Cayo Guides and Tour Operators
Cayo is famous for both the quantity and quality of its guides, naturalists, and tour operators. Signing up for a tour is as easy as contacting your hotel’s front desk or walking up San Ignacio’s Burns Avenue, where most of Cayo’s tour operator offices are located (also look across from the outdoor market).
It’s often the same price to book a trip through your hotel as it is directly with the tour company, but if you’d like to handle it on your own, here are a few options.
In addition to the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave trip, Pacz Tours (tel. 501/604-6921 or 501/824-0536, www.pacztours.net) offers overnight camping options involving some combination of river running, waterfalls, ruins, caves, and rappelling. As for their professionalism and gear—well, put it this way: When National Geographic or the Travel Channel comes to Belize, they call Pacz.
Equally reputable, Hun Chi’ik Tours (tel. 501/600-9192, www.hunchiik.com) has experienced guides and a creative range of trips. They are conscious about the importance of “oral tradition and local knowledge” to enhance the educational value of their tours.
Yute Expeditions (office on Burns Ave. opposite Hotel Casa Blanca, tel. 501/824-2076, yuteexp [at] btl [dot] net, www.inlandbelize.com) is run by a very experienced Cayo family. They’re especially good for families and groups and have a top-notch fleet of air-conditioned vehicles.
Cayo Adventure Tours (CAT, tel. 501/824-3246, www.cayoadventure.com) is another option, offering all kinds of day trips in the area.
River Rat (tel. 501/625-4636, www.riverratbelize.com) specializes in Actun Tunichil Muknal, kayak expeditions, and overnight float trips; ask around town for “Gonzo,” the amiable Chief Rat who was last seen working on his archaeology degree so he can offer “archaeo-tourism” trips to active excavations.
The tour operator shacks in a row near the open market are all small, Belizean-owned operations, and may be cheaper. Among these, David’s Tours (tel. 501/824-3674) is one of the old standbys, offering volumes of local knowledge and the full range of tours.
Tony’s Guided Tours (tel. 501/824-3292) is probably the most economical independent trip on the river at US$17.50 per person. For the more adventurous, Tony also offers a five-day canoe/camp trip to Belize City (US$65 pp per day, all-inclusive). He provides everything except your personal effects.
For a totally unique caving expedition, contact Belizean Sun Tours (tel. 501/601-2630, www.belizeansun.com), based in San José de Succotz, just west of San Ignacio. Their Actun Chapat and Halal Caving Adventure runs US$95 per person (includes everything) and begins with an eight-mile Land Rover ride through the jungle, then a hike to several sites, including Actun Chapat, a huge cave with 60-foot ceilings and huge formations. The Maya used this cave extensively for rituals and left behind altars, terraces, carved faces, and artifacts. Since it’s on private property, this is an exclusive trip and you will be the only people there.
© Joshua Berman and Avalon Travel from Moon Belize, 9th Edition