South & Central America Bucket list experiences

Reefs, Ruins and Rainforest in Belize and Guatemala

Travel to Belize and Guatemala and embark on a unique land-and-sea expedition to discover Mayan ruins overgrown with tropical rain forest and incredible, seldom-seen reefs.

Board the new, 100-guest National Geographic Quest to explore some of the 65 species of stony coral and 500 species of fish on the Belize Barrier Reef. Snorkel or dive on colorful reefs, and kayak or paddleboard over turquoise lagoons. Then venture to the ancient Maya ruins of Tikal. See temples overgrown with tropical rain forest and explore the stories and archaeological sites of these stone ruins swathed in forest and teeming with wildlife. This unique land-and-sea expedition will enable you to:

  • Explore a partially excavated Maya temple situated on a tiny island in the middle of a lake where only the sounds of rain forest wildlife and tropical birds float through the air
  • Snorkel several protected, vibrant reefs along the second largest barrier reef system in the world
  • Walk the ancient city of Tikal over a full day-and-a-half with expert guides who share the secrets of the site.

Discover the largest reef system in the Northern Hemisphere
Snorkel, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, and dive the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System on the only expedition ship exploring the Mesoamerican Reef. Discover wild, beautiful places few will ever have the chance to see.

Explore Tikal over a full day and a half
The Maya ruins of Tikal are expansive. Dedicate enough time to see them, including the little-visited Mayan ruins of Yaxha, the third largest ruin in the Maya world, beautifully situated on a ridge overlooking Yaxha Lake. Sail across a lake to a secluded island and see Topoxte, enveloped in a rain forest teeming with monkeys.

See dazzling birdlife and monkeys amid a towering forest
The Maya Biosphere Reserve, more than twice the size of Yellowstone National Park, is home to more than 400 species of birds, plus spider monkeys, howler monkeys, and tapirs. Hike the tropical forest amid giant ceiba trees—the sacred tree of the Mayas—to find them with our expert local guides.

Travel in excellent company
Explore under the sure guidance of an expedition leader, veteran naturalists, including a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor and an undersea specialist, plus a wellness specialist––the largest and most knowledgeable expedition team in the region. Their knowledge and passion for Belize and Tikal is the key to your once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Itinerary

DAY 1: Depart Home / Belize City, Belize / Embark

Fly to Belize. Embark National Geographic Quest.(D)

DAY 2: Laughing Bird Caye National Park or Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, Belize

Snorkel, kayak, or stand up paddleboard the crystalline waters of Laughing Bird Caye National Park or Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve. Discover the dazzling undersea of the Belize Barrier Reef, second only to the Great Barrier Reef in terms of biodiversity, while snorkeling or, if certified, scuba diving. (B,L,D)

DAY 3: Quiriguá & Rio Dulce, Guatemala

See the highly detailed stonework of the Mayan ruins of Quiriguá, sculpted to glorify Maya kings. Lunch on the shores of Lake Izabal then take local boats through the beautiful limestone canyon of the Rio Dulce. (B,L,D)

DAY 4: Glover’s Reef / South Water Caye Marine Reserve

Explore turquoise seas and protected reefs of Glover’s Reef and South Water Caye by snorkeling or, if certified, diving, then explore the shoreline and reef top by kayak or stand up paddleboard. If conditions permit, we may stop at a remote field station to learn about reef research. (B,L,D)

DAY 5: Lighthouse Reef & Half Moon Caye Natural Monument

Snorkel, dive, kayak, and stand up paddleboard inside the fringing reef that surrounds Lighthouse Reef Atoll. This lagoon is dotted with hundreds of coral patches, and is known for its high diversity of corals and fishes. Walk through the endangered and fragile littoral forest at Half Moon Caye, to view the nesting population of red-footed boobies from observation platforms. (B,L,D)

DAY 6: Belize City /Disembark/ Flores, Guatemala / Tikal

Take a charter flight to Flores, Guatemala. Transfer to Tikal, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the largest and most impressive archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, which we’ll explore over two days. Check into the Camino Real Tikal Hotel. (B,L,D)

DAY 7: Tikal, Guatemala

Delve deeper into Maya history and architecture over three nights with local experts in Tikal while enjoying a stay at the Camino Real Tikal Hotel. Explore the many temples, including Temple I, which rises 154 from the jungle floor, and the North and South Acropolis. (B,L,D)

DAY 8: Yaxha & Topoxte, Guatemala

Visit Yaxha, the third largest ruin in the Maya world, beautifully situated on a ridge overlooking Yaxha Lake. Hike nearby trails or explore the lesser-visited ruins at Topoxte, secluded on an island in the lake. (B,L,D)

DAY 9: Flores / Guatemala City / Home

Transfer to flights home. (B)

Start your journey

Belize to Tikal: Reefs, Rivers & Ruins of The Maya World

Duration: 9 days

Departures in February and March 2018

From AU$6,870 to AU$11,050

Book now on 1800 047 047

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