Daily excursions to the local sites and attractions are offered by our sister company, Windy Hill Tours. Arrangements can be made through the front desk.
CARACOL (Full day tour) - Discovered in 1938 and later explored in the 1950's, Caracol was thought to be little more than a Maya ceremonial center. It was not until more extensive excavation efforts began in 1985 that the importance and expanse of Caracol became known. In 1986, a round, elaborately carved altar stone was uncovered which described a victory by Caracol over Tikal, once considered to be the most powerful Maya metropolis. This discovery filled an important missing piece of Maya history, covering approximately 140 years in the Middle Classic period, and positioned Caracol as the "Supreme" Maya city. The largest pyramid at Caracol, the Canaa, (Maya for "sky place") rises 140 feet and is the tallest man made structure in all of Belize. Caracol is located 2 hours south of San Ignacio in the Maya Mountains. The tour departs at 8:00 a.m. and returns at about 5:00 p.m.
TIKAL (Full day tour) - The largest and most spectacular of all the Mayan sites in Meso-America is located in the Peten area of Guatemala, deep in the high canopy jungle. Tikal is about 1 ˝ hours from San Ignacio. The flora and fauna in this area is almost as breathtaking as the Mayan temples themselves. The original city covered an area of 35 square miles and although the archaeologists have been excavating here since the 1930's, they tell us that there is at least another 100 years of work to be done. The tour departs at 7:00 a.m. and returns at about 5:00 p.m.
XUNANTUNICH (Half day tour) - Xunantunich in Maya is "The Stone Maiden". The site is about 30 minutes from San Ignacio and is only accessible by taking a hand-cranked ferry across the Mopan River. Xunantunich is one of the most popular Maya sites in Belize and was one of the first to be excavated and opened to the public. Standing atop "El Castillo", the largest pyramid at the site, you will have a panoramic view of western Belize and eastern Guatemala. The tour requires about 3 hours.
CAHAL PECH (Half day tour)- Located on the southern outskirts of San Ignacio Town in the upper Belize Valley region of the Cayo District, Belize, Cahal Pech sits on the crest of a steep hill on the west bank of the Macal River. The central acropolis, approximately 900 feet above sea level, provides a commanding view of the Maya Mountains to the south and the fertile valleys of the Belize River to the northeast. This is a site with an unpropitious Maya name meaning "Place of the Ticks." This ceremonial center includes pyramid temples, palaces, and a ball court along with five stelae and an altar (plain) showing presence of the stelae cult.
EL PILAR (Half day tour) - This site is located partially in Belize and partially in Guatemala. The Belize/Guatemala border runs through the site, El Pilar dates back to 250 B.C. Much looting of the site has taken place and the damage to the site is extensive. Dr. Anabel Ford of the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been working at the site for many years. Her dream is to transform the area and the ruins into a Maya community with Mayas living and working there as they did 2000 years ago. El Pilar is also one of the great birding areas in Belize. The 30-40 minute drive from San Ignacio is very scenic. The tour requires about 3-4 hours.
MOUNTAIN PINE RIDGE FOREST RESERVE (Full day tour) - Located in the Cayo District of Belize, about 30-40 minutes from San Ignacio, the reserve covers an area of over 300 square miles. Here you will find a scenic combination of cool pine forests, tumbling streams, lush river valleys, caves and waterfalls. The most popular of the waterfalls is the Hidden Valley Falls, a spectacular fall that drops 1500 feet to the valley below. The Rio Frio Cave is the largest cave in Belize and the Rio On pools are a must for an afternoon swim before heading out of the reserve. The tour departs at 9:00 a.m. and returns at about 5:00 p.m.
ACTUN TUNICHIL MUKNAL CAVE (Full day tour)- "Cave of the crystal sepulcher" – A very early morning departure is required as this tour is a long and challenging adventure- a good level of physical fitness is required and the ability to swim is a plus. We suggest you wear shorts and tee shirt with tennis shoes or hiking boots. You will also want to bring a change of dry clothes as you will surely get wet and need dry clothes for the trip back to the resort. The adventure entails hiking steep jungle trails and crossing a river in chest-high water. Once you reach the cave only the light from your headlight will guide you through the Maya underworld. You will see burial chambers with intact calcified remains, Mayan artifacts and two slate stelae in front of which Maya elites cut themselves with obsidian blades to collect blood and offer it to the gods. Fourteen burials have been discovered so far. This is an adventure that continues to change from year to year as new discoveries are being made. You will return to the resort after dark with stories to tell and memories to last a lifetime.
