Travel Guide

5 Awesome Days in Cayo District, Belize

By Angela Wu 6/8/2018 5 minutes

Summer 2018 has officially started and if you haven’t planned your summer vacation as yet, then you have come to the right place! We have the perfect trip for you; and, and the best part is, you can complete this trip in just one week! We call this the ultimate adventure and relaxation experience of a lifetime. Yeah, it’s a long name for it, but that just summarizes this unique week-long vacation.

Here are some of the top things to do in Cayo:
  • Kayaking, horseback riding, Xunantunich
  • Bird watching, barbeque and swimming at Big Rock Falls, Mountain Pine Ridge
  • St. Herman's Blue Hole National Park and Nohoch Che'en Caves
  • Green Iguana Conservation Project and cultural tours
  • Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave (ATM Cave)

Day 1: Kayaking, Horseback Riding, Xunantunich

To start things off exciting, we’re going on a triple combo trip in the Village of San Jose Succotz. In this village you will go farming for potatoes and sit in a dory to go fishing. Just joking! Although that sounds interesting, you won’t be working in a farm or catching fish. Instead, you’ll be kayaking or canoeing down the Mopan River from the western border in Benque Viejo del Carmen to the banks near the ferry to the Xunantunich Archaeological Site. After being washed down the rapids of the river, it is the perfect time to take off those wet clothes, hang them up on a nearby tree to dry and go explore the ancient Maya city of Xunantunich. But don’t just hike or walk up to the site – go on horseback! Yes! You can go horseback riding up to Xunantunich. Not only will this save you some energy from the uphill hike, but you can feel the adrenaline of riding a friendly, tamed horse up to the historical archaeological site, Xunantunich! Here, you can take a tour of the once-thriving Maya city and climb up the highest temple on the site, El Castillo.

Places to eat:

Day 2: Bird Watching, Barbeque and Swimming at Mountain Pine Ridge

After the first day of adventure, day 2 is more relaxed as you set off to the areas of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve where you can set out camp and start a makeshift fire for the barbecue. You can choose between several locations where the river flows. Two of most popular locations would be Big Rock Falls and Rio On Pools. This forest reserve is the perfect place to unwind, relax and enjoy nature. The best part about this is getting to swim in the flowing river and waterfalls and getting to eat some delicious barbecue. While the meat is cooking on the grill, you can occupy yourself by going on a hike, scout for birds in the area, or suntan near the riverbanks. If you would like to include a little more adventure, you can explore the Barton Creek Caves System on canoes. After all the exploring in the lush pine forests in Mountain Pine Ridge, the barbecue will be waiting for you to devour it.

Places to eat:
  • Pine Ridge Lodge
  • Blancaneaux Lodge
  • Gaia River Lodge

Day 3: St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park and Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch

After a day of relaxation at Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, it is time for some serious adventure – we call it, extreme Belizing! Within the limits of Belmopan City, there is St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park. Here resides the stunning inland Blue Hole, officially known as the St. Herman’s Blue Hole, and impressive cave systems – Crystal Cave and St. Herman’s Cave. This is a full day trip that would include exploring one of the caves then take a dip into the refreshing waters at the Blue Hole. The Crystal Cave and St. Herman’s Cave are both unique and impressive. At the Crystal Cave, you will get to witness a spectacular cave system filled with cavern that are adorned with mesmerizing crystalline formations. The journey through the cave is rigorous and requires a lot of energy and upper body strength. You will also be required to crouch down or squat to get through the entire trail in the cave. You’ll spend at least three to four hours in the cave before you get to see sunlight again. In the other cave, St. Herman’s Cave, you can walk through the cave and see the artifacts that were left by Maya shamans and priests and beautiful speleothems. This cave is also connected by an underground stream that will take you to the Blue Hole where you can go cave tubing and swimming. If you would also like to pencil in some time to go ziplining at Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch. You can ride through lush forests or enjoy the cool water of the river while cave tubing.

