Mayan - Belize Tour

Mayan - Belize Tour

2,950.00

DATES: July 12th, 2016 - July 23rd, 2016
FORMAT: 12 Days 11 nights
WHERE: Tour starts in Punta Gorda, Belize, and finishes in Belize City, Belize. See individual day descriptions for exact locations and sites.
PRICE: $2,950 (Twin share) excluding airfares.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This tour is a spiritual exploration of the ancient Mayan worlds in Belize and Guatemala.

Lets explore this amazing outer world experience all while we use the wisdom of the ancient Mayan world to better help understand our own psyche.

The trip shall take us thru many aspects of the Mayan cosmology where we will get the chance to witness the amazing structures they built, and connect with their temples. We will crawl, walk and swim in the same cenotes, rivers and caves where they held spiritual ceremonies. We will see and explore the depths of the short, long and sacred calendars of the Mayas. You can climb to the top of some of their towering temples high above the canopy and view the valleys across to the neighboring cities. There will be plenty of time to learn about the ancient hieroglyphs, and do your best to read the 1000+ year old stelae. We will talk about the Vox Populi the other ancient codices that share stories about their creation myths.

 
 
Mustafa, our guide, was exceptionally knowledgeable on Egyptian history. He had a great sense of humor and made sure we were always comfortable. He took us to out of the way places for amazing food and we went to temples that are not on the usual tourist list. AN experience of a lifetime!”
— Karen, USA
 

WHAT TO EXPECT

 

Day 0

Monday July 11th 2016:

Guests arrive in Punta Gorda, Belize.

  • A representative of our local tour associates will meet guests arriving in Punta Gorda airport today and take you to the Big Falls Lodge. This lodge is the starting point for the tour on Day 1.
  • Overnight in Big Falls Lodge. (This night’s hotel costs is not part of tour package).

Day 1

Tuesday July 12th 2016:

Nim Li Punit and the Spice Farm.

  • We start the tour by doing our opening ceremony and introduction to the Mayan Culture at the ancient ruins of Nim Li Punit.
  • This site is also known as Big Hat. The name refers to the elaborate head-dress of one of the kings carved on one of the stelae here.
  • We will have the whole morning to explore this interesting site that includes 3 major plazas as well as quite a few temples and city buildings. These ruins mainly date between the 5th and 9th centuries.
  • Afterwards we will head to the Belize Spice Farm where we will get the chance to see how many exotic spices such as: vanilla, cardamon, all-spice coffee, and cinnamon as well as many unusual trees such as: teak, mahogany, rosewood and sandalwood.
  • We will have a Belizeanstyle lunch at the spice farm's restaurant.
  • The afternoon will be spent at Big Falls lodge where you can laze away the afternoon floating on a inner tube on the lazy river.
  • After dinner we will have a fire ceremony and talk about the coming tour.
  • Night at Big Falls Lodge, near Punta Gorda.

Day 2

Wednesday July 13th 2016:

Lubaantun, Ixacoca chocolate factory and a lot more.

  • Today we explore the Mayan ruins of Lubaantun, this is an ancient city that flourished in the 700's. It has very unusual architecture for the area where the buildings have been built using large black rock bricks instead of the limestone that is commonly used at other sites in the area.
  • Then onto the Ixcacoa Chocolate factory is owned by a lovely Mayan couple who are passionate about cocoa and chocolate.
  • Ixcacoa means the Queen of Cacao, Goddess of Fertility and Happiness in the Maya Ke`kchi Dialect. Juan at Ixcacoa will take you through a journey of chocolate production using stone tools that have been passed down from generation to generation. Here you will make your own chocolate using the same methods that the ancient Mayans did.
  • After our chocolate exploration we will have lunch at their restaurant.
  • Then we will drive to Punta Gorda and spend a few hours with a Garifuna Medicine woman who will share some of her wisdom about the local plant medicines in the area that has been passed down thru many generations.
  • Dinner tonight will be at Asha's Cultural kitchen where we will enjoy the local dishes as well as learn how to drum and dance with the local Garifuna drumming and dance school.
  • Night at Big Falls Lodge, near Punta Gorda.

Day 3

Thursday July 14th 2016:

Uxbenka and Rio Blanco waterfalls.

