Private Journeys

Value Belize: Mayan mountains and Caribbean caye

9 days from £1,490pp

Belize


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Overview & Highlights

This short holiday takes you to the heart of Belize’s Mayan mountains with their forests, waterfalls, wildlife spotting and snorkelling at a laidback reefside caye. 

  • Guided excursion to Caracol Mayan ruins

An economical holiday where you choose to visit Mayan ruins swathed in jungle, go abseiling, river or cave tubing, hiking, horse riding or biking along woodland trails; or just relax in your jungle lodge watching birds and curious mammals.

Continue by light aircraft to Ambergris Caye, a stunning coral island of chalk white, palm-shaded sands in the Caribbean. Life here is totally laid back, but you can be as active as you like with fantastic snorkelling at the Blue Hole and other water-sports available from your beach-side resort.

Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Belize City and transfer to San Ignacio

Arrive in Belize City, transfer to your forest lodge, Cassia Hill Resort, at San Ignacio, a journey of about 2.5hrs. The property is nestled in a low lying area close to the Mayan mountains of the Cayo District, a region of profuse biodiversity with a multitude of birds, mammals and species of tropical trees, shrubs and flowers.

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.

Belize Tourist Board ©

Day 2

Day at leisure in the Cayo district: outdoor activities and ruins

You are free to plan your day according to your interests and enthusiasms. There are plenty of outdoor activities available for you to book at the resort, including horse-riding, caving, tubing or canoeing down the nearby river.

If you prefer you can relax and observe the prolific birdlife in the luxuriant grounds.

We recommend a visit 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. 

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Day 3

Day at leisure to visit ruins or active adventures

You wake up to another day at leisure. If you are happy to explore further afield it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to visit Tikal in neighbouring Guatemala, probably the Mayans most impressive and complex site, its pyramids and temples shrouded by monkey-filled jungle.

Closer to the lodge are the less visited Mayan ruins of Xunantunich, a slightly less ambitious option but rewarding nonetheless.

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Day 4

Visit the Mayan ruins at Caracol

Deep within the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, 2hrs' drive from San Ignacio, Caracol is the largest Mayan site in Belize. It was an urban centre which, at the height of its prosperity, had a population of around 180,000.

The temple rises 42m above plaza level and is the largest man-made structure in Belize. Over 70 tombs have been excavated and many hieroglyphic texts have been found on altars and wall façades. Many wildlife species can be encountered in this area which is also known as an excellent place to observe birds.

Having visited Caracol continue to Gaia Riverlodge in hilly Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve, which protects the natural pine forests, which blanket an area of granite and limestone cut through by waterfalls and peppered with sinkholes. 

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Day 5

Outdoor adventures in Mountain Pine Ridge

You have another choice of optional (book locally) outdoor activities at your lodge, which sits in the Reserve surrounded by luxuriant vegetation. A lovely waterfall is in the landscaped grounds. Explore the trails by mountain bike or on horse-back, or just stroll along them at your own pace. 

Not enough excitement? Try zip-lining, rapelling, or canoeing down the Macal river.

 At the falls there is a display of over 450 species of orchids and bromeliads, visited by clouds of butterflies.

Belize Tourist Board ©

Day 6

Fly to Caribbean island Ambergris Caye.

Drive to Belize City and fly to Ambergris Caye, a large coral island where twisted mangroves are framed by pure, chalk-white sandy beaches. The Caribbean waters there are as turquoise as the gemstone and mirror-clear. 

There’s only one, laidback town on the island, San Pedro, and it is there that you will find your hotel SunBreeze Suites.  

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Day 7

At leisure on the beach, optional watersports

It’s great just to kick back by the pool and enjoy the sea views, but you may be tempted again by a menu of activities. Among these are snorkelling, diving and fishing excursions.

The undersea life here is a kaleidoscope of colour, with thousands of exotic, tropical fish and other marine creatures on display.  You can visit Blue Hole, a premier snorkelling and dive site. Resort dive classes are available from the resort.  

Belize Tourist Board ©

Day 8

Explore Ambergris Caye.

The island is not big enough to warrant much vehicular transport so the main way of getting around this lovely, lazy place is by golf cart.  If you like, hire one to explore the town, visit the museum and discover the new 16km north road.

 

Belize Tourist Board ©

Day 9

Fly back to Belize airport and connect with your international flight. UK clients arrive home the following day.

Essentials

Tour info

Transport

2 flights (20 mins each); 3 road journeys (longest 2.5hrs).

Accommodation

For this holiday we have chosen a couple of mid-range, countryside lodges which blend into the natural environment with bird- and exotic foliage-filled grounds. There are plenty of adventurous activities and excursions on offer. The beach resort, suitable for both families and honeymoons, is also mid-range, with 20 one-bedroomed suites. 

Meals

Breakfast daily.

Summary Of Nights

9 days, 8 nights:  San Ignacio 3, Mountain Pine Ridge 2, Ambergris Caye 3.

Journey Grade

There are no long days of travel on this trip. This holiday is suitable for couples; friends; single people; families, honeymooners; history, wildlife and active adventure enthusiasts. 

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.

Guides

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.

Climate

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. 

Protection against the sun (sunblock, sun hat) and mosquito repellant 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.

What Is 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.

Currency

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

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, 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. 

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.

Tipping

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.

Insurance

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.

Vaccinations

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.

Visas

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.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

Water To Go

We’ve partnered with Water To Go to offer Journey Latin America clients a 50% discount on 7cl filtered, reusable water bottles with every booking. The bottle can be refilled at any water outlet and has a filter that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, allowing the water to be safe to drink.
Contact your Travel Consultant for more information and to include the purchase in your booking.

What's included in the 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

Included Excursions

  • Guided excursion to Caracol Mayan ruins

Real Latin America Experts

  • JimAshworth
    Jim Ashworth - Travel Consultant

    Jim first caught the Latin American travel bug in 2001 when he decided at the last minute to join a friend travelling around Central America – he hasn't looked back since.

  • 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.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.

  • Mary Anne Nelson
    Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Consultant

    Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made team.

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

Meet the team