Trip Region: Central America
Country(ies): Belize & Guatemala
Partners Trek? Yes
Airfare Estimate: $850
Structure: 3 • Lodging: 3 • Nightlife: 2 • Activity: 2
Discover lost worlds and hidden treasures in the heart of the Mayan empire. While Mexico is famous for Mayan civilization, you’ll find that Belize and Guatemala together is the true epicenter of Mayan history and culture. Although English is the official language, Belize has a diverse society composed of many cultures and languages that reflect its rich history. Situated on the eastern coast of Central America, Belize offers beautiful views of the Caribbean Sea and access to the second largest barrier reef in the world. After exploring a sacred Aztec cave system, dabbling in traditional pottery-making and tasty handmade tortillas, we set off for Guatemala to visit Tikal, a massive ancient Mayan ruin which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After zip-lining our way through Guatemala, we’ll return to Belize to the small island of Ambergris Caye, the richest and most glamorous area of Belize to finish off our trip. There we have the opportunity to rest and relax, go to the spa, deep sea fish or snorkel/dive the Great Blue Hole, a giant submarine sinkhole off the coast of Belize and ranked #1 on Discovery Channel’s list of “The 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth” in 2012. As a bonus, this trek has the shortest travel time from Detroit compared to all the other treks so you can maximize your time exploring and minimize your time flying. This trip is equal parts adventure and rest, so prepare for an adventurous and relaxing getaway before the school year!
Day 1 — Sunday, Aug 21
Upon arrival, meet your private coach and English-speaking guide for transfer to hotel and check-in at the Windy Hill Resort. Spend the afternoon exploring the local scene for lunch and gather back at the hotel for our first dinner together in San Ignacio.
Day 2 — Monday, Aug 22
After breakfast, we will visit the San Antonio Women’s Group which still makes ceramics by hand. Try your hand at creating your own, then help to prepare your lunch by learning to make corn tortillas on a traditional fire hearth. While the women finish preparing lunch, walk the rest of the property and learn about the sustainable processes used to fire the ceramic kilns and sustain an organic garden. Enjoy a specially-prepared meal starting with warm Atole, followed by roasted chicken pieces, fresh hand-made salsa and your recently prepared corn tortillas. The afternoon is free for relaxing or optional activities before gathering for dinner together in the evening.
Day 3 — Tuesday, Aug 23
After breakfast we will depart for a full day sightseeing with a private coach and English speaking guide for a 30 minute-hike through the forest before arriving at the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave. An adventurous trek leads into the Maya underworld known as Xibalba. Note: Things to bring include light clothing, insect repellant, comfortable hiking shoes, extra pair of socks, change of clothes, and towel. Sorry, but no cameras allowed. Lunch is provided on the tour. After lunch we will transfer back to the hotel for dinner and to turn in early to prepare for the next day of travel.
Day 4 — Wednesday, Aug 24
Check out of hotel after breakfast and depart on a coach and guide for an overland transfer to Flores, Guatemala. Upon arrival in Flores, we will take a half day tour to Santa Barbara Island for iguana sighting and navigate Tayazal Peninsula where you can climb a wooden tower for amazing views of Flores Island. After the tour, transfer to Ixpanpajul Natural Park to enjoy zip lining at eight daring platforms placed among the loftiest trees (transfer time is approximately 2 hours). After lunch on our own, check in to our hotel at Hotel Csoana del Lago and enjoy dinner on your own and a free evening.
Day 5 — Thursday, Aug 25
Get an early start to the day to catch the breathtaking beauty of Tikal at sunrise. Note: Group will be picked up at 3:00AM. After breakfast, we’ll take a shuttle north through the jungle when our guide will take us on a cultural tour of this famous archeological site. After lunch on our own, we’ll travel back to the hotel to catch up on some sleep or check out the local nightlife.
Day 6 — Friday, Aug 26
Rise and shine for our transfer to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye via Belize City. Upon arrival in San Pedro, simply stroll across the street to our hotel to check in at the Sun Breeze Hotel (don’t worry, there is very little air traffic!). Spend the afternoon exploring the area or catching up on some rest, and enjoy an evening free to rest, relax, or party it up.
Day 7 — Saturday, Aug 27
This day is all yours! Spend time lazing by the pool, or take up the opportunity of a lifetime to dive the Great Blue Hole. Note: Optional Cultural Tour: Scuba diving at Blue Hole (not private; $400/person price based on a minimum of 12 divers) includes: transportation, 3 tank dive, breakfast, lunch, and park fee; tour departs at 5:00AM. Meet at hotel pier and depart with boat and boat captain for excursion to the Great Blue Hole—snorkeling equipment included (dive equipment arranged on own for those certified to dive). Optional Deep Sea Fishing - Depending on the size of the boat, approximate cost would be $150 - $200 per person based on a minimum of 4 participants for a full day. We can assess interest level and add this option.
Day 8 — Sunday, Aug 28
Have breakfast at the hotel then meet at hotel pier and depart on a boat with a boat captain for half day snorkeling tour of Hol Chan Marine Park and Shark Ray Alley (includes marine fees and gear; water and snacks available on the boat). Note: During the tour, you will sail to a small island called Caye Caulker where you will be able to purchase lunch on own. Return to the hotel to dine at a restaurant of your choosing.
Day 9 — Monday, Aug 29
Meet at hotel pier after breakfast and depart on a catamaran for a full day sailing trip to Caye Caulker! We’ll stop at a snorkel site called the “Coral Gardens,” then proceed to “The Split,” a channel through the middle of Caye Caulker. Here you can snorkel, have lunch ashore (on own), or spend time exploring the caye. After the tour, return to the hotel to celebrate our last night together in paradise.
Day 10 — Tuesday, Aug 30
Check out of the hotel after breakfast and head to the airport for your transfer to Belize City where you will set off for Ann Arbor. Safe travels home!