20813
Belize/Guatemala
Hike and Snorkel to Find the Mystery of the Maya in Guatemala and Belize
Experience the diverse wonders of Central America as you hike and snorkel with experts, learning about Mayan culture, pre-Columbian artifacts local wildlife and Caye Marine Reserve.
Program No. 20813RJ
Length
10 days
Starts at
2,945
Special Offer
Flights start at
595
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
10 days
9 nights
26 meals
9 B 8 L 9 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
DAY
1
Arrive Belize City, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Belize City
D
Radisson Ft. George

Dinner: Welcome Dinner at the hotel.

Evening: Orientation: Enjoy a warm welcome and introductions to staff and your fellow participants. You will receive your Arrival Packet and we will review the schedule and discuss responsibilities, schedule changes, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, contact numbers for key staff and answer all your questions.

DAY
2
Boat Ride on the New River, Exploring the Lamanai Ruins
Belize City
B,L,D
Radisson Ft. George

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: 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, try to find and identify some of the many bird species found in the area, including: Black-collared Hawks, Northern Jacanas, Mangrove Swallows, Olive-throated Parakeets, American Pygmy Kingfishers, and Purple Gallinules, to name just a few. If lucky, we may even catch a glimpse of the rarely seen Jabiru Stork! Get close-up views of mangroves and virgin forests flanking the narrow waterway and try to spot the colorful orchids that grow along the river banks. 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. Unlike most Mayan sites, the ruins found at Lamanai were built in layers; each generation adding on to the existing structures. 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.

Afternoon: 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. Boat ride and bus transfer back to Belize City. Return to the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant.

Evening: Free time to enjoy the hotel grounds and pool.

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

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Experience the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center, which was founded in 1983. The organization was born from an effort to provide a safe haven for a number of wild animals that, ironically, had been used in the making of documentaries about tropical forests. The zoo and its education center encompass 29 acres of tropical savanna and house more than 125 animals native to Belize. Begin transfer to the Peten region in Guatemala. Brief stop at the Belize/Guatemala border for an examination of group documentation.

Lunch: En route at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Continue transfer to Flores, in the Peten region of Guatemala. En route stop at Ixpanpajul Nature Park for an expert-led forest walk on trails and hanging bridges. The Ixpanpajul Natural Park covers an area of nine square kilometers/450 hectares 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. 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. Transfer to the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant.

Evening: Enjoy free time to experience local culture, perhaps taking a ride into the historic town of Flores.

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

Activity note: Tikal activities include climbing steep stone and wooden staircases, and walking on irregular forest trails. Participants must walk about 20 minutes on an unpaved path to get from the park entrance/visitor center to the first ruins. Suggested items to bring: binoculars, camera, hat, insect repellent, sunscreen, lightweight rain poncho, good walking shoes, and water bottle. Average daytime temperatures are 88-90F and average humidity from 75-82 percent. Higher precipitation from June-November.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: After breakfast transfer to the spectacular ruins at Tikal. 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.

Afternoon: Learn more about Tikal and its’ mysteries as you continue your visit after lunch. Late afternoon arrival to the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant.

Evening: Enjoy a free evening to experience local culture or entertainment.

DAY
5
Yaxha National Park and Ruins
Cayo District/Pook's Hill Reserve
B,L,D
Pook's Hill Lodge

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: 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.

Afternoon: Begin transfer to the Cayo District in Belize. 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.

Evening: Enjoy the open-air lounge and observe the night-feeding fruit bats at the hummingbird feeders.

DAY
6
Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave Adventure
Cayo District/Pook's Hill Reserve
B,L,D
Pook's Hill Lodge

Activity note: Wear a bathing suit under comfortable, older clothing and closed-toe shoes that can get wet and dirty. Also bring a pair of old socks. Arrive at cave entrance after a 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-deep to shoulder-deep water is required at times. In fragile sections, participants will need to remove shoes and walk in their socks so as not to damage the cave floor and/or artifacts.

Breakfast: At the lodge restaurant.

