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Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.

Day 1: belize city / cayo district

Enjoy your time in the rainforestEnjoy your time in the rainforest

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.

Meals
Dinner

Day 2: caracol / mountain pine ridge

Marvel at mountainside waterfallsMarvel at mountainside waterfalls

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!

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

Barton Creek CaveBarton Creek Cave

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.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: river canoeing / xunantunich

It takes a good spotter to find me!It takes a good spotter to find me!

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.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: actun tunichil muknal cave (atm)

Crystal Maiden, ATM, photo by Peter Anderson, used with permissionCrystal Maiden, ATM, photo by Peter Anderson, used with permission

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.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: tikal / zip line tour option

Visit the Mayan ruins at TikalVisit the Mayan ruins at Tikal

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.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: tikal tour

Tikal ruinsTikal ruins

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.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: belize city / onward

Leave with fond memories of Belize's rainforestsLeave with fond memories of Belize's rainforests

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

Meals
Breakfast

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
From
$3,300
2 person cost: $3595
Single Supplement:
$550
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Custom & private on your dates

Need to Know

Duration:
9 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
●●●○○
(see full descriptions)
Comfortable lodges
Activity Level:
●●○○○
(see full descriptions)
Exploring ancient temples
Group Size:
Most custom trips can accommodate groups of any size, from one person to as large of a group as you'd like. Some exceptions apply; ask your Adventure Specialist for details.
Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Below is a summary of our complete Trip Terms & Conditions, which explains each of the items below in more detail. 

Expenses covered

Normally, our stated land costs include the cost of all guides, leaders, permits obtained after arrival, lodging accommodations, food and entry fees as specified, and all surface transportation associated with the planned itinerary. We do our best to avoid increasing prices after receipt of your deposit, but, rarely, factors beyond our control might require us to change our prices without prior notice, even after you have signed up. 

Expenses not covered

Costs not included in the price may include: meals not indicated as included in itineraries; meals prior to arrival in starting cities; transfers, if not arriving or departing on the scheduled group flights; soft drinks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; medical expenses, costs of hospitalization, or evacuation from remote areas; laundry; airport departure taxes not included on your airline ticket; accommodations en route to starting cities; visas; airfares; gratuities; and insurance. 

Pricing and Payment

For most group departures, the booking deposit is $500 per person per trip, though for some trips it may be more, as noted in the trip description. The minimum booking deposit requirement for custom trips is $800 per person, and this deposit is non-refundable. A trip-planning fee of $250 per itinerary is also charged to cover costs of preparing itinerary proposals for custom trips. This fee is credited to the cost of the trip, but is nonrefundable if you do not take the trip. Custom travel during holiday seasons may require a deposit prior to trip confirmation.

For both group departures and custom trips, a second deposit of $1,000 per person is due 120 days prior to departure or at the time of booking for reservations made fewer than 120 days before departure. The balance as shown on your invoice is due 60 days prior to departure regardless of whether extensions or other arrangements are pending. Late payments may jeopardize confirmation of your itinerary and in some cases may result in additional fees. If we have not received final payment 30 days prior to departure your reservation may be canceled and subject to our Cancellation & Refund Policy stated in the complete Terms & Conditions.

We accept payments by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or check drawn on a U.S. bank account. Payment for airfare is required at the time of ticketing. Discounts that may be available for some trips are not available toward bookings made through travel agencies.​

Airfare

We can help you secure air travel arrangements to correspond with land travel booked through Journeys International. We work with an airfare consolidator to assist in booking the flights that suit your needs. If you decide to make your own flight arrangements, you must provide Journeys International with a complete copy of your itinerary showing departure and arrival flights and times. You should plan to arrange your own air travel if you are using mileage credit or originating outside North America, but please be in touch with our office before you finalize ticketing so that we can help you to coordinate the correct arrival and departure dates and times.

Insurance

When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee

There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

From the Bird's Word Blog

Belize is in the Air

  Climb ancient Mayan ruins on your Belizean adventure.

It takes a good spotter to find me!
It takes a good spotter to find me!
Enjoy beautiful Machaca Hill sunsets
Enjoy beautiful Machaca Hill sunsets
Visit the Mayan ruins at Tikal
Visit the Mayan ruins at Tikal
Marvel at mountainside waterfalls
Marvel at mountainside waterfalls
Crystal Maiden, ATM (photo by Peter Anderson)
Crystal Maiden, ATM (photo by Peter Anderson)

Mayan Secrets

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

overview

This is one of the best tropical nature and culture trips you will find in Latin America. Whether you enjoy hiking in a beautiful rainforest or comfortable lodge accommodations within easy reach of spectacular Mayan ruins, our expert local guide, will help you find it. This trip will provide detailed interpretations of the natural environments and archaeological sites on active and varied outings that best represent the natural and cultural diversity of the country. Belize is beautiful by itself, but with the insight and expertise of a native guide who loves the natural world and his own Mayan traditions, this experience is a revelation beyond anything you could learn on your own.

itinerary

See Trip Extensions
View Map

overview

This is one of the best tropical nature and culture trips you will find in Latin America. Whether you enjoy hiking in a beautiful rainforest or comfortable lodge accommodations within easy reach of spectacular Mayan ruins, our expert local guide, will help you find it. This trip will provide detailed interpretations of the natural environments and archaeological sites on active and varied outings that best represent the natural and cultural diversity of the country. Belize is beautiful by itself, but with the insight and expertise of a native guide who loves the natural world and his own Mayan traditions, this experience is a revelation beyond anything you could learn on your own.