Places to eat:

Day 4: Iguana Conservatory Tour, Cultural Tours

While you may be sore from all the exploring in some of Belize’s impressive cave systems and swimming at the Inland Blue Hole, you may want to take it easy the next day. That is why the fourth day is perfect for a moderate trip to the Green Iguana Conservation Project at the San Ignacio Resort and Hotel in the morning and a cultural tour in the afternoon. At the Green Iguana Conservation Project, you will be guided through the exhibit where the conservation of endangered Green Iguanas are being protected. This is a highly interpretive and education exhibit that has been designed to allow for a closer look at this amazing reptile specie. In the afternoon, you can go to on a chocolate foodie tour or a Maya and Mennonite cultural village tour that is offered by MayaWalk Tours. This day is great for learning about the importance of Green Iguanas to the ecological balance of the river habitat and a little about the cultures that exists in this melting pot we call Belize.

Places to eat:

Day 5: Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave

For the final day of the greatest summer vacation, you can go visit the infamous ATM Cave (Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave). This cave is a popular archaeological site for both locals and tourists as you get to travel to the gateway of the Maya underworld. This is one of the most impressive Maya ceremonial caves where Maya priests and shamans conducted their sacrifices. You will be able to see the rare bloodletting altars that were used in sacrifices, calcified skeletons, remains of ceramics and stoneware. This is a full day trip that is great for ending your vacation with a bang. Although it doesn’t require a lot of energy and adrenaline – other than the hike to the cave – this cave will knock the socks off your feet when you see these ancient artifacts and remains by the Mayas. It an extraordinary archaeological site that must be on any traveler’s bucket list – so why not close off your ultimate vacation in Cayo, Belize with the ATM Cave? Trust me, it is worth the visit!

Places to eat:

And that concludes your 5-day adventure vacation in Cayo, Belize! These activities and tours can be shifted around according to your liking. It recommended that you book these tours with trusted providers, such as those listed on Belizing.com. You can also check out Belizing’s “Where to Eat” page to find restaurants, cafes or bars. If you are planning on staying in the Cayo District and would like some accommodation recommendations, here are a few that are most popular:

What are you waiting for, these adventurous trips are waiting for you! Get off that chair and start Belizing today in Cayo, Belize!
Learn More
Events
A Day in San Antonio - Culture, Nature and Sports The Village of San Antonio is hosting its first ever village celebreation, A Day in San Antonio - Culture, Nature and Sports. Organized ... moreby the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA). With the steady growth of tourism in San Antonio along with the decline in biodiversity and culture, the San Antonio Sustainability Committee aims to protect and raise awareness about the culture and nature in San Antonio through sports and positive entertainment.
2019 A Day in San Antonio - Culture, Nature and Sports Details for the 2019 A Day In San Antonio are yet to be announced.
Why should you attend the 2019 A Day in San Antonio - Culture, Nature and Sports? This even is great for learning about the Maya culture in the Village of San Antonio. Also, you will be contributing to the conservation of culture and nature through exciting games, sports and activities. There will be traditional food on sale. What better way to spend a nice Sunday than to take a trip to San Antonio for A Day in San Antonio - Culture, Nature and Sports? You will not regret it!
Entrance Fee:
$20 BZD
Venue:
San Antonio Community Center
Address:
San Antonio Village
Start Date:
Wednesday, 10 Jun, 2020Annually
District:
Cayo
Tours/Activities
$
97
-
$
115
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
Xunantunich: Getting There: The adventure begins at 8:00 AM on a mere 10 – 15 minutes’ drive onto the village of San Jose Succotz. Here you will cross the Mopan River via an old-fashioned ... morehand-cranked ferry and onto the site's parking lot.

At Xunantunich: Upon arrival at the site, you’ll be amazed at how impressive the Temple of El Castillo (the main temple) actually is at a remarkable 120 feet in height. Pay close attention to the history of this once royal center of ancient civilization as your guide walks you through the site. Feel free to climb to the top of El Castillo if you’re not afraid of heights. There you’ll have a jaw-dropping panoramic view of the surroundings which encompasses part of Guatemala, Benque Viejo Town, and San Jose Succotz among other areas.

Be careful coming down from the pyramid as you make your way over to the ancient ball court. Imagine the excitement happening in real time as your guide paints a vivid picture of how the popular Mayan game of Pokatok was played. On-site you may get to see spider monkeys and, depending on the time of the year, even howler monkeys. An on-site museum will give you an overall idea of this ancient city’s actual size.

Big Rock Falls:

Starts: 1:00PM Ends: 5:00PM 

Getting There: After Xunantunich, you'll make your way onto the Mountain Pine Ridge road en route to Big Rock Falls. The drive is about 45 minutes on a partially paved road, the farther section of which is dirt.

