I spent 2 weeks volunteering for TIDE in Punta Gorda, Belize. They do a lot for conservation and education in Belize. They work together with scientists and the community to come up with solutions that benefit the environment and the people. We spent a lot of time using machetes to clear trails and land for reforestation. We also planted trees, painted signs, did roost counts of endangered Yellow-headed Parrots and checked a crocodile nest.
The work can be challenging in the heat and humidity. Drink LOTS of water! There was a good balance of physical work and other activities like helping to monitor birds, paint signs, etc. I LOVED all of the birds that we saw and the level of expertise of the rangers and guides is amazing.
There is very little to do in Punta Gorda. Many of the places are closed a lot of the time. One of the best things to do was relax and eat some local food. However, my homestay overfed me so I found myself not very hungry much of the time. I had fun wandering around and talking to some of the local people too.
I was surprised that even though the national language of Belize is English, almost everybody speaks Creole with each other. By the end of the 2 weeks I was starting to understand what people were saying. Otherwise I could not easily engage in conversation with others.
For me Payne's Creek National Park was the most amazing part of the trip. The habitat is so varied, and the location in remote. I love that! The wildlife was incredible! Even though it was very hot, the cabins had fans and good ventilation, so it was very tolerable.
The only issue I had was the availability of doing activities on my free time. Since I was the only volunteer I was first told that they could not do any tours for me. They needed a minimum of 2 people on tours. It was also not possible to snorkel from our location. I ended up paying extra to do private tours, and had to fly to Placencia to snorkel. The tours were great, but if I had know ahead of time I would have slightly changed my plans a little to accommodate time on my own to explore the country a little more.
Overall this was a fantastic trip!