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Luxury Belize: Nature, wildlife and Caribbean cayes

11 days from £2,870pp

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Luxury Belize: Nature, wildlife and Caribbean cayes:
Trip Dossier

Belize is tiny - a little larger than Wales – so it easy to sample its natural and cultural attractions in a short space of time. This luxurious holiday visits just three places but yields a flavour of the variety of landscapes without arduous travelling. 

Belize, formerly British Honduras, was once the haunt of back-packers and homesick British soldiers. Now it is now a much-sought-after destination for lovers of nature and beautiful beaches. This English-speaking republic is unique - a cocktail of Creole, British colonial, indigenous Maya, Mennonite and Spanish cultures.  The coast is unmistakably Caribbean: silky white-sand beaches and coral atolls, palm trees, turquoise seas, laid-back people, reggae rhythms and rum punch. Belize has the world’s second-largest barrier reef and the undersea world here is a theatre of exotic fish and other marine species living among the coral. Behind the coast in the back-country there are forested highlands cut through by sparkling rivers and waterfalls, with plenty of pools in which to swim.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Belize City. Transfer to the Lodger at Chaa Creek in Cayo District.

Day 2

At leisure.

Day 3

Excursion to Caracol

Day 4

Light aircraft flight to Gallon Jug, continue by road to Chan Chich.

Day 5

At leisure at Chan Chich,

Day 6

At leisure.

Day 7

Light aircraft flight from Gallon Jug to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Transfer to Victoria House.

Days 8-10

At leisure on Ambergris Caye.

Day 11

Transfer to airport

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Belize City. Transfer to the Lodger at Chaa Creek in Cayo District.
 
Macal river

It’s a three hour drive to the Lodge at Chaa Cheek, a delightful retreat  set within a large private area of lush lowland rainforest at San Ignacio, close to the picturesque Macal river and just outside Mountain Pine Ridge Forest reserve. The ambiance is extremely peaceful and  relaxing,  

 

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Macal river

Day 2

At leisure.
 
Chan Chich Lodge

Day at leisure. Excursions available include horse riding and mountain biking through the pine forest. You can rent a canoe for a paddle or go tubing on the serene Macal river - a terrific experience and a good opportunity to spot wildlife. Another adventurous activity would be to ride a canopy zipline to get an exhilarating tree-top view of the forest and its inhabitants - birds and butterflies are particularly abundant. You might elect to take a jeep safari through the rainforest, or visit one of many cave systems in the vicinity. The local market at San Ignacio, bulging with fruit and vegetables, is well worth a visit too if you are there on the right day.

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Chan Chich Lodge

Day 3

Excursion to Caracol
 
The main plaza at Caracol surrounded by jungle

Guided excursion to Caracol, Rio Frio and Rio On.  Situated high on the Vaca Plateau, in the heart of the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, Caracol is the most extensive Mayan site in Belize and was only discovered in the modern age in 1936. The site is peppered with 30,000 structures: in its ascendancy the city supported a population of over 150,000. Squatting at an altitude of over 500m above sea level with no natural water body close by it remains a mystery how and why such a huge population centre like Caracol survived and evolved.

However, the close proximity to both extremely hard stone and copal, two commodities highly prized by the Maya, may help explain this enigma. At the heart of the site lies the massive pyramid of Caana (Sky Palace) which is now almost fully restored and reaches a height of over 35m. From the top you can enjoy panoramic views over the mountains. The drive to the site in the early morning occasionally allows you to glimpse tapir, jaguar or ocelot as they break their forest cover to cross the road.

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The main plaza at Caracol surrounded by jungle

Day 4

Light aircraft flight to Gallon Jug, continue by road to Chan Chich.
 
Keel Billed Toucan

A real adventure today: you embark a 3-seater light aircraft for the short flight from the airstrip at Mountain Pine Ridge to the evocatively named Gallon Jug. From there, you catch your breath and continue by road to Chan Chich Lodge in the Orange Walk District, which has thrived on the plantation cultivation of citrus fruit, and sugar.

Chan Chich is not just a top-of-the-range lodge, it’s a holiday experience in itself. It’s remarkably comfortable, with great facilities including a fully screened pool and a Jacuzzi. Luxurious cabins occupy the lower plaza of a 1,200 year-old Mayan temple. The surrounding rainforest, part of a large private reserve in one of the most remote corners of Belize, has long been spared the destructive impact of hunters and loggers.

