Hill Bank – Other Items
The Hill Bank Field Station operates on 110 volts supplied by a three-way system. We are proud of our alternative “green” power source and we ask that you conserve power whenever possible. Our system uses a combination of solar panels (located on the slope just above the cabana units), and a battery bank unit in conjunction with a small generator that is turned on for approximately three hours in the early morning and in the evenings for about four hours.
Guests who may be using electronic devices which require re-charging can help us in conserving solar energy demands by recharging these items during those hours when the generator is being used to re-boost the battery backup system. Our generator use is also minimized dependent on the weather conditions. Please check with the Station Manager for these times while you are with us.
Our pathways have solar pathway lights installed to aid you at nights when going to or coming from your cabana units. Please turn off all the lights and fans in your rooms when they are not in use or needed. This will help us to help us conserve power for the field station. Please also remember to do the same when checking out of your room.
The drinking water provided in your room is commercially purified water. The main water cooler container is in the dining room. Please refill your coolers provided for use in the rooms as you require.
To reduce our waste generated, we do not sell individual water bottles, however you may refill your personal water bottles necessary for hiking at any time from the main dining room cooler.
The main water supply for the Hill Bank Field Station comes from an aquifer well that is 275 feet deep! Water is pumped to our holding tanks where it is chlorinated and then gravity fed to output sources in the various buildings on the station grounds. This water is safe for all hygienic and sanitary purposes.
A butane water heater provides hot water at all times for our cabana baths and shared dormitory baths. Please check the water temperature before standing under the shower to make sure it safely meets your needs. Please notify your field naturalist or station manager if you experience any problem.
Although the Hill Bank Field Station is located in a remote location in the country, we have been able to set up and establish both telephone and internet communications with the support of one of the local telecommunications provider.
Visitors to this location have access to the B.T.L. network using their cellphones at several locations on the grounds of the station including our dormitory and cabana facility. If your cell phones can access the B.T.L. internet facilities then you will be able to reach the wider internet community. If you would like to use our dedicated internet line, we have set up a terminal unit in our new office building for guests and visitors. This service does have a cost and you should check with the site manager for details on the current station rates applicable.
You can also use our telephone line for calls that you may need to make. There is a charge for this service and you should confirm these charges with the site manager. Please use this service to a minimum since only one line is available. If you need to make an international call, please request to buy a Belize phone card. Cards from the USA will not work on the local phone system.
Please bear in mind that the main line available at the station is also used to conduct and carry out normal business operations on a daily basis. We request therefore that you kindly confirm availability of its use with the Manager.
Your safety and security of your personal property are of the utmost importance to us. Please take advantage of the suggestions here and also review our Helpful Hints and Safety Tips.
Our remote location and invaluable staff integrity makes for a secure environment for your personal belongings. We do not issue keys, but we can provide one at your request.
You should carry your money on your person as a guarantee. The Station Manager can also secure small valuables in the station’s safe.
Additional, you must be aware that there are various activities being conducted at this station compound and every precaution helps to ensure the safety of your valuables.
If you travel to the Field Station in your own transport you should ensure that all the doors and windows are properly secured once you have parked in one of our designated parking areas. Do not leave valuables inside your vehicle. Remove these and secure in your room.
While we make every effort to ensure the safety of or guests by controlling the traffic that flows in and out of the property, PfB cannot be held responsible for your vehicle or its contents.
We do not provide an on site laundry service. We have all our linens laundered at the Mennonite laundry just outside the property.
However, if you will be with us for an extended period, you can use the Mennonite laundry service. The charge is Bze $3.50/load or one pound of clothes.
Please check with the naturalist guide or Station Manager about this service.
We are pleased with the work of our staff – maintenance, kitchen, housekeeping, guides, drivers, etc – and feel that you will be pleased with their service as well.
The Hill Bank Staffers are all paid basic wages and we do not attach any service charge to your bill.
A nationally accepted rate of 10% gratuity is applied in most places but the staff will appreciate any gratuity you may want to provide at the end of your stay.
However, it is not a problem if you want to tip someone personally!
Do not collect any cultural or natural material from the area. This is illegal and contrary to ecotourism principles. Do not deface any prehistoric or modern structure.
Do not litter. We have garbage receptacles in each room and around the station in main buildings. Please hold unto your garbage until you can dispose of it in one of these receptacles.
Walk quietly and talk softly while hiking. This will give you the best opportunity to spot wildlife.