  • Today we explore the Mayan ruins of Uxbenka. The name of this city translates as "Ancient Place" and is one of the oldest Mayan ruins in this part of Belize.
  • Our exploration of Uxbenka starts with a walk thru the jungle to a group of buildings still buried deep in jungle over growth. Here we will get the opportunity to see how the jungle reclaims its environs and how challenging it truly is for the early explorers to have found some of these mysterious and buried cities.
  • Uxbenka is a rarely touristed site and one we will probably have to ourselves. It is only a small site, but very interesting with open tombs and a natural beauty that has been unspoiled by archaeological excavation and renovation.
  • After our jungle exploration we will head to the Rio Blanco waterfalls and swimming pool where we can enjoy a picnic lunch and have fun playing in the crystal clear mountain waters and discover the small cave hidden behind the waterfall itself.
  • Night at Big Falls Lodge, near Punta Gorda.

Day 4

Friday July 15th 2016:

Zip lining at Bocawina and transit to Orange walk.

  • Today we don't explore any Mayan ruins as we are mainly transiting to Northern Belize.
  • But on the way we will have the chance to go on Belize's longest set of zip lines inside the Mayflower Bocawina Nature reserve. This course of zip lines totals some 2.5 miles with 8 different runs all set in the beauty of the rain forest canopy.
  • as well as seeing all the beauty of the Hummingbird highway and everything it has to offer us as we head to Orange Walk. 
  • Night at Hotel De La Fuente, Orange Walk.

Day 5

Saturday July 16th 2016:

Boat trip to Lamanai archeological site.

  • This morning we have an amazing boat trip along the what is now known as 'The New River', this river leads us thru the raw jungle areas of Orange Walk to a huge spring fed lake which is where the ancient Mayan City of Lamanai is located.
  • Lamanai is one of the few Mayan ruins where the original name is still know, originally it was called Lama'anayin or Lam'an'ain which transaltes as 'submerged crocodile'.
  • This site is dates back as early as 1200BC and was still used by the Mayans well into the 16th century AD which makes it one of the longest occupied cities we will see on this tour. Here are some great examples of the evolution of time within the Mayan worlds as they rebuilt temples one on top of another across the eons.
  • We will get to see the great Jaguar Temple with cut rock Jaguars and a 13 foot mask of a Mayan king. As well as the High Temple and another set of 15 foot high masks where the headdresses are adorned with crocodile heads.
  • After a lunch break we will drive to San Ignacio and settle into our rooms.
  • Tonight after dinner we will have a slideshow presentation by a couple of Mayan cave experts which will share some information about the ancient Mayan's beliefs about the underworld "Xibalba". Tomorrow these guides will guide us thru two of Belize's most amazing cave systems.
  • Night at Black Rock lodge, San Ignacio. 

Day 6

Sunday July 17th 2016:

Handprint Cave and ATM cave (Actun Tunichil Muknal).

  • Today, under the guidance of our caving experts we will venture into the Mayan ceremonial underworld.
  • The ancient Mayans used a lot of caves and cenotes as physical representations of the entrance to their spiritual underworld where they could have a closer connection to their gods. It was in these sorts of places where the ancients would place offerings of foods, ceramics and even blood offerings for the gods.
  • In the first cave we will visit today, known as Handprint Cave, we will see ancient petroglyphs (rock art) as well as ancient hand paintings and carbon art work.
  • There is a crawl into this cave so get prepared to be on hands and knees and get dirty as we crawl thru gaps and openings in order to enter the ceremonial chambers within the mountain. In this chamber we will be able to spend time and do our own connecting with the spirit realms.
  • Then we head to ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal). This cave has a small river entrance as well as wading areas deeper in, so swimming gear, wet water shoes and socks are required. We will be supplied with headlamps and have a strong team of guides with us.
  • The walk, wade, swim takes us about 1 mile along the passages before we climb up to some ceremonial chambers. These ancient chambers contain many ceramic pots used for water, offerings and sacrifices, many of which are crystallized to the rocky foundation of the cave, some even have the rare monkey man embossing on the sides. Many have kill holes where the spirits have been allowed to escape after the ceremony, many are broken and some are hole. In some parts of these chambers we have to follow narrow pathways as each side of us is littered with ancient ceramic shards.
  • The final chamber contains the crystallized remains of a young boy, originally thought to be a girl which led to the nickname of this cave being the Cave of the Crystal Maiden. The bones have have fully crystallized across time giving the skeleton a sparkling, crystallized appearance. 
  • The feeling in this place is very special and its easy to see why National Geographic rates this as #1 in its top ten caves in the world.  
  • Night at Black Rock lodge, San Ignacio. 

