Belize and Tikal
Experience Jungles, Beaches, and Mayan Ruins
The Caribbean’s best-kept secret, Belize has it all—sun drenched beaches, caves, jungles, mountains, Mayan ruins, and really friendly people. Snorkel in crystal clear waters, enjoy unique Garifuna culture, visit modern-day Mayan villages, and discover some of the most incredible ecosystems remaining in the Americas, including a jaguar preserve and a wild scarlet macaw sanctuary. Travel to Guatemala and experience Tikal. Akin to being their New York City, this was the cultural epicenter of the once-mighty Mayan Empire. Nothing quite compares to a background chorus of howler monkeys while enjoying the view from Temple IV! While in Tikal, you will learn about the Maya from renowned scholar Francisco Florian, our dear friend and local expert. Stay in beautiful lodges and guest houses and enjoy the flavorful local cuisine.
For standard meeting places and times, see Dates & Fees tab.
DAY 1: Arrive at the Belize International Airport to meet your trip mates, and ride to San Ignacio where you'll stay overnight at a traditional Belizean jungle lodge. San Ignacio is a beautiful town with great shopping and friendly people. Relax in the evening with a banquet near the river.
DAY 2: Wake up to the sound of tropical birds and enjoy a leisurely breakfast and great coffee. Ride to the Chiquibul cave system where you will canoe into the Mayan underworld known as Xibalba. This very large cave contains sacrificial remains, as well as spectacular stalagmites and stalactites. You will see the footholds carved by the Mayans over 1,500 years ago. Enjoy lunch, then drive across the border into Guatemala, and experience an immediate change in culture from English-speaking Belize to Spanish-speaking Guatemala. Stay at a beautiful lodge near Lake Itza in the town of El Remate. Enjoy dinner at this fabulous eco-lodge.
DAY 3: Rise early and make the dawn trek to Tikal. The scope and scale of Tikal is impressive. It has over 17,000 stone buildings, most of them unexcavated. Our guide has a wealth of knowledge about Tikal and the Mayans—he literally helps you hear the roar of the crowd as if a Mayan king were making his entrance at that moment. From the famous scene of Temple V in “Star Wars” to the growl of the Howler Monkeys, Tikal offers an experience like no other. In the evening, we'll enjoy dinner on the shore of Lake Itza.
DAY 4: Leave Guatemala and drive to the lovely village of Hopkins, Belize. On the way we will stop for a picnic and a hike around Guanacaste National Park. If it's hot we'll take a swim in the Roaring Creek waterfalls before we proceed down the beautiful Hummingbird Highway and through the Mayan Mountains on our way to Hopkins. Settle in at beach accommodations on the shore of the Caribbean and prepare for the next few days of Garifuna culture—drumming, great seafood, and very friendly people.
DAY 5: Rise early and go to the Mayan village of Red Bank to see Scarlet macaws. This is one of the last places these majestic parrots live in the wild. The adventuresome can hike up into the mountains to take in the scenic village of Red Bank, a friendly place where modern day Maya live. Enjoy lunch by the river before heading back to relax on the beach in Hopkins. Travel to Red Bank is subject to road conditions.
DAY 6: Enjoy a morning visit to the famed Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve for a guided tour of the jungle. Run by the Belize Audubon Society, the Cockscomb Basin is one of the last refuges for the Jaguar, as well as many other species of birds and animals. After a jungle hike, enjoy a swim in a crystal clear pool at the base of a waterfall or a float down the jungle river in an inner tube. Enjoy great shopping at a Mayan crafts center and bird watching in the afternoon.
DAY 7: Experience some of the finest snorkeling on the planet in South Water Caye Marine Reserve. The barrier reef of Belize is pristine and huge. Explore the fascinating and colorful world of this reef. Enjoy lunch on a small mangrove island, and more snorkeling in the afternoon. In the evening, we will enjoy our farewell banquet. You will be amazed at how fast a week can go by and how many wonderful memories you will have.
DAY 8: Enjoy one last tropical breakfast and then drive to Belize City for your flight home. Say good-bye to the wonderful country of Belize!
Travel, Terrain, Etc...
TERRAIN/ROUTE: This trip is a hikers' dream. Enjoy exploring the jungles of Belize and the temples in Tikal. We will hike a few miles of uneven trail with elevation change each day. While trails are accessible, it is important to bring sturdy hiking footwear.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: You will travel by foot as you explore the wonders of Belize and the Tikal culture. Transportation to and from accommodations will be provided by boat or van.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: No previous experience is necessary to complete this trip. Enjoy an active adventure as you experience the jungles and temples of Belize first hand. Casual swimming for snorkeling and beach time will also take place.
WEATHER: Temperatures between January and March can range from 60 F at night to 95 F during the day at the coast and from 50 F at night to 85 F during the day in the mountains. Rainfall varies, you should expect some rain throughout your trip.
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 8 to 12 participants, 1-2 Wilderness Inquiry staff, and a local guide while in Guatemala. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds, and abilities, including people with disabilities.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Throughout the trip we will be staying in local hotels, B&Bs, and a guesthouse. The accommodations are simple yet comfortable. Typically there are 2-4 people per room, matched by gender or requests to room together. In most rooms, solo travelers have single beds and couples share beds. We make every effort to ensure privacy and cleanliness.
SINGLE TRAVELERS: If you are traveling alone you will feel at home with a welcoming group. If you would like to have your own room throughout the trip you may purchase a single supplement for an additional fee. Please email or call us if you would like this option.
