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Active Belize: Jungle and reef adventure

Active Belize: Jungle and reef adventure:
Trip Dossier

Belize is fast becoming THE place to go for outdoor adventures in an exotic setting. Ever since independence, the availability of exciting new outdoor activities has mushroomed alongside the opening of jungle and coastal lodges of all standards – so, in this tiny country, the choice for lovers of nature and outdoor challenges is huge.

We are thrilled to introduce a holiday showcasing four of our favourite properties  - a lodge at the foot of the Mayan mountain range, a rainforest resort, a coastal glamping site and a beachfront hotel - which between them offer hiking and rappelling, cycling, kayaking, stand-up paddling and snorkelling, as well as cultural experiences in the surrounding region.  But you don’t have to do it all, by any means; you can choose softer, relaxing options on site such as bird watching, manatee spotting of even just sunbathing.  The combination of the locations, the friendly and professionally-run properties and the range of activities brings together the elements for a really fun and exhilarating outdoor holiday.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Belize City, transfer to your lodge in the interior.

Day 2

Visit the Actun Tunichil Muknal caves.

Day 3

Travel to Bocawina Rainforest Lodge.

Days 4,5

Activities at the lodge.

Day 6

By road to the coast, glamping on a coral atoll.

Days 7,8

Water-based activities from the camp

Day 9

Return to Dangriga and onwards to Parrot Cove.

Day 10

At leisure at the resort

Day 11

Hop by air from Dangriga airstrip to connect with international flight.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Belize City, transfer to your lodge in the interior.
 
Belize

he scenic drive to the lodge Pook’s Hill, set at the foot of the Mayan mountains in Cayo District, takes about two hours. This is a tightly forested region of profuse biodiversity populated by a multitude of bird, mammal and foliage species and sheltering the vestiges of Mayan temples. The misty mornings and ancient trees strangled by vines create a magical atmosphere enhanced by secret caves and shimmering streams.

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Belize

Day 2

Visit the Actun Tunichil Muknal caves.
 
ATM Caves Belize

Prepare for a real Indiana Jones adventure on this excursion into an extraordinary Mayan ceremonial cave, the 5km long Actun Tunichil Muknal. It's more than evocative of the bloodletting traditions of the Mayans: you'll actually come across gruesome skeletal remains. You'll see where the Mayans have manipulated cave formations to create the faces of men and animals, project shadows or serve as makeshift altars.

It's not all history and death though: bats flit around and tropical fish inhabit the waters. It is quite a challenging exploit: you have to swim under the arch of the cave’s sweltering roof, climb over slippery rocks and spend hours in the dark. But it is a truly unique experience which you are unlikely to forget in a hurry.

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ATM Caves Belize

Day 3

Travel to Bocawina Rainforest Lodge.
 
Bocawina rainforest resort

Mayflower Bocawina National Park, in the southern district of Stann Creek, hosts a carpet of lush jungle, waterfalls cascading over foliage-fringed rocky cliffs and the remains of settlements of the Mayan empire: temples, ceremonial sites and residences. Set in a natural bowl fringed by the Mayan mountains it feels remote, but is in fact only an hour or so’s drive from some of the county’s major towns. Living and thriving in the rainforest are an estimated 238 species of birds; troops of black howler monkeys lurk in the canopy while beneath there are walking trails to explore.

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Bocawina rainforest resort

Days 4,5

Activities at the lodge.
 

During your stay at the lodge you can take part in any of a wide variety of activities and excursions. Choose from the guided Bocawina Rainforest trail hike, or, if you are up for thrills, ride the longest rainforest canopy zipline in Central America, with a birds’ eye view over the forest. It takes up to two hours to complete the zip which is four km long, has 14 platforms and nine different runs. Not only is it long, offering you the opportunity thoroughly to get absorbed in the experience and spot birds and mammals high up in the branches, but you can also opt to ride the line at night…with a head torch. This is a rare chance to experience the canopy under the cover of darkness, which has a completely different feel to the daytime adventure:  you may spot owls, howler monkeys and bats.

You could also choose to take a two hour walk through humid jungley vegetation to Antelope Falls. It’s a bit hilly, but satisfying for that. Upon arrival you will enjoy views over the rainforest to the Caribbean Sea beyond. Slowly rappel a staggering 75m down the rock-face of the waterfall to a pool of cool clear water at the bottom – a dip here will be most welcome.

Other options include a visit to the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve to explore the trails which call at spectacular waterfalls with mountain views, and have great bird-spotting opportunities. Budding historians will be attracted by the chance to visit Mayan archaeological ruins while those of you more interested in contemporary indigenous culture may visit a spice farm and see how local communities source the resources of the jungle in their daily lives for medicine, furniture and jewellery making.

Some of these options have an extra charge, paid locally.

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Day 6

By road to the coast, glamping on a coral atoll.
 

It’s a drive of only about 45 minutes from the mountain fringe down to the Garifuna village of Dangriga on the Caribbean coast.  From there you’ll embark on a couple of hours’ boat ride to Glover’s Reef Atoll, a protected marine park. It consists of an elliptically shaped reef measuring 32 by 11km, situated around 64km offshore. You’ll be staying at a unique safari-style camp there, right on the water’s edge, stepping out of your furnished tent onto pearl-white sands - magical. 

