There's more to Belize than white sand and turquoise seas (although there's another itinerary for that). Venture inland and stay in a rainforest lodge where caving adventures take you to Mayan ceremonial sites and lost cities.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Discover extensive cave systems used in Mayan ceremonies
- Enjoy a chocolate-making workshop with a Mayan family
- Explore the towering pyramids of ancient Tikal over the border in Guatemala
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Day 1: Fly to Belize
Once your international flight arrives into Belize City, a private guide will drive you through the carpeted rainforest of the Mayan mountains to where your riverside lodge awaits.
You have the rest of the afternoon to relax, so why not wash away the jet lag with a swim in the mountain-fed river, or if you're feeling energetic you can embark on a jaunt into the jungle.
Day 2: Caves and Creeks
This morning, saddle up for a horse ride with your local guide, passing through the small rural village of El Progresso and farms worked by the small Mennonite community who migrated to Belize from North America in the 60s, and who still speak Pennsylvania German and drive horse-drawn buggies.
You'll soon arrive at Barton Creek, where you can glide down the flowing emerald waters in a canoe to the mouth of a vine-encrusted cave. Paddle inside to find hanging stalactites and old Mayan ceremonial sites where you may find shards of ancient pottery.
Day 3: Culture in San Ignacio
A private car will take you into the charming town of San Ignacio.
Meet a Mayan family who will accompany you on a chocolate-making workshop where you can peel and roast the cacao beans to make an indulgent chocolate drink. After stocking up on sweet treats, visit a local women's cooperative with the chance to make tortillas from scratch. Lunch is served home-style before you make your way back to your lodge for an afternoon of R&R.
Day 4: A Mayan Underworld
It's a short hike with your private guide through tropical rainforest until you reach the edge of the Caves Branch River for your tubing adventure.
Settle into your tube (essentially a huge inflatable doughnut) and float on the glistening water through a network of limestone caves. As you move through cathedral-like chambers and rocky archways, you can explore a Mayan underworld of wall carvings, ancient ceramics and even the odd skeletal remain.
- Ziplining adventures
- Trips to the ruins of Caracol and El Pilar
- Visits to the inland Blue Hole
Day 5: Actun Tunichil Muknal
It's an early start to experience one of the most impressive Mayan caves in Belize.
The mouth of the cave affords the best views of the surrounding natural landscape, framing the verdant forest and sky. Then it's off to navigate the twisting passageways with your guide as you walk, swim, climb and wade through the cave's turquoise pools past limestone carvings. Inside you'll discover crystal formations, teething stalagmites and sacrificial remains as your guide regales tales of Mayan ceremonies.
Day 6: Tikal
It's time to cross the border into Guatemala to visit one of the most impressive of all Mayan sites.
The lost Mayan City of Tikal emerges out of thick jungle with towering pyramids (some rising up 200ft) that pierce through the canopy. It would be easy to get lost in this citadel with overwhelming temples and palaces, but your knowledgeable guide will take you on the best route, offering great insight into the ancient world of pre-Colombian society.
Day 7: Last Day
Depending on the time of your international flight back home, you may have time to have the morning at leisure before travelling home.
A private transfer will take you to Belize City airport in good time for your flight back home.
Ollie is our expert for this itinerary and, as a seasoned traveller, has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.