San Ignacio and, to a lesser extent, Belmopan are Belize's centers for outdoor adventure, including hiking, river canoeing, rafting, birding, caving, cave tubing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and other activities. Most lodges offer extensive tour options, either using their own guides or guides they know and trust. Jungle lodges and hotels often provide complimentary kayaks, canoes, and bikes, or rent them for a modest charge.
Green Dragon Adventure Travel. Associated with the Belize Jungle Dome Lodge near Belmopan, Green Dragon Adventure Travel offers 3- to 14-day tours of Belize. Among them are four- and five-day adventure tours of the Cayo, incorporating visits to Mayan ruins and caves with activities including hiking, river kayaking, and horseback riding. Rates for these Cayo tours are BZ$2,200 to BZ$3,300 per person, not including airfare to Belize, alcohol, or gratuities. Banana Bank, Mile 47, George Price Hwy., Belmopan, Cayo. 822/2124; www.greendragonbelize.com.
Backroads. Pedal your way through Cayo and Tikal with a seven-day, six-night tour from Backroads. The tour takes you biking through the Mountain Pine Ridge and Tikal National Park, with a stay at the luxurious Blanceaneux Lodge. You also get to fly to southern Belize and snorkel on the Belize Barrier Reef. Packages start at around BZ$8,000 per person. 801 Cedar St., Berkeley, California, 94710. 800/462–2848; 510/527–1555; www.backroads.com.
Seeing the Ruins
San Ignacio makes a good jumping-off spot to see Tikal, either on a day trip or overnight. It’s also a good base for visiting Mayan sites in the Cayo, including Caracol, Xunantunich, Cahal Pech, and El Pilar. It’s also a base for visiting Actun Tunichil Muknal, the amazing caves that introduce you to the Mayan underworld.
Belize Magnificent Mayan Tours. Run by local tour guide Albert Williams, Belize Magnificent Mayan Tours (or BZM Tours for short) does tours to Caracol, Tikal, Xunantunich, and elsewhere. Day tours to Mayan sites range from around BZ$440 per person for Caracol to BZ$850 for an overnight trip to Tikal. BZM Tours also has tours to Xunantunich, Cahal Pech, and Chechem Ha Cave, with extras such as a visit to the Belize Zoo and cave tubing. 3 Burns Ave., San Ignacio, Cayo. 621/0312; www.bzmtours.com.
PACZ Tours. A long-established San Ignacio tour operator, PACZ specializes in tours to the spooky, wonderful Actun Tunichil Muknal near Belmopan (BZ$220 per person for a guided full-day tour). They also offer other Mayan tours, including ones to Tikal and Caracol. The day tour to Tikal is BZ$290 and includes transportation from downtown San Ignacio, lunch, and admission to Tikal. The full-day Caracol tour is BZ$220 and includes transportation from downtown San Ignacio, admission fees, lunch, and stops at some sites in the Mountain Pine Ridge including Rio On and Rio Frio Cave. 30 Burns Ave., San Ignacio, Cayo. 824/0536; 604/6921; www.pacztours.net.