- Always friendly, lively conversation at Ms Carol's Place, walk up the road and hang around a bit while you wait for your yummmy food
- On the road to Ms Carol's Place
- FRESH Fish -- the best fried fish in Boom
- Ms Carol's place
- Fresh Fried Fish and Fried Chicken - the best!
Last year this time, I really was riding on a wing and a prayer. I’d just returned from teaching a semester at sea and I had a little pocket of money and four months left of an unpaid sabbatical. Well, I thought it was going to be four months. I was going to try to survive off a small writing contract that paid me about $800 Canadian dollars a month — and, hopefully the odd Howler House vacation rental ( I designed an online course for UBC). While I was at home, in the village of Boom, I could live on about 20 Canadian dollars a day – total, with ease; as long as my only expenses were food and refreshments, water and electricity. I did the math and figured I could survive. But, of course, when the house is rented I would need a place to stay – I choose Caye Caulker, a small island that is just an adventuresome two-hour trip from the Howler House vacation rental, Caye Caulker is another one of those unique in the world places – really. The streets are sand, everyone walks, or bikes or uses a golf cart; the street signs say Go Slow and everyone does and my morning bike ride takes me along the beach under the coconut trees from one end to the other in about 30 minutes – I love this beautiful little island. I say the two-hour trip is adventuresome because I take the local bus, an old school bus that picks me up in the village and bumps and rocks slowly along, stopping frequently and filling to the brim with all sorts of talkative people. The bus stops about four blocks away from the Caye Caulker water taxi dock: The San Pedro Express, and the walk is noisy and busy and the sidewalks are broken and the city is a mess with poverty and sweltering heat. By the time I get to the Water taxi dock, I am so ready for an ice cold Belikin and a breeze and a relaxing wait for the next boat. Ahhhhh. And, I have a new friend who works at the dock giving people massages – right there in your chair while you sip on your cold beer – it is heaven. Her name is Bridgett and her hands are magic. The boat ride is about 40 minutes across turquoise Caribbean waters and if you are smart you will put down your cold beer and get in the front of the line so you can get one of the few seats up above with the captain and really enjoy the cruise from the city to the island. So, while Paul, the first guest at the Howler House vacation rental, was visiting I headed for the island in search of super cheap accommodations – which I found no problem. Right on the lagoon with a sunset view for 20 bucks a night. It was funky, but so am I. The really cool thing is that while I was there – I a met this super funny couple and they became my next guest for the Howler House vacation rental. And, of course, I realized that Caye Caulker is a good place to meet potential new guests!
And this is the view from my funky little room
And this is me, right at home on Caye Caulker
“Howl with the Howlers” Reviewed March 4, 2013 for a stay in February 2013
If you are looking for a place to begin, end or make a base for your adventure trip to Belize, the Howler Tree house is the place to be. You literally sit in the jungle trees on the banks of the Belize River. This jungle tree house will not disappoint you. It is spacious, in first rate condition and provides the privacy of your own secluded oasis but also has the convenience of a resort as it is associated with nearby Black Orchid Resort. So if you want to dine and have excellent food or sit by the pool, the resort staff will more than accommodate you in prompt and kindly service. Erika is a wonderful host who not only provides a luxurious tree house, but also makes sure you are picked up and delivered where ever you need to go. There are cave tours, tubing, zip lining, and Mayan ruins close by as is Caye Caulker for the best snorkeling in the world. But what makes this property stand out is the connection to the jungle: whether it’s listening to the roar of the monkeys at twilight, hearing the splish splash of gators and critters below you in the river, or watching the colorful and very large Iguanas run over one another, you will not be disappointed!!! So go howl with the howlers!!!
To Be Continued ….
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