MEALS: Kick back and relax while all meals are made for you. You'll indulge in typical Belize fare, including fresh fish, chicken, and lots of fruit. The water in Belize is safe to drink from the tap and bottled water is readily available. On our trip, the only place we recommend bottled water is in Guatemala. We'll enjoy happy hours, but the purchase of alcoholic beverages is not included in the trip fees.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all group equipment. You will need to provide your personal gear which is outlined in the packing list. If you are new to outdoor activities, you do not need to spend a lot of money. Wilderness Inquiry can usually arrange for you to borrow most items.
PASSPORT/VISA: U.S. citizens need a passport to enter Belize and Guatamala, and it must be valid for the entire length of their stay. One blank passport page is required for entry stamp. No tourist visa is required for U.S. citizens. All tourists and non-Belizean nationalities are required to pay an exit fee of approximately $40 USD when leaving Belize. We encourage you to check the State Department website for the most up-to-date Belize entry requirements.A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
Visitors to the Central American nation of Belize will encounter a beautiful paradise of lush tropical rainforests, an incredible variety of wildlife, wonderful beaches, and ancient Mayan ruins.
Often referred to as Mother Nature’s best-kept secret, Belize has not been developed to the same extent as some other popular destinations in the region. The landscape encompasses coastal mangrove forests, lush tropical rainforests, offshore “cayes” (pronounced “keys,” meaning islets and islands), and the MesoAmerican Reef—the second largest coral reef system in the world. The unspoiled rainforests and savannas of Belize are well-known homes to jaguars and other large cats, spider and howler monkeys, tapirs, peccaries and nearly 350 species of birds, many of which migrate between Belize and the United States. To complement the botanically rich world of these rainforests, Belize’s bountiful coastal waters stretch along the coast for over 240 miles, harboring manatee, dolphin, whale sharks, hawksbill turtles, crocodiles, iguanas, shorebirds, and diverse fish populations.
Belize’s tropical rainforest covers about two-thirds of the country and provides home to more than 4,000 species of native flowering plants, including 250 species of orchids and 700 trees. Some parts of this subtropical climate receive over 190 inches of rainfall per year to sustain its intense levels of biodiversity. Recent studies have shown that Belize’s protected areas have been extremely effective in protecting the country’s forests.
The marine areas offer breeding grounds for declining commercially important fish species, including grouper and snapper, conch and lobster, and sport fish species including permit, bonefish, and tarpon. Commercial and subsistence fisheries and marine ecotourism depend on these waters, and the region remains critical to maintaining the marine productivity of southern Belize and neighboring countries to the north and south.
Formerly called British Honduras, Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America. It became an independent nation in 1981. Located on the Caribbean side of Central America, Belize adjoins both Guatemala and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Belize is a fairly small nation, a little smaller than the size of the U.S. state of New Hampshire.
A combination of natural factors—climate, the Belize Barrier Reef, over 1,000 offshore cayes, excellent fishing, safe waters for boating, scuba diving, and snorkeling, numerous rivers for rafting and kayaking, various jungle and wildlife reserves of fauna and flora for hiking, bird watching, and helicopter touring, as well as many Maya ruins—support the thriving tourism and ecotourism industry. Belize also has the largest cave system in Central America. Development costs are high, but the Government of Belize has designated tourism as its second development priority after agriculture. In 2007, tourist arrivals totaled 251,655 (with more than 210,000 from the U.S.) and tourist receipts amounted to $183 million.
Belize contains an interesting mix of cultures, predominantly Mayan and Garifuna, but remains the least densely populated nation in Central America. In the 1700s and 1800s, ships carrying slaves from Africa wrecked on the reefs off Belize. The survivors came to shore and met the Carib Indians, and formed what we now call Garifuna culture.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Which immunizations do you recommend when traveling to an international destination?
Prior to departure, we recommend that you check with your doctor as early as possible to ensure you are up to date on your standard immunizations. Your doctor is in the best position to recommend specific vaccinations to specific destinations.
Can I pay more to have my own room on a lodge-based trip?
Yes, most times a single supplement is available on a lodge-based trip. Exact cost and availability depends on the trip.
Is the Zika virus in Belize and Costa Rica?
The Zika virus has been in the news a lot lately. We're concerned about our travelers' health and are monitoring the situation closely. We want to make sure you have the most up to date information about the Zika virus for our two Central American destinations. There are no travel warnings about the Zika virus in Belize. We will keep this post up to date if that situation changes. Costa Rica has only detected two people infected with the mosquito-borne virus as of February 2016, so the risk to travelers remains low. The U.S. Center for Disease Control has issued an "Alert Level 2 - Practice Enhanced Precautions" about Zika in Costa Rica. For the most up to date travel warnings, visit the CDC webpage about Zika in Central America. The CDC suggests that you use abundant caution to avoid mosquito bites and to not travel to the Costa Rica if you are or are planning to get pregnant.
For more information, visit these links:
Standard Meetings Places and Times
Start: Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport at 2:30 PM (local time)
End: Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport at 9:30 AM (local time)
This trip begins at Philip S.W.Goldson International Airport in Belize City (BZE) at 2:30 PM. This trip ends at Philip S.W.Goldson International Airport in Belize City (BZE) at 9:30 AM. Please book flights accordingly to match this schedule. For assistance in making your travel arrangements for this trip, we recommend Travel One, Inc. at (800) 247-1311 or www.traveloneinc.com. They can help you make the best flight connections at the best prices. Detailed meeting place instructions will be sent to you when you are confirmed for the trip.