Mayan Ruins

Custom Belize: Rainforest, Reefs & Ruins

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Mayan Ruins

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Custom Belize: Rainforest, Reefs & Ruins

The small country of Belize offers adventurous travelers a remarkable variety of experiences. Nowhere else can you find such a dazzling blend of nature and history - vast rainforests, pristine barrier reefs, magnificent Maya ruins and fantastic tropical wildlife.

Lush tropical rainforests, mystical Maya ruins and the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere—nowhere else in the world can you experience a greater diversity of environments, wildlife and culture than in Belize. Nestled on the coast between Mexico’s southern Yucatán and Honduras, this small Caribbean country is home to over 300 species of birds, Jaguars, thousands of colorful and exotic tropical fish, and countless Maya ruins.

The country is a stable, peaceful democracy where English is the primary language and the U.S. dollar is accepted everywhere. The population is small—about 330,000 warm, friendly people who welcome all visitors as honored guests.

Our programs are led by superb, local naturalist guides who accompany you throughout your trip, sharing their knowledge of the wildlife and culture. The accommodations are among the finest and are chosen for their superior locations, amenities and natural surroundings. You will be delighted with the meals and the friendly, personal service our expeditions offer.

Howler monkeys calling in the high jungle canopy, exotic birds perched on ancient Maya temples, green crystalline rivers and blue Caribbean waters are all part of an unforgettable expedition to Belize. We invite you to discover a tropical paradise where Rainforests, Reefs and Ruins come together to create one of Earth’s most spectacular natural wonders.

It is one of the most interesting and varied travel destinations imaginable. It can satisfy the demands of both casual and dedicated nature lovers, birders, archaeologists, snorkelers, divers, fishermen and hikers. It is great for first-time international travelers, families and individuals who want to escape the stress of everyday life.

Its location makes it a perfect gateway to the neighboring countries of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. Whether your interest is in nature, snorkeling, exploring Maya ruins or just relaxing on a secluded island, Belize has it all. Rainforests, Reefs and Ruins—an incredible array of environments.

The sample itinerary below can be customized to take full-advantage of your travel time and interests.

Please Note: This adventure may be operated as a private adventure or as part of a small-group experience with other travelers.

Daily Itinerary

Custom Belize: Rainforest, Reefs & Ruins Sample Itinerary

  • Day

    Arrive Belize City / Lamanai

    Start your Belize tour, where you are met upon arrival by our guide and drive to the Mennonite village of Shipyard. Here we board a boat and follow the ancient Maya Trade Route which once linked coastal Belize with the Yucatán. Wind our way up the jungle-lined New River to Lamanai Outpost Lodge, located high on a bluff overlooking the New River Lagoon and the Maya site of Lamanai. It’s possible to encounter rare Morelet’s crocodile and black howler monkeys on our boat ride. Arrive at Lamanai Outpost Lodge in time to freshen up before dinner. (D)

  • Day

    Lamanai Archaeological Reserve

    Spend two days enjoying a variety of activity options at Lamanai Outpost Lodge. Your Travel Planner can help you select the best options. (B,L,D)

    Jungle Dawn:  As dawn breaks and the mist rises through the canopy, explore the jungle as it awakens. In the company of a naturalist guide you’ll learn about the intricacies of a habitat that is home to creatures as diverse as the jaguar, the impressive black howler monkey, the Jaguarundi and the vividly-colored keel-billed toucan.

    Sunrise Canoe Excursion: Strike out across the lagoon in exploration of Dawson’s Creek and its surrounding tributaries. Keep an eye out for manatees, otters, crocodiles and endemic parrots to name but a few. Sure to thrill the nature-loving side of all who participate in this adventure.

    Lamanai Maya Ruins: Explore the mysterious jungle-shrouded temples of this once powerful 3000 year old civilization where nature and ancient history coexist. The ruins of Lamanai encompass over 700 structures, a visitor’s center and museum.

    Maya Medicine Trail: As the only resource for medicinal aid, indigenous people have long used a wide variety of local plants for their powerful and effective medicinal properties. Unlock the secrets and learn first hand how basic potions and salves are prepared and used to this day in Belize’s jungle villages.

    Sunset Cocktail Cruise: End your day on the New River Lagoon surrounded by tropical forest and wildlife with a well-stocked cooler, snacks and your own personal bartender as you watch the sun disappear below the treetops from a 30 foot pontoon boat.

    Nature Walk: Hike around the lodge and reserve to observe nature at work; butterflies, orchids, and the wildlife.

    Night Safari: Board a river safari boat and head out into the night. This exciting adventure gives you the opportunity to encounter anything from the Morelet’s crocodile to the elusive and endangered jaguar. All this plus close up views of some of Belize’s fascinating river birds as they roost on the water’s edge make this a not-to-miss adventure!

