Belize- Explore a Tropical Paradise!
You’d expect world-class snorkeling and paddling adventures in Belize (after all, it’s home to the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere!). But add in explorations of the country’s most pristine ecosystems and a glimpse of ancient history at Mayan sites and you’ll understand what we’ve known all along: Belize is one of Mother Nature’s best kept secrets! Still unaffected by tourism, Belize remains protected, unspoiled, and laden with hidden ecological and cultural wonders.
You’ll start with a tour of the ruins of Lamanai, site of an ancient Mayan city, followed by a scenic boat ride through the lagoons of Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary where birding and wildlife viewing opportunities abound. Enjoy accommodations at a lodge situated on the banks of the lagoon. Next, embark on a caving adventure through the limestone chambers of Actun Tunichil Muknal (also known as the ATM cave) where you will find ancient Mayan artifacts including ceramics, stone tools, and skeletons. Enjoy two more full days learning about the flora & fauna and exploring the trails & waterfalls of Belize's pristine rainforest environment at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mayflower Bocawina National Park. Make sure to try the canopy zip line!
For the next portion of the trip, we head to the ocean where you will kayak and snorkel the marine ecosystem in the remote southern section of Belize's barrier reef system in the South Water Caye Marine Reserve. Stay in comfortable cabañas on a beautiful, small coral cay located right on the reef. The snorkeling is world class and kayaking from island to island will allow us to explore a wide range of patch reef, island, and barrier reef snorkel sites with plenty of time to swim, relax, and enjoy the magnificent ecosystem. More than just an “adventure” trip, our itinerary is designed to educate and stimulate you in the history, culture, and ecosystems of Belize.
3 days of easy to moderate sea kayaking (no previous experience required); 3 days of easy to moderate hiking; 2 days snorkeling & swimming; caving; wildlife viewing; river boat tour.
- Snorkel & kayak on one of the most extensive barrier reef systems in the world!
- Explore the ancient Mayan ruins of Lamanai
- Discover the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave with its in tact Mayan ceremonial artifacts
- Hike in the rainforest of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary with its incredible diversity of flora & fauna
- Explore the trails and waterfalls of the Mayflower Bocawina National Park
Duration: 9 days Start Location: Belize City, Belize End Location: Belize City, BelizeDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Belize City
Arrive at the Belize International Airport and transfer to Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, a lush habitat of lagoons, creeks, and tropical forest. Before dinner we enjoy a sunset birding boat tour in the Crooked Tree lagoons. Gather for an orientation and welcome dinner.
Day 2 : Ancient Mayan Ruins of Lamanai & Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary Lagoons
After breakfast depart for the Mayan Ruins of Lamanai. This day of exploration includes a complete guided tour - visiting the many temples, plazas, palaces, and museums within the park boundaries. Once we have had a chance to tour the ruins, we depart Lamanai by boat for a scenic ride into the Crooked Tree Area where we have tremendous birding and wildlife opportunities: iguana, parrot, toucan, and even Morlet’s crocodile can be seen along the banks of the New River Lagoon. Upon arriving on the shore, we transfer overland for 45 minutes back to Crooked Tree Village
Day 3 : Explore Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM Cave)
With an early morning coffee and binoculars in hand, enjoy the waking wilderness and the many hundreds of birds feeding along the shores of the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary Lagoons. After breakfast we travel the northern and western highways of Belize to the village of Teakettle. From here we drive back roads towards the Hidden Valley escarpment. When the roads end we hike along an established trail through the rainforest fording Roaring Creek to the recently opened archaeological caves of Actun Tunichil Muknal (Cave of the Crystal Sepulcher.) Following an underground river we climb into a massive crystalline chamber, which was once believed to be a major ceremonial center for the ancient Maya. Within the chamber there are over 80 Mayan pots, stone tools, and the skeletons of what were believed to be sacrificial victims. After exiting the cave we continue South to our rainforest lodging in the Mayflower Bocawina National Park. After checking into our accommodations, we'll enjoy a Belizean dinner.
