At the present time EcoQuest Travel does not have a trip to Belize scheduled. The following itinerary is an example of trips we have conducted in the past and is similar to trips we intend to offer in the future. Please keep in mind that Belize is a small, but diverse country and EcoQuest Travel offers many different itineraries to Belize – the trip listed below is just one example. If you are interested in Belize as a destination please contact us for further information.

WILD BELIZE

Reefs, Ruins and Rainforests

12-DAY ITINERARY

Day 1: Sunday, December 12: Raleigh to our US Gateway City and on to Belize

We have an early morning flight from Raleigh to our US gateway city – likely Miami, Dallas or Houston. Please arrive at the Raleigh/Durham International Airport no later than two hours prior to our scheduled departure time. Our flight to Belize City should depart in the late morning and arrive in Belize before noon. After clearing immigration and customs we will have lunch before departing for Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary and Birdseye View Lodge, our accommodations for the next two nights. If time permits, in the late afternoon, we will begin our exploration of Belize by looking for wildlife in and around the Sanctuary. (L,D)

Day 2: Monday, December 13: Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary

The day will begin early as we begin our boat trip in search of the many species of water birds that make this sanctuary famous. Comprised mainly of swamps, lagoons and waterways, Crooked Tree is home to giant Jabiru storks, bare-throated tiger herons, boat-billed herons, muscovy and black-bellied whistling-ducks, black-collared hawks, five species of kingfisher and many other birds. We will also look for Morelet’s crocodiles, Central American river turtles, iguanas and with luck monkeys and coatimundi. We will once again overnight at Birdseye View Lodge. This lodge is situated on the banks of Crooked Tree’s main lagoon and has simple, but comfortable accommodations and a good restaurant for our meals. (B,L,D)

Day 3: Tuesday, December 14: Lamanai Archeological Site and on to La Milpa

After an early breakfast we will drive to Orange Walk Town for our boat trip up the New River to the Mayan ruins of Lamanai. The boat trip itself is a spectacular way to view wildlife as we will slip past countless birds, iguanas, monkeys and other wildlife. As the river widens into the New River Lagoon we should be able to see the first of several stone temples rising through the trees. Lamanai has some fantastic ancient ruins none more impressive than the Temple of the Masks and its huge carved head of the sun god. This special place is sure to leave indelible memories. After spending the majority of the day at Lamanai we will transfer to the heart of the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area and La Milpa Field Station. The Rio Bravo area encompasses 406 square miles of mostly tropical rainforest and is one of the most remote areas in Belize. It is a place of astonishing biodiversity with over 200 species of trees, 392 species of birds and 70 species of mammals, including all five cat species that are found in Belize. In fact, the Rio Bravo has the highest concentrations of jaguar in Central America – though we still will need a lot of luck to see one! We will spend the next two days looking for wildlife in the vast forests and will overnight each night at La Milpa Field Station. (B,L,D)

Days 4 & 5: Wednesday and Thursday, December 15 & 16: La Milpa Field Station

Following the rhythms of nature we will be up at dawn each day to explore the many trails through the forest. We hope to see both spider and black howler monkeys, agoutis, coatimundi, peccary and countless species of birds. We will also look for the forest’s smaller denizens like red-eyed treefrogs, tarantulas, leafcutter ants, blue morpho butterflies and vine snakes. After a full morning of exploring we will have lunch and some down time during the heat of the day – there are plenty of hammocks available! In the late afternoon/early evening we will once again be out exploring the forest. We are also likely to have a couple of night hikes as well to look for reptiles, amphibians, arthropods and nocturnal birds and mammals. The meals at the Field Station are excellent and the comfortable thatched cabanas come complete with private bathrooms, hot water, mosquito nets, fresh linens and a veranda. As an added bonus the Station is home to many research projects and if any scientists are in resident we will ask them to talk to us about their research. (B,L,D)

Day 6: Friday, December 17: Travel from La Milpa from the Belize Zoo

After breakfast we will travel for just over three hours from La Milpa south to the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center. The Belize Zoo, although small, maintains a very well cared for collection of species native to Belize. What makes the zoo one of the worlds best is the spacious natural habitat enclosures and the fact that most of their animals have been rescued as orphans or found injured. Some of these animals, by necessity, become permanent residents at the zoo, but when possible animals are cared for and released back into the wild. The zoo also has made education a priority and many Belizeans owe their appreciation of their natural heritage to the zoo’s efforts. We will have most of the afternoon to explore the zoo before settling into our accommodations at the Zoo’s Tropical Education Center. The Center maintains comfortable dorms and cabanas where we will have our meals and sleep. (B,L,D)

