Day 1: Orange Walk
A rugged inland territory of lush jungle, Maya traditions and the most bio-diverse ecology in Belize, Orange Walk is the tiny nation’s northernmost and third most populated region. Home to a robust history of agriculture surrounded by the sounds and sights of the Belizean wilds, Orange Walk hearkens only to a select few intrepid travelers searching for immersive experiences in the Central American rainforest. Here, you’ll find wildlife, wilderness, steamy jungle rivers and some of the most significant Mayan ruins in Belize, but travelers are few and far between and tourists are virtually non-existent.
There are a spattering of world-class jungle lodges in the area, making it a simple affair to brave the jungle by day and sip a fine red wine by firelight in the evenings. Most guests to the Orange Walk area typically are keen to visit such iconic Maya archeological sites as Lamanai and La Milpa, as well as the birder’s paradise, Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, and the country’s largest nature reserve, the Rio Brave Conservation and Management Area.
At Lamanai Outpost Lodge, nestled along the banks of Crab Catcher Lagoon amongst the ruins of a major Maya city, you’ll step into an undiscovered world where adventure waits just around every corner. As with many locales in Belize, getting to the lodge is part of the fun on a quiet river boat ride where it’s easy to spot native wildlife as the boat meanders along.
Today, you’ll arrive in Belize and check into Lamanai Outpost Lodge following a private transfer from Belize City to the hotel (private transfers may incur additional fee on this leg of the itinerary).
Day 2: Orange Walk & Lamanai
Adjacent to the Lamanai Archeology Site and Lagoon, Lamanai Outpost Lodge boasts 20 double cabanas that are spacious, comfortable and, best of all, virtually steps from one of the most impressive Maya archeological sites in all of Belize and one of the longest continually occupied in all of Mesoamerica. It is one of the biggest and most excavated in country with its scenic location overlooking the New River adding to its mythic allure. For many travelers, the trip to the awe-inspiring site takes a full day (still well worth it), but you can simply emerge from your cabana into a seemingly undiscovered world all its own.
Mayan for “submerged crocodile,” the name Lamanai pays homage to the river’s large scaly inhabitants, but it is the large central temples surrounded by dense rainforest that likely disguises hundreds more un-excavated ruins that truly capture the imagination. Major temples here include the approximately 65-foot Jaguar Temple, 108-foot High Temple or El Castillo, smaller Mask Temple and the Ball Court where a game thought to be the ancient predecessor to soccer was played. You’re likely to spot spider and howler monkeys, as well as nearly 400 documented species of exotic birds, so be sure to pack some binoculars.
Although guided tours to the Lamanai Archeology Site must inevitably wind to a close, guests of the Lamanai Outpost Lodge are welcome to stroll the grounds at any time. When you’ve seen all you can of the Maya ruins, spend your free time in the afternoon on a canoe expedition, nature walk, Maya Medicine trail tour, sunset cocktail cruise or reserve a time for air boating, fishing or crocodile encounters on the river.
Day 3: Orange Walk
On Day 3 in Orange Walk, you can choose from seven activities included in your stay at the lodge, including The Jungle Dawn, Lamanai Maya Ruins, Maya Medicine Trail, Nature or Night Walks, the Sunset Cocktail Cruise or the Spotlight Nature Safari. One per day is included with your stay.
If you'd prefer something a bit more active, we’ll sweep you off your feet and into the air and water with zip lining through the canopy of the 200-acre Jaguar Paw rainforest and cave tubing down the meandering Caves Branch River through soaring limestone caverns once used as Maya ceremonial sites. It’s the perfect blend of adventure and culture, as your guides point out native plants often used for traditional medicines, highlight passing wildlife (including those that may be hiding in plain sight) and regale you with Belizean history throughout the day.
After only a brief hike through the pristine forest and up a winding flight of stairs, you’ll be fitted with a harness and given a safety lesson at the launch site for one of the longest zip line courses in Belize. With individual zips of up to 700 feet long, you’ll get an exhilarating bird’s eye view of dense jungle, swaying palms, giant limestone cliffs and the swirling river below. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget— especially after the free repel required to complete the adventure and break for lunch.
