Only a few hours from the southern U.S. by air, the English-speaking, democratically governed country of Belize is an adventurer’s paradise, with lush jungle rainforest and a network of stunning, subterranean caves and Mayan ruins that provide plenty of activities for all levels of ability. A number of family-friendly companies have developed special activities, tours and packages for visitors to access these amazing ecotourism treasures.
Jungle Lodging and Unique Adventures
The following companies all offer unique accommodations (from camping to tree house suites) and unique adventures (from butterfly farms to a thrilling 300-foot rappel) in the jungles of Belize that fit a range of family preferences, budgets, and abilities. Check their respective websites for further details. Most have an adventure travel company that will book adventures at another lodge for their guests.
Caving and Jungle Expeditions at Caves Branch Adventure Company and Jungle Lodge
Caves Branch Adventure Company and Jungle Lodge offers thrilling adventures for all ages safely led by expertly-trained guides. Ian Anderson, owner and originator of Caves Branch, has all his guides trained in wilderness First Aid as well as cave and wilderness rescue evacuation. He also prepares them in the special needs of children and families and makes sure each expedition has both radio contact and back up support.
Some of their trips popular with families include:
- River Cave Expedition – spelunking while tubing in a magnificent underground cave. Includes Mayan pottery, artifacts, and stories of the Mayan underworld known as Xibalba.
- Black Hole Drop – a mildly strenuous hike up to the edge of the Actun Loch Tunich sink hole, followed by a 300-foot rappel down through the forest canopy on ropes set up by the guides. (There is an option to hike back down.)
- Lost World Cave Expedition- a more extensive trip into Xibalba, the Mayan bloodletting ceremonies, complete with the actual bones of sacrificial victims.
Zip Lining, Zorbing, and Cave Tubing at Jaguar Paw Jungle Resort
The Aerial Trek Zipline tour at Jaguar Paw allows a bird’s eye view of the jungle while zipping along on a double set of cables 80-feet above the forest canopy. Visitors are outfitted in gear and helmets and given instructions before they traverse the course’s 7 platforms and then rappel down to the ground.
Another exciting ride offered only at Jaguar Paw is the Jungle Tumble. Also known as Zorbing, this New Zealand import puts participants in a well-padded, 11-foot tall inflatable ball and sends them down a hillside track into the rainforest.
Seasonally (and dependant on water levels), Jaguar Paw offers cave tubing, a 7-mile float underground, lit only by the headlamps of visitors. Features stalagmites, stalactites, underground waterfalls, and a crystal cathedral used in Mayan ceremonies.
Horseback Riding at Banana Bank Lodge
Family-run Banana Bank Lodge and Equestrian Center offers horseback riding adventures through well-preserved jungle. They have about 50 mixed breeds that are well-suited for river and jungle terrain and well-trained to offer a fun ride for both beginners and more experienced riders.
Belizean Blue Butterfly and Rainforest Medicine Trail at Chaa Creek Lodge
The Lodge at Chaa Creek near San Ignacio is an award-winning, top-rated eco resort. Their 365-acre nature reserve has a full service spa, a natural history center, and a butterfly farm where visitors can observe the life cycle of the Belizean Blue Butterfly.
Chaa Creek also has a native Rainforest Medicine Trail, a jungle garden (formerly known as Ix Chel) of plants and herbs used in traditional Mayan healing. Either their self-guided brochure (or a hired guide) will point out which plants and herbs can treat maladies such as malaria, diabetes, and head lice.
Most lodges and resorts offer swimming, jungle treks, birding and mountain biking. Additional day trips include: Belize Zoo, Baboon Sanctuary (with Black Howler Monkeys), and the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich or Cahal Pech in Belize or those at Tikal in Guatemala.
Many families combine a trip to the mainland of Belize with a stay on one of the many beach islands (“cayes”) near the Belize Barrier Reef. This World Heritage Site offers a spectacular marine ecosystem perfect for relaxation and water sports such as snorkeling, diving, and fishing.
Family Adventure Travel in Mainland Belize
Families in search of a safe, affordable, and unforgettable adventure vacation should check out the eco resorts and lodges of mainland Belize.