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Cayo District Activities and Tours

Caving


Actun Tunichil Munkal Cave Entrance
ACTUN TUNICHIL MUKNAL CAVE - "Cave of the crystal sepulchre" - The adventure begins with hiking steep jungle trails and crossing a river with chest-high water. Once you enter the cave, you'll have only the light from your headlamp to guide you into the Mayan underworld. You'll see burial chambers with calcified remains among other exciting discoveries. The tour changes from year to year as new relics are found.

This tour departs early in the morning, returns after dark, and is a long and challenging adventure - a good level of fitness is required and the ability to swim is a plus. Wear shorts, a tee-shirt, and hiking boots or tennis shoes, and bring an extra change of dry clothes for the return trip.

CHE CHEM HA MAYA POTTERY CAVE - Led by an experienced native guide, this tour begins with a 30 minute hike up to the entrance of the cave. Once you enter into the cave you'll find winding passageways and tall, narrow rooms filled with ancient Maya pottery, and a large room believed to have been used for sacrificial ceremonies.

As a ladder allows access to the upper areas of the cave and in some cases ropes are used for narrow passages, this tour requires a certain degree of physical fitness. The cave is about 30 minutes from San Ignacio and the tour requires about 4 hours.

Black Hole Drop BLACK HOLE DROP - You'll be thrilled by your descent into the "Mother of all Caves" located at the foothills of the Maya Mountains. The edge of the Actun Loch Tunich sink hole sits over 300 feet above the basin below, about 200 feet above the rainforest canopy that grows out of the sink hole basin.

A system of rappelling ropes and highly trained guides aids your drop into the basin, followed by a return hike out of the foothills. This full-day trip includes lunch, water, and all equipment, and participants must be relatively fit.

OVERNIGHT CAVING EXPEDITIONS (2 days / 1 night, from Caves Branch Jungle Lodge only) - This two day adventure begins with a drop into the Black Hole. Once in the basin of the sink hole, you'll be lead to your camp inside the rim stone dam entrance of the Actun Loch Tunich river cave system. After dinner, spend the evening exploring the crystal chambers and ceremonial Mayan sites within the cave. You'll fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle that drift into the cave.

After a hearty breakfast the next morning, you trek down another 400 feet along cave walls to the Actun Loch Tunich underground river, exploring in the steps of the ancient Maya and past an underground waterfall. Then return to the lodge where a welcome beer awaits! As this trek is all done on foot, it is not for the faint of heart; participants must be relatively fit.
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Cave Tubing


Cave Tubing
"RIVER OF CAVES" CAVE TUBING - The spectacular "River of Caves" float is an exciting full-day 7 mile long underground float on tubes with only your headlamp to guide the way. You'll float past natural windows filtering jungle sunlight and swirl around stalagmites and under stalactites. Marvel at underground waterfalls and the crystal cathedral, a spiritual center to the ancient Maya.

Some underground hiking and jungle trekking is necessary for this trip and is subject to high water levels during rainy season. This tour is only available during green season as river levels get very low during dry season, and is typically not available from February to June.

JAGUAR PAW CAVE TUBING - Learn about the local flora and fauna as your guide leads you on a 30-40 minute hike along the Caves Branch River to the Jaguar Paw cave systems. When you get to the water, you will strap on your headlight and your life vest and take a seat in your tube. You will be propelled by the gentle currents through underground caverns carved through the mountains. Your guide will educate you about the natural formations found in the cave as well as wildlife and plant life you encounter along the way. The cave is about a 1 hour drive from San Ignacio and the tour requires about 5 - 6 hours.

Cave Tubing CRYSTAL CAVE TUBING - Tubing along underground waterways, cave walls glistening, showing off their crystal formations. The Mayans used these caves a thousand years ago and fascinating artifacts remain. You will be in awe at stalactites, stalagmites, the very immensity of the cave itself. Full day or half day tours available, with full day tours including lunch.

ZIP-LINE / CAVE TUBING COMBO - Aerial Trek Canopy Tour offers the adventurous spirit an exhilarating opportunity to soar through the jungle, high above the broadleaf forest floor. The canopy tour involves traversing from one platform to another along a steel cable suspended up to 80 feet above the ground. Then move on to the half day Crystal Cave tubing tour. This is a fun-packed day and great way to experience the jungle and caves if your time is short on the mainland. Lunch is included. Full day.
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Maya Culture


Xunantunich Ruins
XUNANTUNICH- Xunantunich in Maya is "The Stone Maiden". The site is about 30 minutes from San Ignacio and is only accessible by taking a hand-cranked ferry across the Mopan River. Xunantunich is one of the most popular Maya sites in Belize and was one of the first to be excavated and opened to the public.

Standing atop "El Castillo", the largest pyramid at the site, you will have a panoramic view of western Belize and eastern Guatemala. The tour requires about 3 hours.


Caracol Ruins CARACOL - Discovered in 1938 and later explored in the 1950's, Caracol was thought to be little more than a Maya ceremonial center. It was not until more extensive excavation efforts began in 1985 that the importance and expanse of Caracol became known. In 1986, a round, elaborately carved altar stone was uncovered which described a victory by Caracol over Tikal, once considered to be the most powerful Maya metropolis. This discovery filled an important missing piece of Maya history, covering approximately 140 years in the Middle Classic period, and positioned Caracol as the "Supreme" Maya city.

