Private Journeys

Signature Belize: Rainforest, reef and ruins

12 days from £3,057pp

Belize


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Overview & Highlights

A comprehensive highlights holiday in one of the world’s best eco-destinations. Includes the less visited south, embracing jungle wildlife, active adventures, Mayan ruins and a vibrant Caribbean culture.

On this good-value holiday packed with adventures, you can enjoy many cultural and wildlife-focused experiences. Visit communities of the Mayan and Garifuna peoples, and find out how they live in harmony with nature and the modern world. You even get to visit an artisan chocolate factory.

English-speaking Belize is rapidly becoming one of the world’s premier eco-adventure destinations, with a bunch of excellent, high quality lodges scattered through the undisturbed Mayan Mountains and along the coral-fringed Caribbean coast.

The small-scale, eco-friendly accommodation we have chosen is appropriate for lovers of sporting activities too: go caving, hiking, tubing down fast-flowing rivers, kayaking and snorkelling. Experienced guides will be with you all the way.  

Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Belize City, transfer to mountain lodge.

Arrive in Belize City and transfer by road to your remote forest eco-resort, Pook’s Hill Lodge, on the edge of Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve - a journey inland of about 90mins. The thatched property is surrounded by flourishing tropical foliage and rugged hills populated by a multitude of birds and mammals.

Day 2

Excursion to the Actun Tunichil Muknal caves.

Today you have a day trip to the Actun Tunichil Muknal caves (often referred to as ATM caves though you can’t withdraw any cash there!).  There you hike into the caves, cross over underground rivers and enter a giant chamber which was long ago the setting for Mayan religious ceremonies and is stuffed with relics including ceramics and, rather gruesomely, skeletons.

Actun Tunichil Muknal – Cayo

Day 3

Optional excursion to Tikal or Caracol Mayan ruins.

The Mayan peoples have had a presence in Mexico and Central America since well before the birth of Christ. Their civilisation, which was at its height in the 1st-9th centuries AD  has left a legacy of remarkable buildings, sculptures and artefacts featuring their hieroglyphics and reflecting their artistic creativity and knowledge of astronomy and mathematics.

Tikal and Caracol, shrouded by extensive rainforest, are two of the most impressive, long-abandoned Mayan sites, now reclaimed for visitors with their pyramids,  sculpted temples, broad plazas and and ball-parks. You can choose to visit either on your free day at leisure.

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Day 4

Transfer to lagoon-side, multi-activity lodge at Lamanai.

Transfer back to Belize City and continue by road and river to Lamanai Outpost Lodge on the woodland-fringed banks of New River Lagoon.

At Lamanai Outpost you can choose from a range of fully guided soft-adventure experiences that start from your cabin’s doorstep and do not require long hours of driving. We suggest you consider signing up for two included activities per day.

These include dawn adventures to spot jungle wildlife as it wakes up: howler monkeys, toucans and parrots thrive in this habitat. Compliment this with a night-time walk, a crocodile observation boat ride, spear-fishing or a stroll along a medicinal nature trail. 

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Day 5

Visit to Lamanai Mayan ruins.

Don’t miss the opportunity on one of your days here to discover the nearby Lamanai Maya ruins. In the company of an expert guide, you’ll explore the mysterious abandoned jungle-cloaked temples. The ruins encompass over 700 structures, a visitor’s centre and museum.

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Day 6

Transfer to eco-resort in the southern district Toledo.

Transfer by water and road back to Belize City airport and take an exhilarating  light-aircraft flight to the little port of Punta Gorda on Belize’s less-visited southern coast.  It’s just a short drive on to another adventure-filled, family-friendly property, the Lodge at Big Falls.

The lodge is crammed between the Mayan mountains and the Rio Grande, on a meander of the river with over a kilometre of river frontage.

It’s great accommodation for families, with each hardwood or thatched cottages having its own bathroom and three their own kitchenettes. 

Belize Tourist Board ©

Day 7

Optional active and cultural adventures.

Again, there are loads of activities on offer which will suit all sorts of interests and enthusiasms. Try kayaking, snorkelling, caving, and hiking. Cultural activities include a visit to a Mayan or Garifuna indigenous community, to learn about how their long-standing settlements have maintained their traditions and customs.

Belize Tourist Board ©

Day 8

Excursion to Hokeb Ha cave and Ixcacao cocoa plantation.

You'll follow the path to Blue Creek running along the base of steepening limestone cliffs to arrive at a waterfall and the entrance to the Hokeb Ha Cave. The creek runs out the entrance of the cave, cascading over limestone boulders in the shadow of the surrounding rainforest. 

Archaeologists have found many Mayan ceramics and an altar inside the cave, so it was probably a place where religious ceremonies took place.  Strong swimmers can travel upstream to the point where the river cascades into a deep pool from a higher cavern, enjoying the limestone formations along the way.

Afterwards, visit Ixcacao, a small-scale, family-run chocolate manufacturer in San Felipe. Ixacaco is the only Mayan chocolate-maker in Belize and supplies the famous company Green & Blacks with organic chocolate. Tour the cocoa grove and have a demonstration on chocolate production with a meal that includes mole sauce - scrummy.

Simon Chubb ©

Day 9

Transfer to Caribbean beach resort at Placencia.

Transfer to Placencia via Mango Creek. This friendly and low-key beach resort sits on the tip of a long peninsular in the south of the country. The village is typified by its ramshackle and colourful wooden houses built on stilts, linked by paths weaving under swaying palms rooted in powder-white sands.

Nearby Monkey River and Placencia Lagoon provide good opportunities for spotting wildlife including the rare and comical manatee.

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Day 10

Optional water sports and wildlife spotting.

From your small, Caribbean-style lodge, Laru Beya, you can now indulge in a few water-sports and seaside activities: there’s also a lovely infinity pool.

You are at leisure; but we recommend an excursion in search of the West Indian manatee, a huge, aquatic mammal whose closest relative is the elephant. They have extraordinary, prehistoric looks, at the same time rather sweet and cuddly, with bodies that taper to a flat, paddle-shaped tail, flippers, and heads and faces wrinkled with whiskers on the snout.

On your boat trip gliding through lush mangroves in their feeding grounds in Placencia lagoon, you have a good chance of getting up close to these amazing creatures.  

Day 11

Further beach time and sea-sport opportunities.

Another suggestion: a trip down Monkey River, exploring its banks with a knowledgeable guide. Monkey River rises in the Mayan mountains and flows down to the coast and out into the Caribbean Sea, so it passes through a variety of ecosystems from high altitude forest through freshwater riverine vegetation to coastal mangrove.

You can expect to see turtles, crocodiles and loads of tropical birds. Continue to the howler monkey refuge, managed by the region's nature guides. 

Day 12

Transfer to Belize City airport for international flight.

Essentials

Tour info

Real Latin America Experts

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Consultant

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Manager of the Tailor-made Department.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Evie Oswald
    Evie Oswald - Travel Consultant

    It’s hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.

  • Chris Rendell Dunn
    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Consultant

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our Sales team.

Meet the team