OMG moments in shark ray alley on the Belize Barrier Reef, go back in time at Guatemala’s famous Tikal ruins and roast vegan marshmallows on an active volcano. Sand in your vegan-friendly sandals guaranteed!
Arrival: Belize City International Airport (BZE)
Departure: Guatemala City (GUA)
Sunshine. Sharks. Manatees. Lovely fishees. Stingrays. Mayan Ruins. Jungle hikes. Pineapple pit stops. Sacred sites. Honest vegan food. Sand in your vegan-friendly sandals. Sail boats. Sunset cocktails.
OMG moments and happy squeals guaranteed.
Each day of this tour is more extraordinary than the last and will take you one step closer to understanding the ancient Mayan culture while hiking, swimming, snorkelling and eating your way across two of Central America’s most awesome countries; Belize and Guatemala.
This vegan-friendly holiday is perfect for:
Welcome to Belize! There will be an early evening ‘meet and greet’ at our joining hotel with your Vegan Adventure Holidays trip leader and other members of the group this evening before dinner—think perfectly cooked rice, tender black beans, lightly sauteed fresh veg and a warm breeze.
Drink up your tropical fruit smoothie because we’ve got a water taxi to catch, we’ll be heading over to the tropical island of Caye Caulker where a no shirts, no shoes, no problem rule governs the island — vegan sandals optional!
You’ll get to see why this car-free tiny island which meets the Belize barrier reef is known as being an affordable paradise.
After a quick boat ride from Belize City, we’ll be sailing off towards the Belize Barrier reef at 10:30 this morning for an OMG, excited squeals kind of experience!
First stop is the Hol Chan Marine Reserve where you can expect to see angelfish, blue-striped grunts, schoolmaster snappers and hundreds of other varieties, it’s also known for the green moray eels living in tiny caves along the wall.
The Shark and Ray Alley is another of our stops within the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, this spot is known as the shark and stingray city of Belize! You’ll get the opportunity to swim with the harmless Nurse Sharks and Southern Stingrays, this is a spot not to be missed.
The Coral Gardens are two and a half miles southwest of Shark and Ray Alley and due to extraordinary clear water you’ll be able to see the rainbow-like hues of the coral below, it’s an extremely special place.
Last but not least, our sailboat ride home; this journey takes around an hour and a quarter and it’s at the best time of the day just before sunset. Corn tortilla chips and salsa, rum or fruit cocktails make it a magical end to one of the highlights of this trip.
Choose to relax and stroll down to the waterfront for a laid-back island breakfast or chose to do one of the action-packed optional excursions.
Dive or snorkel the world famous Great Blue Hole, one of the greatest geological wonders of the world. Just 43 miles off the mainland, the Belize Barrier Reef is home to the Great Blue Hole, an easily accessible day trip. A site for more experienced divers, a deep dive into the Great Blue Hole will unveil a whole new world full of rare fish and stalactites.
If you’d like your free day to be a little more laid back you can choose to do an island-paced vinyasa flow yoga class (suitable for all levels), kayak around the blue waters of the split or just hang under a palm tree, the choice is yours.
We’ll all meet up again tonight to watch the sun go down over Caye Caulker’s famous split, there will almost definitely be sundown cocktails and mocktails involved!
Time for a change of scenery, as we travel inland you’ll begin to notice that the country is made up of an impressive network of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries which provide a safe haven for wildlife. You can expect to see capuchin monkeys (so cute) and howler monkeys (so noisy) over the course of the next two weeks so keep a lookout!
On the way to San Ignacio we’re going to visit the wonderful Comunity Baboon Sanctuary which is home to more than 3500 howler monkeys and over 250 species of birds.
Spread over several Creole villages in the Belize River valley, it’s a community-run, grassroots conservation project which is managed by the Women’s Conservation Group.
More than 200 landowners in seven villages have signed pledges to preserve the monkey’s habitat by protecting forested areas along the river and in corridors that run along the borders of their property. The black howlers have made an amazing comeback here, and the monkeys now roam freely all around the surrounding area.
There are no real baboons Belize by the way! The Belizeans use that name for the Yucatán black howler monkey which is an endangered species that exists only in Belize, northern Guatemala and southern Mexico, it’s one of the largest (and noisiest) monkeys in the Americas!
This morning you’ll get to step inside a cave featured as the #1 sacred cave destination in the world by The National Geographic. The Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave (also known as the ATM caves) are not only unique geologically, but historically; the ATM caves serve as a natural museum of ancient Mayan artefacts and sacred burial place.
You’ll hike 45-minutes through the jungle before taking a journey into the Mayan underworld, along with your local guide you’ll explore an extensive underground maze of tunnels, passageways and chambers, finishing in the ceremonial chamber where you’ll see stoneware, ceramics and the famed crystallized skeleton of the “Crystal Maiden.”
If today were a movie it would be where James bond meets David Attenborough in Planet Earth—mystery, action and conservation all rolled into one!
After checking to see if there’s really a Caiman in the lagoon next to the swimming pool you’ll sit down with your new friends for breakfast, feast on tropical fruits, sip on hot coffee and enjoy the calm before the action starts.
Remember to put your camera in your day bag before we set off because you’ll get to put everything you learned in the Members Club travel photography master class into action.
You’ll get outside today and start to see what Belize has to offer. The Mountain Pine Ridge reserve is made up of over 100,000 acres of pine and subtropical forests, wetlands, the Macal River valley—it’s an outdoor adventurers paradise!
This awesome and unique natural habitat is home to hundreds of birds and mammals. You’ll be hiking forest trails, swimming in deep clear pools below a 150-foot waterfall on Privassion Creek before sitting down for well deserved vegan-friendly picnic lunch.
We’ll be heading over the border today into Guatemala; you’ll be captivated from the moment you taste your first steaming hot corn tortilla by Guatemala’s tasty food, welcoming locals and rugged landscapes!
From Belize we cross over into Guatemala’s largest and North most region; Peten. Jungle covered, somewhat mysterious and home to the most dominant archaeological site in Mayan history, Tikal, we’ll spend the next two days delving into Maya legacy.
We’ll be staying in Flores, a small picturesque town on a small island on Lake Peten Itza which is connected to the mainland by a small causeway, it comes with some great lakeside views which will be enjoying later this afternoon.
Pre-hike breakfast of sweet plantain, black beans, steaming hot corn tortillas and fresh Guatemalan coffee sound good to you? Time to fuel up before our guided tour of the Tikal ruins.
Tikal was one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya, the site dates back as far as the 4th century and reached its apogee during the Classic Period, ca 200 to 900 AD. During this time the city dominated much of the Maya region.
Unlike most Maya sites, Tikal is unique because the temples are scattered over a huge area in the middle of the jungle. Even on a busy day you might suddenly realize you’ve been walking for a while without seeing anyone else, you’ll get to watch over the endless sea of green from thousand year old pyramids, learn about the history of the ancient Maya civilisation whilst being observed by spider and howler monkeys from treetops, a truly unforgettable experience!
Today we’ll be travelling south to Rio Dulce.
Rio Dulce means “Sweet River” and it begins in Lake Izabal, the largest lake in Guatemala, and ends at the Caribbean Sea. The river is 42 km long and is 1,500 metres across at El Golfete, its widest span.
We’ll be staying in a beautiful jungle lodge for the next two nights right in the middle of the rainforest on Río Lampara, a small river connected to Río Dulce.
Jungle hideaways. Vegan food. Wildlife. Life goals right!!
After breakfast we’ll start our nature walk, you’ll learn about the flora and fauna of the area from our brilliant local guide, walk over hanging bridges and get a great view of Lake Izabel and the river from the Shaman tower.
After a relaxed lunch back at the lodge we be taking a boat ride through the Río Dulce Canyon towards the small Carribean town of Livingston.
Livingston has a population of 12,000 and is a multicultural town know for its ethnical mix of Garifunas, Latinos, and various groups of Indigenous Maya, Chinese, Vietnamese and Hindu origin people, all living peacefully.
From Rio Dulce, we’ll be heading South West to Antigua. Antigua is a UNESCO world heritage site which in practical terms translates to beautiful colonial buildings and cobblestone streets, for that reason we recommend leaving the stilettos at home!
As you stroll around town later this afternoon, you’ll notice Antigua sits in a valley, the Panchoy valley which is known as being the cultural centre of Guatemala. With no end of ancient churches, appealing parks, conveniently placed coffee shops and flanked by volcanoes, this two-week tour soon comes here but not before one last adventure.
After chugging down a fresh juice, saying ‘buenos dias’ to your new friends, loading up on some healthy carbs and tying your shoelaces volcano-hiking tight, you’ll set off towards Pacaya volcano.
A relatively easy (okay so you’ll probably break a sweat but sweating is good for you) climb of 1.5 hours through forest and farmland with at least one macadamia nut pit stop will bring you to Pacaya volcanoes fertile shelf where you’ll explore the old lava fields with our knowledgeable local guide.
A sensory experience. Enter, “I feel like I’m on the moon kind of thoughts.”
While you watch the smoking crater that looms above and walk across thousands of years old dried lava flows, your local guide will be on the lookout for suitable marshmallow roasting opportunities before starting the descent back down.
Post marshmallow roasting we’ll head back towards Antigua in time for a well deserved late lunch and tropical fruit smoothie at the local organic farm.
This morning you can take it easy, you can spend today at your own leisure; head to the local arts and crafts market, head to a traditional Mayan Spa, find a cute coffee shop to hang out in or if you’ve got enough energy left you could hike another volcano! The choice is yours.
Wanting to come back as soon as possible thoughts and feelings are guaranteed, you can stay connected to your new friends in the members club and maybe plan some of your own adventures together!
I decided to go on the 14-day Belize and Guatemala tour because the itinerary looked exciting and the destinations consisted of the change in cultural experiences I was looking for during my next vacation. This tour did not disappoint! The planned activities were definitely adventuresome (cave exploring, jungle/volcano/Mayan ruins hikes, snorkeling) and so much fun yet enough free days were scheduled to explore the towns on your own. Emma planned a fantastic itinerary and she is a fabulous tour leader who ensured we had a great experience from our hotel stays, food, optional excursions, safety, etc. and she is just generally a nice, fun hostess. I will definitely be booking another one, possibly all, of her adventures in the future!
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
There were so many amazing moments but I would have to say our adventures in the ATM cave were a real highlight and snorkeling in Belize.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Even if you are not vegan ( like me) this trip is for you if you love an adventure and delicious food. Bring water shoes for the ATM cave.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Yes definitely. We were led by local guides at all the different activities and supported conservation groups such as the Baboon Sanctuary.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
We had a wonderful time together with our leader Emma. By the end of the trip we had formed close bonds and had so many great adventures Everything was
so well organised and the vegan food was delicious and plentiful.
Great tour, great people, awesome tour guide!:-)
My review of the tour was that it was overall fantastic.
Many memorable moments and great experiences. It was action packed but with enough down and free time as well. History, culture and exciting activities all in one tour. Snorkelling the Barrier Reef, the ATM caves, The Mayan ruins at Tikal and the days in Antigua at the end were all special moments.
The people I met were ace and the tour guide (Emma Fry) was great. Emma always made the effort and was engaged throughout with everyone on the tour.
The accommodations were to a high standard, but even when it wasn\’t total luxury it didn’t matter and probably enhanced the tour – as it was supposed to be an adventure not a luxury holiday. Some of the accommodations and settings they were in were beautiful and unforgettable; the Catamaran Hotel at Rio Dulce on the River, was a particular highlight, staying in a room basically floating on the river. Flores on the Lake and Antigua town were also memorable.
For a tour of two countries there wasn’t really a significant of transit time. And even when there was, the people made it fun.
The food was varied, usually culturally authentic (except for the odd vegan burger joint!) and plentiful! The tour guide (Emma) often engaged with the Kitchens to make the meals as good as possible. Fresh coffee every morning was always welcome.
Would highly recommend this trip.