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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.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Israel Canto
Israel Canto was raised in a Mayan village in the Cayo District of Belize. In high school, he worked in small hotels near his hometown and found he enjoyed interacting with visitors. In 1995, he completed his guide training and certification and has worked as an expedition leader ever since. Israel continues to expand his knowledge and expertise through travel and continuing education courses. He is fluent in Yucatec Maya, English and Spanish, and enjoys birding and snorkeling in his free time.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Israel Canto
Israel Canto View biography
Israel Canto was raised in a Mayan village in the Cayo District of Belize. In high school, he worked in small hotels near his hometown and found he enjoyed interacting with visitors. In 1995, he completed his guide training and certification and has worked as an expedition leader ever since. Israel continues to expand his knowledge and expertise through travel and continuing education courses. He is fluent in Yucatec Maya, English and Spanish, and enjoys birding and snorkeling in his free time.
Profile Image of Pablo Najarro
Pablo Najarro View biography
Pablo Najarro was born to a large family in Petén, Guatemala. He began studying birds and became an expert guide in 1999. After training with the National Audubon Society, he created Guatemala’s first bird club: The Petén Birders Club. Its primary mission is to educate the public about birds and environmental conservation. Although birds are his first love, Pablo also enjoys leading history and culture groups. He shares his love of birding with his wife, Lily, and their two beautiful children, Pablito and Cesar Adrian.
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 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.
Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life
by Paul Humann
Humann's compact guide illustrates Caribbean fishes, corals, invertebrates and plants commonly encountered in shallower water.
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.
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.
Central America Map
by ITMB
A detailed map of the Central American isthmus at a scale of 1:1,100,000.
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.
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.
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.
Belize Field Guide
by Rainforest Publications (Illustrator)
Mammals, amphibians, and reptiles are all included in this 14-panel, fold-up pocket field guide
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.
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.
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.
21 Reviews
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5 Average
(5) Review left 12/08/2022

As a 71 year old woman this program was absolutely exhilarating. I did go to the gym beforehand to try to be in the best shape possible. The guides are so helpful and I felt safe and cared for the entire time. If you want some adventure and incredible memories this is the trip for you.

This reviewer did not give a star rating. Review left 11/06/2022

Israel was an absolutely amazing guide. Knowledgeable, personable and able to beautifully manage a variety of physical abilities as we challenged ourselves in some of the most spectacular places and diverse terrain I have ever experienced. Each day was a new adventure and the guides that were used to move us through the various events were all local to the area and skilled with unique backgrounds and areas of expertise. This was truly the trip of a lifetime. Be aware this is a physically challenging trip but they are careful to warn of any specific dangers and give options to those who might not be able to do all of the activities. Wear shoes with good tread and you will be able to enjoy the hikes completely.

(5) Review left 4/07/2022

Great trip. Enjoyed seeing the Mayan ruins, the cave expedition, and the snorkeling. Overall well run. Hotels were good and choices of expeditions were good as well. To me the rappelling was no big deal either way, but the view once you got down into the sinkhole was spectacular. A few things could have made it a little better. Meals at Jaguar Reef Hotel only included a main dish, so if you wanted a salad or a desert, it had to be ordered separately and paid for. The two snorkeling trips both felt short to me. I suppose it's a balance, maybe some people might like it short. I did not feel the guides for the snorkeling were that informative or helpful. I would like to have seen the guide for the Guatemalan part be a little more engaged, but I gather that was due to Covid.

(5) Review left 3/08/2022

This was our ninth Road Scholar trip, and definitely one of the best. Israel Canto is an engaging and knowledgeable leader, we had a exciting and varied adventure, spending three days in Belize and then Guatemala exploring premier Mayan ruins (especially Tikal), undertaking two incredible adventures: the exploration of ATM cave, followed the next day by hiking and rappelling into and out of a 300-foot deep sinkhole, and finally spending two days enjoying the beach and snorkeling on the reef. We had to take three Covid tests during the trip--one to enter Guatemala, one to return to Belize, and one to return to the US, and fortunately all went smoothly. The ATM Cave exploration, which takes 5-6 hours, involves swimming across a river, swimming into the cave, climbing steep and slippery rocks, and finally walking through rooms filled with Mayan artifacts including pottery and human skeletons. It was probably one of the most exciting and challenging experiences we have ever had, and requires a high level of fitness and agility. Despite the difficulty, our entire group did it, and then 11 of the 12 members of our group also did the strenuous hike and rappelling activity the next day. This was truly the adventure of a lifetime.

(5) Review left 3/07/2022

This was an exceptional experience. The guides were enthusiastic, knowledgeable, personable, attentive, and eager to make the trip superb. The education and scenery were wonderful and the physical challenge level was good. The adventure overall surpassed my expectations!

