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Luxury Belize: Mayan culture and Caribbean cayes

12 days from £3126pp

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Luxury Belize: Mayan culture and Caribbean cayes:
Trip Dossier

This is a short luxury private holiday in Belize, formerly British Honduras. Once the haunt of back-packers and homesick British soldiers, it is now a much-sought-after destination for lovers of nature and beautiful beaches. This English-speaking republic is unique - a cocktail of Creole, British colonial, indigenous Maya, Mennonite and Spanish cultures.  It’s tiny - a little larger than Wales – so it easy to sample its natural and cultural attractions in a short space of time.Your luxurious holiday visits just three places but yields a flavour of the variety of landscapes without arduous travelling. 

The coast is unmistakably Caribbean: silky white-sand beaches and coral atolls, palm trees, turquoise seas, laidback people, reggae rhythms and rum punch. Belize has the world’s second-largest barrier reef and the undersea world here is a theatre of exotic fish and other marine species living among the coral. Behind the coast in the back-country there are forested highlands such as the beautiful Mountain Pine Ridge, where you’ll stay at a top-of-the-range lodge conceived and owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Belize City. Transfer to Blancaneaux Lodge in Mountain Pine Ridge.

Day 2

At leisure.

Day 3

Guided excursion to Caracol Mayan ruins.

Day 4

Light aircraft flight to Gallon Jug, continue by road to Chan Chich.

Day 5

Guided tour of Lamanai Mayan ruins.

Day 6

At leisure.

Day 7

Light aircraft flight from Gallon Jug to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Transfer to Victoria House.

Days 8-11

At leisure on Ambergris Caye.

Day 12

Transfer to airport

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Belize City. Transfer to Blancaneaux Lodge in Mountain Pine Ridge.

You’ll be driven from the airport to Blancaneaux Lodge, a tranquil luxury hideaway located within the beautiful Mountain Pine Forest Reserve of Western Belize. The nearest town is the Cayo District capital, San Ignacio, a 20min drive away. The lodge is reached by a 3hr road journey from Belize City airport via the paved Western Highway. The lodge provides a perfect base from which to enjoy its forested surroundings, jagged peaks, outstanding river scenery, numerous waterfalls and caves. Mountain Pine Ridge is so named for the whispering pine forests which thrive on the poor sandy soil.

The lodge is owned by Francis Ford Coppola and the American film director's influence is evident, from his highly regarded own Napa Valley Californian wines served in the restaurant, to the ceiling fan in the bar used in the opening sequence of his seminal film Apocalypse Now.


Day 2

At leisure.

Day at leisure. Excursions available include horse riding and mountain biking through the pine forest. A canoe trip on the serene Macal River is a terrific experience and a good opportunity to spot wildlife. Birdlife and butterflies are particularly abundant. There are many other rivers with plunging cascades and swimming holes to enjoy.

Day 3

Guided excursion to Caracol Mayan ruins.

Guided excursion to Caracol, Río Frío and Rio On.  Situated high on the Vaca Plateau, in the heart of the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, Caracol is the most extensive Mayan site in Belize and was only rediscovered in 1936. The site is peppered with 30,000 structures: in its ascendancy the city supported a population of over 150,000. Squatting at an altitude of over 500m above sea level with no natural water body close by it remains a mystery how and why such a huge population centre like Caracol survived and evolved. 

However, the close proximity to both extremely hard stone and copal resin, two commodities highly prized by the Maya, may help explain this enigma. At the heart of the site lies the massive pyramid of Caana (Sky Palace) which is now almost fully restored and reaches a height of over 35m. From the top you can enjoy panoramic views over the mountains. The drive to the site in the early morning occasionally affords a glimpse of a tapir, jaguar or ocelot as it breaks its forest cover to cross the road.




The main plaza at Caracol surrounded by jungle

Day 4

Light aircraft flight to Gallon Jug, continue by road to Chan Chich.

A real adventure today: you embark a 3-seater light aircraft for the short flight from the airstrip at Mountain Pine Ridge to the evocatively named Gallon Jug. From there, you catch your breath and continue by road to Chan Chich Lodge in the Orange Walk District, which has thrived on the plantation cultivation of citrus fruit, and sugar.

Chan Chich is not just a top-of-the-range lodge, it’s a holiday experience in itself. It’s remarkably comfortable, with great facilities including a fully screened pool and a Jacuzzi. Luxurious cabins occupy the lower plaza of a 1,200 year-old Mayan temple. The surrounding rainforest, part of a large private reserve in one of the most remote corners of Belize, has long been spared the destructive impact of hunters and loggers.

A rich diversity of flora and fauna, including howler and spider monkeys, jaguars, ocelots and a myriad of bird species is found here. Whether or not you are fortunate to catch a glimpse of a wild cat during your visit, it is unlikely you’ll leave Chan Chich without feeling humbled by the overwhelming supremacy and beauty of nature.