Day 7: Saturday, December 18: Community Baboon Sanctuary & Night at the Zoo

We will depart early today to visit the Community Baboon Sanctuary. No true baboons live in Belize, but Belizeans use this name to describe this sanctuary’s most famous inhabitant the black howler monkey. These large endangered primates are found only in Belize, Northern Guatemala and Southern Mexico. They are called howler monkeys because of the male’s spectacular territorial roaring which can be heard for miles. This sanctuary is also home to other mammals, including Baird’s tapir, more than 250 species of birds, and numerous reptiles and amphibians. This Sanctuary is an excellent example of a community-run, grassroots conservation operation and we will learn about this from some of the local residents who benefit from it. After a full morning in the sanctuary we will return to the Tropical Education Center and have some free time in the afternoon. After dinner we will have a nocturnal tour of the zoo. Experiencing the zoo at night will be very special and many of the animals will be behaving quite differently than they do during the day. After our tour we will return once again to the TEC for overnight. (B,L,D)

Day 8: Sunday, December 19: Cave Tubing Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve and on to Dangriga and South Water Caye

Today we will depart early to experience a uniquely Belizean activity – cave tubing. We
will be given an inflated tube and will float down the Cave Branch River through a series
of five caves. Between each cave we will float in the warmth of the outside air beneath the rainforest canopy. Within each cave we will drift through the cool waters past stalactites, stalagmites, crystalline formations, Mayan paintings and artifacts from ancient Mayan rituals. If we are lucky we could also spy schools of blind cave fish that are totally adapted to life in this completely dark world. Our river tubing trip through the caves should last about two hours and when we have finished we will drive south along the Coastal Highway to Dangriga for lunch. After lunch we will head to the boat docks where our launch will pick us up for our 12-mile boat trip to South Water Caye (pronounced key) and Belize’s barrier reef. South Water Caye is a fairly small island (only 15 acres) with a handful of permanent residents all employed by one of the island’s three resorts. We will be staying in the dorms and cottages at the International Zoological Expeditions Field Station. We will arrive in the afternoon and, time permitting, we will have our first snorkel in the lagoon among the extensive coral reef formations. The warm crystal clear waters and tropical breezes will be a welcome change of pace after trekking through the jungle. The dorms and cottages are spacious and comfortable and the dining room serves excellent food. The Field Station will be our home for the next three days as we explore the underwater wonders of Belize’s barrier reef and coral atolls. (B,L,D)

Day 9: Monday, December 20: South Water Caye

Belize’s barrier reef is the second longest reef in the world stretching 155 miles along the entire length of the country. This reef system supports an incredible abundance of marine life and we will spend three days snorkeling above the corals and through schools of multihued fish. Angelfish, butterflyfish, tangs, grunts, damselfish, grouper, and many species of parrotfish are common on the reef. Moray eels, stingrays, spotted eagle rays, spiny lobster and reef squid can also be found. We will snorkel at least twice a day at various sites on the reef. After a full day in the water we will have a great dinner and spend another tranquil night at the Field Station underneath a blanket of stars being lulled to sleep by the trade winds rustling the palms and ocean waves lapping the shore. (B,L,D)

Day 10: Tuesday, December 21: South Water Caye and Glover’s Reef Atoll

Today we will boat east beyond the barrier reef to Glover’s Reef, the southernmost of Belize’s three atolls. Glover’s Reef is a large atoll extending 16 miles north-south and 7 miles east-west. Its position atop a submerged mountain ridge at the edge of the continental shelf makes it home to many pelagic species as well as reef species. This means if we are lucky we could see dolphins, large groupers, sharks, spotted eagle rays and even manta rays or whale sharks while snorkeling Inside the outer reef walls the shallow central lagoon is full of coral patch reefs teaming with fish and marine invertebrates. After a full day of snorkeling we will return to South Water Caye and the Field Station for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Day 11: Wednesday, December 22: South Water Caye and Man-O’-War Caye

We will have another morning to snorkel the waters surrounding South Water Caye. After lunch we will travel to nearby Man-O’-War Caye to observe the nesting magnificent frigatebirds and brown boobies. We should also have another chance to snorkel this afternoon before having our final dinner in Belize. After dinner and one more tropical sunset, we will spend some time packing in preparation for tomorrow’s journey home. (B,L,D)

Day 12: Thursday, December 23: Depart South Water Caye for Dangriga and Travel Back to Belize City and our Departure for the US

After breakfast we will travel from South Water Caye back to Dangriga where we will be picked up and transferred to Belize City and the airport for our flight back to the US and home. We fly from Belize City back to our US gateway city and after clearing US immigration and customs we will transfer to our final flight back to Raleigh. (B)

* Please note that EcoQuest Travel will make every effort to adhere to this itinerary, but dates, times, activities and prices are subject to change depending on scheduling and availability.