Here we profile some of the most interesting and dynamic regions of Belize from which you can build your trip itinerary. These special places provide a tremendous range of opportunities for learning and adventure. Stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, an abundance of biology and ample opportunities for sport and adventure are the characteristics we are looking for when we choose trip locations. The descriptions below are designed to help you choose the regions and activities you want to incorporate within your trip itinerary
"I want to thank the whole company at Island Expeditions for taking me on the best trip of my life. Thank you so much for the scholarship, it made it possible for me to go and this trip has changed my life"
-Kyle Frawley, Villanova Preparatory School
Tropical Education Center and Belize Zoo
Most, if not all, of our educational trips in Belize start or finish at the Tropical Education Center and Belize Zoo (TEC). One hour south of the Belize International Airport is the Tropical Education Center, situated in the midst of a sub-tropical pine forest and savannah habitat. On the property we stay in forest cabanas or dormitory style research station. Our accommodations are unique in that they are situated next to the world renowned Belize Zoo. Spread over 29 acres with large, natural wildlife enclosures organized around the theme of "a walk through the habitats of Belize" and trails leading into pinelands, the forest edge, the rainforest, wetlands and riparian forest we have a superb opportunity to gain firsthand experience of all things wild in Belize.
The Southern Barrier Reef of Belize
The barrier reef, which runs the full length of the Belize coast, is considered one of the richest tropical marine ecosystems on earth. The reef is 165 miles long, runs from 10-25 miles offshore of the mainland, is the longest continuous reef in the Caribbean and the second longest in the world. Along the reef are over 200 cays (pronounced "keys") which are low-lying islands of sand and coral fragments ranging from small sand fringed cays perched along the reef's edge to larger ranges made up of mangroves and partially submerged land. Along the barrier reef we travel by sea kayak, snorkeling the rich coral reefs by day and camping on uninhabited cays at night. These trips can be operated either as a self-contained expedition or with motor boat support.
Glovers Reef Atoll
Thirty six miles offshore of the Belize mainland and almost twenty miles beyond the barrier reef lie a group of islands cradled within a turquoise lagoon and surrounded by a living coral reef. An elliptical shaped reef (20 miles long and 7 miles wide) Glover's Reef Atoll is considered to be one of the richest marine environments in the entire Caribbean Sea. Within Glover's Reef is a shallow lagoon with over 700 patch reefs. Within a mile of the eastern edge of the atoll, the reef wall drops precipitously 2600 feet to the sea floor. The interaction between the open waters of the Caribbean Sea and the sheltered lagoon of the atoll results in a fantastic diversity andabundance of marine life. Our AdventureLearn Basecamp is perched on the southern edge of the atoll with a dramatic view facing east over the main reef crest and the open Caribbean. Our wind and solar powered basecamp is outfitted with sea kayaks, windsurfers, c-breathe diving apparatus , scuba facilities along with telescope, resource library and small wet lab. In1993, the atoll was declared a national marine park, and 25% of the area and lagoon was protected from fishing and harvesting. To continue the conservation efforts to preserve this extraordinary environment, the site was designated as a United Nations World Heritage Site, in 1996. A portion of each parpticipants trip cost contributes to the conservation and management of Glovers Reef Marine Reserve.
Mayan Ruins and Caves of Belize
Thousands of years ago the Mayan people built great cities and ceremonial centers along the Caribbean lowlands of Central America. Much of what we know today of this remarkable civilization is due to the painstaking work of archaeologists who for over a hundred years have been studying the physical remains of the ancient Maya. In Belize we can explore some of the larger ruins including the cities of Lamanai, Xunantunich, and Lubaantun as well as join in with exciting new discoveries being made underground in the caves of Belize. With extensive limestone and karst geology, the jungle-covered slopes of the Maya Mountains are riddled with caves and underground waterways.
For the Maya, the caves were the entrances to Xilbalba, a mythical underworld of untold fears where Mayan priests and royalty ventured into stygian darkness to conduct secretive rituals. Here we find carved slate altars, ceramic bowls and vases, stone tools and even calcified skeletons. Mayan archaeology is only part of the adventure in the caves. We also learn about cave formation and view fantastic speleothems like stalagmites and stalagtites, towering draperies shimmering with crystals, rimstone dams, and delicate cave pearls.
Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve
When we travel into the Cockscomb Basin, we are confronted with the abundant biology of the tropical rainforest. The Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve encompasses 102,000 acres of broadleaf forest with many rivers and streams draining the fertile basin. The Cockscomb is significant in that it is the first habitat worldwide, designated to protect the largest predator in the New World tropics- the jaguar. The area was chosen not only for the belief that it supports the highest concentrations of jaguars (felis onca) north of the Amazon Basin but also for the tremendous diversity and profusion of wildlife and birds.
The Maya people are Integral to our investigation of tropical forest ecology. We stay as guests of the village of Maya Center, and throughout our explorations we blend science with traditional knowledge under the tutelage of our exceptional Mayan bush guides.
Lighthouse Reef Atoll
On the furthest boundary of the Belize reef system, at world renowned Lighthouse Atoll, we have established the first ever AdventureLearntm Basecamp. Here, we sea kayak, snorkel and scuba dive; learn about reef ecology, feast on fresh caught seafood and all in all take in one of the most beautiful island and coral reef settings you can possibly imagine. Lighthouse Reef Atoll, located fifty miles offshore of the Belize mainland, shelters within the heart of it's lagoon the 400 foot deep "Blue Hole", perhaps one of the most extraordinary underwater phenomenons in the western hemisphere. Developed along the lines of our hugely successful Glover's Reef trip, the Lighthouse AdventureLearn Basecamp opens up, for the first time, over fifty miles of wilderness reefs and islands to explore by sea kayak. A one of a kind underwater marine trail, superb snorkeling from our beach, unique littoral forests and one of the best dive locations in the world all contribute to make this the most exciting new basecamp trips in Belize. A portion of each parpticipants trip cost contributes to the conservation and management of Lighthouse Reef Marine Reserve.