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Belize/Guatemala

Hike and Snorkel to Find the Mystery of the Maya in Guatemala and Belize

Program No. 20813RJ
Experience the diverse wonders of Central America as you hike and snorkel with experts, learn about ancient Mayan culture and discover local wildlife at the Caye Marine Reserve.
Length
10 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
3,199
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Flights start at
700

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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.

DATES & PRICES

Hotel
Accommodation Details

Comfortable accommodations that meet our high standards.

Jan 16 - Jan 25, 2023
SOLD OUT
Hotel 3,549
May 8 - May 17, 2023
Hotel 3,199
Special Offer

No added cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited. Please call for details.

Oct 16 - Oct 25, 2023
Hotel 3,199
Special Offer

No added cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited. Please call for details.

Oct 30 - Nov 8, 2023
Hotel 3,199
Special Offer

No added cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited. Please call for details.

Nov 6 - Nov 15, 2023
Hotel 3,199
Special Offer

No added cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited. Please call for details.

DATES & PRICES

Hotel
Accommodation Details

Comfortable accommodations that meet our high standards.

Jan 16 - Jan 25, 2023
SOLD OUT
Hotel 4,289
Mar 13 - Mar 22, 2023
SOLD OUT
Hotel 4,289
May 8 - May 17, 2023
Hotel 3,629
Special Offer

No added cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited. Please call for details.

Oct 16 - Oct 25, 2023
Hotel 3,629
Special Offer

No added cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited. Please call for details.

Oct 30 - Nov 8, 2023
Hotel 3,199
Special Offer

No added cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited. Please call for details.

Nov 6 - Nov 15, 2023
SOLD OUT
Hotel 3,199
Special Offer

No added cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited. Please call for details.

At a Glance

For outdoor enthusiasts and pre-Columbian history buffs the Central American neighbors of Belize and Guatemala offer the best of both worlds. Swim to a jungle cave to find Mayan ceremonial artifacts. Discover the jewel of Mayan civilization at Tikal. Rappel down a 300-foot sink hole and snorkel in Belize’s South Water Caye Marine Reserve. Virgin rain forests with orchids, howler monkeys and toucans and hundreds of species of exotic birds make getting to these magical and mysterious Mayan sites half the fun.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Very active program, includes walking on forest trails and suspension bridges, rappelling into a large sinkhole, snorkeling and swimming. Less strenuous activities are available on most challenging days.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Swim, hike and climb your way to Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave to view the ceremonial pottery, burial chambers and petrified remains of ancient Maya.
  • Discover the beautiful underwater world of Belize's barrier reef while snorkeling in the South Water Caye Marine Reserve.
  • Hike to the edge of the Black Hole, a large sinkhole used for Maya religious ceremonies, and rappel into its 300-foot crater.