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Days 7,8

Water-based activities from the camp
 
Glovers Reef Belize

The camp is perfect for active families and couples of mixed abilities, offering flexibility and choices in daily guided activities, so that you and your travelling companions can do things together or separately. You can choose between kayaking in the mangroves, stand-up paddling on the surface of super-calm waters (or choppier seas depending on the weather), or snorkelling in the warm, glass-clear lagoon – in places it is less than a couple of metres deep, making the abundant marine life really accessible: view a plethora of dazzling tropical fish, eels and turtles, all thriving among the live coral.

It’s a very relaxed place: the activities offered on any day will depend on the weather and guests’ interests. There’s so much to do (though not all activities are always available, check with us): sunrise yoga, fly-fishing, and you can even take your first steps in learning to sail. You’ll have professional briefings and training on the activities: all of which are guided by skilled specialists in their field: among them are naturalists, fishermen, marine biologists and experienced kayakers.

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Glovers Reef Belize

Day 9

Return to Dangriga and onwards to Parrot Cove.
 
Parrot Cove

Upon arrival by boat back at Dangriga you will proceed to Hopkins, a sunny low-rise village sprawling along the Caribbean coast with flour-white, palm-flecked beaches stroked by turquoise seas.  It’s regarded by many as the capital of the country’s Afro-Caribbean Garifuna culture, and is as laid-back and informal as you might expect. It is a good spot to niew manatees near the mouth of the river or in the sea early in the early morning.

Your accommodation, Parrot Cove Lodge, is located at the southern end of the village, an easy stroll, taxi-ride or complimentary-bike ride from the town’s bars, restaurants  and the marina, around 1.5km away.

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Parrot Cove

Day 10

At leisure at the resort
 
Hopkins

It’s your last day: situated right on the sands, Parrot Cove is a truly low-key beach resort: kayaks and paddle boards are available as well as bikes and there is a long list of activities and excursions to choose from, but you may be tempted just to swing to and fro in a hammock or laze around the intimate outdoor swimming pool.

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Hopkins

Day 11

Hop by air from Dangriga airstrip to connect with international flight.
 

Essential information

Transport

1  flight (20 mins); 3 road journeys (longest 3.5hrs). 2 boat journeys  ( 2 hours each )

Accommodation

For this holiday we have chosen quality, traditional Belizean style, thatched jungle lodges  which blend into the natural environment with bird- and exotic foliage-filled grounds, a glamping-style tent camp and a small, friendly  beach hotel with an excellent restaurant.  All have plenty of adventurous activities and excursions from waterfall abseiling and reef kayaking to manatee spotting from the beach.

Meals

Breakfast daily, lunch day 2 (ATM Caves) with full board at Bocawina Rainforest Resort (3-6) and Glover’s Reef Tent Camp (6-9)  (the latter includes some alcoholic  drinks)

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 30 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by clients on their return.

Included excursions

• Guided excursion to ATM caves
• Choice of activities including waterfall hikes, abseiling and ziplining at Bocawina Rainforest resort
• A range of water based activities are included at Glover’s Reef from stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking to `patch reef’ snorkelling.

Summary of nights

11 days, 10 nights:  San Ignacio 2, Mayflower Reserve 3 , Glover’s Reef 3, Hopkins Bay 2.

Included in the journey price

. Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Not included in the journey price

• International flights to Latin America.
• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
• Optional excursions.

Currency

The unit of currency in Belize is the Belize dollar which is fixed at 2 to 1 US dollar .(US dollars also accepted).

Daily spend

For the majority of your trip, meals and excursions/activities are included.  For other expenses a budget of around US$50 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir.

How to take it

Cash machines are available Belize City and Dangriga so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency, Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused.

Tipping

Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. 

IT IS IMPORTANT TO CHECK THAT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY WILL COVER YOU FOR ALL THE ACTIVITIES ON OFFER INCLUDING ABSEILING.

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport taxes

There is an international departure tax of $55 to be paid but most scheduled airlines will include it. There’s also a security tax of about $5 and a small conservation charge.

Journey grade

There are no long days of travel on this trip. This holiday is suitable for couples; friends; single people; families, honeymooners; history, wildlife and active adventure enthusiasts. 


If you have a disability or other special requirements, please call us. In the summer  (Jun-Oct) the weather can be extremely hot and humid, you might bear this in mind if travelling with small children or elderly persons.

Climate

The best weather conditions are during the dry season late November to May which is when the trip will operate. It can be cool in the highlands in winter, while the jungle areas are hot and humid all year round. There’s a low risk of tropical storms or hurricanes from June to November.

Clothing and special equipment

We will give you a proper check list but bring plenty of light, loose and preferably cotton clothing and quick drying, breathable sports clothes. Good quality, comfortable walking shoes, sports sandals and trainers are appropriate. Recommended kit includes aqua or kayaking shoes, a dry bag, a wide brimmed hat, quick drying towel, a light sports bag, sunglasses, insect repellent, sun cream  and binoculars.  A portable power bank for your phone is always very handy although you will be able to charge at all destinations. Bring a good water bottle. 

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on yellow fever and malaria tablets.  For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins.  Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

Passengers must present a digital e-passport (one which contains a readable chip).

ESTA - if flying to, or via, the USA, you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online.  This costs $14 per person, and must be applied for by you personally.

Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them. 

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

Water-To-Go

We’ve partnered with Water To Go to offer Journey Latin America clients a 50% discount on 7cl filtered, reusable water bottles with every booking. The bottle can be refilled at any water outlet and has a filter that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, allowing the water to be safe to drink.
Contact your Travel Consultant for more information and to include the purchase in your booking.

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