Along the way, you’ll pass the villages of Cristo Rey and San Antonio. These are small settlements of mostly farmers along the Macal River. Along the way, your guide would normally point out to local flora and fauna such as Toucans, Roadside Hawks, Iguanas, and Medicinal Plants and trees.

At the site: The parking lot approximately 5 to 8 minutes’ walk from the waterfall so you'll want to take everything you’ll need with you for an enjoyable time at the waterfall. From the parking lot, you’ll be walking through a little trail which leads to quite a steep climb down to the river valley. Flip flops are not advisable for this part of the trek. Once you’ve made your way carefully down that cliff, the delightful view of water rushing over the huge 150-ft rock formations and plummeting into the deep rounded pool at its base provides a rush of excitement. 

You won’t regret visiting this site for a nice cold swim amidst the scorching Belizean heat. You may choose to swim all the way up to the waterfall but try to contain the temptation to climb up any of the wet rocks, or do so at your own risk, they tend to get very slippery. Your guide will allow you ample time to swim or bask at your own leisure until you're ready to head back to San Ignacio Town.
$
83
-
$
95
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
Getting There:  Tour departs San Ignacio Town at 8:00 AM. You'll embark on our journey out of San Ignacio on a 1 hour & 15 minutes’ drive along the George Price Highway (paved ... moreroad) until arriving at the junction of the Jaguar Paw Cave Tubing outpost. The site’s parking lot is another 10 minutes or so on from the paved road.

At the site: 
Make use of the expansive restroom complex to change into your swimwear. Your guide then walks you over to the tube racks where you’ll pick a tube of your choice. You will be provided with life jackets, helmets, and headlamps.

Geared up, you will embark on a 45 minutes’ hike across the clear green Caves Branch River. A rope at the crossing keeps you from straying. The water is waist-deep, normally. After the river crossing, you'll hike a jungle trail heading upstream. Your guide will point out interesting aspects of the local flora & fauna as you trek through – a perfect time to take out your cameras (preferably waterproof).

After a briefing on the proper safety techniques, you'll set afloat through a series of caverns which periodically open up to the sunshine & jungle. Your guide will occasionally point out various Maya artifacts within the crevices of the caves. Depending on time availability, he may allow you to disembark your tube & walk up for a closer look into hidden chambers of the cave which are normally not explored by many other companies or cruise ship passengers due to time constraints. 

Departure: 
After Lunch, you'll walk back to the parking lot where you'll board the vehicle and head back to San Ignacio via the George Price Highway, arriving around 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
$
108
90
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
Provider:
Caracol Mayan Temples was discovered in 1938 by loggers, located deep within the Chiquibul Forest Reserve now it is the most extensive Maya site in Belize and one of the biggest in ... morethe Maya World.

Caracol Mayan Temples is a Classic Period urban center that spread out over 55 square miles with an estimated population of 180,000 people. Caracol’s enormous central core area covered 15 square miles and was linked together by more than 20 miles of “sacbeobs” (causeways) that radiated outward from its epicenter. The temple “Caana” rises 42 meters above plaza level and to this day is the largest man-made structure in Belize.
$
104
50
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
Provider:
Off the Hummingbird Highway, is the spiraling network of tunnels and limestone rooms comprising of 36 “crystal” caves with enormous vaults of crystallized columns and statuary. Much ... moreof the geological structure of Belize is porous karst limestone. This makes it ideal for the formation of underground caves and rivers, although many caves have been known for years, new ones – including some of the most extensive systems in the whole of Central America.

Belize Cave Tubing Tour: Your guide will lead you through a jungle trail rich in flora and fauna, at the end of the trail you will tube down the Caves Branch River system relaxing on inflated tubes, the gentle currents of the river will draw you through amazing caves and taverns.

Headlamps will be provided so that you don’t miss a thing including Mayan artifacts during this underworld adventure.
$
93
50
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
Provider:
20 minutes drive from San Ignacio Town will take you to Xunantunich Mayan Ruins Meaning “Maiden of the Rock” which is located on the Western Highway across the river. The ceremonial ... morecenter is only 1 mile away after crossing the ferry on the Mopan River at San Jose Succutz. 