General Notes

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Code of Kings, The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs
by Linda Schele, Peter Mathews
A vivid guided tour of seven Maya sites, including Palenque, Tikal and Chichen Itza. This outstanding book features photos and line drawings throughout, and introductory chapters with a succinct introduction to Maya history and culture.
How to Cook a Tapir
by Joan Fry
The coming-of-age memoir by Joan Fry, a young newlywed, who moves with her anthropologist husband to the jungles of Belize. Her introspective account is interwoven with stories, portraits of locals and traditional recipes.
Belize in Focus, A Guide to the People, Politics, and Culture
by Ian Peedle
A brief, authoritative guide to the history, cultural heritage, politics and economy of Belize. With maps, photographs and some travel information, it's an excellent synopsis from an unabashedly left-leaning perspective, strong on facts.
Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life
by Paul Humann
Humann's compact guide illustrates Caribbean fishes, corals, invertebrates and plants commonly encountered in shallower water.
Central America Map
by ITMB
A detailed map of the Central American isthmus at a scale of 1:1,100,000.
The History of Central America
by Thomas L. Pearcy
A brief history, beginning with the ancient Maya and moving through European contact and conquest, independence movements, finishing in the 20th century.
Ghost Lights
by Lydia Millet
In Millet's anticipated follow-up to How the Dead Dream, a mild-mannered IRS bureaucrat follows a runaway millionaire into the surreal tropical jungle. The prose has a lovely stillness and has been hailed as a haunting, mesmerizing novel of ideas.
Guatemalan Journey
by Stephen Connely Benz
Opening with a long chapter on life in Guatemala City, Benz’s memoir moves on to the remote highlands and other little-visited regions. An excellent account of Guatemala’s political history, traditions, and indigenous cultures.
Tropical Nature
by Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata
Two uncommonly observant and thoughtful field biologists offer a lucid portrait of the tropics through 17 marvelous essays that introduce the habitats, ecology, plants and animals of the Central and South American rainforests.
Maya Art and Architecture
by Mary Ellen Miller
An illustrated overview of the art and architecture of the Maya, making use of the latest discoveries at Tikal, Copan and Palenque to demonstrate the range of Mayan artistic influence. Revised and updated, this new edition includes color illustrations throughout.
Belize Marine Life
by Rainforest Publications
This handy guide to the ocean life around Belize is a 14-panel, full-color reference. Includes illustrations for reef fish, marine mammals, sport fish, and sea turtles.
The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw, One Woman's Fight to Save the World's Most Beautiful Bird
by Bruce Barcott
The gripping tale of Sharon Matola's six-year campaign to stop a dam that would flood the forest home of Belize's last scarlet macaws.
A Natural History of Belize
by Samuel Bridgewater
Presenting the habitats, biodiversity, and ecology of both the tropical Chiquibul Forest (also known as the Maya Forest) and Belize in its entirety.
Time Among the Maya, Travels in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico
by Ronald Wright
Wright combines journalism, archaeology and an ear for dialogue in this engaging account of travels among the contemporary Maya.
The Maya Tropical Forest: Peoples, Parks and Ancient Cities
by James D. Nations
Jim Nations draws on field work in the region over the last 25 years in this personable, detailed overview of the people, history and wildlife of the lowland tropical forest of southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.
Insight Guide Guatemala, Belize & the Yucatan
by Insight Guides
This handsome guide gives a profusely illustrated overview of Guatemala, Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula, featuring concise essays by well regarded authors on natural history, politics and culture.
Belize Field Guide
by Rainforest Publications (Illustrator)
Mammals, amphibians, and reptiles are all included in this 14-panel, fold-up pocket field guide
Belize, Travellers' Wildlife Guides
by Les Beletsky
An all-around field guide featuring color illustrations of 200 birds, 50 mammals, 150 coral reef creatures and 80 reptiles and amphibians.
A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America & Southeast Mexico
by Fiona Reid
This second edition of Fiona Reid's wonderfully detailed and comprehensive field guide to the mammals of Central America and Southeast Mexico features 59 vivid full-color illustrations. Reid painted most of the creatures in the field, a formidable challenge and -- given the quality of the results -- well worth her while. With parks, and protected areas, habitats, range maps, tracks and natural history.
Popol Vuh, The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life
by Dennis Tedlock (Editor)
The definitive, unabridged collection of creation myths and stories of the Quiche people, fundamental to understanding the worldview of the highland Maya.
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10 days
9 nights
26 meals
9 B 8 L 9 D
DAY
1
Arrive Belize City, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Belize City
D
Radisson Fort George Hotel & Marina

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. Orientation followed by Welcome Dinner. Participants must book flights that arrive into Belize City, Belize no later than 4:30 p.m. on this day if they plan on attending the program orientation. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Afternoon: We will arrive at the hotel in the afternoon. After we check in, we’ll take some time to freshen up and rest before Orientation. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions.< br> Transfers to and from program activities will be by air conditioned bus, unless specified otherwise.< br> Meals on our program feature local cuisine. In many cases, they will be plated and served set meals; in others, we will have buffets with multiple options. Beverages include coffee, tea, water; other beverages are usually available for purchase.< br> Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.< br> Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant, we will enjoy a plated welcome dinner with fish, pork, or chicken options, with rice, salad, and vegetable sides. Coffee, tea, water included.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
2
Boat Ride on the New River, Exploring the Lamanai Ruins
Belize City
B,L,D
Radisson Fort George Hotel & Marina

Activity note: This is a very full day. Activities include boat and bus transfers and considerable walking in potentially hot/humid conditions. From the hotel to the boat dock is about 52 miles, 1-1.5 hours. The scenic boat ride to Lamanai is about 31 miles, approximately 1 hour.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant, we will enjoy a breakfast buffet with fruits, cereal, different type of eggs, and local food plus coffee, tea, water, juice.

