Set Sail for Belize and Guatemala

Main destination Belize · About Escorted or Guided Tour

Set Sail for Belize and Guatemala

Main destination Belize · About Escorted or Guided Tour

Set sail aboard the National Geographic Quest to discover the wonders of the Belize barrier reef—one of the planet’s most extensive reef systems. With our state-of-the-art expedition ship as your moving basecamp, immerse yourself in this spectacular marine realm while kayaking and paddleboarding turquoise lagoons, snorkeling amid hundreds of species of fish and corals, and exploring wildlife-rich coastal rivers by Zodiac. Then continue the adventure as we head inland to encounter the ancient Maya ruins of Guatemala—including legendary Tikal.

Expedition Overview

  • Set out from the state-of-the-art National Geographic Quest to kayak and paddleboard turquoise lagoons, and board Zodiacs to cruise wildlife-rich coastal rivers.
  • Spot turtles, rays, and rainbow-colored fish while snorkeling or diving the coral gardens of the Belize barrier reef.
  • Venture into the jungles of Guatemala with local experts to discover the spectacular Maya cities of Tikal and Yaxhá.
  • Join a naturalist for a hike in Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the world’s first jaguar reserve.

What to expect:

The expedition experience can be tailored to the activity level you choose, whether it’s light or moderate or a little of both. Travelers should be in good health, comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time, and able to get in and out of expedition landing craft. Our itinerary includes visits to Maya sites and caves where terrain can be uneven and slippery. Some caves will require guests to maneuver through small spaces, at times over wet, bumpy ground, often without handrails. Other activities may include Zodiac cruises, easy hikes, walking tours, and visits to historic or cultural sites, with options each day for more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, or biking. Scuba diving is offered at additional cost.

Expedition Team

Accompanying each expedition is a diverse team of experts - from naturalists to regional specialists - who will share their knowledge and insights the wildlife, landscape and local culture.

Richard Hansen - Anthropologist

A National Geographic expert or photographer joins the expedition team on select departures.

2019 Dates & Prices

Feb 13-21— March 20-28, 2019 Starting at $5760

Prices are per person based on double or single occupancy (unless otherwise noted) and do not include international airfare to/from your destination. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change.


Embark on a unique land-and-sea expedition to discover the marine wonders of Belize and the Maya ruins of Guatemala. Snorkel amid hundreds of species of fish and corals on the Belize barrier reef with the National Geographic Quest as your base for exploration. Skirt the shores of white-sand islands by kayak and stand-up paddleboard, and swim in turquoise lagoons teeming with marine life. Then venture to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tikal and other intriguing Maya ruins to encounter thousands of ancient temples and shrines scattered beneath the rain forest canopy.

Day 1: Guatemala City, Guatemala/Puerto Barrios

Arrive in Guatemala City and connect with our charter flight to Puerto Barrios. Upon arrival, transfer to Puerto Santo Tomás, where we'll embark the National Geographic Quest.

Meals Included: Dinner

Days 2-3: Monkey River, Belize/Belize Barrier Reef

Sail the southern coast of Belize to the mouth of Monkey River and board Zodiacs to cruise inland through the Belizean jungle in search of toucans, green iguanas, and myriad bird species. This afternoon, we begin our exploration of the Belize barrier reef, second to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in terms of biodiversity. Take to the warm waters by snorkel, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard. For certified scuba divers, incredible dive opportunities abound.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily

Day 4: Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary/ Manatee or Sittee River

Spend the morning discovering the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the world’s first jaguar reserve. Join our naturalists for a hike along one of the reserve’s many nature trails to photograph tropical plants, scan the treetops for winged wonders, and spot the tracks of tapirs and jungle cats. Visit a Maya handicraft center, then cruise the mangrove forests of the Manatee or Sittee River. Tonight, an internationally acclaimed drumming group, The Garifuna Collective, joins us on board for a festive music performance.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Lighthouse Reef

Sail to Lighthouse Reef and go snorkeling, paddleboarding, diving, or kayaking inside its fringing reef. The shallow lagoon is dotted with hundreds of coral patches that harbor parrotfish, butterflyfish, octopus, and other marine species.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Puerto Santo Tomas. Guatemala/Flores

Disembark in Puerto Santo Tomas and catch our charter flight to Flores, gateway to Tikal—one of the largest cities in the Classic Maya world. Enjoy lunch on the shores of picturesque Lake Petén Itzá before transferring to our lakefront hotel. Later, set out on an optional birding walk with our naturalists, or take a sunset boat cruise on the lake.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Hotel Camino Real Tikal

Day 7: Tikal

Spend a full day exploring Tikal, where ancient pyramids tower more than 200 feet, and thousands of temples, shrines, and plazas are scattered beneath the rain forest canopy. Discover the site’s archaeological treasures, including the Temple of the Great Jaguar and the North and South Acropolis. Encounter ancient Maya art and hieroglyphs, and examine carved stone inscriptions that illuminate the history and spiritual significance of Tikal.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: Hotel Camino Real Tikal

Day 8: Yaxhá

Explore Yaxhá, a former Maya ceremonial center situated on a ridge overlooking Yaxhá Lake. The world’s third largest known Maya site, Yaxhá spreads across nine plazas and contains multiple pyramids, ball courts, and stelae. Examine its features with your local guides and, if you wish, climb a temple for panoramic views. Later, enjoy lunch at a traditional Guatemalan restaurant, followed by an evening at leisure.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: Hotel Camino Real Tikal

Day 9: Flores/ Guatemala City/ U.S.

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.

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