Day 7

Monday July 18th 2016:

Xunantunich and Barton Creek cave canoe trip.

  • This morning we start with a visit to the ancient Mayan city of Xunantunich. This initially involves crossing the Mopan River on a very cute hand cranked ferry. Then we drive the short distance to the site.
  • Xunantunich is another site that is still under excavation so we get plenty of chances to see the archaeological before and after. The city's name is comparatively modern (late 1800's) which translates from Mayan as 'Stone Woman'. The story goes that there was a ghost of a woman that used to haunt this hilly area and the original explorers found the ancient city by following her thru the forest.
  • Xunantunich has an amazing temple in the very axis of the city called 'El Castillo' which is the second tallest structure in Belize (Caracol has the tallest). This building has incredible friezes on the uppermost areas which help give us a great idea of the amazing beauty when the temples we are seeing where all covered with such intricate and elegant decorations.
  • In the afternoon we will have another caving exploration, this time from within canoes. Barton Creek Cave is a river cave complex, it is one of the longest subterranean river caves in Belize. After donning life-jackets, hard hats and headlamps we will paddle along the first mile or so of the cave system getting to see ceremonial ledges, ancient pottery remains, cave modifications, fire hearths and more. The archaeologists have discovered about 28 ancient skeletons in this system. 
  • Night at Black Rock lodge, San Ignacio. 

Day 8

Tuesday July 19th 2016:

Caracoal and Rio Frio pools.

  • Today involves an early start with a reasonably long bus drive to get to the ancient ruins of Caracol.
  • Caracol is its Spanish name which means 'Snail or Shell', its original name is something like 'Uxwitza' which translates to "Three Hills Water. This may refer to the ancient Mayan beliefs of the Three Stones of Creation which is still believed in many modern Mayan households.
  • The Ancient city of Caracol was one of the largest in the Mayan world, covering some 200 square kilometers and housing between 120,000 and 180,000 during its peak. This is twice the population of ancient Tikal, and twice size and populace of modern day Belize City.
  • Caracol has huge number of structures, 53 carved monuments, 23 alters, 25 stelae, more than 250 burials, and 200 caches, so plenty of spaces for us to explore, enjoy and connect with.
  • It also contains "Caana", 'The Sky Palace' which at 145 feet high is the highest Mayan temple in Belize and still one of the largest structures in modern Belize.
  • Caracol is a sheer joy to be in and explore and we will have most of the day here to learn as much as possible and meditate and connect to the ancient cosmology of the Mayans.
  • Later in the afternoon, depending on time (and weather) we will have a refreshing dip in the nearby Rio On pools.
  • Set in the wide open expanse of pine forests, the Rio On pools are stunning natural swimming holes where the clear water cascades over huge granite boulders. There is even a beautiful mini waterfall with a hidden grotto behind it.
  • Night at Black Rock lodge, San Ignacio. 

Day 9

Wednesday July 20th 2016:

Actun Chapat cave.