(5) Review left 2/15/2022

This program was indeed an adventure. We learned so much about the Mayans. I was not well informed before our visit to Belize and Guatemala but now feel I have a basic understanding of when and how they lived. The visits to the ruins, climbing up to the top of a number of monuments, trekking to the underground places of worship were all very enlightening. The last days at the beach were wonderful. I really enjoyed the snorkeling, just like I thought I would. The accommodations were all so different from each other! From a city hotel, to a modern jungle resort and then a eco-focused cabin resort and finally a beach resort, each one was so distinctly different from the others. It was truly remarkable. We won't be confusing any of them any time soon! The cave guides made it possible for a group of senior citizens to get in and out of the ATM cave without injuries. Many of the younger cave explorers around at the time were probably impressed that we did so well.

(5) Review left 2/10/2022

My husband and I had an amazing time in Belize and Guatemala. It was our first Road Scholar trip, and we are already looking for another one! We

This reviewer did not give a star rating. Review left 3/16/2020

If you like a variety of adventurous exploration in different settings of sub-tropical natural beauty, this is a must trip. Road Scholar must be commended with applause. Our guide Fidelio was extraordinary in his daily selection of activity and learning to provide our group history and culture and many incredible and often thrilling experiences. The eleven of us were elated and interactive. Insight, fun humor, and great questions and discussions were the norm. One thousand plus years of Mayan history, populations, and their accomplishments! Amazing, and done so in parallel but independent of development in Europe, Asia, etc. Moving on, during our reasonably-paced week, exploration included caves, rivers, green forests, birds, animals, tasty local-culture foods, and was highlighted at the Caribbean ocean’s sandy coast with resort relaxation and boat journeys to snorkel very clear water shallow reefs. The corals and fish observed were exhilarating for snorkelers both novice and experienced. Underwater beauty most outstanding in comparison to many of the ocean regions I have previously snorkeled. The daily supporting guides who joined our group were very helpful and knowledgeable. Overall a five-star experience and most satisfying. Thank you Road Scholar!

This reviewer did not give a star rating. Review left 2/28/2020

A wonderful adventure, a great trip with a lot of variety in activities, I learned so much not only about the Mayan's but also about Guatemala and Belize. Great trip leader who made it that much better. This is my ninth road scholar trip and it rates up there as one of the best, great for learning, adventure and fun. Beware it is very active, the better shape you are in the better the experience.

(5) Review left 2/24/2020

It was a great trip, good guides, interesting and challenging activities. good food.

(5) Review left 2/02/2020

Fabulous adventure in Belize and Guatemala. Especially want to highlight tour leader Israel. He did a great job of bringing the Mayan culture to life as well as kept us safe and informed during our trip. Highly recommend this trip, and am very grateful for all Israel shared with the group.

(5) Review left 1/29/2020

A very interesting and educational program that provides an excellent overview of Mayan history and culture. The Black Hole rappelling and ATM Cave exploration activities are challenging and rewarding experiences. The accommodations are very nice. Overall, an excellent travel program.

(5) Review left 12/01/2019

An exceptional, active, adventure with amazing variety. You do something different almost every day. The group leader also created a very positive experience for everyone.

(5) Review left 11/18/2019

I just went on my first Road Scholar trip. It was the Hike and Snorkel to Find the Mystery of the Maya in Guatemala and Belize. It was fantastic! I had so much fun, met wonderful people, and stayed in the best lodgings. I highly recommend this program and plan to take another Road Scholar vacation soon.

(5) Review left 10/28/2019

This was an energetic engaging adventure with high level activities. Learning and experiencing the Mayan culture was educational and rewarding. This was my first Road's Scholar experience and I am definitely coming back.

(5) Review left 3/06/2019

This was a beautifully calibrated trip that balanced historic sites, scholarly content, birds and wildlife and fun, sometimes rigorous activities like cave treks and rappelling. The extraordinary guides made it all work.

(5) Review left 3/05/2019

This was my first Road Scholar program. Our guide, other instructors, activities and experiences, educational opportunities, were all fantastic. I would highly recommend this program!

(5) Review left 3/04/2019

Hike and Snorkel to Find the Mystery of the Maya in Guatemala and Belize was a wonderful experience. Israel Canto, our leader, did a great job and thoroughly prepared us for each activity. The Maya sites of Yaxha, Lamanai, and Tikal are fabulous. The ATM cave hike was strenuous, but the site is spiritually powerful. Truly an amazing experience to see it. The Black Hole hike is even harder, but I loved the challenge. And the view is great. On the snorkel excursions, we saw purple fan corals, sting rays, spotted eagle rays, and lots of beautiful fish. Don't forget the sunblock, though. Most of us wound up with sunburned legs. All in all, a fabulous experience.

(5) Review left 3/03/2019

Strenuous but rewarding, excellent adventure, Mayan ruins fascinating, jungle beautiful, snorkeling excellent, beach peaceful

(5) Review left 2/20/2019

A challenging program that successfully "pushed the envelope" on my physical abilities. First time rappelling was awesome! Hotel Villa Maya, the Jaguar Creek Lodge and the Jaguar Reef Lodge were outstanding; nothing like sleeping in the jungle listening to howler monkeys. Group Leader Israel Canto is a gem!

(5) Review left 2/04/2019

A physically strenuous educational program which challenges one both mentally and physically! Really enjoyed the other participants, the tour leader, and subject matter experts/activity leaders (and even the drivers!) Great experience--highly recommend!






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