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SAVE THE FROGS! 2013 Belize Eco-Tour

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Frogs & Toads of Belize

Tropical Education Center | Xunantunich | Blue Creek Rainforest | Lubantaan | TREES | South Water Caye | Other Cool Places In Belize

Read Choti Singh's review of the 2013 Eco-Tour here.

"Just want to say one more time what an incredible time we had with you and everyone else in our group and just every experience in Belize."
-- Stacy Bynum, Colorado


The inauagural SAVE THE FROGS! Belize Eco-Tour was held July 11th to 20th, 2013 and wow what a trip! The ecotour was led by SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger; SAVE THE FROGS! Advisory Committee Chairman Michael Starkey; and Sacramento City College Professor David Wyatt. Belize is teeming with life. From birds, to bats, to bugs, we saw many fascinating animals. Frogs of course were the target and we saw 16 species! We visited the Tropical Education Center; the Mayan ruins Xunantunich and Lubantaan; the Blue Creek Rainforest; the Toucan Ridge Ecology and Education Society; the beautiful Caribbean beaches of South Water Caye; and the Smithsonian Institute's field station at Carrie Bowe Caye. Does that sound fun? Enjoy the photos below, and click here if you want to accompany us on our next trip to Belize.

Tropical Education Center (TEC)

It was great flying in to Belize and seeing so much land covered with forest, even just outside the capital city. Belize Aerial

The TEC is situated on a large plot of tropical savannah and is a great place to immerse yourself in the wilds of Central America. We were fortunate to arrive there the day after a huge rainfall, so the place was teeming with life, including lots of frogs!

The Red-Eyed Treefrogs (Agalychnis callidryas) were easy to find. Dave Wyatt photographed this beautiful frog:

Red Eyed Treefrog

The next generation:frog eggs


tropical savannah

These small Scinax staufferi frogs make loud calls! There were lots of them in the swamps, but they blend right in so it takes some searching to find them. Dave Wyatt photographed this frog:Scinax staufferi Dave Wyatt

Dave also got this photo of a Painted Frog (Tlalohyla picta). They emit a loud buzz call to attract a mate.Tlalohyla picta

Here's one Dr. Kriger spotted:tlalohyla picta

This was a proud Gulf Coast Toad:Toad

SAVE THE FROGS! Ecologist Michael Starkey organized the Eco-Tour. Here he overlooks some great crocodile habitat:Michael Starkey

This endangered Morelett's Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletti) was incredible!Crocodylus moreletti

Crocodile Belize

A juvenile was nearby:Crocodylus moreletti

Dave Wyatt took a great photo of this Keel Billed Toucan...Keel Billed Toucan

...and this hairstreak butterfly:Hairstreak Butterfly

This is where we would eat. At night the red-eyed treefrogs were in the trees next to the trail.TEC Belize

red eye treefrogsAgalycnhis callidryas

Frog art by Dr. Kriger:glowing frog

This parrot snake was next to the trail:Parrot Snake Dave Wyatt

Snake Michael Starkey

Parrot Snake

We found this Mexican Treefrog (Smilisca baudinii) living up to his name:

They aren't bright, but we still love the Leptodactylus melanotus:

We sighted this coffee snake:Coffee Snake


tropical forest


A vulture:Vulture

A Red-Cheeked Mud Turtle (Kinosternon scorpiodes):yellow-bellied slider

yellow-bellied slider

A Gulf Coast Toad (Bufo valliceps):

An anole at its nighttime perch:Anole Belize

Dave Wyatt photographed this Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird:

We were happy to see SAVE THE FROGS! posters up at the Belize Zoo (across the road from the TEC), where Michael has given presentations in the past:


Even though frogs were the target on this tour to Belize, we had to get some culture in as well! We were able to visit two amazing Maya archaeological sites, Xunantunich and Lubaantun. Xunantunich is a sacred site to the Maya and it was a privilege to visit this beautiful monument.

