Carlos Hernandez thought he’d seen it all. As a Guiding Department Manager at Caves Branch, he’d been exposed to some of the most exotic and diverse wildlife in the world. And there’s nothing he likes more than introducing Caves Branch Jungle Lodge guests to the local inhabitants of his home: a land with fierce jaguars of Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary to the whale sharks that make the barrier reef their home to the vibrant and melodic population of exotic birds that occupy Belize. But on the morning of March 30th, 2019, he found something he’d be telling his children and the guests of Ian Anderson’s Cave Branch for the rest of his life.
While out preparing for a tour of the Caves Branch River, Carlos came face to face with a creature that shouldn’t exist. Stretching 33 feet long and weighing in at an estimated 900 pounds, this prehistoric relic was wrapped around a tree that it positively dwarfed in comparison, the weight of its massive frame stretching well out to the bank of the river. “It was the most terrifying thing I’d ever seen in my life,” said Hernandez, “But while my body told me to run, I spent a long moment just paralyzed in place. It felt like an hour, but it must have been only minutes.” But when the monstrous prehistoric serpent turned its eyes to Carlos, his instincts took over, and he quickly beat feet back to the lodge proper.
Caves Branch Jungle Lodge took all security measures to make sure guests were safe, but relocating the beast was a monumental task that took two days. A crane was requisitioned by a nearby construction company, and with the assistance of Belizean officials, the massive snake was airlifted to safety. The people of Belize have long been known to take natural preservation as a high priority, and the snake was safely removed to deeper and uninhabited jungle.
And while this may be a once in a lifetime experience, these sorts of prehistoric discoveries aren’t unprecedented. In 2016, a similarly sized anaconda was discovered at a Brazilian construction site. And two weeks ago, the tooth of a giant sloth was discovered in Belize that dated back 27 million years. This is a country where the people and wildlife have existed in harmony since the dawn of man, and the fact that Belize is so conscientious about maintaining the sanctity of the environment is a rarity in a world where business interests and real estate developments often trump the interests of the ecosystem.
The discovery of this giant serpent has brought attention from around the world. Caves Branch Jungle Lodge phones have been ringing off the hook ever since we posted a photo of Carlos with the snake on social media. For his part, he’s been non-plussed about the whole affair. “I’m just proud to have had the experience,” he stated. It just goes to show that despite the luxury styled tree houses and pampered environment of Caves Branch Jungle Lodge, nature is never too far away. Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch offers a variety of adventure tours throughout Belize, but man-eating snakes aren’t one of the adventures that the lodge highlight in their brochures.
Happy April 1st!