Morning: We will transfer to the New River dock and embark on a scenic boat ride of about 31 miles upstream to the Mayan ruins at Lamanai. While navigating the calm waters of the New River, we’ll try to find and identify some of the many bird species found in the area, including black-collared hawks, mangrove swallows, olive-throated parakeets, and American pygmy kingfishers, to name a few. If lucky, we may even catch a glimpse of the rarely seen Jabiru Stork! As we get close-up views of mangroves and virgin forests flanking the narrow waterway, let’s try to spot the colorful orchids that grow along the river banks. We’ll disembark at Lamanai for a walking exploration of the more than 50 impressive structures found at the archaeological reserve. This large Mayan ceremonial center is set in a tropical forest on the banks of the New River Lagoon in the north central region of Belize. Some of the site's highlights include the Jaguar Temple, the High Temple, and the Mask Temple. A beautiful panoramic view of the lagoon and surrounding jungle can be seen from the top of the High Temple. It is believed that the ancient center was occupied during more than 3,200 years, and as recently as in the 18th century.

Lunch: At the ruins, we will enjoy a lunch of local creole food like Belizean chicken, rice and salad.

Afternoon: We’ll continue exploring the archaeological complex. In addition to protecting many fascinating Maya buildings, the reserve at Lamanai provides shelter to a large number of animals. Visitors are sometimes caught off-guard as the rainforest comes alive with the loud, guttural calls of howler monkeys perched high in the forest. Other animals occasionally spotted at the site include agoutis, jaguarundis, woodpeckers, toucans, aracari, trogons, and armadillos. We’ll transfer back to Belize City by boat and bus to return to the hotel.

Dinner: Hotel restaurant plated meal.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare luggage for check out the following morning.

DAY
3
Belize Zoo, Transfer to Guatemala, Ixpanpajul Nature Park
Tikal/Peten Region
B,L,D
Hotel Villa Maya

Activity note: Total driving today approximately 4 hours. Sloped terrain with several stairs of varying heights in Ixpanpajul and hanging bridges are demanding. Rocks are slippery during the rainy season. Please wear good walking shoes and you may also opt for a walking stick to assist with balance.

Breakfast: Hotel restaurant buffet.

Morning: After check out, we’ll board our bus and head in a southwesterly direction in preparation for our field trip to the Belize Zoo. Upon arrival we’ll accompany our Group Leader on a walking exploration of the zoo and its education center, located on 29 acres of tropical savanna. The Belize Zoo was founded in 1983 as a safe haven for rescued animals representing more than 40 different species native to Belize. Afterwards, we’ll begin our transfer to the Peten region in Guatemala, with a brief stop at the Belize/Guatemala border for an examination of group documentation.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in San Ignacio, we’ll enjoy a plated meal based on beef or chicken with rice and vegetables, with vegetarian options available; coffee, tea, water included.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our transfer to Flores, in the Peten region of Guatemala. En route, we’ll stop at Ixpanpajul Nature Park for an expert-led forest walk on trails and hanging bridges. The Ixpanpajul Natural Park covers an area of 9 square kilometers and has more than 200 species of trees, 150 plus species of birds and about 40 species of mammals. A walking trail with six hanging bridges provides multiple angles from which to observe and admire the park's abundant flora and fauna. We’ll learn about the layers of a tropical forest while walking on trails and hanging bridges that eventually lead to the summit of Miramás Hill and its rewarding views of Lake Peten Itza. We’ll then transfer to the hotel for check-in.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant, we will enjoy a meal, plus coffee, tea, water.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Tikal Ruins, Views of Lake Peten Itza
Tikal/Peten Region
B,L,D
Hotel Villa Maya

Activity note: Tikal activities include climbing steep stone and wooden staircases, and walking on irregular forest trails. Participants should wear sturdy walking shoes with good rubber tread, lightweight pants and t-shirt that are comfortable and allow freedom of movement. Also bring insect repellent/sunscreen. See packing list for more handy items.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant, we will enjoy a meal with coffee, tea, water included.

