Discover the fascinating Cultures of Belize with this All Inclusive Vacation
Join an in-depth, hands-on exploration of Belize’s vibrant cultures while enjoying a casually luxurious all-inclusive vacation that moves through inland jungles, picturesque villages, rolling farmland, the airy Mountain Pine Ridge and sandy Caribbean beaches in the learning adventure of a lifetime.
“Ideally, travel broadens our perspectives personally, culturally, and politically. Suddenly, the palette with which we paint the story of our lives has more colors.”
So says American author Rick Steves, and we couldn’t agree more.
We also appreciate that many travelers today are looking for vacations that transcend the ordinary, that leave them with a better understanding of the world and the people who inhabit it.
In short, they want to add some more colors to their own personal palettes.
Welcome to Chaa Creek’s Belize Cultural Grand Tour!
This new, seven-day all-inclusive Belize vacation package combines lovely accommodations, exquisite dining, quality amenities with hands-on activities and tours that highlight Belize’s richly diverse cultures and natural landscapes.
Visitors often comment on how many different cultural groups inhabit this tiny country, and how well everyone seems to get along. Visit any town or village market in Belize and you’ll hear a chorus of English, Spanish, Maya, Creole, German and other languages effortlessly harmonizing together. As you travel the country you’ll be struck by the diversity of the land and the people. Seemingly endless tracts of rainforest, rolling pastureland dotted with mounds that conceal ancient Maya structures, broad savannahs, mountain ranges and a long Caribbean coastline with scores of small islands sheltered by the world’s second largest barrier reef, the Mountain Pine Ridge’s undulating evergreen forests and limestone pools, an extensive network of caves and underground rivers… it’s a list as diverse as the people who call Belize home.
It has been said that to know Belize is to know the world and to understand Belizeans is to understand the people who inhabit it.
So what makes Belize so extraordinary?
Join us on this journey of discovery to experience first hand the vibrancy of Belize’s various cultures and how they blend together to create this famously friendly, harmonious society, and you’ll come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of today’s increasingly multicultural world.
Your cultural tour begins in western Belize at The Lodge at Chaa Creek, once a flourishing trade and farming center for the ancient Maya, whose location on the banks of the Macal River – an aquatic superhighway linking the highlands of Guatemala to the Caribbean coastal routes running from Mexico to South America –ensured it’s significance over centuries.
As the Maya civilization declined, others came to fill the void, and the Macal carried woodcutters, pirates, chicle and latex harvesters, farmers, traders, missionaries, gamblers, adventurers and a wide assortment of nationalities, races and creeds.
Our tour begins with the Maya, and to understand the Maya one starts with the cacao this highly advanced civilization cultivated to produce chocolate, which they called xocolatl and revered as the “Food of the Gods.”
Today’s Maya make up some twelve percent of Belize’s population, and from them, you’ll learn how local cacao is still cultivated, dried, roasted and prepared. You’ll also come away with delicious souvenirs to delight your friends and families with.
Mestizos are a blend of Maya and the early Spanish who arrived in the New World in the 1500s, and from the Mestizo women of the picturesque village of San Antonio, you’ll learn traditional skills, including how to make one of the new world’s most important staples – the corn tortilla. Dried corn kernels are soaked in limestone water and ground with a stone metate into dough-like masa, which you’ll help pat out and grill over a fire hearth, helping to prepare a delicious lunch while participating in an activity unchanged for thousands of years.
You’ll feel good helping to support the great work the San Antonio Women’s Group does as you learn other traditional skills such as weaving and pottery making.
Next stop on your cultural tour will be a visit to the Mennonite community of Spanish Lookout, where the descendants of Dutch and German emigrants escaped from religious persecution in Europe to find tolerance and religious freedom in what was then British Honduras. A hand-cranked ferry will carry you back in time to a tranquil pastoral community where pastures and barns will remind you of rural Pennsylvania farmlands.
The simple dress and polite mannerisms of the German-speaking Mennonites create a relaxing atmosphere as they take the time to explain how to make different flavoured ice creams and various cheeses and other dairy products, and you’ll come away with a new understanding and regard for a people who steadfastly hold on to their beliefs and customs in a changing world.
And now for something completely different as we trade cows and tractors for swaying palms, dugout canoes and Afro-Caribe drumming in the traditional Garifuna village of Hopkins on the Caribbean coast.
