Running through the Chiquibul Rainforest, the Macal River is one of the most diverse ecological areas in Belize. Home to more than a dozen endangered species including the jaguar, tapir, scarlet macaw, and black howler monkey, the Macal River Valley is a must-see for any nature lover. Some sites along the river worth visiting include Cahal Pech, Belize Botanic Gardens, and the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
Experience this stunning environment rich in flora and fauna while paddling your way through the beautiful Belizean jungle on a guided canoeing tour of the Macal River. You can also try a tubing adventure where you leisurely float down the river. These types of tours typically include a stop at nearby Cahal Pech, a small archaeological reserve. If you're in Belize in March, be sure to catch the annual La Ruta Maya Canoe Race, a 4-day race originating on the Macal out of San Ignacio.
Things to know before you go
Sturdy water shoes are recommended for any canoeing or tubing excursions. Some of the river is considered to be between Class III and V whitewater runs, so be sure to receive proper training and take appropriate safety measures if exploring on your own. There are canoe and kayak rental shops located in San Ignacio.
How to get there
Probably the most convenient way to access the Macal River is through a guided tour from San Ignacio. All necessary equipment, including canoes and inflatable kayaks, are provided, along with roundtrip transportation. Some tours enter the river near the Chaa Creek resort, which is about 20 minutes from San Ignacio.
When to get there
Guided tours typically depart in the morning and afternoon. Overall, the best time to visit Belize is during its dry season, which runs from mid-November to mid-April. This is also peak season, so expect crowds, but you won’t have to worry as much about rain showers while on the river.
- Barton Creek Cave
- Green Hills Butterfly Ranch
- Big Rock Falls
- Actun Tunichil Muknal
- Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
- Cahal Pech Maya Site & Museum
- El Pilar Mayan Ruins
- San Jose Succotz
- Blue Hole National Park
- Crystal Cave (Mountain Cow Cave)
- Tikal National Park (Parque Nacional Tikal)