In Chinese, “Kao Gu” refers to the study of antiquities, and Big Five Tours & Expeditions has adopted these Chinese words to headline its new Kao Gu Collection of custom tours, designed to highlight ruins and ancient sites that have long captivated archaeologists, world travelers and culturally enthusiastic clients.
Belize is one of five distinctive world destinations that the tour operator is focusing on with an 8-day Kao Gu program, and according to the company president, Ashish Sanghrajka, “Belize was selected because of its rich Mayan heritage, one it shares with its neighbors Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras. We were one of the earliest supporters of Belize’s decision to redefine itself in terms of its Mayan heritage and traditional cultures.”
From the get-go, the Big Five Kao Gu tour starts with a bang. On arrival in Belize City, travelers transfer to the beautiful Ka’ana Boutique Resort & Spa for a 2-night stay in San Ignacio in the Maya Mountains. One day will focus on an extraordinary expedition to Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, where in the company of an archaeologist, participants hike in the cloud forest, swim into a cave and crawl through passageways to a beautifully preserved site, one littered with delicate Mayan pottery and the crystallized remains of human bones. Caves were central to the ancient spiritual rituals of the Maya, and this acclaimed “Cave of the Crystal Maiden” is one of the most spectacular natural and archaeological attractions in Central America. Other Mayan experiences include engaging with residents such as a local chiclero, who describes what it’s like working in the jungle and harvesting chicle (gum).
After lunch on day three, guests will board a helicopter to view beautiful Belize from the air, en-route to an adventure that travels deep into the rainforest to explore the ancient Mayan city of Lamanai. Travelers step out of the plane at Orange Walk and into a waiting airboat, traveling upriver with a private guide, the former commissioner of Belize’s Department of Archaeology. At Lamanai, travelers enter the now deserted stone city at dusk, and under the stars, savor a meal prepared by a Mayan cook from the neighboring village. After dinner, they’ll climb the High Temple, and beneath the stars hear stories of this once grand Mayan city. They’ll then spend an unforgettable night in a private, luxurious tented room amid the ruins, made even more comfortable with the services of a personal houseman.
The next day they return by helicopter for another night in San Ignacio, followed by a flight to the resort island of Ambergris Caye, where the next three nights are spent in a 2-bed villa at luxury Victoria House. The island is famous for its excellent snorkeling, diving, sailing and fishing.
Priced from $9,350 pp dbl land-only, the tour includes hotel accommodations, most meals, all private transportation on a private basis, sightseeing with top guides, Big Five’s White Glove Service, and complimentary trip-interruption insurance.
Big Five’s Kao Gu Collection of custom tours also includes Australia, China, Israel & Jordan, and Egypt. For more information, call (800) 244-3483 or visit bigfive.com.