Glover's Reef Atoll is one of only 3 coral atolls in the Western Hemisphere. We'll begin our Belize tour by spending two nights there, exploring by day the reef and its colorful array of undersea life. Snorkel with blue parrot fish, neon blowfish, six foot eagle rays and harmless nurse sharks, and study delicate purple plume coral, brain coral and sea fans. We'll learn the finer points of sea kayaking and windsurfing, or maybe spend the time relaxing in a hammock shaded by stately palm trees. Next we head inland to the thatched-roof cabanas of our jungle lodge. From here we'll journey through cathedral shaped caves, explore winding trails along the Roaring River, and learn the ancient traditions of the Maya. Finally, we cross into Guatemala to discover the jungle clad ruins of Tikal where the ancient Maya once held their royal courts.
Short on time? Click here to find out more information on our shortened version of our Belize Explorer itinerary.
Day 1 : Arrive Belize Days 2-3 : Glover Day 4 : Maya Mountains Day 5 : Rio Macal and Xunantunich Day 6 : Caving Expedition Day 7 : Tikal Day 8 : Flores Day 9 : Fly Belize City and Return Home
This morning we travel by motor launch 20 miles east of the main Barrier Reef to our private island base-camp at Glover Reef Marine Reserve. This is an active excursion that includes many hours of kayaking each day. Travelers should be prepared for vigorous -- and rewarding -- activities. Surrounded by rich coral reefs and beautiful turquoise waters, we begin by rigging our kayaks with main-sails and sailing along the shallow reef flats to a superb snorkeling site. Tonight we enjoy an island feast with a mixed grill of seafood, fresh fish and vegetables topped with Belizean coconut baking and tropical fruits.
Glover's is one of only three atolls in the Caribbean Sea and is truly the most spectacular marine environment in Belize. Due to its isolation from the mainland the waters are exceptionally clear with an incredibly rich reef system that offers the best kayaking, snorkeling and diving in the Caribbean. Day 3 is flexible in order to respond to both group and individual desires and abilities. Activities include: sea kayaking, snorkeling the inner and outer walls of the reef, kayak sailing and windsurfing for both novices and experienced boarders. For those of you who are certified divers, we can also arrange dives on the outer walls. If all this sounds a little too busy, you always have the choice of just kicking back in a hammock and enjoying your Belize vacation with a good book and a cold drink.
Enjoy our last morning on the reef before journeying into the country's interior. We travel by boat to the mainland, where a van awaits to take us along the Hummingbird Highway to our home for the next three nights. Along the way stop at the Belmopan Market, stretch your legs, and find a snack among the stalls piled high with fruits and housewares. 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.
In the morning we stop at the for a traditional Maya meal. These five sisters have been instrumental in reviving the art of Yucatec Maya slate carving and maintaining the language, culture and traditions of the Maya in Belize. While here, walk the Medicine Trail, visit their botanical garden, tour the Tanah Maya Art Museum, and listen to stories of spirits still revered by the modern Maya. After breakfast, paddle down the Macal River for your first introduction to Belizean wildlife. Your guide will help you spot iguanas, peccaries, coatimundis and a myriad of bird life. After lunch in town, we 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.
We wake early for our unforgettable adventure into the Maya underworld. We begin our journey from our lodge, 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 we gear up with helmets and waterproof headlamps, then wade into the emerald colored water flowing from the cave's gaping mouth. Our journey follows the river's flow through wet and dry caves encased in hanging stalactites and towering stalagmites. Our final destination is the spectacular primary chamber where ancient kings and priests made blood sacrifices to appease the Maya gods. Our lights illuminate the ghostly outlines of skeletal ritual victims and scattered ceramic shards left from ancient rituals. Tunichil is an active archeaological site, so we're 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.
After breakfast we 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, coati-mundis, toucans, scarlet macaws, parrots, ocelots and the seldom seen jaguar. Today we explore the ruins with an experienced guide and watch the sun set over the pyramids before overnighting at the ruins.
For those interested, wake early to watch the spectacular sunrise over the great ruined city before heading to Flores. The afternoon is free to enjoy this quaint colonial town built on an island and surrounded by jungle. Explore the cobblestone streets, browse the local tiendas for Maya weavings, or take a canoe trip on Lake Peten. Watch the sun set on the lake tonight from our hotel.
Day 9 Fly Belize City and Return Home
Bid farewell to the world of the Maya, and fly back to Belize City this morning in time to connect with your flight home.
Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.
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.
Typically not offered during this period because of weather conditions.