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A Tikal Tower appearing above the jungle canopy

Year of the Maya

Example 7 Day Tour
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Celebrate the Year of the Maya, marking the end of their calendar, with a journey back in time to some of their best preserved cities and sites. Visit Tikal, Caracol, Xunantunich and the Actun Tunichil Muknal with local Belizean guides on this culturally rich exploration. Learn about the history of the Maya, hike in the rainforest, and encounter the legacy of the Maya people.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Arrive Belize City
Day 2 : Rio Macal and Xunantunich
Day 3 : Caracol and Water Wonders
Day 4 : Archeological History of Pook's Hill
Day 5 : Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave
Day 6 : Tikal Ruins
Day 7 : Return Home

Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Independent

Trip Snapshots

A Tikal Tower appearing above the jungle canopy Pooks Hill Jungle Lodge A view from inside the ATM cave So many ruins! Guide describing Mayan artifacts in ATM cave An ancient weathered stella and altar David at Pooks Hill Ruins The beginning of our cave-tubing experience!

Day 1 Arrive Belize City

Arrive at the Belize City airport and transfer to your jungle retreat. Time permitting, stop at the Belize Zoo, where in typical Belizean fashion animals roam 29 acres in large natural enclosures. Your jungle lodge is tucked next to the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve and Roaring River. Surrounded by pristine forest, your days at the lodge are filled with natural discoveries exploring the lush vegetation of the Maya Mountains and the mysteries beneath.

Day 2 Rio Macal and Xunantunich

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After a leisurely morning, you will set out to down the Macal River for your first introduction to Belizean wildlife. Your guide will help you spot iguanas, peccaries, coati mundis and a myriad of bird life. After lunch in town, you will visit the Maya ruins of Xunantunich, once a major ceremonial site and the second tallest ruin in Belize. From atop, enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the Cayo District of Guatemala.

Day 3 Caracol and Water Wonders

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today continue your explorations of the ancient Maya with a visit to the ruins of Caracol. Surrounded by breathtaking Belizean jungle, a visit to the ruins offer massive structures, haunting tombs and burial sites, and intriguing carvings that tell stories about the people who lived and worked in this fantastic Maya city. There is still much to be discovered at Caracol and archaeologists continue their digs and preservation of the site. With time you will stop at Rio On Pools and Rio Frio Cave. A stop at the pools makes for an inviting dip, especially after spending the afternoon hiking under the hot Belize sun. The smooth granite stones make for great slides, but be sure to watch your step. Even for those who prefer to keep dry, the beauty of the pools is well worth the stop. Not far from the pools is the Rio Frio Cave. This is the largest cave in Belize. Approaching the cave's enormous mouth invites a magical, almost frighteningly fantastic, sensation. Long ago the cave was used as a ceremonial site for the Maya, but while artifacts no longer remain, the cave still holds onto its mysticism.

Day 4 Archeological History of Pook's Hill

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today you will explore the history of the Maya at Pook's Hill. Your day is spent exploring the onsite ruins as well as the surrounding forest with your Mayan naturalist guide. Learn about the medicinal and practical uses of the jungle plants and the forest animals. Your time is free this afternoon to explore the attractions on site as well. Go for a dip in the nearby river, explore the many paths in the rainforest, or relax in a chair in the open air platform and keep your eyes peeled for the many species of birds in the region. This evening enjoy a verbal history of Pook's Hill and the Roaring River Valley in the Pook's Hill Maya Site.

Day 5 Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Click here for alternative excursion at Barton Creek Cave
Today wake early for your unforgettable adventure into the Maya underworld. You begin your journey from the lodge doors, crossing creeks and journeying deep into the Belizean jungle to the opening of the sacred Actun Tunichil Muknal - the Cave of the Stone Sepulcher. At the entrance you will gear up with helmets and waterproof headlamps, then wade into the emerald colored water flowing from the cave's gaping mouth. The journey follows the river's flow through wet and dry caves encased in hanging stalactites and towering stalagmites. Your final destination is the spectacular primary chamber where ancient kings and priests made blood sacrifices to appease the Maya gods. Your head lamps illuminate the ghostly outlines of skeletal ritual victims and scattered ceramic shards of ancient rituals. Tunichil is an active archeological site, so be careful not to disturb the sleeping skeletons and ceramic pieces before returning to the light above ground. This is a fairly rigorous trip and travelers should be in good shape. For those looking for an alternative trip, a visit the the Barton Creek Cave is an excellent choice for any age. There are also other activities available for those who prefer life above ground.

Day 6 Tikal Ruins

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After breakfast depart for the three hour drive to the magnificent Tikal ruins, just over the border in Guatemala. Tikal's towering pyramids rise above the thick jungle canopy like stoic sentinels of ancient mysteries. The ancient Maya began building this city around 600 B.C., and for the next 1500 years the area was an important religious, scientific, and political center. Pyramids to honor dead kings were built, administrative buildings rose, storage houses appeared and houses for royalty were carved out of the jungle. Tikal became one of the greatest centers of Maya culture and sprawled over 46 square miles with more than 4000 structures in the core city center alone. Today, the pristine forest engulfing the ruined city is home to howler and spider monkeys, white lipped peccary, brocket deer, coatimundis, toucans, scarlet macaws, parrots, ocelots and the seldom seen jaguar. Upon arrival, explore the ruins with an experienced guide and enjoy lunch at the ruins. Return late afternoon to Pook's Hill.

Day 7 Return Home

  • 1 Breakfast

Pooks Hill Lodge

Per person starting at


Add $95 for Peak season December 15-January 5


  • 6 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners
  • 6 Nights Accommodations
    • 6 Nights Lodge
  • 6 Days Private Guide Service
  • Both International Arrival and Departure Transfers are included.

Recommended Budgeting

  • $50 Meals not Included
  • $45 Airport Departure Tax
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Mary C

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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
Gale Cantor

When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.

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