From: February 22 to March 2, 2017

Destination: Belize, wetlands and islands

  • Belize: Beaches, Jungles, and Ruins - FULL

    On this trip we start with an exploration of Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary in inland Belize, learning about the natural history as we take a boat tour through the Crooked Tree Lagoons and the human history as we visit the Mayan ruins of Lamanai and Altun Ha. We then move to our private island basecamp on Lighthouse Reef Atoll, a remote tropical marine park 55 miles offshore from the mainland that is managed by the Belize Audobon Society. We sleep in comfortable safari-style tent cabanas located right on the beach and enjoy meals of fresh seafood, tropical fruit, and local dishes. A flexible daily schedule offers opportunities to paddle and sail kayaks, swim and snorkel, beachcomb and bird watch, and try stand up paddleboarding (SUP). Visiting "the Aquarium" and Jacques Cousteau's famous Blue Hole are sure to be highlights. Activities are geared to people of all interest and ability levels so you can choose the vacation you want. It doesn't matter whether you're brand new to any sport or already experienced, the guides will make sure you learn what you need to know to stay safe and have fun. Maximum group size: 22

    THIS TRIP IS FULL. To get on a waitlist, register for the trip (no deposit required).
  • Wednesday, February 22: Arrive at the Belize International Airport (we recommend before 3pm) where an AGC representative will meet you and take you to Bird’s Eye View Lodge, our lodging for the next two nights. Located in the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, the Bird's Eye View Lodge sits along the banks of the Crooked Tree Lagoon and couldn't be more aptly named - this is a birders' paradise and if you've never been a birder, this may convert you. The protected area was created in 1984 primarily to preserve resident and migratory birds, and consists of a network of inland lagoons, swamps, and waterways. There are literally hundreds of species within the sanctuary, including, snail kites, tiger herons, snowy egrets, ospreys, black collared hawks, and the reserve's most famous resident, the massive jabiru stork. We'll gather as a group for welcome and introductions, and enjoy our first dinner together. If time permits, we'll explore Crooked Tree Village, one of Belize’s oldest Creole Settlements. D

    Thursday, February 23: Today we have a full day of exploration as we travel overland to the Mayan ruins of Lamanai. This site was one of the longest continuously occupied Mayan cities, from about 500 BC to 1675 AD, due in part to its location on the New River, a major trade route. Spread out over 950 acres, the central area is about a half square mile. Much of Lamanai's archaeological importance is in the large, imposing Late Pre-Classic temple-pyramids which usually underlie Early Classic constructions. The site was not just important to the Mayans; the remains of two 16th century Catholic churches and a 19th century sugar mill can also be found. During your guided tour ywe'll visit many temples, plazas, palaces, and museums within the park boundaries, and perhaps meet one of the four troops of howler monkeys that make their home here.

    Once we've had a chance to thoroughly explore the ruins, we depart Lamanai by boat for a scenic trip into the Crooked Tree Sanctuary. In addition to the large variety of bird species (including parrots and toucans), monkeys, crocodiles and other animals may also be seen. We return to our lodge along the banks of the Crooked Tree Lagoons for another delicious dinner. B, L, D

    Friday, February 24 For early risers, coffee is served at sunrise. With our binoculars in hand, we’ll enjoy the sounds and sights of the awakening wilderness and watch hundreds of birds feeding along the shores of the Crooked Tree Lagoons. Today we enjoy boat tours through the protected lagoons and a guided tour of the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha. Considered one of the major Mayan ceremonial centers of Belize, Altun Ha also functioned as an important trading centre between the interior and the Caribbean Sea during the classic period (250-900 AD). However, Altun Ha has been dated as far back as 600 BC. Within the site, there are more than 275 structures and there are up to 250 to 300 unexcavated mounds. We'll enjoy our final night at the Lodge tonight, with sadness about leaving and anticipation for the next leg of our adventure.