The Garifuna, or Garinagu, culture is perhaps one of Caribbean Central America’s most distinctive. So distinctive, in fact, that in 2001 UNESCO declared Garifuna language, dance and music to be a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.
And you’ll quickly learn why. Garifuna language, a mixture of indigenous Arawak and African dialects, is as distinctively rich as the drumming and guitar playing one hears wherever the Garifuna congregate. With sea breezes in your hair and sand between your toes, you’ll get to know these warm friendly people and their incredible tale of survival and cultural integrity.
The story begins when a slave ship wrecked off St Vincent’s island around 1635. The African survivors who made it to shore found themselves at first welcomed by the local indigenous Arawaks, with whom they intermingled to create a proud, independent people who refused to be subjected to colonial rule – first under the French and then the British, who finally subdued and exiled them along the coasts of present-day Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in the 1800s. Reduced to some 2,500 survivors, the Garifuna survived, maintaining a unique language and culture still very much alive today among the 600,000 or so descendants living in Central America and the United States.
In Hopkins, the distinctive rhythmic drumming provides a perfect backdrop for learning to make delicious Garifuna dishes such as cassava bread, hudut, a sumptuous fish and coconut milk combination and other traditional meals. You’ll leave with great memories, beautiful images in your camera and, make sure, some amazing music CDs.
You’ll also come to recognise the lilting language and energetic music of Belizean Creole and understand the how the influences of the Lebanese, Middle-Eastern, West Indian, Asian, European and North American migrants shaped Belizean society throughout a seven-day vacation featuring a range of activities including a visit to the wonderfully up-close-and-personal Belize Zoo (again, don’t forget that camera), canoe excursions down the ancient water highway of the Macal River, zip lining through the jungle canopy, an enlightening tour of Xunantunich with vistas from the top of its beautiful pyramid temple (that camera…) cooling of at the Rio On natural pools or under Big Falls, and more.
At Chaa Creek, you’ll enjoy fine dining with farm-to-table cuisine sourced from our onsite Maya organic farm, swimming and lounging around an infinity pool and enjoying the many other activities and amenities housed within our 400-acre private nature reserve that contains over 70 ancient Maya sites.
With tours of the onsite Belize Natural History Museum, live butterfly exhibit, nature walks and early morning birding, and options that include a world recognized Spa, it’s safe to say you’ll leave relaxed and edified.
Chaa Creek’s Cultural Grand Tour has been carefully planned and paced to accommodate and enthrall visitors of all ages and levels of fitness. Whether you take part with your family (imagine a young student’s “What I did on my summer vacation” paper), or with your significant other, as part of a group or just your adventurous self, you’ll enjoy a fully satisfying, comprehensive Belize holiday that will broaden horizons and give you plenty to think and talk about long after you return home.
You’ll also come to a better appreciation of what that other well-travelled author, Mark Twain had to say;
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
Amen to that
Contact your favorite travel agent or get in touch with Chaa Creek’s adventure specialists directly and get ready to embark on your own journey of discovery.
Chaa Creek’s Belize Cultural Grand Tour is a seven-day, all-inclusive Belize vacation package that includes:
- Accommodations – Cottage Collection Room (upgrades available)
- All meals at the onsite Mariposa restaurant and at tour venues
- Airport transfer from Belize’s International airport via The Belize Zoo
- Maya Chocolate workshop
- Traditional food with the San Antonio Women’s Group & zip lining at Calico Jack’s with visits to the Rio On Pools or Big Rock Falls
- Canoe excursions down the Macal River to San Ignacio Town with market day or Iguana Sanctuary visits
- Tour of the ancient Maya ceremonial center and temple at Xunantunich
- Excursion to the Mennonite farming community of Spanish Lookout
- Onsite activities at Chaa Creek including infinity pool swimming, nature, and tropical gardens walks, Blue Morpho live butterfly exhibit, Belize Natural History Museum, morning bird watching and identification, Maya medicinal plant trail and Maya organic farm
- All ground and air transfers from pickup to drop-off at Belize’s Philip Goldson International Airport are included, as are all government taxes and staff gratuities
- Accommodations – Courtyard Room with A/C (Upgrade to Beachfront or Penthouse is available)
- Daily Meal Plan including one outside dinner
- Garifuna cultural immersion with traditional food preparation and music discovery including drumming and drum making
- Ground Transfer to Dangriga Airstrip from Villa Verano
- One-way Flight from Dangriga to Belize City International Airport
All taxes and gratuities included in rates