Next, you’ll embark on a leisurely 20-minute hike through the jungle to find the entry point for a quintessentially Belizean experience— cave tubing. As the mouth of the grotto looms overhead, you’ll notice tiny flitting bats and the not-too-distant call of howler monkeys and tropical birds. Flick on your headlamp, have your guide pour you a rum punch and float through the unusual occurrence that is the Crystal Caves, sometimes called the “underworld of the Maya.” Here, you’ll find underground lagoons, languid waterfalls, shimmering rock formations and a truly unforgettable adventure. The trip to Jaguar Paw will incur an additional fee.
Day 4: Toledo & Punta Gorda
It’s our last day in the jungle before we head to the emerging, and largely undeveloped, southern destination of Toledo, so you can decide whether you’re up for even more adventure or a bit of rest and relaxation on the final morning at Lamanai Outpost Lodge, where all meals and two activities each day (listed above) are included with your room rate.
Once the morning’s activities have wound to a close, we’ll begin the journey to Toledo’s Punta Gorda. The trip begins with a transfer to the local airport and a domestic flight to Punta Gorda, where we’ll take a transfer to The Lodge at Big Falls.
Nestled along the shores of the Rio Grande River not far from PG likes a spectacular boutique eco-lodge with nearly a mile of river frontage and high levels of service and a focus on sustainable tourism. The Lodge at Big Falls is a family-owned affair with only six thatch-style cabanas and three more modern cottages, making it a highly personalized experience where you can participate in a wide variety of nature and culture-based tours.
Typically referred to simply as PG, Punta Gorda is the country’s southernmost city and the administrative seat for the region. It’s a charming town with no more than a dozen streets and a kicked back Caribbean vibe with which visitors and locals alike simply fall in love. Although there are just more than 6,000 residents in PG, you’ll be hard-pressed to find very many cars here and, other than on market days, you’ll probably feel as though you’ve happened into a much more remote locale. There aren’t great beaches here, but there are some close islands with great beaches that provide a wonderful haven for snorkeling, diving and even fishing. And, if you haven’t had enough of the jungle just yet, you also can head inland for some of the country’s most untouched territory.
Day 5: Port of Honduras
After a tasty breakfast at The Lodge, where they serve a variety of local and international fare, including homemade cinnamon buns that are not to be missed, from the high thatch ceiling dining room in the main building, you’ll depart for a snorkel tour of the Port of Honduras. All guides, transfers, marine park fees and lunch on the beach are included.
The Port of Honduras is an important part of the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor, where many endangered and nearly extinct species, including loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles and the goliath grouper, are safeguarded by conservation efforts. The area encompasses a wide variety of protected marine habitats, such as mangrove cayes, seagrass beds and numerous types of reef. Due to its preserve status, marine life here has thrived in recent years and made the Port of Honduras one of the best snorkel spots in Belize. It’s a full-day tour that will leave you breathless!
Day 6: Rio Grande
So far, you may only have watched the lazy Rio Grande River pass by on the mile of frontage that borders The Lodge at Big Falls property, but today you’ll get to enjoy it in a totally different way with all transfers, guides and equipment included for this half-day tour.
You’ll head out on the road to travel the quick six miles to the nearby village of San Miguel and the road bridge where you’ll begin your kayak adventure on the Rio Grande River. It’s an easy 3.5-4-hour expedition downstream on the emerald green river through jungle clad shores teeming with native wildlife. There are no rapids, so sit back and keep your eyes peeled for river otters, turtles, iguanas and many bird species along the route that ends, conveniently, right back at The Lodge. It’s a truly unforgettable experience that is magical for just about any age.
Upon return to The Lodge at Big Falls, you’ll have a free afternoon to explore or relax as you choose. The property staffs expert guides who are always happy to share their knowledge of local natural wonders, exotic species and cultural encounters available in the surrounding area. It’s a simple affair to enjoy some jungle trekking, river snorkeling, fishing or manatee watching on The Lodge grounds, or you can book one of many half-day tours of the Toledo region that are located within an easy 30-minute drive radius of The Lodge.
Day 7: Monkey River
It’s your last day in Toledo at The Lodge at Big Falls, but there’s still time for one more amazing nature and wildlife jungle tour en route to the afternoon transfer to Placencia and the white sand beaches of the South Coast.