Day 4 : Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Waking up to the sounds of the tropics is a pure delight, with the chatter of parrots and parakeets flying overhead, the fresh morning air scented with tropical blossoms, and the expectation of an exciting adventure-filled day ahead. After breakfast we drive 30 minutes to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. The Cockscomb Basin became a Forest Reserve in 1984, and the world's first and only Jaguar Reserve in 1986. The area was protected because of the incredible diversity and profusion of wildlife and birds found within. The reserve supports the highest concentrations of jaguars (Felis onca) north of the Amazon Basin. From here, we tour the park's interpretive center and then are guided on jungle trails to learn the local flora and fauna. After a picnic lunch and refreshing swim at a hidden waterfall, we depart the park stopping at the Mopan Maya Village including a stop at their women's cooperative of locally made handcrafts. On route back to our lodge we drive through the Creole village of Sittee River and the Garifuna seaside village of Hopkins. The rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to relax and enjoy.
Day 5 : Hiking and Swimming in the Rainforest!
You may want to rise with the sun to be on the grounds for the first light of day emerging through the mists. There is no need to venture far to experience the heart of the jungle. Finding a quiet spot to sip a coffee with binoculars close at hand is a sure way to soak in the essence of the rainforest. After breakfast we gear up for a hike along bush trails into waterfalls and unexcavated Mayan ruins. Your guides will point out medicinal plants and bring to life the layered webs of biological diversity that make up the world's tropical rainforests—a rewarding experience! In the afternoon choose a canopy zip line, a waterfall repel, or hike to nearby Bocawina Falls to swim in pristine rainforest pools.
Day 6 : Belize Barrier Reef Islands
This morning we enjoy a leisurely breakfast and then pack up in preparation for traveling to the Belize Barrier Reef islands. We drive to the seaside town of Dangriga where our waiting water taxi takes us out to Thatch Caye Resort, 9 miles offshore. On arrival we settle into rooms and have time to explore the island before meeting for lunch. Our focus in the afternoon will be an introduction to the fundamentals of sea kayaking, followed by a short paddle to a protected marine rookery filled with nesting frigatebirds and their symbiotic tree mates, the brown footed boobies. Later we meet for drinks as we watch the sun set over the Caribbean Sea and the Maya Mountains.
Days 7 - 8 : Kayaking & Snorkeling the Barrier Reef Islands
For the next two days, activities will focus on snorkeling and kayaking the various island and underwater habitats. Situated close to the Barrier Reef in the heart of the Southwater Caye Marine Reserve, we are ideally positioned to explore the surrounding reefs and cayes. We explore the rich diversity of habitats with an emphasis on gaining a broad understanding of tropical marine ecology including fish and marine invertebrate identification. We have many options to snorkel and kayak the surrounding patch and fringing reefs and as well as venturing to the mangrove channels to experience this rich environment. In the afternoon on the caye, the choice is yours. Don your mask and snorkel, or swim from the beach, or pick a partner and paddle to one of the surrounding islands. If you prefer grab a good book and a drink and work on your horizontal hammock surfing skills. We culminate our tour with a farewell dinner.
Day 9 : Return to Belize City
This morning we take a water taxi back to Dangriga. A waiting plane connects us to either Belize City or the International Airport.
DATES: Best time to go: January - March Departures: Mar 28, 2014 - Apr 5, 2014
Bird's Eye View LodgeCrooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize
Simple and comfortable lodge located on the banks of a lagoon within the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. This sanctuary is world-renown as the best area for neotropical birding in Belize. All 20 guest rooms have been renovated and re-furbished. Anemities include private bathrooms, ceiling fans for cooling, and wi-fi in the guest lounge.
Mama Noots Eco ResortMayflower Bocawina National Park, Belize
Nestled in the heart of the beautiful Mayflower Bocawina National Park, this spacious jungle lodge is operated entirely on alternative energy. Sustainable practices include hydroelectric power station, solar panels, and organic gardens. All accommodations include ensuite bathrooms and ceiling fans for cooling.
Thatch Caye ResortBelize
This exclusive island property is located on Thatch Caye just 9 miles from Dangriga and minutes by boat to the second longest barrier reef in the world. Thatch Caye is within a natural island complex that forms a 12 acre marine park in the Coco Plum island chain. Thatch roofed cabanas and central lodge are all connected by walkways and bridges to three beautiful beaches. In addition to traditional off-grid generating methods, solar and wind power is used to provide clean, quiet power for the island. All accommodations include private bathrooms and ceiling fans for cooling. Wi-fi is available in the reception area.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
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