A Three Day Adventure into the Mayan Ceremonial Caves and Ruins of Western Belize
The Cayo Caves & Temples Extension travels inland to explore the Che Chem Ha Pottery Caves and the Mayan Ruins of Xunantunich
Situated in the Belizean town of San Ignacio in the Cayo District
- Stay two nights at Cahal Pech Village Resort - a picturesque lodge with a grand vista overlooking the town of San Ignacio and rolling hills of Western Belize.
- Hike into the jungle to the entrance of Che Chem Ha cave, then strap on helmets and headlamps for a subterannean adventure with an authentic Mayan guide.
- Visit the Mayan Ruins of Xunantunich and climb to the top of 'El Castillo' - still the second tallest building in Belize.
This Extension works wonderfully before or after any of our Expedition trips, or can be booked as a stand-alone itinerary. Call us directly to help you coordinate the dates.
Meals: Dinner is included on this night
Arrive at the Belize International Airport, where you are met by an Island Expeditions' representative and transferred to the town of San Ignacio. Before arriving at our hotel we explore the famous San Ignacio market, and stroll the pedestrian-only Burns Avenue. We follow a meandering road up to Cahal Pech Village Resort - a picturesque lodge with a grand vista overlooking the town of San Ignacio and the rolling hills of Western Belize. This is an ideal starting point for the adventure that awaits.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
A full day of adventure and exploration. Our first mission is to explore the underground geology and archaeology of the Che Chem Ha cave system. We hike through the rainforest and up into a multi-chambered series of caves rich with geological formations, ancient ceremonial altars, Mayan artifacts and relics. After an hour and a half in the cave, we continue to a spectacular setting overlooking the Macal River Valley where lunch is served.
The next adventure is the ancient Mayan ruins of Xunantunich. We cross the Mopan River on a hand-cranked ferry to ruins which are situated on the banks of the river. Here, we travel back through centuries to the ancient world of kings, temples, plazas and ball courts of this Maya city.
In the evening, choose to stroll into San Ignacio town, meet the local people and enjoy dinner on your own.
We wake up to a cup of coffee, grab our binoculars, and make a short walk to the Maya Ruins of Cahal Pech, a stone's throw from the lodge. Birdlife and wildlife abound, mornings are the most active at this time of day, and we spend an hour touring the ruins and looking for wildlife.
If you are flying home on Day 3, the transfer time from San Ignacio to the Belize International Airport is about 2 hours and your departure from San Ignacio can be coordinated to connect with your international flight.
Note: If you are adding this extension onto an existing Island Expeditions trip, transport to one of the rendezvous points in Belize City or Dangriga needs to be arranged in advance with our office. If you arrive late or depart early, we will make arrangements to fit the activities in this itinerary.
A three day Caving, hiking and Archeological adventure in the rainforests of western Belize.
Belize is home to the largest tracts of unspoiled rainforests remaining in Central America. Until only recently, Belize was a forgotten corner of the Caribbean. With no plantation history and few if any economic bonanzas there were minimal incentives for settlement and development over the last 200 years. This legacy of neglect has resulted in a modern day treasure trove of virgin forests laced with mountain clear rivers. The region is characterized by moderate to heavy rainfall during the wet season (June through November) and drier, sunnier weather from December through May. The Bocawina Reserve where our trip takes place has five waterfalls within hiking distance of our lodge. The population is primarily Maya. Scattered small villages border the green hills rising into the highest peaks of the Maya Mountains. Linking the communities there is one main road called the Southern Highway. Most of the road has been paved in the last few years, bringing change to the area in the form of increased trade, electricity to villages and more small scale tourism development.
Belize Broadleaf Tropical Rainforests
The year-round growing season, plentiful precipitation and millennia of evolution has yielded this area with a tremendous biological diversity. This rich nutrient cycle supports a diverse range of plant life, where huge buttressed Ceiba trees to the smallest of fungi thrive. High above the forest floor is the enchanting world of the broad-leafed canopy. The canopy may tower 100 ft or more, with massive hardwoods like Santa Maria, Mahogany and Sapodilla trees forming a broad canopy, and in turn supporting many species of Epiphytes (air plants). This habitat provides for a unique community of wildlife, with many species spending most of their life inhabiting the roof of the rainforest.
Large tropical birds are frequently sighted. We see toucans with their oversized bills flying from one fruiting tree to the next. High overhead loud squawking alerts us to the presence of scarlet macaw. Once in view, the size of the bird and the splendor of their red and blue plumage is unmistakable. There is also a multitude of falcons, hawks, and vultures scavenging and hunting from the sun bright upper canopy down to the mottled light of the forest floor. Also found in the southern Belizean rainforest are a number of bizarre mammals. The largest of these is Belize’s national animal, the Baird's tapir - locally known as the mountain cow. It has a large hippopotamus- like body and a long snout, much like the fabled aardvark. The tapir, along with the white-lipped and collared peccary and the jaguar, are some of the larger mammals that inhabit the river valleys and forests where we travel.