After a couple of failed attempts to go manatee watching we decided that our best bet would be to go to Gales Point village, a small community of Garifunas who are located next door to a manatee sanctuary, where a large concentration of manatees live. We figured this was as close to a guarantee as possible for sightings.
Our plan had been to take the bus up from Placencia to Dangriga, along the coast, and then either take a bus straight to Gales Point for the night or spend the night in Dangriga and use it as a jump off point to the sanctuary.
We left Placencia on the 7am bus and arrived in Dangriga just before 9am, with the whole day ahead of us we thought why not drop off our bags and head straight out to the manatees?
We found a guesthouse not too far from the bus station and checked ourselves in for the night. Once settled and ready to go, we asked the owner about how to get to the sanctuary.
She looked at us rather bemused and explained that there is only one bus per day that goes to Gales Point and it leaves Dangriga at 6.15am, so the only other way to get there would be a taxi, but finding a good price would be hard due to the road being unpaved for part of the way.
Feeling only slightly discouraged we headed back to the bus station to where the taxis were stationed and asked around, to say we were shocked with the price would be a huge understatement.
Gales Point is only 18 miles away and yet they were asking for $50 (US) – one way!
To be perfectly honest we may have considered this had we not also known that we would have to pay about the same again for a boat ride around the lagoon to actually see the manatees.
With our budget already at a critical low for Belize we decided that despite our best intentions and best laid plans this was not going happen, so we had a choice to make. Stay in Dangriga for the day and head out to San Ignacio the next day, or leave now.
After a stroll around the town we decided there was no reason to stay if we were not going to the sanctuary.
We headed back to the guesthouse and explained our predicament, luckily the owner gave us a refund on the room, and we headed once more back to the bus station.
Unlike Gales Point, buses to Belmopan ran every hour so we jumped on the 11.30am and arrived at Belmopan an hour later, after a bite to eat we were headed onwards to San Ignacio on the 2.15pm bus, our last town before we crossed to Guatemala.
Oh, and did I mention the manatee watching was supposed to have been my birthday treat? Instead I got to spend the day travelling through Belize on buses – what a delight!