Belize is a country in Central America just a few short hours’ flying time from the United States. Despite its small size (about the same as the state of Vermont), Belize is blessed with an incredibly diverse landscape with verdant mountains and pristine rainforests in the west descending to savannahs, jungle, and beautiful beaches on the Caribbean coast in the east. With more than a third of the country set aside as protected nature reserves and national parks, Belize is an incredibly bio-diverse country, home to jaguars, sharks, dolphins, monkeys, and hundreds of colorful tropical bird species.
Long before the arrival of the Europeans, the ancient Maya dominated the region. Their empire stretched from today’s El Salvador in the south all the way up through Mexico in the north. The heartland of the ancient Maya civilization was in what is now Belize, home to dozens of enormous city complexes that include soaring pyramids, majestic temples, and intricately carved royal residences.
Cahal Pech Village Resort in San Ignacio, Belize, offers guests an incredible all-inclusive vacation package that includes 3-4 nights at the resort and a choice of exciting tours to some of the top attractions in the country. The package includes options like a trip to the ancient Maya ruins of Cahal Pech, trips to the waterfalls in the Mountain Pine Ridge National Park, horseback riding to the ancient Maya site of Xunantunich, exploring the ATM Cave (rated by National Geographic as the #1 Sacred Cave in the world), crossing into nearby Guatemala to tour the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tikal, a nighttime canoeing trip along the gorgeous Macal River, floating on an innertube down the underground Barton Creek River, and many more.
This Belize vacation package includes ground transportation from the international airport in Belize City to the resort, a tour of the Belize Zoo and Tropical Educational Center, lodging at the fabulous Cahal Pech Village Resort, applicable taxes and park entrance fees, and three full meals per day.
Cahal Pech Village Resort is a beautiful resort located near San Ignacio Town, the eco-tourism capital of Belize. Cahal Pech offers guests modern accommodations in beautiful thatched-roof cabanas, an onsite gourmet restaurant, professional spa services, a conference center, and free wireless internet.
Here’s a Q&A; with Eric Wechter, the editor of Fodor’s Belize, 4th edition, and Lan Sluder, the author. Wechter is also the Belize expert for Fodor’s 80 degrees initiative, an interactive planner for finding a warm-weather escape best suited for your personality.
Why are airfares to Belize so high, and how can we find cheaper flights? Air service is somewhat limited and is mostly from a few hubs in the United States. To find the most affordable flights, stay flexible on your dates, avoid peak holiday travel (around Christmas and Easter), and sign up for Internet specials and e-mail fare alerts on the airlines flying to Belize—currently United, American, US Airways, (Southwest Airlines in October 2015), and TACA. Another option is to fly into Cancún, which usually has good air deals, and take the ADO bus to Belize.
We want to spend time at the beach and also in the jungle. Where should we go? On a first and relatively brief visit to Belize, sample the best “surf and turf” by splitting your time between one of the popular beach areas—Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Hopkins, or Placencia—and the rest in the Cayo, which has the largest concentration of popular mainland activities.
Is Belize a safe place to visit? The best answer is “Yes, but…” Most visitors say they feel quite safe in Belize (except, they say, in some areas of Belize City). Tourist Police patrol areas of Belize City, Placencia, Ambergris Caye, and elsewhere, and many hotels and jungle lodges have security guards. Out of the hundreds of thousands of visitors, the numbers who are victims of any kind of crime is perhaps a few hundred. So, while this is still a developing country, enjoy yourself and follow standard travel precautions: Don’t wander into areas that don’t feel safe; avoid deserted beaches and streets after dark; and don’t flash expensive jewelry or cash.
Got any tips for visiting the Mayan Ruins? Altun Ha, the ruin closest to Belize City, gets crowds of cruise ship day-trippers; so if you go, try to avoid days when there are several cruise ships in port. On your visit to Tikal (in Guatemala), stay at one of the three lodges at the park if possible—you’ll be able to visit the ruins early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when howler monkeys and other animals are active and most day visitors have left.
What about mosquitoes? Pack plenty of bug juice with DEET. Mosquitoes are especially bad around Cerros and at the ruins near Punta Gorda.
How physically fit should I be to enjoy an adventure vacation in Belize? Adventure vacations commonly are split into “soft” and “hard” adventures. Hard adventures, such as strenuous jungle treks and extended caving trips, usually require excellent physical conditioning and previous experience. Most hiking, biking, canoeing-kayaking, cave tubing, snorkeling, brief cave tours, and similar soft adventures can be enjoyed by persons of all ages who are in good health and are accustomed to a reasonable amount of exercise. A little honesty goes a long way—recognize your own level of physical fitness and discuss it with the tour operator before signing on.
I want to try something fun and different, but not too challenging. Any suggestions? An activity you’ll find in few places outside Belize is cave tubing. You drift down a river, usually the Caves Branch River in Cayo District, in a large rubber inner tube. At certain points the river goes underground, and you float through eerie underground cave systems, some with Mayan artifacts still in place. The only light is from headlamps.
Where are the best areas for spotting exotic birds? Once you see toucans at Tikal or the hard-to-find motmot in the Cayo, you’re sure to get caught up in the excitement of searching for some of Belize’s 600 species of birds. Many Belizeans know all their local birds and where the best places are to find them. Crooked Tree, Chan Chich at Gallon Jug, the New River and New River Lagoon near Lamanai, and much of the Toledo District in the Deep South are wonderful areas for bird-watching; keep your eyes peeled to the treetops and don’t forget your binoculars.
Of all the incredible outdoor options, what’s one experience I shouldn’t miss? Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) is more than a caving experience. It’s a visit to the Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. You’ll see ancient Mayan artifacts and human skeletons. While not cheap and requiring a little hiking and swimming, the ATM trip is one-of-a-kind. Many visitors consider it the highlight of their entire Central American experience. Due to the risk of damage to the cave and to the priceless Mayan artifacts there, we’re not sure how much longer the Belize government is going to permit access to ATM. Go, while you have the chance. You won’t regret it.
If you have questions about traveling to Belize or need help in booking a trip, please email Lloyd Alvarez, our Reservations Manager at info(@)cahalpech.com.
Escape to Belize with this Belize All Inclusive Vacation by admin