The Monkey River Crocs and Howlers Cruise is a laid-back river cruise up a lush jungle waterway where you’ll likely catch a glimpse of manatees, iguanas, crocodiles and a true menagerie of tropical bird species. Once docked, you’ll enjoy a 40-minute moderate trek keeping a lookout for more birds, howler monkeys and more.
Upon completion, you’ll board another boat and continue onto to Placencia and Robert’s Grove Beach Resort. There is a $1 entrance fee on this leg of the transfer that must be paid in cash.
You’ll arrive near the village of Placencia at the 22-acre Robert’s Grove Beach Resort, where you’re sure to dream of tomorrow’s adventures in a tropical paradise. It’s a hacienda-style resort with a wide variety of comfortable accommodations but all come complete with truly gracious service, a contemporary feel and access to a full suite of amenities, including a good stretch of beach, water sport equipment, bicycles, dive center, spa, marina, three freshwater pools and four restaurants.
The formerly sleepy hamlet of Placencia lies 10 minutes from the resort on the southernmost tip of Placencia Peninsula, which runs parallel to the mainland. This area, commonly called The South Coast, includes some of the most stunning beaches in Belize and, of course, the totally charming if somewhat ramshackle village of Placencia itself, as well as several other beach communities. From your home base of Robert’s Grove, get ready to discover spectacular coastlines, emerald seas, idyllic beaches, numerous cayes and a colorful mix of cultures.
Day 8: The South Coast & Placencia
After a full American-style breakfast at the resort, you’ll be met at the hotel and transferred to our guide’s office to pick up your snorkel equipment and embark on a invigorating full-day reef snorkel tour complete with beachfront BBQ lunch.
You’ll enjoy a fast-paced motor boat ride to one of several possible snorkeling destinations, depending on your preference and weather conditions, but all are between a half hour to an hour away from Placencia by boat. Some possible destinations include Laughing Caye, Silk Caye, Pompion Caye and Ranguana. The Southernmost island in the central lagoon of the Belize Barrier Reef system, Laughing Bird Caye is the closest to your departure destination and is a national park. Silk Caye also is a marine reserve surrounded by miles of pristine azure waters and in view of the barrier reef. Pompion often is described as a “pleasant surprise” hiding marine life not regularly seen elsewhere, while Ranguana is a private island with its own surrounding reef.
After a break for lunch, you’ll enjoy a second snorkeling destination in the afternoon before heading back to the mainland to Robert’s Grove for a relaxing evening at one of the area’s most away-from-it-all properties.
Day 9: The South Coast & Placencia
Whether you want to continue the expedition and adventure on your last day in Belize or simply relax and unwind, you’ll have a full day to quench your every desire with an entire day free to do as you please. Grab a cocktail or local beer and get some sun on the beach, grab a friend and head out to explore the nearby cayes on a sea kayak or sailboat, head into the foodie-indulgent Dangriga for a bite or spend the day at the full-service Robert’s Grove spa. This is a day for yo to choose from an abundance of activities (not included). Some of our favorites are:
Visit the magical Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve, where 150 square miles of tropical moist forest are home to hundreds of plant species, birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and insects. It’s a reservoir for biodiversity and an important ecosystem where it’s possible to see tapir, deer, wildcats and more on its miles of hiking trails.
Experience the Lubaantun or Nim Li Punit Maya archeological sites back in Punta Gorda if you don't mind a bit of backtracking.
Explore the beaches and the Placencia Peninsula via horseback.
Take a trip to nearby Hopkins for a cultural experience that’s second to none.
Visit the PADI dive center to book a scuba trip to Hol Chan and the Cut (but be prepared for the lengthy boat ride).
Book a helicopter to get an aerial glimpse of the famous Great Blue Hole.
If you happen to be visiting in March-June, head to the southern tip of Belize near the Guatemalan border for possible whale shark watching and swimming.
Day 10: Departure from Belize City
After your last American style breakfast at Robert’s Grove Beach Resort, you’ll bid farewell to the alluring South Coast and Placencia as you’re transferred to the local airport to board a domestic flight to Belize International Airport for the return flight home.
Comparable accommodations may be substituted depending on availability. Alternative accommodations available in some areas (prices may adjust accordingly).