  • Today we have a very special treat. We get the chance to have an entire cave all to our selves. Actun Chapat is a cave situated on private property and the owner and his local guides will take us on an incredible adventure deep into the ancient Mayan underworld.
  • To get to this series of caves requires a rather bumpy ride in some 4-wheel drives taking us far into the forest, from there we will have about a 30 minute hike to get to the first of the caves which is called Actun Son of Chapat,this cave is suspected to be connected to Actun Chapat but the passages are still unexplored.
  • It is a small cave enclosure that has many cave paintings, pottery shards and carvings of which its face is very much like a skull and if the land was cleared it would be seen as such from the ancient city on the other side of the valley.
  • It is suspected that this cave and the larger one were major ceremonial caves used by the spiritual people from the ancient cities close-by.
  • After exploring this cave we will continue walking around the hill line to reach the entrance of Actun Chapat itself.
  • This cave is an extensive multi chambered cave system with a still unknown length. We will have the chance to explore the first mile or so of the cave and visit many of the ledges and burial sites on the way. Basically this is a relatively little known cave, and just about everywhere you look there are ceramic shards and bone fragments littering the ground.
  • Some of the chambers we will explore have amazing acoustics where we can hold a ceremony for ourselves and feel the energy of the ancient Mayan underworld just as they did thousands of years ago. The sheer energy of this place is amazing and one of the greatest cave experiences I have ever had in my life. The cave itself is geologically dynamic which means it's still living and the energy of it reflects this life.
  • We will eat lunch inside the cave itself at one of the chambers where a sinkhole has broken thru and a stunning stream of daylight will light up our underworld dining room. 
  • Night at Black Rock lodge, San Ignacio. 

Day 10

Thursday July 21st 2016:

Yaxha and Topoxte, Guatemala.

  • Today we have a reasonably early start, leave Belize and head west into Guatemala, so have your passports handy. The drive from San Ignacio to the border is quite short, only about 30 minutes, there we will have to dismount the bus and walk across the frontier in order to catch our new bus on the Guatemalan side and meet our Guatemalan guide. The border crossing is respectively simple and just requires a bit of patience for the bureaucratic activities on both sides to happen.
  • From the border we have about a one hour drive to get to the Mayan Island ruins of Topoxte.
  • This is a very unique place, firstly because its an island most of the year, and secondly because there are a large number of ruins here that appear to have been made to a miniature scale as if for dwarfs. In Mayan culture dwarfs where treated as mystical and/or magical, they were worship and feared at the same time. It is believed that the temples on the island of Topoxte were built to house and give the mystical dwarf people a place of their own.
  • This island also had a huge number of burial sites so could have possibly been used as a cemetery as well as a place for mystical beings.
  • We will then take a boat trip across the lake to Yaxha, please don't try and swim these waters as we are deep in the middle of the jungle and crocodiles are present in the lake. They won't bother us in the boats but may be tempted by animals making splashing sounds in the water.
  • Here we can explore Yaxha, this is the third largest set of Mayan ruins in Guatemala. This is a very pretty site, with plenty of pyramids, temples, plazas, ball-courts, housing-administrative structures as well as about 13 ceremonial alters and 40 stelae.
  • After our time at Yaxha, we will have lunch and then drive to Tikal.
  • Night at Tikal Jungle lodge, Guatemala. 

Day 11

Friday July 22nd 2016:

Full day at Tikal, Guatemala.

  • Today we have a full day at the ancient Mayan city of Tikal.
  • This site is huge, yes it gets over 1000 tourists per day but the excavated areas are so large it doesn't feel very busy. Especially when we will explore the leaser known parts of the city.
  • We will start the day by looking at some of the outer groups of ruins, basically today is a slow and steady exploration of the entire site allowing plenty of time to stop where we want to and discuss as much about Mayan cosmology as required. And then towards lunch time we will be in the main plaza areas where the local people tend to sit and have family get togethers and enjoy life in a relaxed party like atmosphere, truly adding to the energy of the plaza. 
  • We will have a local guide with us as well, so whether the questions are about Mayan archaeology or our own spiritual journeys in general, today is the perfect day to tie together many of the questions that are in our minds and fully explore our internal and external worlds.
  • To help on this journey there are hundreds of ancient buildings, plazas, stelae, monuments, alters as well as a huge array of jungle flora and fauna.
  • Tikal is definitely one of the man made wonders of the ancient world and still has an incredibly rich energy.
  • Night at Tikal Jungle lodge, Guatemala. 

Day 12

Saturday July 23rd 2016:

Closing ceremony at Tikal, back to Belize.

  • Today we will head back into one of the quiet out of the way areas in Tikal, and here we will hold a closing ceremony where we can thank the spirits of the ancient Mayan worlds, send them our blessings and make offerings in our own style.
  • Then we head back towards the frontier and make the border crossing into Belize. Once thru customs we will continue our journey and head back to Belize City. (This night’s hotel costs are not part of tour package).