Trip Number: 12510A
Price: $3,595 (10-12)
$4,245 (or fewer)
Staff: Richard Grayson
- Hike in tropical rainforests with close encounters with howler monkeys
and brilliant birds
- Climb ancient Mayan ruins and learn about this fascinating civilization
- Snorkel amidst beautiful coral on the world's second largest barrier
- All lodging and transportation
- All meals
- Local guides
Belize (formerly British Honduras) is largely covered by tropical forests.
Though only 8,800 square miles, the country teems with wildlife, including jaguars,
pumas, tapirs, iguanas, Jabiru storks, toucans, and more! Offshore lies a 150-mile-long
barrier reef -- the second largest in the world. In these crystal waters are
fantastically colored fish, dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and ornate coral
formations. Belize is a place of rich and diverse heritage. Geographically located
in the region of Central America called "La Ruta Maya," this area
has been home to the Maya for 3,000 years. Our itinerary allows us to experience
the many different cultural groups of the region as well as explore the country
through hiking, swimming, boating, bird watching, and studying archaeology,
as well as just relaxing.
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
Day 1: We'll meet at our hotel near the waterfront in Belize
City. Our first meal together will be a welcome dinner where we'll get to know
one another and preview our itinerary.
Day 2: After breakfast we'll travel to the Community Baboon
Sanctuary where local farmers have given a part of their own lands to preserve
the habitat of howler monkeys and have experienced great rewards. We will have
an opportunity to hike in the rainforest near the Belize River, where we may
see howler monkeys, giant iguanas, and many species of birds. We will also visit
the local museum, which contains a wealth of information about the natural history
of the area. Next we'll drive to a rustic rainforest lodge that is also a working
field station for environmental studies. We'll enjoy an informative and fascinating
jungle walk and an evening presentation about the "Programme for Belize,"
a nonprofit organization that has achieved remarkable success in protecting
a corner of Belize as a pristine lowland jungle.
Day 3: Today we'll take a leisurely boat trip on the beautiful
New River Lagoon to Lamanai, an ancient Mayan site which was occupied longer
than almost any other known Mayan community. Our accomplished guide will provide
a tour of the museum and the ruins. After lunch we'll head upriver and then
take a bus to Crooked Tree Wildlife Refuge. We will likely see many varieties
of wintering birds, including flamingos and roseate spoonbills.
Day 4: We'll tour the Belize Zoo, an important environmental
institution in Belize that educates thousands of students each year about the
importance of protecting wildlife and preserving the habitat that supports these
creatures. We will observe many of the mammals, reptiles, and birds of Belize
at the zoo. We'll then travel to Caves Branch resort and go tubing on an underground
river. Exploring this incredible river-cave system, we'll see ancient Mayan
ceremonial centers, pottery, artifacts, and altars dated to 400 BCE. Lunch will
be at the resort or in the cave. Following our cave tour we'll change into dry
clothing and drive to Dangriga and our pleasant waterfront hotel.
Day 5: Today we'll drive to a Mayan village where we can shop
for crafts and then we'll continue into the tropical rainforest of the Cockscomb
Jaguar Preserve. We'll hike along trails with a naturalist, learning about the
incredible rainforest ecosystem. If we are lucky, we may see jaguar tracks!
Optional river tubing is available. We'll enjoy lunch at the preserve, and then
return to Dangriga to tour a hot sauce factory and meet a local artist and drum
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
Day 6: After a relaxing breakfast at our resort on the beach
at Dangriga, we'll travel by speed boat approximately one hour to the isolated
and pristine South Water Caye, where we'll spend the next couple of days relaxing
and snorkeling. This beautiful, half-mile-long sand atoll sits directly on top
of the Barrier Reef and offers superb snorkeling opportunities just offshore.
Once we get settled into our rooms and have lunch, we'll have a practice snorkel
off the beach (for those who haven't snorkeled much), and then take a boat ride
nearby to snorkel among the beautiful coral and fish nearby. If possible, we'll
try to arrange evening visits to two local reef research facilities to learn
about their work and the impact of global warming on this delicate ecosystem.
