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.
This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.
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.
National Geographic Quest for the entire voyage
This morning, we begin our exploration of the Belize barrier reef, second only 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 (at additional cost). Sail along the coast to the mouth of a river and board Zodiacs to cruise inland through the Belizean jungle in search of toucans, green iguanas, and myriad bird species.
Today, explore 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 and marvel at the work of traditional artisans. Tonight, an internationally acclaimed drumming group, The Garifuna Collective, joins us on board for a festive music performance.
Sail to the reef's southern cayes, dotted with hundreds of coral patches that harbor parrotfish, butterflyfish, octopus, and other marine species. The day's activities are dictated by the rhythms of wind and wave, as we set out snorkeling, paddleboarding, diving, or kayaking among colorful corals and idyllic isles.
Disembark in Puerto Santo Tomás 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.
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.
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.
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.