Three Purposes of Adventure Trips
First, experience the Mayan World's abundant natural, cultural and historic treasures and return home with new or deeper friendships, cherished and unforgettable memories and the inner peace that comes from knowing that you made a difference.
Second, gain a sense of your personal legacy options at the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve. Investigate how you can help build and enjoy a sustainable tourism project and lodge, while also becoming a key player in a legacy fund.
Third, Our stay in the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve funds education, reforestation, ecotourism infrastructure and other efforts to end deep poverty and restore the Rio Sauce watershed. We want to build a community who understand our vision, help get the word out or even become long term supporters.
Volunteer Week / Jungle Explorer
12 days in Guatemala & Belize with 5 days of volunteer work, teaching English to Mayan students or Spanish lessons in the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve
Departure: Punta Gorda, Belize
Trip date: October 25
Flights: Southwest Airlines has a round trip fare for under $400 from Denver International Airport to Belize City. There is an additional internal one-way flight from Belize City to Punta Gorda. This flight is approximately $175. Flights are not included in the trip price. Our stay at the project site provides funds directly to the Q'eqchi Maya of the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve for lodging, meals, Spanish instruction, tours, etc.
Note: Lodging is clean and comfortable, but rustic. There will be shared bathrooms and cool showers only at the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve.
Trip highlights: 5 full days in a Q'eqchi Maya village helping with various project initiatives. This could mean teaching English to Mayan students 4 hours per day, trail work or infrastructure construction, medical care for qualified professionals or just being a student and taking Spanish lessons. Included: riverside lodging in the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve, all meals at our project site, Tikal National Park and the Mayan Biosphere Reserve, Rio Dulce National Park, flatwater river canoeing, the canopy bridges at Ixpanpajul Natural Park, the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center and much more!
Jungle Explorer / Volunteer Week Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive Belize City, transfer by van to the Macal River Camp near San Ignacio. The Macal River Camp and the Lodge at Chaa Creek provide a guiding example for lodging options at the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve. We will stay in the tent cabins at the Macal River Camp, but have access to the infinity edge pool and amenities of the Lodge at Chaa Creek, one of the world’s top rated eco-resorts. Included: Van transport, dinner, lodging in tent cabins (“Glamping”) at the Macal River Camp
Day 2: Among the options included in the trip price: early morning guided bird watching, walking the Rainforest Medicine Trail or lounging at Chaa Creek’s infinity edge swimming pool. Optional tours are described in detail on the Chaa Creek website and include a tour of the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, “one of the most impressive and artifact-rich Maya ceremonial caves ever found, containing rare bloodletting altars used in sacrifices by Maya royalty and over 1400 catalogued artifacts, as well as sacrificial human remains.” Included: breakfast, dinner, lodging at the Macal River Camp, use of amenities as described, lodging
Day 3: Leisurely morning before departing for the nearby Mayan archeological site of Xunantunich. A local tour company descripion - board a wooden ferry for the short trip across the Mopan River. Look for large green iguanas under the foliage or lazing on the forested riverbank. When you reach the opposite shore, disembark for a brief shuttle ride to the entrance of Xunantunich (Maya for ‘Maiden of the Rock’)... Over the course of your 2-hour guided tour, visit several residential palaces for Mayan royalty, located amid 25 temples and palaces that surround six major plazas. When you reach the impressive pyramid of El Castillo, admire the stucco frieze that once extended around its entire perimeter. Take a look at the detailed, astronomical carvings depicting Mayan gods, rulers and warriors in full regalia. Then, start your moderate climb up the winding stone steps of the magnificent pyramid; rising 130 feet (40 meters) above the main plaza, it’s the second-tallest structure in Belize. Continue to the temple’s peak to enjoy the stunning panorama, including the Belize River Valley, Mopan River and nearby Guatemala.” We stop for lunch at Benny’s, a local hot spot for Belizean fare. It’s then a short drive to the border crossing into Guatemala. Keep your passport handy. Departure taxes of approximately $20 are not included in the trip price. After crossing the border into Guatemala, it’s just over an hour to La Casa De Don David, our hotel on the shores of Lake Peten Itza. Enjoy the sunset and a drink delivered by the “Toucan Express” on the deck overlooking the lake. Included:breakfast, entry and guided tour of Xunantunich, all transport, dinner, lodging
