Just beyond the pristine beaches of the Belizean coast, lush jungles harbor fascinating wildlife, ancient ruins, and a mélange of Caribbean and Latin American cultures. Journey to the country’s remote southern reaches to discover coastal forests teeming with rare marine and birdlife, and sleepy villages where the culture of the modern-day Maya thrives. Cross the border into Guatemala, and wander the ancient passageways of Tikal’s temples; and descend into the Maya underworld on a caving excursion. Then set out from Ambergris Caye and dive into the magical undersea of the Belize barrier reef.
Arrive in Belize City, then fly to Punta Gorda. Transfer to Copal Tree Lodge—a National Geographic Unique Lodge nestled in the lush coastal jungles of southern Belize. National Geographic guests will receive an exclusive introduction to two local culinary staples: chocolate and coffee. In the lodge chocolate-making class, learn the process of transforming cacao into chocolate, and mold your own delicious bar. Then head to the coffee bar for an in-depth tasting, and create a flavor profile of the house brew with the help Belcampo’s resident coffee expert.
Get your sea legs today: Visit the Rio Grande estuary, and then head to the Port Honduras Marine Reserve to watch for the endangered West Indian manatee at Frenchman Lagoon. Snorkel the Snake Cayes, teeming with a colorful array of fish and coral; and picnic along a white-sand beach on a tiny isle. Meet park rangers at Abalone Caye and learn about their efforts to stop poaching in this pristine marine sanctuary.
Travel to the Kek’chi Maya village and visit the home of a local family to learn about their culture. Roast and grind cacao beans for a Mayan-style cocoa drink, fry up tortillas, and sit down with your hosts to share a traditional Maya meal. Try your hand at weaving baskets and fabrics, and head outside for a guided walk to discover traditional uses of regional plants, herbs, and spices.
Today, transfer to the Punta Gorda airport and fly to Belize City. Stop at the Belize Zoo, a rehabilitation sanctuary home to more than 170 animals native to the area. Learn about the animals and the different measures being taken to preserve their habitats before continuing to the Cayo District.
Cross the border into Guatemala for a full-day visit to the famous Maya ruins at Tikal. Take a private tour of this UNESCO World Heritage site, including the Great Plaza and its iconic Temple of the Jaguar, the Temple of the Mask, and Acropolis. As you explore the ancient city, keep your eyes peeled for the tropical animals and birds that inhabit the surrounding jungle.
This morning, visit Barton Creek Cave and learn about how the cave served as a gateway to the underworld for the ancient Maya, and paddle a canoe along its aqueous passageways, studded with sparkling calcite crystals. Then fly to Ambergris Caye, the country’s largest island, and transfer to your hotel overlooking the Belize barrier reef. Spend the rest of the day at leisure in this tropical paradise.
Embark on a half-day private snorkeling adventure in the deep blue waters of Belize. Swim among sea turtles, sharks, sting rays, and coral reefs at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. Enjoy the rest of the day to explore on your own. Relax at your hotel’s private beach, or stroll the sandy streets of colorful San Pedro town.
Explore the peninsula at your own pace today. Relax at the pool or retreat to the spa. Or opt to book your own excursion: Go scuba diving in Belize’s beguiling Great Blue Hole, get a bird’s eye view of the coast on a helicopter tour, head out on a guided boat tour in pursuit of indigenous birds, or charter a sunset cruise.
Transfer to San Pedro Airport and fly to Belize International Airport. Depart for your international flight home.
Copal Tree Lodge – Punta Gorda, Belize
Nestled in the lush hills of southern Belize’s rain forest not far from the Caribbean coast, Copal Tree Lodge—a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World—sets a gold standard for agritourism and provides unparalleled access to Mayan culture and world-class fishing and birding.
This trip has an activity rating of light/moderate and suits a range of interests and abilities. Travelers should be physically fit and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods and navigating uneven or slippery terrain. Excursions include walking tours in cities, wilderness areas, and archaeological sites, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling. While tourism is growing steadily, Belize’s infrastructure is still developing. Road conditions can be rugged and dusty, and internal flight schedules can be unpredictable.
Throughout the expedition, you’ll stay in high-end accommodations selected for their exceptional quality, location, and character, including Copal Tree Lodge, a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection.
Top private guides will accompany you throughout the trip, and local experts will meet with you along the way as described in the itinerary.
National Geographic Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. These trips are designed to fit into your schedule. You choose your desired departure date, and we’ll make all the arrangements.
Prices are per person based on double occupancy and do not include international airfare to/from your destination or internal flights during the expedition. Single traveler prices are available upon request. Internal flights are $620 per person in 2018 and $680 in 2019. Surcharges may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information.
2019 dates and prices will be available shortly. Please call us for details.
This expedition is available year-round, except for the months of September and October.