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Ultimate Belize Nature Safari

9 days with Natural Habitat Adventures   Rating: Deluxe

Itinerary
Click for Dates and Prices Day 1: Belize City, Belize / Chan Chich Lodge
Our Belize adventure begins in Belize City, where you're met on arrival at the airport before boarding a short flight to Chan Chich Lodge on the Gallon Jug Estate in northwest Belize. This private estate lies within the heart of La Selva Maya, the largest contiguous rain forest north of the Amazon, and an extraordinary destination for wildlife encounters. Chan Chich is a premier ecolodge located atop an unexcavated ancient Mayan city and surrounded by unspoiled rain forest laced with hiking trails. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner and orientation with our Expedition Leader. 

Days 2 & 3: Exploring the Gallon Jug Estate
No hunting has occurred on the Gallon Jug Estate for more than 20 years, and we may see species that have vanished elsewhere, including large birds like the crested guan and great curassow. All five Latin American cats—jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay and jaguarundi—live here, and Chan Chich is renowned for having the highest rate of jaguar sightings in all of Central America. These elusive nocturnal creatures are difficult to spot, however, so we’ll be on the lookout for signs of their presence. Though jaguars may escape our notice, it is fairly certain we will not escape theirs. On game drives and jungle walks, we hope to see tapir, peccary and red brocket deer as well as coatimundi, tayra, agouti and kinkajou. Birding is fabulous, too, with 350 resident species. 

Day 4: Botanical Gardens / Xunantunich Mayan Ruins / Hidden Valley 
An early morning wildlife drive affords the opportunity to see animals that are more active at dawn. We visit the Belize Botanical Gardens, a 45-acre riverfront complex resting in a valley flanked by the Maya Mountain foothills. Featuring native and exotic plants that grow in the Cayo district, the gardens help protect Belize’s floral biodiversity while educating and inspiring the community to do the same.

After lunch, we take a private chartered flight to the Central Farm airstrip. From here, we continue to the dramatic Mayan ruins of Xunantunich, where our Expedition Leader unveils the intricately carved stone temples of this ancient civilization, including the 130-foot-high pyramid of El Castillo, as we learn about Mayan culture and history. Our destination this afternoon is Hidden Valley Inn & Reserve, a 7,290-acre private reserve in the Maya Mountains. Thousand-foot waterfalls pour from on high, and more than 90 miles of trails criss-cross the area. On a nature walk along the private trail system, we’ll look for wildlife that might include howler monkeys, peccaries, soaring raptors and colorful butterflies. The surrounding pine forest is home to diverse animal species including five of Belize’s native cats, plus threatened and endangered birds such as the orange-breasted falcon, solitary eagle and stygian owl. 

Day 5: Green Hills / Canoeing in Barton Creek Cave / Hidden Valley
This morning we visit Green Hills Butterfly Ranch and Botanical Collections, dedicated to the research and conservation of Belize's native butterflies and plants. Flocks of brilliant butterflies fly among passionflowers, bromeliads, cycads, heliconias and orchids in a landscaped 2,700-square-foot flight area, the largest live butterfly display in Belize.

A unique adventure is in store this afternoon: a canoe trip into Barton Creek Cave. Belize’s limestone landmass is riddled with subterranean chambers that the Mayans viewed as a sacred portal between the human world and the realm of the gods. As we glide through the caverns, we’ll see rock formations, skeletal remains and cultural artifacts left by the Maya centuries ago. We return to Hidden Valley for a meeting with local researchers, followed by dinner al fresco on the hotel’s beautiful grounds.

Day 6: Macal River Canoeing / Chocolate-Making
From Hidden Valley, we paddle and float to San Ignacio on the Macal River, an environment that is home to numerous tropical bird species and giant green iguanas. After lunch, we'll visit a local home in the lush jungles of the Cayo district to hear the traditional music of the resident Garifuna people, known for its heavy percussion. Drums made from hollowed-out local hardwood add an exciting element to the performance. Finally, we visit a Mayan family in San Ignacio for an interactive chocolate-making workshop. During this feast for your senses, roasted cacoa beans are peeled, crushed and turned into a chocolate paste, which we’ll then use to create a traditional chocolate drink with notes of pepper and cinnamon. Our leftover chocolate paste gets mixed with sugar and molded it into bars to take home.

Day 7: Hummingbird Highway / Hatchet Caye
A scenic drive along the famous Hummingbird Highway brings us to the town of Placencia. Here, a private motorboat whisks us to Hatchet Caye, one of the hundreds of cayes, or small islets that lie off the coast of Belize. This marine island reserve is located on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second longest in the world after Australia's, and is surrounded by diverse mangrove islands, tidal seagrass flats, and warm, crystal-clear water. Located just outside the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hatchet Caye provides us easy access for exploring this world wonder.

