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Belize: Kayaking and Jungle Adventure

Alternate Itinerary
December 18 - 27, 2017 (10 Days)

Day 1 — Belize City/Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary

Arrive in Belize City and transfer to Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, a lush habitat of lagoons, creeks, and tropical forest. Gather for an orientation and welcome dinner this evening.
Bird’s Eye View Lodge (D)

Day 2 — Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary/Half Moon Caye

Venture out by boat to explore the lagoons of Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary in the early morning. The rich vegetation that lines these waterways teems with wildlife and tropical birds, and we can expect to see species such as kingfishers, ospreys, snail kites, and Jabiru storks. Return to the lodge for breakfast before departing by boat for Lighthouse Reef Atoll, located at the furthest edge of Belize’s Barrier Reef. Settle into our comfortable, safari-style beach camp at Half Moon Caye, a pristine nature reserve of littoral forest and white-sand beaches. Numerous bird species nest here, including a colony of rare red-footed boobies. In the afternoon, get comfortable with your paddle and your fins as we kayak and snorkel in the sheltered waters around Half Moon Caye.
Camping on Lighthouse Reef (B,L,D)

Days 3 & 4 — Half Moon Caye

Spend two days at Lighthouse Reef, discovering a fascinating coastal ecosystem and Belize's world-renowned coral reefs. On a variety of sea kayaking excursions, glide past white-sand beaches and thick mangroves. Take to the sea in specially outfitted sailing kayaks, and snorkel along shallow reefs inside the lagoon where parrotfish, angelfish, and grouper hide amid fantastic coral formations. Our snorkeling outings take us to the edges of drop-offs and walls where we may see pelagic species such as dolphins, tarpons, sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, and more. In the evenings, relax back at camp and enjoy dinners of fresh seafood and Belizean specialties. (2-6 miles paddling daily, 2-6 hours)
Camping on Lighthouse Reef (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Blue Hole/Half Moon Caye

This morning, experience the Great Blue Hole, made famous by Jacques Cousteau who first explored it in the early 1970’s. Located within Lighthouse Atoll, this vast, circular sinkhole measures nearly 1000 feet across. Don your mask and fins and snorkel the outer perimeter, on the lookout for harmless nurse and reef sharks. Tonight, gather at our camp for a traditional Garifuna music and dance performance, and learn about the unique culture and origins of the Garifuna people. (3-4 miles paddling, 2-3 hours)
Camping on Lighthouse Reef (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Half Moon Caye/Sibun River Valley

Spend a final morning immersed in the serene beauty of Belize's coral atolls. If you wish, rise early for a sunrise yoga session or fishing expedition. Or go snorkeling at your favorite coral patch. This afternoon, return to the mainland by boat and travel into the Maya Mountains of southern Belize. Our jungle lodge is located on the Sibun River within the Sibun National Forest Reserve.
Sleeping Giant Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Actun Tunichil Muknal

Enjoy waking up in the lodge’s stunning surroundings—there are more than 100,000 acres of rainforest wilderness on our doorstep. Then set out for an adventure at Actun Tunichil Muknal, an extraordinary cave system in Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve. Equipped with headlamps and helmets, swim into the cave’s mouth and follow the subterranean waterway into a Maya underworld of cathedral-like caverns. Climb up into ceremonial chambers that bristle with glittering stalactites and stalagmites, and examine artifacts from Mayan rituals. (3-5 miles hiking, 4-5 hours)
Sleeping Giant Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Sibun River Valley

Hop into specially designed inflatable kayaks and set off on a guided excursion on the Sibun River. As we paddle through jungle, spot colorful birds, wildlife, and bright tropical flowers along the river’s edge. Pass dramatic geological formations, and navigate class I and class II rapids. Later, pay a visit to a cacao plantation and end the day with a hike to a hilltop with a sweeping vista of the Sibun River Valley. (3-4 miles paddling, 2-3 hours; 2-3 miles hiking, 1-2 hours)
Sleeping Giant Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Tikal National Park

Travel into Guatemala to explore the legendary Maya city of Tikal, a World Heritage site. Marvel at the magnitude of this sprawling city built on the backs of Maya laborers, and delve into this fascinating and enigmatic ancient culture. Explore some of the more than 3,000 spectacular stone structures, from pyramids and plazas to precipitous temples that pierce the jungle canopy. Return to Belize in the late afternoon and settle into our lodge, then enjoy a celebratory farewell dinner with the group. (4-6 miles hiking, 4-5 hours; 6 hours driving roundtrip)
Sleeping Giant Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Belize City/U.S.

Begin the day at the Belize Zoo, getting better acquainted with endemic wildlife including jaguars, tapirs, and toucans, and participate in a unique Jaguar Rehabilitation project. Later, transfer to the airport for your return flight home.
(B)