Morning: After breakfast, take a 30-minute drive to the starting point for our exploration of Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave. This rewarding activity is not for the faint-hearted and will begin with 45 minutes of hiking that includes river crossings and wading in knee-high water. Once at the cave entrance, participants will swim through the opening and start a 3 1/2-hour journey in the cave. 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. Please give the guides your full attention during the ATM Cave orientation and instruction. The guides are fully conscious of their responsibility to preserve the integrity of both the natural caves and their archaeological contents.

Lunch: Boxed lunch on-site.

Afternoon: Return to the lodge. Enjoy free time to rest or take a short birding walk around the ruins, where you may spot many species, including Hummingbirds, Blue-Crowned Motmots and the Spectacled Owl.

Dinner: At the lodge restaurant.

Evening: Enjoy free time. Night walks on the lodge trails offer good opportunities to spot wildlife or listen for howler monkeys.

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

Activity note: Black Hole activities require a high level of physical fitness. This adventure includes uphill hikes on dirt trails (about two hours), 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 good rubber tread, lightweight pants and t-shirt that are comfortable and allow freedom of movement. Also bring insect repellent and sunscreen.

Breakfast: At the lodge restaurant.

Morning: Transfer to Cave Branch (one-hour drive) for a full day of hiking and rappelling activities at Black Hole. Upon arrival at Cave Branch, take part in an instructional session before driving 15 minutes to the base camp and starting our 1 1/2-hour uphill 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, begin rappelling into the 300-foot sink hole. Once at the forested bottom, reward your efforts with a well-deserved break for lunch. NOTE: Participants 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: Boxed lunch in the sink hole or inside the cave system (lunch site dependent on the choice of activity).

Afternoon: Explore the sink-hole floor as you make your way back to the camp site. The hike takes approximately 45 minutes. Once at the camp site, you will have the opportunity to clean up before we begin our transfer (approximately 1 hour, 20 minutes) drive to the Caribbean coast. Late-afternoon arrival at the lodge.

Dinner: At the lodge restaurant.

Evening: During a free evening, you may enjoy the solitude of the Jaguar Beach in a hammock.

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

Activity note: Snorkeling equipment will be provided on-site.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: 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. As you snorkel within this beautiful and unique underwater environment and delight in its many colorful inhabitants, please consider the following tips on reef etiquette provided by the marine reserve. • Be careful when entering and exiting the water since your fins may stir up sand or scrape corals. • Avoid standing on corals or walking on the reef. • Take nothing living or dead out of the water except recent garbage. • Refuse purchasing souvenirs made from coral, turtles or other marine life. • Don't touch, chase or feed any marine life. • Do not throw garbage in the water. Return to the lodge.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to enjoy the lodge's facilities or explore local sites. The coastal fishing village of Hopkins is located about one mile from the lodge. It is mostly populated by Garifunas and has a few interesting shops and restaurants where one can experience the local culture.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: Enjoy free time, exploring the hotel grounds or perhaps going for a swim.

DAY
9
South Water Caye Marine Reserve, Free Time
False Sittee Point
B,L,D
Jaguar Reef Lodge

Activity note: Snorkeling equipment will be provided on-site.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: 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 not explored the day before. Boat ride back to the lodge.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to enjoy the lodge's facilities or explore local sites.

Dinner: Enjoy the opportunity to talk about your week with new friends during a Farewell Dinner at the lodge.

Evening: Enjoy free time, exploring the hotel grounds or perhaps going for a swim.

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

Activity note: On flight from Dangriga to Belize City, each participant will be allowed to bring up to two checked bags weighing no more than 35 pounds each and measuring no more than 62 linear inches (with maximum 30 inches in width and 15 inches in height). Participants will also be able to bring one carry-on item (purse or backpack) weighing no more than 15 pounds.

Breakfast: At the lodge restaurant.

Morning: After an early breakfast, drive to the Dangriga airstrip (45 minutes) and catch a 30-minute flight to Belize City's City's Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport. The proposed internal flight arrives to the international airport at approximately 10:30 am and is included in the program cost. Participants making their own flight arrangements should book flights departing after 1:00 p.m. to ensure good connection times. Connect with afternoon flights to the U.S. 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!