Continue to detailed itinerary...

itinerary

Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.
  • Day 1: belize city / cayo district
    Enjoy your time in the rainforestEnjoy your time in the rainforest

    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.

    Meals
    Dinner
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: caracol / mountain pine ridge
    Marvel at mountainside waterfallsMarvel at mountainside waterfalls

    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!

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Show on a map
  • 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
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: barton creek cave / big rock falls
    Barton Creek CaveBarton Creek Cave

    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.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: river canoeing / xunantunich
    It takes a good spotter to find me!It takes a good spotter to find me!

    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.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: actun tunichil muknal cave (atm)
    Crystal Maiden, ATM, photo by Peter Anderson, used with permissionCrystal Maiden, ATM, photo by Peter Anderson, used with permission

    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.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: tikal / zip line tour option
    Visit the Mayan ruins at TikalVisit the Mayan ruins at Tikal

    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.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: tikal tour
    Tikal ruinsTikal ruins

    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.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: belize city / onward
    Leave with fond memories of Belize's rainforestsLeave with fond memories of Belize's rainforests

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

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Show on a map

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
From
$3,300
2 person cost: $3595
Single Supplement:
$550
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Custom & private on your dates

Need to Know

Duration:
9 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
●●●○○
(see full descriptions)
Comfortable lodges
Activity Level:
●●○○○
(see full descriptions)
Exploring ancient temples
Group Size:
Most custom trips can accommodate groups of any size, from one person to as large of a group as you'd like. Some exceptions apply; ask your Adventure Specialist for details.
Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Below is a summary of our complete Trip Terms & Conditions, which explains each of the items below in more detail. 

Expenses covered

Normally, our stated land costs include the cost of all guides, leaders, permits obtained after arrival, lodging accommodations, food and entry fees as specified, and all surface transportation associated with the planned itinerary. We do our best to avoid increasing prices after receipt of your deposit, but, rarely, factors beyond our control might require us to change our prices without prior notice, even after you have signed up. 

Expenses not covered

Costs not included in the price may include: meals not indicated as included in itineraries; meals prior to arrival in starting cities; transfers, if not arriving or departing on the scheduled group flights; soft drinks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; medical expenses, costs of hospitalization, or evacuation from remote areas; laundry; airport departure taxes not included on your airline ticket; accommodations en route to starting cities; visas; airfares; gratuities; and insurance. 

Pricing and Payment

For most group departures, the booking deposit is $500 per person per trip, though for some trips it may be more, as noted in the trip description. The minimum booking deposit requirement for custom trips is $800 per person, and this deposit is non-refundable. A trip-planning fee of $250 per itinerary is also charged to cover costs of preparing itinerary proposals for custom trips. This fee is credited to the cost of the trip, but is nonrefundable if you do not take the trip. Custom travel during holiday seasons may require a deposit prior to trip confirmation.

For both group departures and custom trips, a second deposit of $1,000 per person is due 120 days prior to departure or at the time of booking for reservations made fewer than 120 days before departure. The balance as shown on your invoice is due 60 days prior to departure regardless of whether extensions or other arrangements are pending. Late payments may jeopardize confirmation of your itinerary and in some cases may result in additional fees. If we have not received final payment 30 days prior to departure your reservation may be canceled and subject to our Cancellation & Refund Policy stated in the complete Terms & Conditions.

We accept payments by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or check drawn on a U.S. bank account. Payment for airfare is required at the time of ticketing. Discounts that may be available for some trips are not available toward bookings made through travel agencies.​

Airfare

We can help you secure air travel arrangements to correspond with land travel booked through Journeys International. We work with an airfare consolidator to assist in booking the flights that suit your needs. If you decide to make your own flight arrangements, you must provide Journeys International with a complete copy of your itinerary showing departure and arrival flights and times. You should plan to arrange your own air travel if you are using mileage credit or originating outside North America, but please be in touch with our office before you finalize ticketing so that we can help you to coordinate the correct arrival and departure dates and times.

Insurance

When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee

There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

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× comfort level
Choose accommodations and amenities that fit your personal style
●○○○○ Simple
Our most natural accommodations. Bath facilities often shared, sometimes rustic.
●●○○○ Delightful
Comfortable and especially personal. Small to mid-sized lodges, typically with private bath.
●●●○○ Superior
Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined artistry, or extra-special settings.
●●●●○ Deluxe
Exclusive or luxury lodges, hotels, or safari camps with fine dining options.
●●●●● Uncommon
The most indulgent accommodations arranged specially for private trips.
× activity level
Match the trip’s intensity to your ability and motivation.
●○○○○ Gentle
Easy walking, with opportunities for low-key physical activity.
●●○○○ Active
Energetic exploration with optional day hikes, leisurely cycling, or light canoeing.
●●●○○ Vigorous
Day-long active excursions and options for demanding activity in varied environments.
●●●●○ Challenging
Strenuous hiking or other intense activity that may be at high altitude or over rough terrain.
●●●●● Demanding
Multi-day trekking and other activities requiring endurance or strength. Steep trails. No technical expertise necessary.
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