After we check in to our laid-back beach resort, an idyllic spot that invites relaxing and exploring, the afternoon holds our first opportunity for snorkeling. Explore a patch reef from the beach to discover an intricate undersea world harboring some 500 species of brilliant fish, numerous corals and sponges, delicate sea fans, bright anemones and spiky sea urchins. In this magical realm beneath the transparent waters, we may also see manta rays, dolphins and sea turtles swimming alongside us. In the evening, unwind and enjoy dinner on the beach before we take to the sea for stargazing under a dark Belizean sky—a serene private cruise with a captain who shares the mysteries of star navigation and helps pinpoint the constellations.

Day 8: Silk Cayes
This morning we make a short journey by boat to the Silk Cayes, twin patches of brilliant white sand studded with coconut palms and surrounded by healthy corals. Upon sliding up to the beach we'll have immediate access to the vibrant fish, turtles, rays and sharks that inhabit these iridescent blue waters, part of the a protected marine reserve that is among the healthiest sections of Belize's sprawling barrier reef. We’ll explore by boat or snorkeling to view the teeming marine life. Returning to Hatchet Caye in the afternoon, we have time to relax and absorb the languid island atmosphere before dinner. After dark, an optional night snorkel may reveal manatees, dolphins, turtles, sting rays and a variety of other fascinating undersea life. We bid adios to Belize with a festive farewell dinner. 

Day 9: Belize City / Depart
After breakfast, enjoy an optional kayak excursion around the island, if time allows. Our Belize adventure tour comes to an end as we travel by boat to Placencia and fly to Belize City to connect with flights home, or continue on with an extension to the pyramids of Tikal. 
Map
All This Included
Belize may be one of the world's smallest countries, but it's huge when it comes to natural riches. A wealth of wonders is tucked within its compact borders—and that's just ashore. Belize also boasts the planet’s second-longest barrier reef beneath turquoise seas dotted with dreamy cayes. Beyond the palms and powder-sand beaches, snorkeling reveals colorful corals and myriad tropical fish. In the lush rain forest, the screech of parrots and howler monkeys rings out across the canopy, while jaguars and ocelots slink secretly through a tangle of bromeliads and orchids. Beneath the verdant surface lies a maze of limestone caves and underground rivers. And when we're done exploring each day, the pleasures of the finest ecolodges in Belize await.                 
  • Internal flights as described within the itinerary
  • Accommodations
  • Meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on final day
  • Purified drinking water
  • Services of NHA Expedition Leader, local guides and lodge staff
  • Most gratuities
  • All permits, entrance fees and taxes
Highlights
  • Discover the natural and cultural treasures of Belize, and search for tropical wildlife as our naturalist Expedition Leader unveils its diverse riches
  • Look for signs of elusive jaguar in a rarely visited private conservation area that boasts the highest sighting rate in Central America
  • Snorkel over the world's second-longest barrier reef off remote Hatchet Caye, and enter ancient subterranean caves, filled with Mayan ruins, by canoe
Accommodations
Gallon Jug Estate: Chan Chich Lodge
Cayo District: Hidden Valley Inn
Hatchet Caye: Hatchet Caye
Pre and Post Add-ons
Ruins of Tikal Extension
Discover the ancient civilization of the Maya on this archaeology and nature adventure into the Guatemalan rainforest.
Notes
  • Group Size Limit: Approximately 8 travelers.
  • Not Included: Travel to and from start and end point of trip, alcoholic beverages, some gratuities, passport and visa fees, optional activities, items of a personal nature phone calls, laundry, etc.), airline baggage fees, airport and departure taxes, optional travel insurance.
  • Physical Requirements: Easy to Moderate. This adventure does not require a high degree of physical fitness, though our days in Belize generally start early and are very full with activities. In order to participate in all activities, you must be able to walk unassisted for a minimum of one mile, as our itinerary includes a number of short- to medium-length walks/hikes over gravel, pavement, boardwalks and maintained dirt trails that can be slippery and uneven with roots and rocks. (Note that all walks can be more difficult to navigate during inclement weather.) Additionally, there will be a snorkeling excursion and an opportunity to climb Mayan ruins. We stress that all activities are optional. Travelers should be aware that the heat and humidity may be very high and roads may be bumpy.
  • You will need to arrive in Belize City by 3:30 pm on Day 1, with a suggested arrival time of around 12 pm. You may depart Belize City after 12pm on the final day.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Natural Habitat Adventures terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.