• Belize

Overview

Biodiversity in Belize is under attack on two fronts, in the rainforest & along the world-renowned
reefs. Students visit a Mayan community in the rain forest to learn about the responsible use of natural resources. Then, they’ll investigate reef ecosystems with a local marine biologist.

Highlights

  • Mayan Village - Students will begin their experience by participating in a Mayan Ceremony that will invoke the spirit of the living resources (plants & animals). The Mayan community will teach students how they use & replenish their natural resources. Students will spend several days planting trees, making medicine from natural ingredients & preparing an ancient chocolate drink.
  • Marine Reserves - This program will provide direct experience with principles of Ecology & Marine Biology in the unique setting of the Belize Barrier Reef. Enjoy a snorkeling tour guided by a professional marine biologist with expert knowledge of the diverse ecosystem found here. Students will have the opportunity to swim with turtles, nurse sharks, sting rays, eagle rays, seahorses & possibly manatees.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1: Maya Village

Upon arrival, the group will be transferred to Maya Village’s Nuuk Che’il Cottages. 
In many communities today, the people of the rainforest continue to depend on their natural resources for their survival. Due to the use of these natural resources, many plants and other life in these ecosystems are faced with a greater degree of deforestation. However, indigenous people must continue to depend on these resources if they are to survive with their families in their different localities. 
Although indigenous people are blamed for the destruction of some of the rainforests, deforestation is also caused by development. This development is not only destroying the natural resources, but it’s also displacing the indigenous people. Thus, depriving them of the natural resources needed for food, shelter and medicine, just to mention a few. Local people have realized the challenges with their resources and know they have to use these resources wisely to ensure their ultimate survival. 
In the village of Maya Center, programs have been initiated as a counter attack against the threat facing biodiversity in the area.  
To begin the program, students will participate in a Mayan Ceremony that will invoke the spirit of the living resources (plants & animals).

Day 2: Maya Village

Today, the group will identify natural resources used by the community for their survival. Locals will share how they use the forest for food, shelter and medicine.
Take a tour of the community & get a first-hand view of daily life (cultural practices, tradition, etc.). Share & discuss the findings. 

Day 3: Maya Village

Today, the students will break into two groups. Each group will prepare seedling boxes. One group prepares boxes for Mahogany and Cocoa seeds while the other will prepare boxes for Samwood and Jippi-Jappa. These plants are used for making houses as well as food.

Day 4: Maya Village

This morning, students will divide back into their groups. This time, each group will participate in the next step of the reforestation process, visiting a plantation to plant Mahogany Trees, Cocoa plants, Samwood plants and Jippi-Jappa palms. They will also mulch these plants in order to ensure their survival. In the afternoon, each group will share their experiences about the day’s activities.

Day 5: Maya Village

Use of plants for medicine is an integral part of the community’s cultural survival. Students will tour the botanical garden and talk about the medicinal use of plants. Then, they will have the opportunity to make an insect repellent called “After Bite.” They’ll be able to use this medicine and see it work.    
Later in the day, the group will take a tour to learn about the Theobroma Cocoa Plant. Then, they will get to make some chocolate! Students will be making the same drink the Mayan Rulers had in their time, the “food of the gods.” 

Day 6: Caye Caulker

This morning, the group will transfer to Belize City, then take a boat to Caye Caulker.
Overnight at Costa Maya Beach Cabanas.

Day 7: Ho Chan Marine Reserve

After breakfast, enjoy a guided snorkeling tour of Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Students will have the opportunity to swim with turtles, nurse sharks and sting rays at three amazing snorkeling sites. 
Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Mayan for “little channel,” hosts a dazzling array of tropical fish. Shark n Ray Alley, where the group can be up close and friendly with nurse sharks and stingrays. At Coral Gardens, students will see plentiful corals and colorful tropical fish. They will swim with turtles, eagle rays, nurse sharks and more.
There will also be a bonus stop to swim with manatees at the North Channel. Please note Manatees are not a guarantee all year around. The best manatee viewing is from April to September, however, they are becoming more frequently seen around the waters of Caye Caulker.
We finish a perfect day, following the mangroves as we cruise from North Point to Caye Caulker from North Point. There, we’ll visit the Tarpon Hole to study the seahorses. 

Day 8: Southern Reef

After breakfast, depart for your island-hopping tour. Visit three beautiful islands of the Southern Reef – Sergeant’s Caye, Goff’s Caye, and St. Georges Caye. Snorkel, relax and enjoy the beauty of the Belizean Islands.

Day 9: Caye Caulker

After breakfast, depart for a three-hour tour just five minutes from Caye Caulker. Enjoy two and a half hours of snorkeling time at Shark Ray Alley, Coral Canyon and The Channel. (Please note that this is not a repeat of Shark and Ray sites in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. This trip is in the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve.)

Day 10: Flight to U.S.A.

Enjoy breakfast before transferring by boat to Belize City and on to Belize International Airport for your return flight home.