Jaguar in the Belizean Jungle

Day 5

Guided tour of Lamanai Mayan ruins.

Enjoy a full day guided exploration of Lamanai Mayan ruins. Depart for the city of Orange Walk, passing through traditional Mennonite communities and small Belizean towns en route. From there, take a motorised canoe up the New River, flanked by rainforest. There are opportunities to spot wildlife such as crocodiles and a plethora of bird species including the jabirú stork - the largest flying bird. 

After an hour, arrive at Lamanai. Visit the small museum and take a guided tour of the ruins. While not in the same league as Chichén Itzá or Tikal, they are nonetheless impressive. Some of the buildings are in the process of being restored or excavated, but the hidden jungle setting is fabulous. With a little luck you should catch a glimpse of black howler monkeys in the tree canopies with their distinctive eerie roar. 


Day 6

At leisure.

At leisure at Chan Chich.

Day 7

Light aircraft flight from Gallon Jug to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Transfer to Victoria House.

It’s another light aircraft flight from Gallon Jug to Ambergris Caye, the most northerly and largest island in Belize, 46km long. The island offers a splendid vantage point from which to enjoy the Belize Barrier Reef less than a kilometre from the shore. The relaxed main town San Pedro has a wide choice of restaurants and bars. The island’s main attractions are sea-orientated: first class diving, snorkelling and fishing.

You’ll be staying at Victoria House, overlooking the Caribbean. This family-friendly, white plantation-style property harks back with nostalgia to British colonial times, but without the formality. A romantic, barefoot resort with a generous infinity pool, it offers both relaxation in the shade of a swaying palm as well as loads of activities into which to channel your energy.

Victoria House

Days 8-11

At leisure on Ambergris Caye.
At leisure on Ambergris Caye. Snorkelling and diving in the nearby Hol Chan Marine Reserve is outstanding - a typical excursion lasts around 2.5hrs with 60mins in the water- and there is a dive shop on the premises' private pier. The hotel also offers flat, reef and deep-sea fishing trips. If you have your driving licence, buggies can be hired.

Day 12

Transfer to airport

Essential information


3 flights (longest 0.5hr); 2 road journeys (longest 2hrs).


For this holiday we have chosen a mix of accommodation styles, all top quality properties and very suitable for honeymooners. They all have excellent and convenient locations, very personal service and good facilities.


Breakfast daily; lunch day 3; full board days 4-7.


We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by clients on their return.

Included excursions

• Guided excursion to Caracol Mayan ruins, Rio Frio and Rio On.
• Guided tour of Lamanai Mayan ruins.  

Summary of nights

12 days, 11 nights: Mountain Pine Ridge 3, Orange Walk District 3, Ambergris Caye 5.

Included in the journey price

. Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Not included in the journey price

• International flights to Latin America.
• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
• Departure tax (US$10.75)
• Optional excursions.


The unit of currency in Belize is the Belize dollar which is always 2 to 1 US dollar .(US dollars also accepted).

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$45 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir.

How to take it

Cash machines are available Belize City and San Pedro (Ambergris), and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip. In each of the hotels, as well as shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency, and possibly some travellers’ cheques, though these are gradually falling out of use (American Express are the most widely accepted). Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

The Belize exchange rate is fixed at $2 Belize dollars to 1 $US. Both currencies are widely accepted in cash and credit cards can be used at the hotels. 


Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.


Travel insurance is essential. 

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport taxes

There is an  international departure tax of $20 to be paid on departure, also a security tax of about $5 and a small conservation charge.

Journey grade

There are no long days of travel on this trip. This holiday is suitable for honeymooners and other comfort-seeking couples. 

If you have a disability or other special requirements, please call us. In the summer  (Jun-Oct) the weather can be extremely hot and humid, you might bear this in mind if travelling with small children or elderly persons.


The best weather conditions are during the dry season December to May. It can be cool in the highlands in winter, while the jungle areas are hot and humid all year round. There’s a low risk of tropical storms or hurricanes from June to November.

Clothing and special equipment

Bring plenty of light, loose and preferably cotton clothing and good, comfortable walking shoes, trainers or sports sandals. We suggest that you plan to ‘layer’ your clothing; it is easier and more efficient to put on a couple of light layers than one thick jumper, and sensible to have long sleeves for areas where mosquitos or sand flies may be. 

You might like to bring some smart casual clothing for restaurants in the evenings. Protection against the sun (sunblock, sun hat) and mosquito repellent are essential and you should bring swimwear. A daypack is useful for carrying sun block, guidebook, water and any extra layers. Binoculars are strongly recommended. 

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in Central America.


Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on yellow fever and malaria tablets.  For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.


Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins.  Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to, or via, the USA, you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online.  This costs $14 per person, and must be done by you personally.
Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

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