    Saturday, February 25  This morning we return to Belize City where we board a chartered water taxi to Lighthouse Reef Atoll. Our route first takes us along numerous white sand, partially submerged, mangrove cayes until we cross Belize’s Barrier Reef. From here, we enter the narrow passages within the Turneffe Islands before crossing the blue waters towards Lighthouse Atoll. Upon reaching our Half Moon Caye Basecamp,we receive an orientation to our new island paradise. Have you ever wanted your own private Caribbean Island? Yup, no one else here but Audubon headquarters. Large safari-style tents with beds on cots, in a row along a beautiful beach looking out to the ocean are our new accommodations. This afternoon we receive thorough instruction on the fundamentals of sea kayaking, snorkeling, and safety on the Caribbean Sea. Weather permitting, we’ll have an opportunity to sea kayak and snorkel within this marine reserve.

    Sunday - Tuesday, February 26 - 28  It would be misleading to spell out a daily itinerary because there is so much flexibility and so many options that you could have a very different trip from the person you're sharing a tent with. If you're an early riser, you might choose to start the day with a swim, a walk along the beach, or a cup of coffee as you watch the sunrise. After a healthy and hearty Belizean breakfast, we'll gathers to plan the day’s activities. The waters of Lighthouse Reef Atoll are exceptionally clear with a fabulously rich reef system, which offers some of the best kayaking, snorkeling, and diving in the Caribbean. You can paddle, snorkel, learn how to SUP (stand up paddleboard), try your hand at fishing (they prefer to call it "catching" as the fishing is uncertain), and learn how to sail a kayak. Snorkeling "the Aquarium", an area with a profusion of tropical fish and towering coral formations, is always a highlight). You’ll also be taken on a snorkeling excursion to the renowned Blue Hole, a site made famous by the legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau. The Blue Hole is an underwater cave and sinkhole in the middle of the Lighthouse lagoon. Kayaking options are suitable for both novice and experienced kayakers. With both double and single kayaks available, you can try a different boat every day. And always, when you're tired of doing, you can kick back in a hammock and enjoy a good book, or walk to the red-footed booby colony to watch nesting boobies come in from the sea to tend their nests and feed their chicks. After all, this is vacation and not boot camp! The local guides are a wealth of information and they love to share their vast knowledge of Belize, its unique marine environments and local culture.

    Wednesday, March 1 This is the kind of place that is so hard to tear yourself away from! Today like every other day, you can choose from a variety of activities. Don a mask, snorkel, and fins for a final swim to a favorite patch reef. Circumnavigate Half Moon Caye by kayak or explore by Stand Up Paddleboard. Walk the trails, or beachcomb along the island beaches. Our water taxi typically arrives later in the afternoon to take us back to the mainland. We'll spend our last night at the Belize Biltmore Hotel, a comfortable hotel located on the outskirts of Belize City. We'll share a final farewell dinner, toasting each other and our magical time in Belize.

    Thursday, March 2  You can leave anytime this morning or enjoy the day at your leisure before you fly home or continue on your travels. Relax by the pool or investigate the optional tours offered by the hotel activity desk.
  • $2495 (see this page for discounts) $400 deposit. Single supplement (only necessary if you want your own room, maximum of 2) is $365. You can read our cancellation policy here.

    Trip Includes

    • An AGC guide and 2-6 Belizean guides (most likely male) and staff depending on group size
    • Eight nights lodging as described
    • Meals from dinner on Tuesday through dinner the following Wednesday
    • All kayaking, snorkeling, and paddleboarding and equipment
    • All transportation within Belize

    Not included: guide and staff gratuities, short-term travelers insurance policy to cover possible medical expenses during trip.

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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    We can always accommodate vegetarian, gluten-free, and omnivore diets. On most trips we can also accommodate lactose-free, vegan, and other restricted diets, although in some locations the availability of special food may be limited. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Sea kayaking in clear water in a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Snorkeling among coral reefs in one of the richest marine environments in the entire Caribbean
  • Visiting Mayan ruins and the famous Blue Hole
  • Feasting on fresh seafood, tropical fruit, and local cuisine
  • Experiencing all the benefits of camping without any of the challenges

Register for this trip today

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