We took a ferry across this beautiful river to arrive at the site:Belize rivers

Xunantunich river

Frog group

Belize Kerry Kriger

Life flourishes at these Maya monuments! Here's a Black Spiny-Tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura similis):Iguana

Choti Singh photographed this beautiful Howler Monkey:Howler Monkey

The main ruin looks like an ancient castle:Xunantunich

belize maya

Mayan ruins

Kerry Kriger

Mayan site

Michael, Stacy and Rosie represent with their SAVE THE FROGS! Flag on the way up the main ruin:


Xunantunich had amazing art:Mayan art

Dr. Kriger provided some bamboo flute melodies at the top:Kerry Kriger

Michael and Dr. Kriger representing SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana at the top:Michael Starkey Kerry kriger

That's Guatemala in the distance along the left:


Belize hiking

This adult male Black Spiny-Tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura similis) lives in a burrow near the steps:Black Spiny-tailed-Iguana-Ctenosaura-similis

Blue Creek Rainforest

On July 12th, we traveled south to the remote village of Blue Creek, which is located in the Toledo District. Blue Creek is inhabited by a community of Mopan Maya people. From the road we hiked a third of a mile to the Blue Creek Rainforest Lodge, which is located in old growth rainforest. The trail to the lodge parallels the aquamarine creek from where the village gets its name. We stayed at Blue Creek for three nights. By day we swam in the creek and explored the rainforest and the cave systems that are scattered throughout the area.

SAVE THE FROGS! Ecologist Michael Starkey, who organized the eco-tour:Michael Starkey Belize

The awesome cave we swam in:Blue Creek Belize

Cave Swimming

Cave Swimming

SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger:Kerry Kriger

Kerry and Michael make some music at the cliff's entrance:Michael Starkey Kerry Kriger

belize cave

Rainforest Belize

Hiking Belize

A good place to be, surrounded by nature:Rainforest cliffs

rainforest stream

The lodging was rustic but had fantastic scenery!ecotour blue creek

Cabana belize

Dinner Blue Creek style:Dinner Eco-Lodge

At night we set off into the forest to search for nocturnal wildlife. The diversity of life is incredible at Blue Creek, but the animals are hard to find! We found a few species of frogs, geckos, and many different types of invertebrates. This is a Coleonix Banded Gecko, photo courtesy Choti Singh:Coleonix Banded Gecko Choti Singh


We had a fascinating ethnobotany hike to learn about all the uses of the local flora.Ethnobotany Belize

The hike to the Blue Creek Cave:Cave Hike

Caving Belize

Fungi Belize

Blue Creek Cave


This Least Sac Winged Bat says hello! Photo courtesy Dave Wyatt.Least Sac Winged Bat

Belize Caving

Did you know you can order an awesome SAVE THE FROGS! flag here? They are lightweight and make for great photos!Cave Salamanders

The Blue Creek forest is beautiful and has some very large trees.Trees Belize


Belize rainforest

Forest Belize

Blue Creek

Toads are quite common at Blue Creek and we found two species: Marine Toads (Bufo marinus) and Gulf Coast Toads (Bufo valliceps). This one is clearly a Gulf Coast Toad because it has a spiny dorso-lateral ridge.Incilius valliceps Choti Singh

Bats!Bat weighing

Belize Bats

Bats Belize

Scorpion Central America

The Blue Creek Lodge is a great place to relax, swim and birdwatch during the day:

This is where we would eat. One day Dr. Kriger gave a frog class after lunch all about the chytrid fungus. Then we went back to birdwatching, swimming and hanging out!
Blue Creek Lodge

Michael Starkey


These bats were hanging out on a tree above the river on the far shore from the lodge:

The birding got going when a large raptor was spotted far overhead:Birding Belize

Dave Wyatt led daily bird hikes (this is in the village):Birding Ecotour

Birding Belize

The Blue Creek Villagers set out their beautiful arts and crafts:Blue Creek Village Belize

Michael shows the kids a toad. Michael gave a presentation at the local school in 2012 and all the kids know him as the frog guy.Belize Children

Dr. Kriger jammed on some bamboo flute at Blue Creek and quickly drew a crowd of adoring fans!Kerry Kriger Flute

Belize kids Kerry Kriger

The kids loved seeing Andy's photos.Belize Kids


The streams were full of shells:Shells Belize

This is the trail we took out and the trail you may take in! Check out this page to learn about our next eco-tour!Rainforest Trail

"Each place we went was a beautiful and amazing experience in its own right. Put all together in such a well organized manner just made it all the more of a wonderful experience. We have not stopped talking about it since we got home. And I have spent the last 2 days straight going through all the pictures. We took about 1,400! Each one looks like a postcard. Once again, not enough time to thank you enough and tell you how much we loved the whole experience and are so very grateful for all the hard work and preparation you all put into planning this for us. It was a totally positive experience for both Jared and I. We both felt so welcome by everyone in our group and have already connected with several on Facebook, sharing tons of pictures-which is really fun. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! "
-- Stacy Bynum, Colorado


On the 16th we left Blue Creek and visited another Maya archaeological site called Lubaantun. This site is known as being a spiritual center for the Maya.

