- Explore Xunantunich and learn about Belize's ancient Maya history
- Swim and snorkel in the clear blue waters of Lime Caye
- See the burial place of the Crystal Maiden in Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves
- Learn about chocolate production and Garifuna culture in Hopkins
|Day 1||Arrive in Belize City||Belize City|
|Day 2||Transfer to Cayo District, Visit the Belize Zoo||Cayo District|
|Day 3||Mountain Pine Ridge Hike||Cayo District|
|Day 4||Explore Xunantunich||Cayo District|
|Day 5||Day Trip to Lime Caye & Snorkeling||Cayo District|
|Day 6||Transfer to San Ignacio & Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves||San Ignacio|
|Day 7||Transfer to Hopkins Village & Cahal Pech Maya Temples Tour||Hopkins|
|Day 8||Garifuna Culture & Culinary Tour||Hopkins|
|Day 9||Cacao Farm Tour & Chocolate Lunch||Hopkins|
|Day 10||Return to Belize City, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Belize City
Welcome to Belize! At the airport, meet your driver to transfer to your hotel in Belize City. On the east coast of Central America, Belize is known for its barrier reefs, jungles, Maya ruins, and chocolate. In Belize City, spend some time relaxing at your hotel or get out to explore. Visit the Museum of Belize to learn about the country's Maya history, or visit the Old Belize marina for fresh air.
Day 2: Transfer to Cayo District, Visit the Belize Zoo
Today's destination is Cayo District, about two hours south of Belize City. The western part of Belize is a starting point to explore parks, ecological reserves, and archaeological sites, including caves, pyramids, and Maya ruins. On the way to Cayo District, stop at the Belize Zoo, home to more than 100 species of birds and mammals. Get your camera ready to spot the animals that call this area home. You may see tapir, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, jaguars, ocelots, margays, scarlet macaws, and toucans. Spend a couple of hours here and then continue to Cayo District and your hotel.
Day 3: Mountain Pine Ridge HikeMountain Pine Ridge covers an area of more than 500 square miles (1,295 sq km). Spend the day hiking here, exploring its cool pine forests, tumbling streams, lush river valleys, limestone caves, and waterfalls. Take a dip in the most popular of the waterfalls, Hidden Valley, which drops 1,500 feet (457 m). Explore Rio Frio Cave, one of the largest in Belize, at 65 feet (19 m), and marvel at its limestone formations. Then go for a swim in Rio On Pools with its mini waterfalls before finishing the hike and making your way back to your hotel for the evening.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Explore Xunantunich
The Maya have modern-day and ancient connections in Belize, making it a country rich in Maya history and archaeological sites ready to explore. Xunantunich was one of the first Maya sites in Belize to be excavated, and to see it, board a hand-crank ferry at San José Succotz village to cross the Mopan River. Explore the site's temples and plazas and climb up to El Castillo, the largest pyramid. From here, you will have a panoramic view of western Belize and eastern Guatemala.
Day 5: Day Trip to Lime Caye & Snorkeling
Belize has more than 400 cayes (or "keys") with mangroves and white-sand beaches, making them the perfect island getaway. Lime Caye, 39 miles (64 km) off the coast of Belize and Punta Gorda on the mainland, is your destination today.
Get on a boat with your gear ready because the caye, home to more than 100 species of coral and 500 species of tropical fish, is a paradise for snorkelers and divers. Whether you choose to relax on the boat, swim, or lay out on the beach, enjoy your time in this tropical paradise. The caye is part of the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the end of a full day, sail back to your Cayo District hotel.
Day 6: Transfer to San Ignacio, Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves
Today, journey to Actun Tunichil Muknal (also called ATM), or the "Cave of the Stone Sepulchre." See the cave's stalactites and stalagmites, and Maya artifacts. As well, learn about the history of the sacred burial place of the woman known as the "Crystal Maiden" and the remains of 13 other sacrificed people of various ages.
From San Ignacio, it's about a two-hour drive to the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, where you can hike to reach the cave. Pass through the jungle and three stream crossings for approximately 45 minutes. From the cave's entrance, swim across a small spring-fed pool using a rope to assist you and wade through knee-high water to reach an underground maze of tunnels, passageways, and chambers. After the cave tour, hike back to the car for a picnic lunch and then return to San Ignacio.
Day 7: Transfer to Hopkins Village, Cahal Pech Maya Temples Tour
Today, your driver will take you from San Ignacio to Hopkins on the coast, traveling approximately two hours and 15 minutes east along the George Prince and Hummingbird highways, passing through citrus orchards. Your destination is Cahal Pech, once the royal palace of an ancient Maya ruling family. Explore its plazas and more than 30 structures, including temples, an altar, residential buildings, ball courts, and a sweat lodge built high above the banks of the Macal River. To learn more about the site's history, spend time at the visitor center to see a scale model, paintings, and a film revealing the palace's past.
Day 8: Garifuna Culture & Culinary Tour
Today, learn more about Belize's Garifuna people through a cultural and food tour. Cooking, eating, dancing, and playing the drums are all part of the experience.
First, learn about coconut, one of the main staples of Garifuna cooking. Your hosts will explain how coconuts are harvested, husked, and grated to be prepared for specific dishes. See how milk is extracted from a coconut to be used for stews, bread, and a variety of desserts. Put on an apron and join in preparing an abundant meal with your hosts, including fish, cassava-based dishes, and coconut stew. Eat lunch with your hosts while learning about life in Hopkins and Belize. At the end of the meal, enjoy drumming and music during a performance that you can join.
Day 9: Cacao Farm Tour & Chocolate Lunch
Belize has a small and robust chocolate industry. The country is also one of the earliest places where cacao was consumed. In early Maya culture, cacao was the main ingredient of a bitter and spicy drink—which is much different than the chocolate we may eat now. Today, learn about the ingredient's history and how it was a staple for the Maya on a cocoa farm and medicinal plant tour. Sample hot chocolate and chocolate bars, and make your own chocolate using stone tools to grind the beans into a paste, add spices, and then make it malleable to form into bars or to create a chocolate drink.On the second part of the chocolate tour, see that chocolate isn't only an ingredient for dessert but also the main ingredient for lunch at the Ixcacao Maya Belizian Chocolate Factory. Try a traditional chicken dish with chocolate sauce that has an extra kick. At the end of the tour, go back to Hopkins for dinner to enjoy your last night in Belize.
Day 10: Return to Belize City, Depart
Enjoy your last morning in Belize as your driver will pick you up in Hopkins for a transfer to Belize City, traveling about two hours and 15 minutes. From the airport, catch your flight home or on to your next destination.