Arrive at Belize International Airport where you will transfer within the airport to your connecting domestic flight to Punta Gorda (flights must arrive by mid-afternoon to connect locally). On arrival in Punta Gorda you will be met by a representative from the Lodge at Big Falls who will transfer you a short distance to the lodge. Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at the Lodge. Choose from a variety of on-site activities including river tubing, mountain biking, table tennis, badminton or relax by the swimming pool with a drink (on site activities are included and pending your arrival time). Dinner and overnight at the Lodge.
Living Maya Experience
Rise early this morning for a guided bird walk. The Lodge is set within a beautiful forest and gardens filled with flowering fruit trees, orchids and a variety of flora. The setting is ideal for birding and your local birding guide will bring the early-morning forest to life – 300 bird species have been spotted on the property. Return to the lodge for breakfast.
Along with your guide, visit the Cal family for a very authentic, warm and welcoming cultural interaction – “The Living Maya Experience.” The family has close ties to the lodge and the relationship has been fostered over many decades. Unlike in other Central American countries, most of the Maya of Belize speak English to the cultural interactions are easy and fluid. Approximately 11% of the Belizean population is Maya and most of these communities can be found in Southern Belize in the Toldedo District. Today, your local guide will introduce you to the Cal family where you will enjoy a local lunch and learn about their way of life during a very interactive visit.
The Living Maya Experience offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into a quickly vanishing world in which the local Kek’chi Maya depended upon the forest and found everything in it to satisfy their needs from food to furniture to medicine. The Cals showcase a Mayan home – their home – as it would have been fifty years ago and how they continue to live today. Enjoy a healthy, homemade lunch with the Cal family before continuing to Blue Creek for an active adventure.
Take to the skies on a zipline adventure in nearby Blue Creek. Located inside a protected rain forest area and part of an active research station, Blue Creek is home to one of the most pristine canopy courses in Central America. Because of ecological sensitivity, only 35 guests per day are allowed on the zipline. The tour includes 9 zip lines in the trees and over 15 platforms high above the pristine rain forest. Few other zip lines give you the chance to truly appreciate the jungle canopy while respecting the rain forest ecosystem – keep your eye out for toucans!
Blue Creek Cave & Chocolate Making
Today is an action-packed day filled with adventure! Rise early and transfer to the Blue Creek Cave where your guide will take you into the “underworld” of the Blue Creek Cave system. Hike the thirty minute trail along the river bank to the cave entrance. Then swim upstream to the point where the river cascades into a deep pool from a higher cavern. Enjoy the limestone formations along the way.
After the adrenaline-pumping zipline adventure, you’ll have earned your homemade lunch with a chocolate theme! Ixcacao Chocolate Factory is the only Maya chocolatier in Belize and your visit includes lunch, a tour of the cacao grove and demonstration of the basic chocolate making process. This is an interactive experience, so be ready to roll your sleeves up and get chocolatey!
Return to the Lodge for dinner and overnight.
Lubaantun Ruins and Rio Blanco National Park
Rise early and after breakfast at the lodge depart with your guide to the under-visited Maya site of Lubaantun. This Late Classic site is the largest Maya site in Southern Belize and is known for its unique stonework lacking in mortar – the huge limestone rocks are apparently set on top of each other. The 11 structures, five plazas and multiple ball courts are generally well intact and easy to explore. The site is also the purported location of the discovery of the controversial “Crystal Skull” in 1926. We aim to arrive early to take advantage of the excellent onsite birding and cooler temperatures.
After exploring Lubaantun, we continue by road to the Rio Blanco National Park for a picnic lunch. This small community-managed national park includes a beautiful two-mile-long forest trail. After lunch and a hike, cool off by jumping from the rock walls into the deep, turquoise pool below the waterfall. Return to the lodge for sundowners and dinner.
Today enjoy breakfast at Lodge at Big Falls before your transfer to Punta Gorda Airstrip to catch your local flight to Placencia. You will be met at the Placencia airport and transferred to Chabil Mar Villas were you will enjoy the remainder of your trip. Placencia is a 16- mile long peninsula of white sand beaches, warm blue waters, amazing marine life and wonderful people. It is home to the communities of Maya Beach, Seine Bight and Placencia village. Once a scarcely populated fishing village, Placencia has become a thriving tourism center offering restaurants and shopping as well as an array of activities.
Monkey River & Placencia Peninsula
After enjoying breakfast explore the winding Monkey River by boat with a local guide and spot basking crocodiles, turtles and myriad bird life. Visit the Howler Monkey Sanctuary which is managed by the tour guides of Monkey River, giving hope to a community that would otherwise be poachers. Continue out into the Caribbean through the mangroves in search of the resident manatees. After a busy wildlife-filled day, return to Chabil Mar.
Enjoy breakfast overlooking the Caribbean’s turquoise waters. Today is at leisure. Chabil Mar offers complimentary on-site bicycles, paddle boards and kayaks for guests use. There is also a complimentary evening shuttle to and from Placencia village if you’d like to try a local restaurant or visit a bar for drinks. The village is quaint and easy to explore independently. Additional adventures such as fishing, diving and sunset cruises are available at an additional cost. Overnights at Chabil Mar. Breakfast included.
Sadly on day 8 it’s time to depart. After breakfast transfer to the Placencia airstrip for your short flight to Belize International Airport where you connect within the airport to your international flight home or onto your next adventure. Breakfast included.