Day 7: We'll enjoy a full day in paradise on South Water Caye,
taking a morning and an afternoon boat excursion to two different nearby locales
with excellent coral and fish snorkeling. Or else, if you'd prefer, you can
relax and swim/sunbathe on the beach on South Water Caye.
Day 8: After breakfast we'll boat to another excellent snorkeling
spot nearby South Water Caye, followed by our final lunch on the island. In
the afternoon we'll boat back to Dangriga on the mainland and enjoy our final
evening of the trip with a presentation of local Garifuna music, dance, and
Day 9: The trip price includes your flight from Dangriga back
to Belize International airport to connect with your return flight back home.
The airstrip is right next door to our Dangriga resort and you can either walk
or get a taxi ride there. Your flight will be scheduled according to your return
flight back home (unless you are planning to extend your stay in Belize).
There are numerous flights (some non-stop) to Belize City from major airports
in the U.S., such as New York, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston. Belize,
which is one hour earlier than Eastern Time, is only a 2.5-hour flight from
Miami. Since we are meeting for dinner on the first day, please plan to arrive
at Belize International Airport (BZE) by the afternoon of February 4, 2012.
Trip participants will be reimbursed for the cost of taking a taxi into Belize
City from the airport. Further transportation details will be sent to trip participants.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
All meals are included in the trip price; soft or alcoholic drinks will need
to be paid for by participants. All accommodations are in two-person rooms (with
either a double bed for couples or two twin beds for singles), except for the
second night (at the rainforest lodge/field station), where we will be sleeping
in dormitory-style rooms. Depending on how many other guests they have while
we're there, we will be sleeping 2-4 people/room in bunk beds. On South Water
Caye, our hotel will be eco-efficient and simple, yet very comfortable. The
resort there has composting toilets and water is collected rainwater, so we'll
be using it sparingly.
We will be hiking, walking, or swimming every day, so you should be in fairly
good physical condition. You should be able to climb back into our boat after
snorkeling. It is not necessary to have snorkeling experience, but you should
be comfortable in the water and be able to swim in order to enjoy it. Our accommodations
will always have the basic necessities, but in some places will be rustic. There
are two fairly long driving days (approximately five to six hours each) and
if the wind is blowing, the boat trip to and from South Water Caye may be somewhat
bumpy and wet.
Equipment and Clothing
The climate in Belize at these low elevations is mild and pleasant, with daytime
temperatures in the 70s and 80s. Offshore, on the cayes, moderate trade winds
usually blow. Evenings could be cool (in the 60s) so a light jacket or sweater
may be needed. Although we will be visiting during the "dry" season,
there's always a chance of showers, so bring some rain gear. The tropical sun
can be strong and sun protection is important. Good walking shoes or lightweight
hiking boots are needed, as well as water sandals. You'll also want to have
swim fins, mask, and snorkel for our days on South Water Caye. Good quality
and proper fitting equipment is essential for maximum enjoyment.
- Barcott, Bruce, The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw: One Woman's Fight
to Save the World's Most Beautiful Bird.
- Lutz, Dick, Belize: Reefs, Rain Forests and Mayan Ruins.
- Jones, H. Lee, Birds of Belize.
- Rabinowitz, Alan, Jaguar: One Man's Struggle to Establish the World's
First Jaguar Preserve.
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
Belize is struggling to balance environmental protection and development, especially
tourist development. Our visit to Belize will provide economic support for its
eco-tourism industry, thereby helping to support local conservation efforts.
We will experience how it's possible to have development, which is necessary
to house visitors, with minimal impact on the environment. We'll also have an
opportunity to discuss environmental issues in our own home communities and
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Richard Grayson has been involved with Sierra Club national outings since 1967, when he was a teenager. He has been on 31 Sierra Club national service trips -- 21 of which he has been the leader or co-leader. He is a leader for the Sierra Club International Outings and Northeast Outings Subcommittees and is certified in wilderness first aid. When he is not on Sierra Club trips, he plays a lot of baseball and is still waiting for his long-awaited major league call-up.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips