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Snorkeling Adventure in Belize with Mayan Ruins of Xuantunich

offered by supplier M08317 (read about supplier)

Key Information:
Tour Duration: 8 day(s)
Group Size: 12 - 24 people
Destination(s): Belize  
Specialty Categories: Snorkeling   Island Vacation  
Season: November
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 4290 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 4290 US Dollar (USD)

For our upcoming Snorkeling the Reefs of Belize program, we have chosen a region of Belize’s underwater environment that is as diverse as it is expansive. Protected shallow coral gardens, turtle grass meadows, and mangrove channels, each with its own distinct residents, are easily accessible from our resort. We also plan to drift snorkel where we will typically view squadrons of reef squid, schools of snappers, inquisitive gray angelfish, beautifully camouflaged seahorses and the massive southern stingray, which can be up to five feet wide.

We expect that a highlight of the program will be the opportunity to snorkel along the inner rim of the Great Blue Hole of Lighthouse Reef, the most easterly of Belize’s three atolls. The Blue Hole is famous for its perfectly circular shape, 984 feet in diameter, and its precipitous walls plunging 410 feet deep through clear water to a distant dark bottom. We plan to snorkel around its lip where we can closely observe one of the richest and most colorful shallow water coral communities found anywhere in the Caribbean. In my opinion, this area offers snorkelers the most prolific shallow sponges and sea fans found anywhere—providing panoramic vistas of brilliant reds, greens, yellows, and vibrant purples.

Belize is also blessed to have an outstanding archeological heritage. We are offering a program extension that will allow us to explore the Mayan archeological site of Xunantunich, a major ceremonial site during the Classic period (250-900 AD). In contrast to the solemn silence of the ruins, the lush rainforest encircling Xunantunich is alive with over 200 species of birds whose trills and chirps play counterpoint to the resonant bass roars of indigenous howler monkeys. We plan to complement our visit to the ruins with stops at an18 square mile howler monkey sanctuary and the Belize Zoo.

Day 1.

Our program begins when we meet at the International Belize Airport where your flights should be scheduled to arrive by 3:00pm. From the airport, we transfer by either plane or boat (means of transport to be decided by the resort on the day of transfer depending on local conditions) to Blackbird Caye Resort, our home for the next 7 nights. Join fellow program members for light snacks, registration and a brief orientation followed by dinner.

Days 2-7.

Beyond the Belize Barrier Reef, and nestled within the Turneffe Atoll, is Little Caye Bokel and the 14-acre Turneffe Island Resort. Using the resort’s boat reserved exclusively for our group, we enjoy morning and afternoon visits to protected shallow reefs where “gardens” of hard and soft coral harbor many species of marine life.

We have also planned a one-day excursion to Lighthouse Reef, weather dependent. Only about a 1.5-hour boat ride from the Turnoff Island Resort, this reef houses the Great Blue Hole, a famous geologic structure that offers us some of the best snorkeling in the entire Caribbean. We have planned a picnic lunch on Half Moon Caye, now a National Monument dedicated to the preservation of the rare Red-Footed Booby and the Magnificent Frigate Bird. Administered by the Audubon Society, this sanctuary is easily toured on the level, well-marked walking trails and features an elevated platform from which nesting birds are easily viewed. The evenings are spent enjoying leisurely dinners and interpretive sessions led by your Sea for Yourself staff.

Day 8.

After breakfast, we are proud to offer you the opportunity to explore the archeological Mayan site of Xunantunich, also known as "Stone Woman", named for a ghost that is claimed to inhabit the site. Built on a limestone ridge overlooking the Mopan River, Xunantunich exudes mystery and majesty. Reached by crossing the river on a hand-cranked ferry, its peaceful surrounding and lack of crowds make it a magical place. The most prominent structure at Xunantunich is the 130 foot "El Castillo" (The Castle) which provides a breathtaking panoramic view of the Macal, Mopan and Belize River valleys, as well as a vast area of the Guatemalan Peten District, a few miles away.

We also plan a visit to the Belize Zoo. Mesh and wood enclosures resemble the animals' natural habitat and allow us to closely appreciate over 150 birds, reptiles, and mammals (including tapir, jaguar, and howler monkeys). In addition to exploring Xunantunich and the Belize Zoo, we plan to visit the Community Baboon Sanctuary. Founded in 1958 to protect the black howler monkey, known locally as the "baboon", the sanctuary features easy walking trails among 18 square miles of undisturbed natural habitat. During this visit, we hope to hear the haunting howl of the monkey, audible up to a mile away through the thick jungle.

While I'm fascinated by the history, and intrigued by the ancient culture, for me the appeal of Xunantunich is it's "magic". In contrast to the solemn silence of the ruins, the lush rainforest is alive with over 200 species of birds whose trills and chirps play counterpoint to the resonant bass roars of indigenous howler monkeys. Parts of the site remains cloaked by vines, ferns and Ceiba trees. In this setting, complemented by our local guide, Xunantunich promotes a classically romantic "sense of discovery. In the end, we transfer by boat back to Belize City and the Belize International Airport. Departing flights should be scheduled for no earlier than 11 a.m.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Please be advised that single space is limited and subject to availability.

About This Supplier
Location: USA
Joined InfoHub: Jul 2000

M08317 is the only tour operator specialized in educational snorkeling programs. Snorkeling is a safe, easy, and enjoyable activity for participants of all ages and skill levels from young people to grandparents and is ideal for families. While we have many programs ready-to-go, we can also design and organize...

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