Morning: After breakfast, we’ll transfer to the ruins at Tikal with our Group Leader and local expert. This site, with its massive temples rising above the rainforest canopy, conjures images of an Indiana Jones adventure. Once swallowed by the rainforest, Tikal is one of the largest excavated Mayan sites, with more than 4,000 structures. It also features some of the tallest temples in the Mayan world. An impressive network of causeways, aqueducts and canals, which not only served as an irrigation system but also provided drinking water for the city, are displays of some masterful engineering. Underground tunnels and new structures are still being discovered and excavated.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we will enjoy a plated barbecue meal with rice, vegetables, and fruits, plus coffee, tea, water.

Afternoon: We’ll learn more about Tikal and its mysteries as we continue our visit after lunch. Afterwards, we’ll transfer back for a late afternoon arrival to the hotel.

Dinner: Hotel restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare luggage for our check out tomorrow morning.

DAY
5
Yaxha National Park & Ruins
Cayo Disrict
B,L,D
Jaguar Creek

Activity note: The drive to Yaxha is about 1 hour, to Belize about 2 hours. The terrain is flat, paths of dirt and grass. No handrails to climb temples. 2 hour loop walk at Yaxha.

Breakfast: Hotel restaurant.

Morning: Today we’ll enjoy a field trip to Yaxha National Park, located approximately 45 miles from Flores. The Yaxha ruins are part of the Maya Biosphere Reserve along with the sites of Nakum and El Naranjo. Findings indicate that the city was occupied throughout the pre-classic and post-classic periods and that it was allied to Tikal. Yaxha has more than 500 buildings, including a twin pyramid complex not seen anywhere else save in Tikal.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we will enjoy a plated meal, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll begin our transfer to the Cayo District in Belize with a stop at the Guatemala/Belize border for inspection of travel documentation. Late-afternoon arrival at the lodge. Check into rooms and freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At the lodge restaurant, we will enjoy a plated meal with coffee, tea, water, local juice included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave Adventure, Free Time
Cayo Disrict
B,L,D
Jaguar Creek

Activity note: 1 hour drive to cave. Walk/hike about 45 minutes to river. Wear a bathing suit under comfortable, older clothing, closed-toe shoes, and old socks that can get wet and dirty. Arrive at cave entrance after 45-minute jungle hike, swim a short distance through the mouth of the cave to enter site. Cave floor is mostly wet and rocky. Some wading in ankle-to-shoulder-deep water required. In fragile sections, participants will need to remove shoes so as not to damage the cave floor and/or artifacts.

Breakfast: At the lodge restaurant, we will enjoy a meal with eggs, toast, ham or bacon, and fruits, plus coffee, tea, water, juice included.

Morning: After breakfast, we’ll drive to the starting point for our exploration of Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave. This arduous, rewarding activity will begin with 45 minutes of hiking that includes river crossings and wading in knee-high water. Once at the cave entrance, we will swim through the opening and start a 3.5-hour journey in the cave. This activity will require endurance, strength, agility and balance. The “ATM Cave,” Actun Tunichil Muknal, is an important archaeological wonder of the Mayan world. 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.

Lunch: On site, we will enjoy a self-serve meal; select from a variety of ingredients to create your own kind of burrito.

Afternoon: We will return to the lodge. Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: Lodge restaurant plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Black Hole Hiking & Rappelling Adventure
False Sittee Point
B,L,D
The Colonial at Jaguar Reef

Activity note: Driving total approximately 3 hours. Black Hole activities require a high level of physical fitness. 2 hour uphill hikes on dirt trails, repelling 300 feet into a sink hole, rock climbing and ladder climbing. Weather is usually hot, sunny and humid and trails can become muddy when there is rain. Participants should wear sturdy walking shoes with rubber tread, lightweight pants, t-shirt that allows freedom of movement. Also bring insect repellent/sunscreen. See packing list for more handy items.

