Arrive at the Belize City airport and transfer to your jungle retreat. Along the way 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.
Spend today relaxing and settling into your jungle lodge. The day is yours to explore the many trails and river that flow through the Pooks Hill property. Take a guided hike in old growth forest, float along the jungle river or just relax and listen to the wildlife that surrounds you.
After a leisurely morning, 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 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.
Today wake early for our unforgettable adventure into the Maya underworld. You will begin our journey from our 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 we gear up with helmets and waterproof headlamps, then wade into the emerald colored water flowing from the cave's gaping mouth. Your 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 lights 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. Those preferring life above ground can choose from a variety of alternative excursions. See Barton Creek Cave for an alternate excursion.
Rise this morning for an early breakfast before departing 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. After a tour of the ruins, drive back to your lodge in Belize for your last night in the jungle.
Bid farewell to the world of the Maya, and transfer to the Flores airport for your flight to Belize City and connect with your international flight home. Note International flight cannot depart prior to 1 PM.
$590 single supplement