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adventure travel trip to Belize
Don't miss the spectacular ruins of Tikal!
Dates
  • Mar 19-27, 2015
  • Privately on Request
  • Duration 9 days
    Group Size 4-10
    Land Cost $3,150 Details
    Single Supplement $550
    Lodging 3 stars
    Grade I-II
    Best Time

    Mayan Secrets

    Explore caves, ruins, rivers, and rainforests of the Cayo region of Belize

    Day 1      Belize City / Cayo District

    You will be met at the Belize City Airport and embark on a two-hour drive across the country to a lodge in the Cayo District of Belize. Enjoy the scenery as it changes from coastal low-lying plains to rainforest-covered mountains. Arrive in the late afternoon and enjoy dinner at your rainforest lodge.

    Enjoy your time in the rainforest
    Meals: Dinner
    Day 2      Caracol / Mountain Pine Ridge

    Enjoy a hearty breakfast at the lodge before heading off on the day's adventure.  Visit the ruins of Caracol, once the largest and most powerful Mayan city in Belize, located just a two-hour drive from San Ignacio. This site is not only famous for its fantastic archaeology, but also for its jungle setting and rich bird life. It is an exciting site encompassing nine square miles, with a number of awe-inspiring temples and numerous stele. Enshrouded by macaw and tapir-filled forests, it is set in the heart of the "Mayan empire."

    After lunch, drive into a completely different climactic zone for different plant and animal life, and exquisite panoramas. Visit the Mountain Pine Ridge National Park area, where an impressive 1,000-foot waterfall cascades from the mountainside -- a breathtaking panoramic view. Also visit the Rio Frio Cave, a giant chamber with a large vine-covered entrance, and of course, stalactites and stalagmites. From the cave, a short drive takes you to the Rio On pools, where you can have a refreshing swim. A series of cascades and pools wend their way down from the rocky summit. The view from above is stunning!

    Marvel at mountainside waterfalls
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Day 3      El Pilar / Trails / Traditional Healer

    After breakfast, take a 1-1/4 hour drive northwest to the unexcavated ruins of El Pilar, a pre-classic archaeological site and home to ongoing archaeological research projects, passing through an interesting Mestizo Maya community and agriculture farms and fields along the way.  Although El Pilar's structures have not been excavated, the large mounds are quite visible and demonstrative of the overall size of the site and its structures.  You will walk along excellent panoramic nature trails in search of wildlife from howler monkeys to toucans and a wide variety of other birds, both native and migratory. After your morning hike at this spectacular site, drive back to the Mestizo Maya community on the river bank of the Mopan river for lunch.

    After lunch, Don Heriberto Cocom, a well-known traditional healer, will lead a walk on his property, explaining the uses of ancient herbal medicine and contemporary healing methods along the way. We will also sit with him at his healer's hut where he will show us a wide variety of barks, roots, and leaves that have been prepared for medicinal use.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Day 4      Barton Creek Cave / Big Rock Falls

    While based in the Cayo District, enjoy a variety of adventurous outings.  This morning, head into the mountains, set canoes in the cave entrance at Barton Creek, and paddle into the dark cave, which you'll illuminate with battery-powered spotlights.  Your guide skillfully steers your canoe along the creek and through the cave so you can enjoy the beautiful cave formations and see remains from ancient Mayan rituals – all the time being careful not to touch or damage any of the fragile formations. Afterward, you have the option of visiting Big Rock Falls or taking an educational tour of a nearby butterfly farm.

    Barton Creek Cave
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Day 5      River Canoeing / Xunantunich

    Relax as you coast down the Macal River on a half-day canoe expedition, one of the highlights of the Cayo District.  Listen for the sounds of howler monkeys and watch for hidden iguanas basking in the treetops. If you're lucky, you'll see a river otter, grey-necked woodrail, porcupine, or elusive jaguarundi.

     

    Afterward, visit Xunantunich, Belize’s most accessible Mayan site of significance that is reached via ferry crossing at San Jose Succotz. The main structure, El Castillo, rises 130 feet above the jungle floor. The views from the top are superb, with forest stretching out all around you and the rest of the ancient city mapped out just beneath you.

    It takes a good spotter to find me!
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Day 6      Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave (ATM)

    We've saved the highlight of Cayo District for your final day in the area.  This recently-discovered cave, Actun Tunichil Muknal, or "ATM," is visited by very few tourists, and only with specially-certified guides. In a small group, wearing life jackets, you'll swim into the cave, where you'll be blown away by what you find.  Not only does ATM hold hundreds of ancient Maya artifacts that were used in various ceremonies, but it also contains burial chambers with calcified human remains.  This is a fascinating and rare opportunity to see another aspect of Mayan life and culture.

    Crystal Maiden, ATM, photo by Peter Anderson, used with permission
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Day 7      Tikal / Zip Line Tour option

    After an early breakfast, leave on a 2.5 hour drive to the area around Tikal (in Guatamala) to get settled and, should you choose, consider trying your hand at zip lining through the jungle, admiring the dense rainforest canopy and looking for glimpses of wildlife.

    Visit the Mayan ruins at Tikal
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Day 8      Tikal Tour

    After a tasty breakfast this morning, you will have a guided group tour of the world’s famous Mayan archaeological site, Tikal. Lush rainforest covers most of this complex ancient city, with paths winding among still uncovered temples and pyramids. The most prominent of Tikal’s buildings are the large step pyramids topped by temples, some of which you can climb to the top for spectacular views. Lunch will be in the park. Return to your hotel for the night.

    Tikal ruins
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Day 9      Belize City / Onward

    After breakfast, you will be transferred to Belize City Airport for your international flight out.

    Leave with fond memories of Belize's rainforests
    Meals: Breakfast



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