This Classic Period site provides an impressive view of the entire river valley. The site core occupies only 300 square meters but the periphery covers several square kilometers. El Castillo, the partially excavated and largest pyramid rises 130 feet above the main plaza and offers an impressive view of the Cayo District and nearby Guatemala.
$
5
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
The Tropical Wings Center Offers An eco-center featuring interactive exhibits about ecology, biodiversity, birds, bats, ants, plants, the Ancient Maya, and more. Fun and educational, ... moreit’s not just for kids!

A screened and landscaped 42’x60’x21’ butterfly house, spotlighting a wide variety of free-flying butterflies native to Belize.

An outdoor rearing area where butterflies are raised from eggs to pupae.

Landscaped gardens with flowers, feeders, and birdbaths to attract hummingbirds and other birds of Belize.

A medicinal plant garden featuring natural remedies used by the villagers. Nature trails for leisurely hikes. Videos about butterflies and other insects, birds, the Maya, and Belize.

A restaurant serving refreshments, meals and sandwiches or snacks. A gift shop featuring Belizean hand-crafted items, books on tropical nature and nature-related toys for kids.

Ecologically – sound lodging — The Trek Stop — with budget-priced cabins, tent rentals, and tent sites for camping.

We’re open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $10.00Bz for adults & $6.00Bz for children 12 & under
$
8
50
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
Provider:
Sak-Tunich Maya site was constructed by a family of Yucatec descent. It includes Plaza A & B, a ceremonial room, a collection of artifacts, and underground entrance. ... more

At the site, you will also learn about the Safe the Royal Project.

This is a breeding program for the "Royal Rat" or Gibnut. The name "Royal Rat" was given to it after Queen Elizabeth II was served Gibnut meat during her 1985 visit. Gibnut meat is a local delicacy in Belize. 

We also have the 100ft tower at the site. At the top of the tower, you are greeted by panoramic views of mountains, jungle and small towns in every direction. The view is truly breathtaking especially for watching sunsets or stargazing.
$
120
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
This is a waterfall lover's dream! There are 3 waterfalls on this trip: The unnamed waterfalls, Rio Frio waterfall and the Twin waterfalls. These beautiful waterfalls are located up ... morein the Vaca Reserve which is about 8.5 miles on the Hydro Road which is about one hour drive from downtown San Ignacio. This is my favorite place in Belize!!

From the time you get on the pontoon boat on your way to the waterfalls, you will be engulfed by the beautiful scenery of the river gorge. While enjoying the scenery we travel slowly on the river bank trying to find some wildlife. Some days we see a lot, some days we don’t see anything. Hence the reason I do not guarantee wildlife but the great adventure, scenery and the waterfalls will always be there. However, you will see images of the wildlife we encounter on the trip many times, however, the wildlife is not guaranteed as it is not a zoo.

You can get to the location where the pontoon boat is waiting for us in two ways. One, you drive all the way down to the river bank. Two, you can hike the recently built trails that pass through the jungle while learning about some the traditional edible and healing plants that were used and still used by the Mayas.
$
230
-
$
320
/ Person
Departs From:
Hopkins
Situated at 1600 feet above sea level (one of the highest located sites of the southern uplands region) with no natural water body close by, it remains a mystery why such a huge population ... morecenter like Caracol evolved where it is. However, the close proximity to both extremely hard stone and copal, two commodities highly prized by the Mayas may help explain this enigma.

At the heart of the site lies the massive pyramid of Caana (Sky Palace) which is now almost fully restored and reaches a height of over 135 feet. From the top, you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views over the forest-clad mountains.

The drive to the site in the early morning occasionally allows guests to take a glimpse of tapirs, jaguars or ocelots, as they break their forest cover to cross the road. The sprawling site contains huge Ceiba, Mahogany and Sapodilla trees and is superb for birding (the rare Keel-billed Motmot is one of the many residents of the site). Wildlife such as Howler and Spider monkeys, the Oscellated Turkey, Coatimundi, Gibnut and Grey Fox are often sighted while quietly wandering along the site’s causeways or along trails connecting the plaza groups.
$
150
-
$
175
/ Person
Departs From:
Hopkins
The steep downward walk that takes you to these caverns takes around one hour. Then, at the mouth of the cave, you’ll follow the same footpaths the Maya shamans and priests once traveled ... moreto reach these ceremonial chambers.

Along the way, you’ll marvel at all the Maya artifacts, including pottery, beads, and obsidian knives – even human skeletons that have been calcified in the limestone floor dating back 2,000 years.

Angela Wu

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