A rich diversity of flora and fauna, including howler and spider monkeys, jaguars, ocelots and a myriad of bird species is found here. Whether or not you are fortunate to catch a glimpse of a wild cat during your visit, it is unlikely you’ll leave Chan Chich without feeling humbled by the overwhelming supremacy and beauty of nature.

 

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Keel Billed Toucan

Day 5

At leisure at Chan Chich,
 
Jaguar in the Belizean Jungle

The lodge is built within the lower plaza of one of many unexcavated Mayan ruins scattered throughout the area, and offers a genuine escape into nature, with little compromise on comfort. The area is rich in flora and fauna, including howler and spider monkey, ocelot, and an abundance of birdlife (birding check lists are available). Sightings of the elusive jaguar are also frequent.

Complimentary services include a choice of two daytime guided walks: the menu includes bird watching, a walk introducing you to the medicinal use of certain indigenous plants and an archaeologically-focussed trek. Also included is one vehicle tour to one of Laguna Seca, Laguna Verde, Gallon Jug Farm and coffee finca or Sylvester village. Activities not included (arranged locally at extra cost): night time activities; La Milpa and Lamanai ruins day-trips; horse riding and canoeing.

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Jaguar in the Belizean Jungle

Day 6

At leisure.
 
Horse riding

At leisure. Activities not included at Chan Chich (arranged locally at extra cost): night time activities; La Milpa and Lamanai ruins day-trips; horse riding and canoeing.

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Horse riding

Day 7

Light aircraft flight from Gallon Jug to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Transfer to Victoria House.
 
Victoria House

It’s another light aircraft flight from Gallon Jug to Ambergris Caye, the most northerly and largest island in Belize, 46km long. The island offers a splendid vantage point from which to enjoy the Belize Barrier Reef less than a kilometre from the shore. The relaxed main town San Pedro has a wide choice of restaurants and bars. The island’s main attractions are sea-orientated: first class diving, snorkelling and fishing.

You’ll be staying at Victoria House, overlooking the Caribbean. This family-friendly, white plantation-style property harks back with nostalgia to British colonial times, but without the formality. A romantic, barefoot resort with a generous infinity pool, it offers both relaxation in the shade of a swaying palm as well as loads of activities into which to channel your energy.

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Victoria House

Days 8-10

At leisure on Ambergris Caye.
 
Bel ambergris Caye Vic House _ free
At leisure on Ambergris Caye. Snorkelling and diving in the nearby Hol Chan Marine Reserve is outstanding - a typical excursion lasts around 2.5hrs with 60mins in the water- and there is a dive shop on the premises' private pier. The hotel also offers flat, reef and deep-sea fishing trips. If you have your driving licence, buggies can be hired.
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Bel ambergris Caye Vic House _ free

Day 11

Transfer to airport

Essential information

Transport

3 flights (longest 0.5hr); 2 road journeys (longest 2hrs).

Accommodation

For this holiday we have chosen a mix of accommodation styles, all top quality properties and very suitable for honeymooners. They all have excellent and convenient locations, very personal service and good facilities.

Meals

Breakfast daily; lunch day 3; full board days 4-7.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 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 Caracol Mayan ruins, Rio Frio and Rio On.
• Walks, bird watching and other on-site activities at Chaa Creek and Chan Chich.  

Summary of nights

11 days, 10 nights: San Ignacio 3, Orange Walk District 3, Ambergris Caye 4.

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
• Departure tax (US$10.75)
• Optional excursions.

Currency

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

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$45 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 San Pedro (Ambergris), and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip. In each of the hotels, as well as shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. 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), Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

The Belize exchange rate is fixed at $2 Belize dollars to 1 $US. Both currencies are widely accepted in cash and credit cards can be used at the hotels. 

Tipping

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

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


Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. 

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

Airport taxes

There is an  international departure tax of $20 to be paid on departure, 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 honeymooners and other comfort-seeking couples. 

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 December to May. 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

Bring plenty of light, loose and preferably cotton clothing and good, comfortable walking shoes, trainers or sports sandals. We suggest that you plan to ‘layer’ your clothing; it is easier and more efficient to put on a couple of light layers than one thick jumper, and sensible to have long sleeves for areas where mosquitos or sand flies may be. 

You might like to bring some smart casual clothing for restaurants in the evenings. Protection against the sun (sunblock, sun hat) and mosquito repellent are essential and you should bring swimwear. A daypack is useful for carrying sun block, guidebook, water and any extra layers. Binoculars are strongly recommended. 

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in Central America.

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:

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 done by you personally.
Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). 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.
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