Lubantaan Belize



On the way out from the site our bus braked for this gorgeous Vine Snake (Oxybelis fulgidus), which was slowly crossing the road:Oxybelis fulgidus

Michael jumped out of the bus and moved it safely off the road. Michael Starkey Snakes

Michael Starkey

As we were photographing the snake, about 30 villagers congregated around us to see what all the commotion was about. Snakes are highly feared in Belize and many are killed indiscriminately. Michael told the kids a bit about snake ecology and conservation and then let the go. Sankes belong in the wild, and an experience with a wild snake is far more exciting then seeing a captive, confined snake.

Green Vine Snake

Belize wildlife

Vine Snake

Vanessa Blot

Toucan Ridge Ecology & Education Society (TREES)

TREES is a biological station and eco-lodge run by Canadian biologists Vanessa Kilburn and Mathieu Charette. Vanessa did her masters research on chytrid fungus and took Dr. Kriger looking for endangered turtles on Canada's Sunshine Coast in 2009. We were happy to hear about her and Mathieu moving to Belize and opening TREES in 2012!

Vanessa Kilburn Mathieu

The housing at TREES has an unbeatable view:Belize ecolodge

Mountains Belize

The frogs are quite abundant at TREES and they have many rare species that live on the property. We found a gorgeous Mottled Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus leporus), which is a threatened species in Belize:Eleutherodactylus leporus

You can order SAVE THE FROGS! wristbands here!Eleutherodactylus leporus

What luck! We found the rare Maya Mountain Frog (Lithobates juliani)! This species is endemic to Belize. What a beautiful frog! We also found a juvenile far from the stream in a lime orchard. This frog is poorly understood but with more research hopefully we can unravel the secrets behind this amazing frog!

Lithobates juliani

We found this beautiful Vaillant's frog (Rana vaillanti) under water in the nearby river.Lithobates juliani

One great thing about TREES is the amazing food! Our host Mathieu is both a biologist and a French Canadian with a whole lot of cooking experience.TREES Belize

TREES Belize


At the Toucan Ridge Ecology and Education Society we were given the special opportunity to mist net for bats. Our first bat of the night was quite a special one! With a two foot wingspan, the Greater Fishing Bat Noctilio leporinus is the second largest bat in Central America. It was such a joy to find this beautiful bat in our net. It turns out that this individual is a mother and had a baby somewhere off in the Belizean forest! We did some measurements, gave her a health check and let her go on with her life.

Greater Fishing Bat

Dave Wyatt bats

"Dave Wyatt was amazing - a treasure! He really made the trip for us. He has such a breadth of knowledge about the natural history and biology of the country as well as a love of the people and the culture. It was infectious."


Michael Starkey Fishing Bat

This is a Silky Short-Tailed Bat (Carollia sowelli):

Carollia brevicauda

One night at TREES we found a large, adult female Blunt Headed Tree Snake (Imantodes cenchoa). These slender snakes are frog specialists and love to eat frog eggs that hang from leaves in the forest canopy. Photo by Michael Starkey.Blunt Headed Tree Snake

Dave found this golden hooded tanager:
Golden Hooded Tanager Dave Wyatt'

Grasshopper belize

Kerry Kriger

Dave photographed this White-Necked Jacobin...white-necked-jacobin-Dave-Wyatt

...and this White-Collared Mannakin:white-collared mannakin

After breakfast Dr. Kriger gave a music lesson and we jammed:
drum circle

Kerry kriger flute

"My special moment had to have been musical - hearing Kerry play his flute seated on the top of Xunantunich and the drumming session at TREES."

One day we took a rainforest hike:belize trails

rainforest belize

Michael surveys some ecological destruction caused by illegal coffee farming. Have you ever wondered where coffee comes from?Coffee Habitat Destruction

We hiked up a beautiful rainforest creek:Creek Hike

hiking belize

belize backpacking

Marty Schulman

Hike Belize

Michael Starkey Belize

Kerry Kriger

The final stretch before the swimming hole:

A swimmer's paradise:Belize swimming hole

Swimming Belize

Nighttime fauna:Scorpion

Save The Frogs Ecotour

John Mott

Natalie Flores

Michael and Kerry with our wonderful host Vanessa Kilburn:

TREES Belize

South Water Caye

The boat ride out to South Water Caye was exciting:Dr. Kerry Kriger

South Water Caye's Caribbean beaches were a tropical paradise:Belize beaches

Blue water

Caribbean vacation

Kerry Kriger Belize

The snorkeling was great, as we had warm water, clear visibility and a huge aquatic biodiversity. Dave Wyatt photographed these bonefish...Bonefish Dave Wyatt

