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. The 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.
After a leisurely morning, we set out to canoe 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, 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.
Today we'll continue our 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 we'll 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.
Click here for alternative excursion at Barton Creek Cave
We wake early for our unforgettable adventure into the Maya underworld. We 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. 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 of ancient rituals. Tunichil is an active archeological 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. There are also other activities available for those who prefer life above ground.
After breakfast, transfer to Belize City and catch your international flight home.