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Ultimate Belize Nature Safari

An Exclusive Expedition Into the Heart and History of an Untamed Natural Paradise
Day 1: Belize City, Belize / Punta Gorda
Our Belize adventure starts in Belize City, from which we fly this afternoon to Punta Gorda where Belcampo Lodge awaits, tucked within the verdant hills above the Caribbean coast of southern Belize. Here where the ocean meets the pristine rain forest, wildlife abounds, and the area is pure paradise for bird lovers. Our deluxe ecolodge at Belcampo lies at the heart of a huge jungle preserve and sustainable agriculture project, which we'll learn about during our stay. Enjoy a welcome dinner with our Expedition Leader this evening.

Day 2: Snorkeling Over the Barrier Reef
A private motorboat whisks us to one of the hundreds of cayes, or small islets, that lie off the coast of Belize. Our destination is the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second longest in the world after Australia’s. It’s an intricate undersea world harboring some 500 species of brilliant fish, numerous corals and sponges, delicate sea fans, bright anemones and spiky sea urchins. We’ll get fitted with our snorkeling gear, then make our first guided foray into the magical realm of this marine reserve. As we explore the transparent waters, we may see manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles or even giant whale sharks. After a picnic lunch on a secluded beach and more snorkeling this afternoon, we return by boat to our lodge. Before dinner we’ll enjoy a Garifuna drumming performance at the lodge. The traditional music of the local Garifuna people is known for its heavy percussion, and we’ll have our own chance to try the drums, made from hollowed-out local hardwood, during a fun session of drumming and dancing lessons.

Day 3: River Kayaking / Cacao Plantation / Rio Blanco Waterfalls
Those who wish to rise early can take an optional bird walk on the reserve around the lodge. After breakfast, we make a jungle kayak excursion on the Rio Grande River. Look for a variety of wildlife including howler monkeys, crocodiles, tropical birds and more. We’ll make a stop at ranger station on a private wildlife reserve to learn about conservation projects in this large, unbroken tract of moist tropical forest that serves as a biological corridor for important species such as jaguar, white-lipped peccary and Baird’s tapir. After lunch at the ranger station, we continue by kayak (or a boat is available for those who may not wish to paddle further) to the river’s mouth on the Caribbean Sea. Be sure to peer into the water as we paddle, as you might see manatees swimming alongside!

This afternoon we have a guided tour of an organic cacao plantation. The beans are sold to a local cacao growers association, which in turn sells them to chocolate makers in the U.S. and Europe. We’ll learn about organic farming methods and fair-trade cocoa, and we'll get to sample the sweet seeds inside the newly cut cacao pod. On our way back to the lodge we may stop to see the Rio Blanco Waterfalls, a series of pools cascading over limestone boulders. Enjoy a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters as butterflies and birds flit among the shade-giving trees overhead.

Day 4: Fly to Dangriga / Hummingbird Highway / Xunantunich Mayan Ruins / Hidden Valley
After breakfast, we transfer to the Punta Gorda airstrip and fly north to Dangriga, where we’ll make a brief stop at the Garifuna museum in town. Then, a scenic drive along the famous Hummingbird Highway brings us to the dramatic Mayan ruins of Xunantunich. Examine the intricately carved stone temples of this ancient civilization, including the 130-foot-high pyramid of El Castillo. At the end of the day, we relax at Hidden Valley Inn, an intimate ecolodge in the Maya Mountains. The pine forest environs of the private reserve surrounding the lodge are home to diverse animal species including five of Belize’s native cats and threatened and endangered birds such as the orange-breasted falcon, solitary eagle and stygian owl.

Day 5: Canoeing in Barton Creek Cave / Green Hills
A unique adventure is in store today: 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. This afternoon 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. We return to Hidden Valley for dinner.

Day 6: Hidden Valley / Chan Chich Lodge
Thousand-foot waterfalls and more than 90 miles of trails lace Hidden Valley’s 7,290-acre private reserve. We’ll spend our final morning exploring the area, looking for wildlife that might include howler monkeys, peccaries, soaring raptors and colorful butterflies. Then, we fly 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: an extraordinary destination for wildlife encounters. Chan Chich is a premier ecolodge, offering unsurpassed ambience and amenities.

Days 7 & 8: Chan Chich Lodge
No hunting has occurred on the estate for over 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 the jaguar is spotted occasionally. On game drives and jungle walks we’re likely to see tapir, peccary and red brocket deer as well as coatimundi, tayra, agouti and kinkajou. Birding is fabulous, too, with 350 resident species. On our final evening, we celebrate with a farewell dinner at the lodge.

Day 9: Belize City / Home
Today, our Belize adventure tour comes to an end as we fly back to Belize City to make connecting flights home, or continue on with our Tikal Extension.

+ Interested in adding a few days to your trip? Click here to view our Extension Options.

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