...and these grunts:Grunts Dave Wyatt

Choti Singh photographed this ray:Stingray

Q: Did you have a favorite moment on the trip?
A: "There were many: Seeing the large spotted ray while snorkeling, catching bats in the mist nets, going on the Ethnobotany hike with the Mayan man and then being invited to his home to see how he and his family live in the jungle, hiking to the Shangri-La swimming area with Will at TREES, learning to play drums at TREES with Kerry and others, Belize Zoo at night, catching the Vine Snake on the highway, talking with Michael, Kerry and Dave about technical biological issues. Thank you for a great experience. I feel fortunate to have had this experience and getting to see the "real" Belize. I am recommending this trip to others."

Coconut time:Coconut open

Dr. Kerry Kriger Belize

Home for a couple nights:IZE Belize

The view out the back was mangroves and the waves breaking on the waves breaking. A gentle ocean breeze was blowing.Mangroves

Michael playing Bhoopali (a 4,000 year old melody from northern India) to the mangroves:Michael Starkey Bamboo Flute

Choti Singh photographed this pelican:Pelican Belize

Dr. Kriger plays melodies on the bamboo flute in the shallows:Kerry Kriger bamboo flute

We found this gecko one night:Gecko Belize

On the final day of the eco-tour we visited the Smithsonian Institute's Carrie Bow Field Station site.tropical beach

Caribbean dream:blue water

Caribbean dream

Carrie Bowe Caye

The field station's manager welcomed us to the island:Carrie Bowe Caye

A marine biologist gave us an update on the status of Caribbean reefs and told us about some of the scientific programs conducted at the station:Smithsonian marine biologist

Choti Singh photographed these frangipani:Frangipani

Carrie Bowe Caye was a great place to relax for a few minutes before snorkeling out in the open sea.

Central America beaches

"Can I stay?"Beach backpacking

Caribbean Beach

Palm Trees

Kerry kriger bansuri

Here's the view we had leaving the island, and the view you may one day have while arriving! Visit this page to learn about our next SAVE THE FROGS! Belize Ecotour.

Sunsets on South Water Caye were beautiful. This pier made for a great place to relax and play music:Kerry Kriger Michael Starkey

Beach Music

Kerry Kriger

This is the village in South Water Caye:South Water Caye

Dinner, South Water Caye style:South Water Caye IZE

Nighttime was perfect for looking at the stars, relaxing, watching the full moon reflect off the water, looking for small sharks in the shallows (yes they were small and friendly!), playing music or twirling glowpoi at the beach:glowpoi belize

Double glowpoi


Dave Wyatt photographed this Ghost Crab:Ghost Crab

belize frogs

South Water Caye Memory
Tropical breeze
Wind sounds in trees
Moon illuminating the night
Magnificent frigatebird in flight
Knee deep in water
Small sharks swim the shallows
Energy harmonized as the universe circles
Bamboo flute in the mists of time
Lightning out at sea
Reflections on the rolling tides.
-- Dr. Kerry Kriger, South Water Caye, Belize, July 2013

Other Places We Visited In Belize

Here are a few of the awesome places in Belize we visited before and after the ecotour. If you are considering spending some extra time in Belize before or after a future SAVE THE FROGS! Belize Eco-tour, let us know and we are happy to provide suggestions.

Cahal Pech

Cahal Pech is a nice little Mayan site within walking distance of San Ignacio, one of Belize's main towns.

Cahal Pech

Cahal Pech

mayan ruin sunset


Before the eco-tour began, Kerry, Michael and Dave visited the beautiful rainforest and ruins of Caracol in western Belize. For logistical reasons, we can't take groups there, but we did want to show you a few photos because the place is amazing!

Belize rivers

Caracol art



Caracol ruins

maya ruins

caracol ruins

Smilisca baudinii

Mexican Treefrog

Michael Starkey

Frog eggs

Clarissa Falls

Clarissa Falls makes for a nice day trip from San Ignacio, the swimming is great!Clarissa Falls

Belize canoeing

Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker has blue water and some nice spots to kayak in the mangroves.Caye Caulker

tropical water


You'll end up there in all likelihood, so you may as well get yourself a drum!

Belize Drums

Join our next Belize Eco-Tour!

Inspire to join us in Belize? Here's the information about the next SAVE THE FROGS! Belize Eco-Tour! See you in the tropics!

Please take a look at SAVE THE FROGS! Belize's webpage

Learn about Belize's frogs and our efforts there at:

Save The Frogs Belize

Together we can SAVE BELIZE'S FROGS!