Day 4: Early morning departure and a 30-minute drive into Tikal National Park, the Mayan World’s most spectacular archeological and jungle site. Tikal encompasses 575 square kilometers of jungle and thousands of ruined structures. The central part of the ancient city alone contains 3,000 buildings and covers about 16 square kilometers. Tikal is also part of the one-million-hectare Maya Biosphere Reserve created in 1990 to protect the dense forests of the Peten, which started to disappear at an alarming rate due to population pressures, illegal logging and slash-and-burn agricultural practices. We will have a chance to see rare and endangered wildlife, such as the scarlet macaw or jaguar, howler and spider monkeys, toucans, oscillated turkeys, tapirs and scores of colorful bird species also find habitat in Tikal and the surrounding Maya Biosphere Reserve. Included: All transport, entrance and guided tour of Tikal National Park, lodging at La Casa de Don David, dinner
Day 5: Early departure for Ixpanpajul Natural Park. The canopy bridges provide a guiding example for our project work in sustainable tourism and give us a bird's eye view of jungle treetops, howler monkeys and exotic birdlife. Following our two-mile rainforest hike, we travel to Finca Ixobel and enjoy a lunch break at one of Guatemala's first eco-lodges. Our travels continue along the shores of Lake Izabal, Guatemala's largest lake, and into the Sierra Santa Cruz Mountains by four wheel drive trucks. We arrive at our new jungle lodge overlooking the Rio Sauce and Guatemala's most recently established protected area, the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve. We are now in a 100 percent Q'eqchi Mayan village, little changed over the centuries. The only electricity in the village is supplied by solar panels at our jungle lodge and intermediate school. This is your chance to build bridges with a different culture, a different race and in a different country. As Ghandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." This is your opportunity to make an enormous difference.
Days 6 - 10: We begin each day with a breakfast buffet breakfast on our deck overlooking the Rio Sauce and then begin our volunteer work. Work and / or study completed by lunchtime. (Discuss possibilities with project founder Paul Heesaker) We will take a day off when our guide trainees take us for a mile-long walk on the Rio Sauce Jungle Trail. From here, we float on inner tubes (lifejackets included) on the Rio Sauce. Vertical walls and jungle vegetation tower hundreds of feet overhead, and if we're lucky, we will float by howler monkeys. Continue to lunch at a restaurant on the shores of Lake Izabal, then travel 20 minutes to "The Paradise" hot springs trailhead. It’s then a half-mile walk to the confluence of a hot springs waterfall and a cool water stream. Enjoy a swim in the natural pool and a hot springs waterfall massage. We will also take an afternoon boat excursion into to the Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Reserve on Lake Izabal. Bring your camera since we will likely see howler monkeys, numerous species of birds, and possibly, the elusive manatee. Included: All meals, tours, Spanish lessons and lodging is included in the trip price while we're at the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve.
Day 11: We travel one hour to El Castillo de San Felipe, a Spanish fort overlooking the entrance to Lake Izabal. A motor launch meets us for the next leg of our journey and we pass through Rio Dulce National Park's dense tropical rainforest, including a reserve for the endangered manatee. The Rio Dulce is home to ex-pat American sailors and travelers who enjoy off the grid jungle lodges. Our motor launch arrives at Ak' Tenamit, our affiliate school on Rio Tatin. Ak' Tenamit is an internationall renowned vocational boarding school and prepares indigenous youth to become leaders in their communites and advocates for the protection of the natural world. Students have career paths in rural community development or sustainable tourism. We will also vist their handicraft store and tour the campus. Included: Breakfast, lunch, rustic rainforest bunalows along the Rio Tatin, all transport
Day 12: Travelers have options to return with us and continue volunteer work in the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve or to take a one-hour boat journey across the Bay of Amitique and to Punta Gorda, Belize. The boat journey passes through the Rio Dulce Canyon and to Livingston, a Garifuna town on Guatemala's Caribbean Coast. Garifunas are the descendents of West African Carribean slaves who preserve their rich and vibrant culture along Central America's Caribbean Coast. Upon arrival at the customs dock in Punta Gorda, travelers clear customs and then have a five minute taxi ride to the Punta Gorda airport. Tropic Air and Maya Island Air have numerous daily departures for travel destinations throughout Belize, including six daily departures for the Belize International Airport. Belize is an English speaking country and travel plans are easy to arrange. Another option is to stay in Punta Gorda and explore the region's jungle, Mayan archeologial sites or even snorkel off the world's second largest barrier reef. We can assist with all your travel arrangements, but will bid farewell at the boat dock in Livingston Guatemala and after you have cleared Guatemalan customs. Included: breakfast, transport back to the Seacacar Cañon Natural Reserve or to Punta Gorda, Belize.