The largest pyramid at Caracol, the Canaa, (Maya for "sky place") rises 140 feet and is the tallest man made structure in all of Belize. Caracol is located 2 hours south of San Ignacio in the Maya Mountains. The tour departs at 8:00 a.m. and returns at about 5:00 p.m.

Tikal Ruins - Guatemala TIKAL - The largest and most spectacular of all the Mayan sites in Meso-America is located in the Peten area of Guatemala, deep in the high canopy jungle. Tikal is about 1 hours from San Ignacio. The flora and fauna in this area is almost as breathtaking as the Mayan ruins themselves.

The original city covered an area of 35 square miles and although the archaeologists have been excavating here since the 1930's, they tell us that there is at least another 100 years of work to be done. Tours typically depart at 7:00 a.m. and return at about 5:00 p.m.

EL PILAR - This site is located partially in Belize and partially in Guatemala. The Belize/Guatemala border runs through the site. El Pilar dates back to 250 B.C. Much looting of the site has taken place and the damage to the site is extensive.

Dr. Anabel Ford of the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been working at the site for many years. Her dream is to transform the area and the ruins into a Maya community with Mayas living and working there as they did 2000 years ago. El Pilar is also one of the great birding areas of Belize. The 30-40 minute drive from San Ignacio is very scenic. The tour requires about 3-4 hours.

Cahal Pech Ruins CAHAL PECH - As an introductory ruin you can't go wrong with Cahal Pech. The site even features an archeology museum! There are also a lot of shade trees in the area which means you can stay pretty cool on a Belizean day!

Although work at Cahal Pech is still at an early stage, visitors can experience the full range of archaeological investigations of a Maya center. The site is also in a beautiful jungle environment which is home to many colorful birds and exotic plants. Tours can easily be combined with trips to Xunantunich or El Pilar.
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Canoe / Kayak


River Kayaking
BELIZE RIVER KAYAKING - Meander down the Belize River with your tour guide pointing out plants and wildlife in their natural habitat. You may see exotic birds, big iguanas, otters, and even howler monkeys.

MACAL RIVER CANOEING - This trip along the Macal River begins at Negroman Farm about 14 miles upstream from San Ignacio. The trip is all downstream and therefore is not a very strenuous paddle. Along the way you will see iguanas and many species of birds. You may even see a troop or two of howler monkeys. The canoe trip ends at San Ignacio and requires 4-5 hours.

BARTON CREEK CAVE CANOEING - This ancient Maya Indian burial site is only accessible by canoe. The trip to the cave is scenic and passes through the Barton Creek Mennonite Community. Once inside the cave you'll float past beautiful formations of stalactites and stalagmites. After the cave canoe trip, you can take a swim in the crystal clear Barton Creek. The cave is about 1 hour from San Ignacio and the tour requires about 5 hours.
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Horseback Riding


Horseback Riding
HORSEBACK RIDING - This tour rides through rainforest trails and open savannas to the un-excavated site of Buena Vista, believed to have been the private estate of K'ul Ahau K'ak Til, a Mayan king.

After exploring the site, you'll ride down to the Mopan River for a refreshing swim - so be sure to bring your suit or wear it under your clothes. Tours last about 4 hours and are available in the morning or afternoon.


JUNGLE HORSEBACK ADVENTURES - This tour travels through miles of lush jungle trails. Trails are suitable for all levels of riders and horses are matched to riders based on ability. This tour lasts about 2 hours.
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Hike / Bike


Jungle Biking
JUNGLE MOUNTAIN BIKING DAY TOURS - Learn about the wonders of jungle life from a bicycle seat. Take one of our exciting guided adventure cycling day trips. Ride 100 feet below the rainforest canopy, through lush tropical forests, past magnificent cliff faces and breathtaking vistas. If you are into mountain biking, think 'Jungle Adventure on Wheels'!

JUNGLE TOURS AND TREKS - One full day in the pristine jungle with local bushmen guides. Learn many of the secrets that the jungle holds: natural medicines, herbs, barks and many plants that are still used today by natural healers throughout Central America.

Ancient ruins, burial sites and altars lurk below the shadows, hidden by time, as you trek through areas few have ever seen. Explore the Blue Hole River as it surges from below a 250ft cliff and take the opportunity for a refreshing dip in its aqua blue waters. Daily departures year round, seasonal rain does not effect these jungle tours.

NIGHT WALK - Take a guided jungle tour at night and discover an entirely different jungle. Immerse yourself in the sounds and smells of a jungle night and find night insects and small mammals. Flash/head lamps provided.
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Birding


Bird Watching
Belize is a prime bird watching destination and the Cayo District is very rich in bird life. The varying habitat is home to a broad range of birds, many of which are unique to the area. Many resorts in the area offer guided early morning walks and tours can be arranged with local guides.

Even the uninitiated will marvel at the colourful array of tropical birds. Darting hummingbirds, Green Jay, Blue-Crowned Mot-Mot, Hepatic Tanager, Keel-Billed Toucan and Crested Guan are just a few of the flamboyant species you may encounter in the area.
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Belize Zoo


Belize Zoo
The Belize Zoo is located approximately 30 miles west of Belize City on the Western Highway. The zoo is home to over 100 species of native Belizean animals and birds including the tapir, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, jaguars, ocelots, margays, scarlet macaws, toucans, and many, many others.

You will have the opportunity to see these unique creatures in their natural habitat. The tour of the zoo requires at least 1-2 hours.
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