BARTON CREEK CAVE CANOEING (Half day tour) - Barton Creek Cave was an ancient Maya Indian burial site. The cave is only accessible by canoe. The formations of stalactites and stalagmites are beautiful. The trip to the cave is very scenic and passes through the Barton Creek Mennonite community. You will get a glimpse of the Mennonites as they go about their daily routines. After the cave canoe trip, you will want to take a swim in the crystal clear Barton Creek. The cave is about 1 hour from San Ignacio and the tour requires about 5 hours.
CHECHEM HA MAYA POTTERY CAVE (Half day tour) - Led by an experienced native guide, hike about 30 minutes uphill to the entrance of the cave. The unassuming entrance opens into a vast array of winding limestone passageways and tall, narrow rooms filled with ancient Maya pottery dating back 1500-2000 years. A ladder allows access to the upper areas of the cave and in some cases ropes are used for narrow passages. At the end of the cave is a large room believed to have been used for sacrificial ceremonies. Evidence of a sacrificial altar is still evident. This tour requires a certain degree of physical fitness. The cave is about 30 minutes from San Ignacio and the tour requires about 4 hours.
CAVE TUBING (Full day tour) - Learn about the local flora and fauna as your guide leads you on a 30-40 minute hike along the Caves Branch River to the Jaguar Paw cave systems. When you get to the water, you will strap on your headlight and your life vest and take a seat in your tube. You will be propelled by the gentle currents through underground caverns carved through the mountains. Your guide will educate you about the natural formations found in the cave and the flora and fauna you encounter along the way. This is an awesome trip and something you will always remember. The cave is about a 1 hour drive from San Ignacio and the tour requires about 5 - 6 hours.
CANOPY ZIP LINING (This tour can be done in combination with Cave Tubing) - Zip Line technology borrows heavily from that used of rock and mountain climbing, and features a double line with redundancy to provide a safe environment for the users. This tour offers the adventurous tourists a thrilling opportunity to soar through the jungle treetops high above the forest floor. The canopy tour involves traversing from one platform to another along a steel cable suspended up to 80 feet above the forest floor. Upon arrival you will be given a safety briefing and outfitted with safety gear that includes a body harness, pulleys, helmet and gloves. After you are fully geared up and checked, your tour then starts off with a short educational hike up to the first platform. The tour will take approximately two hours.
NATURAL HISTORY TOUR (Half day tour) - After breakfast, we will drive to the Chaa Creek Natural History Museum & Blue Morpho Butterfly Breeding Center which is about 20 minutes away. After visiting the museum we will hike over to the Rainforest Medicine Trail. Here you will see and learn about the many plants, herbs, barks, and roots that were used by the Maya Indians for medicinal purposes. Many of these remedies are still used today. This is a very interesting and educational experience. The tour requires about 3-4 hours.
THE BELIZE ZOO (2 hours) - The Belize Zoo is located approximately 30 miles west of Belize City on the Western Highway. The zoo is home to over 100 species of native Belizean animals and birds including the tapir, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, jaguars, ocelots, margays, scarlet macaws, toucans, and many, many others. You will have the opportunity to see these unique creatures in their natural habitat.
RAINFOREST GOLFING (Full day tour) - Come on, let's go golfing today. About 45 minutes from San Ignacio to the Roaring River golf course. This 9-hole course was literally carved out of the jungle by an Aussie almost single handedly. Didn't bring your clubs? No problem, they have rental sets available. This will undoubtedly be the most memorable round of golf you have ever played. Time required for round-trip transportation, golf, and a visit to the clubhouse afterwards- Who knows -think all day!
HORSEBACK RIDING (Half day tour) - We will leave Windy Hill Resort and ride rainforest trails, open savannas, and cross small subsistence farms to the un-excavated site of Buena Vista. This is believed to have been the private estate of a Maya king, K'ul Ahau K'ak Til (Lord Smoking Squirrel). After exploring the site, we will ride down to the Mopan River for a refreshing swim. You might want to wear your bathing suit under your clothes. We suggest long pants and closed-toe shoes for the ride. The tour requires about 4 hours and is available in the morning or in the afternoon.
MACAL RIVER CANOEING (Half day or 2 hours) - The Macal River originates in the Maya Mountains of Belize and flows down to the town of San Ignacio. In San Ignacio, the Macal and Mopan Rivers conjoin to form the Old Belize River that flows to Belize City and empties into the Caribbean. We begin the canoe trip at Negroman Farm about 14 miles upstream from San Ignacio. The trip is all downstream and therefore is not a very strenuous paddle. Along the way you will see huge iguanas and many species of birds. You may even see a troop or two of howler monkeys. A stop at the Rainforest Medicine Trail will give you a chance to stretch your legs and get an introduction to many of the medicinal plants of the Belize Rainforest. The canoe trip ends at San Ignacio. The tour requires 4-5 hours.