Early morning and late afternoon walks are good times for spotting wildlife. However, luck also plays a role in what your see during your stay.
Do not admit anyone into your room without first verifying who it is. If a person claims to be an employee of the field station, verify the identity of the person and their purpose for entering your room. Do not allow entry unless this is provided.
Close the door securely behind you whenever entering your room. Use all of the locking devices provided on your doors.
Do not draw attention to yourself by displaying cash, valuables or jewelry.
Note your location in the field station and determine your route of escape in the unlikely event of fire or other emergency. Notify the staff immediately if there is a fire, smoke or any emergency.
In the event of a fire, move quickly and calmly to the nearest safe exit and leave the building.
If you are traveling with children, provide adult supervision and know their whereabouts at all times.
If you notice any situation which is suspicious or causes you concern, report your observations immediately to the Station Manager.
Even when it is cloudy the sun can cause serious damage to the skin, particularly if you are of a fair completion. Use sun block, shades and a hat when you are out in the open.
The hot weather can also cause water loss which can lead to serious dehydration. Always carry a water bottle with you when you are out in the field and sure to take sips of water continuously throughout the day (even if you don’t feel thirsty).
Dressing for Field Activities
The clothes you wear should reflect the activities you are undertaking. Dress appropriately for sun and rain, and while out on the trails, hiking boots or shoes with good traction are recommended. Wear long pants to prevent insect bites and scrapes. Long sleeve shirts, insect repellent, hats and bandannas can also be used to protect against bugs. Chiggers are present in the grassy areas so keep on the paths as much as possible.
The trails have been cut so that you can access the tropical rainforest in safety. Please do not wander off the trails because it is very easy to get lost. The thick vegetation easily confuses your sense of direction and prevents sound from traveling, even short distances. Sign out in our Trail logbook if you are going out without a staff field guide and inform a staff member where you will be at all times.
Many tropical plants have predator defense mechanisms such as poisonous saps, stinging hair or sharp spikes. Don’t touch any plant unless you are sure that it is safe to do so.
Mosquitoes are present at Hill Bank, especially early on in the morning and evening, and after a good rain. Short jackets are biting flies which can be a nuisance here and will leave little red spots on your skin. Ticks are also present in grassy areas. Use a good insect repellent which contains the chemical ‘DEET’, and wear pants with elastic ankles tucked into your socks to prevent insect intrusion. Treat your insect bites with rubbing alcohol to prevent infection and reduce itching, or try one of the rainforest remedies available in the gift shop.
Ants are everywhere in the rainforest. Many can be quite offensive and will bite or sting if they are disturbed. Army ants travel in swarms and if you find yourself in one of their pathways, move out of the area swiftly. Some plants provide food and shelter for stinging ants that ward off predators in return. Avoid touching species which employ ants for protection such as the trumpet tree and bullhorn acacia. If you feel an uncomfortable itch accompanied by a growing bump under the skin it could be a botfly larva, known locally as ‘beef worm’. Although it is harmless, the larva inflicts sharp, needle-like sensations as it grows and can become a nuisance. You can kill the beef worm by blocking the air tube using nail polish and squeezing the dead larva out of your skin.
Some people react more adversely to scorpion stings than others, so avoid them altogether. Scorpions like cool, dark hiding places, so check your clothes, boots and bedding before they come into contact with your body. Remember, a scorpion will not bother you unless it feels threatened.
Out of fifty four snake species in Belize, only nine of them are venomous. Like scorpions they won’t bother you unless they are disturbed, but it is possible to inadvertently provoke them. Snakes tend to like holes, the buttress roots of trees, and the coolness of a fallen log or the underside of a fallen cohune leaf. Remain alert and always use a flashlight after dark. In the unlikely event that you are bitten by a snake, you should immobilize that part of the body immediately and inform a member of staff without delay. We will activate our emergency procedures to airlift you to the city for medical attention and administering of anti-venom at one of the main hospitals.
Hurricanes and Electrical Storms
Hurricanes are not common in Belize, but if a hurricane is approaching, advanced notice will be given. At Hill Bank we have a hurricane preparedness plan to ensure your safety. During an electrical storm the best advice is simply to stay indoors.
No burning of any kind is permitted in the buildings. The student dorm is equipped with smoke detectors, and a Fire Procedures Plan is posted in each bedroom. Please read the information carefully so you know what to do in the event of a fire.
Special procedures are in place to ensure that anyone requiring emergency medical treatment is swiftly evacuated by airlift from the field station to one of the main hospitals in the city.