Breakfast: Lodge restaurant meal.

Morning: After check out, we will start the day with a transfer to Cave Branch for a full day of hiking and rappelling activities at Black Hole. Upon arrival at Cave Branch, we’ll take part in an instructional session before driving to the base camp and starting our 1.5-hour hike. The hike comes to an end at the hilltop at the edge of an enormous sink hole. After donning harnesses and receiving the necessary instructions, we’ll rappel into the 300-foot sink hole. Once at the forested bottom, we can reward our efforts with a well-deserved break for lunch. Those who do not wish to take part in the Black Hole hike/rappelling will have the option to participate in a moderately strenuous river cave expedition. The cave activity begins with a 15 minute drive to a drop off point at the river's edge. Sit in a rubber inner tube and float through the entrance to the cave. Continue floating through the dark chambers, enjoying views of the sparkling mineral formations overhead with the aid of headlamps. Once the water becomes too shallow, put aside the inner tubes and set off on foot. The cave floor is rocky and wet and at times it will be necessary to climb over rocky formations.

Lunch: On site, we will enjoy a meal of self-prepared burritos with many options for ingredients.

Afternoon: We’ll continue to explore the sink-hole floor as we make our way back to the camp site. The hike takes approximately 45 minutes. Once at the camp site, we will have the opportunity to clean up before we begin our transfer drive to the Caribbean coast. We will arrive at the lodge by late afternoon for check-in.

Dinner: At the lodge restaurant, we will enjoy a plated meal with coffee, tea, water, local juice included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
South Water Caye Marine Reserve, Free Time
False Sittee Point
B,L,D
The Colonial at Jaguar Reef

Activity note: Boat ride is approximately 45 minutes to the snorkeling site. Snorkeling equipment will be provided on-site.

Breakfast: At the lodge, we will enjoy a meal with coffee, tea, water included.

Morning: We’ll board a boat from the lodge's docks and enjoy a 45-minute ride out to South Water Caye Marine Reserve. The morning will be spent snorkeling around reef patches. We’ll then return to the lodge.

Lunch: At the lodge, we will enjoy a meal with coffee, tea, water included.

Afternoon: After a brief rest, we will travel to nearby Lebeha Drumming Center in Hopkins Village for an introduction to local Garifuna culture. A local expert will introduce us to the importance of drums and music, and expert drummers will treat us to a performance. Then we will have the opportunity to learn some drumming skills and dance moves ourselves. We’ll return to the lodge for dinner.

Dinner: At the lodge, we will enjoy a meal with coffee, tea, water included.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Return to South Water Caye Marine Reserve, Free Time
False Sittee Point
B,L,D
The Colonial at Jaguar Reef

Activity note: Boat ride is approximately 45 minutes to the snorkeling site. Snorkeling equipment will be provided on-site.

Breakfast: Lodge restaurant.

Morning: We’ll board a boat from the lodge's docks and enjoy a 45-minute ride out to South Water Caye Marine Reserve. The morning will be spent snorkeling around reef patches we didn’t explore the day before. We’ll take a boat ride back to the lodge for lunch.

Lunch: Lodge restaurant.

Afternoon: Free time to enjoy the lodge's facilities or explore local sites.

Dinner: At the lodge, we’ll talk about our week with new friends during a farewell dinner of off-menu options or buffet selections including fish, beet, chicken and vegetarian dishes. Coffee, tea, water and one glass of wine included.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Transfer to Belize City, Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 7:50 a.m. The 30-minute flight to Belize City is expected to arrive at Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport at approximately 10:30 a.m. Participants making their own international flight arrangements should book flights departing after 1:00 p.m. to ensure good connection times.

Breakfast: Early, at the lodge restaurant.

Morning: After an early check out, we’ll drive 45 minutes to the Dangriga airstrip and catch a 30-minute flight to Belize City's Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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