    Night Walks: Experience the jungle under the evening stars or by the light of the moon. Listen as the owls and bats come out to hunt and gather, and the troupes of Howler monkeys speak to each other across the canopy. Sounds come from everywhere as many species such as frogs and tarantulas, other mammals and species of birds thrive in the late hour of the evening. Wear long pants, and bring a small flashlight.

    belize custom lamanai tall temple
  • Day

    Lamanai / Belize Zoo / Pook’s Hill Jungle Lodge

    Transfer back to Belize City and meet representatives from Pook’s Hill.  On our way to Pook’s, stop off at Belize’s charming little zoo that is world renown as a home for animals native to Belize where they can be viewed in their natural setting – forest enclosures. All of the animals living at the zoo were rescued as orphans, from poaching situations, the illegal pet trade, injury, or exposure due to habitat loss. Thousands of international tourists visit the zoo yearly, but its mission of promoting conservation is clearly aimed towards benefiting Belize and its people. Most of the animals that you will see at the zoo are also found in Pook’s Hill Reserve, but unless you get really lucky, a zoo stop is your best bet at seeing a jaguar or tapir in Belize! Spend the night at the Pook’s Hill Lodge. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    Pook's Hill Jungle Lodge

    Choose from a variety of activities to create your ideal Belize adventure! (B,L,D Daily)

    Birding: Pook’s Hill has been endorsed by ornithologists as being in a league of its own. Birding from the lodge, the meadow, and along the riverside is superb. The combination of trails, river walks and open landscape provide birders with ample opportunity to spot forest birds and migratory species. Hummingbirds give a spectacular display at the veranda of the lodge and there are good sightings of trogans, motmots and toucans. With over 300 birds recorded at Pook’s Hill, sightings of many of the less common species such as the spectacled owl, emerald toucanet and toady motmot are also a good possibility.

    Swimming: Enjoy the crystal clear water of the Roaring River, downstream from the Thousand-Foot Falls in the Maya Mountains. Pook’s Hill has two miles of frontage on the Roaring River, providing ample opportunity for inner tubing or to cool off in one of the hidden jungle pools.

    Night Walks: The jungle is a different world once the sun goes down! Head out with your flashlight to see what is about in the forest at night.

    Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM Cave): Enjoy an amazing adventure that combines nature hiking, caving, and a magical trip into the Maya underworld, making it one of the most popular Belize adventure tours. ATM Cave was named by National Geographic as #1 “Sacred Places of a Lifetime” Cave.  

    Tikal & Maya Biosphere Reserve: Tikal is one of the most famous and impressive Maya sites in Mesoamerica with over 3,000 excavated structures and several of the tallest temples in the Maya World – it truly is a must-see in this part of the world! Nestled on hills in the heart of Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve, the tour offers a perfect combination of archeology and jungle wildlife. Your guide, a knowledgeable Tikal expert, will give you a glimpse into the past of one of the world’s most impressive early civilizations and help you to spot the howler monkeys, spider monkeys, ocellated turkeys, coatis and other amazing wildlife that frequent this massive jungle park.

    Barton Creek Cave & Xunantunich: Spend the morning exploring the spectacular Barton Creek Cave via a canoe! You will view the impressive cave formations from aboard your canoe as you slowly paddle through the cave passage. After exploring the cave, continue west to San Ignacio to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and sample some Belizean food. In the afternoon, cross the Mopan River via a hand winched ferry at the Maya village of San Jose Succotz for a visit to Xunantunich, Belize’s most accessible Maya site of significance.

    Caracol: Caracol is the largest Maya site in Belize and covers some 35 sq miles, with 36,000 structures marked so far. Restoration at this massive Maya city is ongoing. A day trip to the site takes you up through the rugged back-roads of the Mountain Pine Ridge and deep into the folds of the Maya Mountains. Time permitting, your guide will take you to see the Rio Frio Cave and the Rio On Pools on the journey to and from Caracol – so bring your bathing suit!

    Mountain Pine Ridge Adventure: This upland pine area is known for its beautiful waterfalls and incredible views. Spend the morning hiking on rugged trails, to emerge at some of the most stunning view points in the country. After a picnic lunch, cool off at one of the Mountain Pine Ridge’s many dramatic waterfalls.

    belie rainforests reefs ruins photos reef
  • Day

    Pook’s Hill / Dangriga / South Water Caye

    Depart Pook’s Hill Lodge and travel by vehicle to the coastal town of Dangriga.  We will be met by our new hosts on arrival and travel forty-five minutes by boat through clear, protected water to the picture perfect island of South Water Caye.  It is located directly on the Barrier Reef of Belize, second largest in the world and largest in the Western Hemisphere. South Water Caye is a small island of white sands and coconut palms and our accommodations are located right at the water’s edge. It is a choice location with great snorkeling right from the beach. Meals will feature fresh seafood along with home grown vegetables and fruits. This afternoon you have an orientation to the island and the barrier reef and you can swim or practice snorkeling before dinner. Spend the night at Pelican Beach Resort on South Water Caye.  (B,L,D)

  • Day

    South Water Caye Marine Reserve

    Board boats for a snorkeling excursion to some of the great sites in the calm, protected waters of South Water Marine Reserve, the largest marine park in Belize. The coral is fabulous, and some of fascinating fish we are likely to see include rainbow parrotfish, Nassau grouper and spotted eagle ray. The afternoon is free to relax and enjoy more snorkeling right from the beach. If marine water conditions are good, after dinner we snorkel with lights to see how the colors change as the coral opens up. This is truly a remarkable activity and one that opens the door to a terrific marine experience. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    South Water Caye

    This day is at your leisure to enjoy how you choose. Choose to kayak, paddleboard, snorkel from the beach or head out to the reefs, or visit Bird Island or Man Of War Caye in search of manatees. Or do nothing at all! (B,L,D)

  • Day

    Dangriga / Depart Belize City

    Say goodbye to your extended Belize family and fly from Dangriga to Belize City. Upon arrival, check in for your international flight. (B)

Call 800.234.9620
11 Days, 10 Nights
Trip Type

Trip Highlights

  • IE's Custom Travel Planners can create individually tailored tours that match your style of travel, budget & timeline.