Belize | Best of Belize: Caves, Corals, and Mayan Wonders

Belize | Best of Belize: Caves, Corals, and Mayan Wonders

About this trip

Discover the natural and archeological highlights of Belize, from lush rainforests and coral reefs teeming with life, to ancient ruins and ceremonial structures. Visit mountains, reserves, caves, and Maya sites on the mainland; then, spend several nights on Ambergris Caye to immerse yourself in the under water world of the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest reef system in the world. During your journey, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with local residents, including conservationists and artisans, and enjoy some leisure time to explore on your own.

Highlights

  • Observe tapirs, jaguars, and Harpy Eagles at the world-renowned Belize Zoo.
  • Delve into the Maya underworld at Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, a Maya ceremonial burial ground and site of the “Crystal Maiden” skeletal remains.
  • Explore Cahal Pech ruins, one of the earliest Maya settlements and a site that may have been used for ritual sacrifices and food offerings to Maya deities.
  • Look for colorful fish, sea sponges, stingrays and other marine life during snorkeling excursion off of beautiful Ambergris Caye.
  • Go snorkeling at night in Hol Chan Marine Reserve via the glow of a dive light for a look at sea life after dark. 
11 Travelers

$2,475

Land Cost

Group size

Book 10 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

16 Travelers

$2,150

Land Cost

Group size

Book 15 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

Arrival, Belize City

Day 1

Upon arrival at the airport in Belize City proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. A Holbrook representative will be waiting outside the exit door with a Holbrook sign to assist with your transfer to the Radisson Ft. George Hotel, situated in front of the Ft. George Marina. Gather this evening to meet your guide, who will be with you throughout the program, and receive an orientation to the program followed by a Welcome Dinner.

Dinner included
Overnight at Radisson Ft. George Hotel

Sibun River

Day 2

This morning after breakfast, visit the Belize Zoo. Situated upon 29 acres of tropical savanna, the zoo exhibits over 150 animals representing more than 45 species, all native to Belize. The zoo is home to orphaned, rescued, and rehabilitated animals as well as those born at the zoo or sent as donations from other zoological institutions. Upon arrival, receive an introduction to the animals of Belize and visit the exhibits. Highlights include the jaguar rehabilitation program, the Harpy Eagle exhibit, and the Baird's tapir enclosure. Have lunch at Cheers restaurant and then continue to Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge, located along the Sibun River with views of the mountains and rainforest. This evening after dinner, take a walk around the lodge to look for nocturnal wildlife.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge

Sibun River

Day 3

After an early morning breakfast, drive about 1.5 hours to explore the Mayan ruins at Cahal Pech and its on-site museum. The ancient ceremonial complex contains 34 structures including ball courts, stelae, temples, and palaces. Archaeological findings point to Cahal Pech as being one of the earliest Maya settlements in the country-thriving through the Classic Maya Period (250 - 900 C.E.) and possibly beyond. Human bones and corn, cacao, and anato seeds were found at nearby caves; strong indicators that the site may have been used for ritual sacrifices and food offerings to Maya deities. Before enjoying lunch at a local restaurant, there will be time to explore the San Ignacio market to get a feel for the daily life in this small town and meet with some locals. Return to lodge after lunch. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the amenities of the lodge, which include a swimming pool, hot tub, spa services (at extra cost), and complimentary kayak rental. Dinner will be at the lodge.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge

Sibun River

Day 4

After breakfast, explore the Maya underworld during a visit to Actun Tunichil Muknal cave. After an hour drive to the starting point, this arduous, rewarding activity will begin with 45 minutes of hiking - that includes river crossings and wading in knee-high water - up the Roaring River Valley and through the rainforest of the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve to the entrance of the cave. Once at the cave entrance, swim through the opening and start a 3.5-hour journey in the cave. This activity will require endurance, strength, agility and balance. Explore this geologically fascinating cave and also the main attraction, the "Cathedral" chamber, which was a Maya ceremonial site and burial ground. This living museum full of important artifacts is a fragile system which requires strict instruction for the preservation of this site and for the safety of all participants. After enjoying a self-prepared picnic lunch on site, return to the lodge, later this afternoon. For this activity, it suggested to wear a bathing suit under comfortable, older clothing, closed-toe shoes, and old socks that can get wet and dirty. Cave floor is mostly wet and rocky. In fragile sections, participants will need to remove shoes so as not to damage the cave floor and/or artifacts.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge

Ambergris Caye

Day 5

After breakfast, transfer to the airport in Belize City for the 20-minute flight to Ambergris Caye. Upon arrival in San Pedro, walk across the small dirt street and check in at the Sunbreeze Hotel, facing the Caribbean Sea. The afternoon is at leisure to explore the island. Lunch and dinner is on own. This evening, enjoy a night snorkel at Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Much of the reef marine life is nocturnal, and at the glow of the dive light, garden eels will peek out among stingrays flapping their wings to cover themselves on the sandy bottom. Surrounded by tiny bioluminescent blinks, it's possible to observe jacks, snappers, and groupers whooshing around for their evening snacks.

Breakfast- included
Overnight at Sunbreeze Hotel

Ambergris Caye

Day 6

Enjoy breakfast, then board the boat for a 20-minute ride from San Pedro and up the coast of north Ambergris Caye to Mexico Rocks, an opulent collection of star, elk horn, and stag horn coral. Colonized by lobsters, eels, and colorful juvenile fish, this site is shallow and protected by the barrier reef from ocean swells, making it an ideal location for novice snorkelers. At this site you will see boulder coral 10 to 12 feet tall, nearly reaching the surface and providing refuge to a variety of marine life including flame scallops, anemones, tube worm shrimp, and eels sheltered in the coral's nooks and crannies. Sea fans, azure vase sponges, and butterfly fish add life and color, and giant brain coral formations create miniature undersea habitats and islands for spiny lobster, yellowtails, and stingrays. A treacherous-looking cave is also found here, with hundreds of baby snappers looking out of its mouth. Underwater visibility at Mexico Rocks is perfect, with views of both dramatic canyon walls and caves through the coral formations. After snorkeling, the afternoon is at leisure to explore the island. Lunch is on own. This evening gather at the hotel for a farewell briefing before walking to a local restaurant for the Farewell Dinner.

Breakfast- included
Overnight at Sunbreeze Hotel

Depart

Day 7

This morning after breakfast return to the airport for a short flight to the Belize City's Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport. Upon arrival, say good-bye to your guide and check in to your international flight back home. Participants making their own flight arrangements should book flights departing after 1:00 p.m. to ensure good connection times.

Breakfast- included