Office of International Programs


Planning and Leading Sustainable/Cultural Tourism Trips

Postponed until January 2015

January 1 to January 8th, 2014

REC 373 (3 credits)
This course satisfies the International Core requirement

Students at Tikal

The course explores the many facets of providing nature-based/cultural experiences for customers in a sustainable manner. We will learn which elements are necessary to provide a safe nature-based experience for tourists and learn how adventure tourist providers package, market, lead, and evaluate sustainable tourism experiences. You will learn how to develop an itinerary for an multiday nature-based/cultural travel experience for a group of diverse tourists and learn how Wilderness Inquiry integrates people with disabilities into wilderness tours. This course is offered as part of USM's Sustainable Tourism Certificate and counts towards the international course requirement for this program.

We will also take advantage our location in Belize to gain an awareness of Belize's cultural, historical, geological and geographical attributes. Formerly British Honduras, Belize is the only English speaking country in Central America. It is an interesting mixture of cultures, predominately Mayan and Garifuna. Belize, often referred to as Mother Nature’s best kept secret. Belize has not been developed to the same extent as some other popular destinations in the region. The landscape encompasses coastal mangrove forests, lush tropical rain forests, offshore cays and the MesoAmerican Reef – the second largest coral reef system in the world. 

Travel will primarily be in mini bus, by canoe, catamaran and foot. We will be staying in small local hotels, B & B’s and lodges. Accommodations will be simple yet comfortable. No visas are required but your passport should be valide for another 6 months after the trip ends.


There will be two classes held in December to provide an overview of the trip, slides of the area, and general conditions. Students will also be presented with a list of appropriate clothing, footwear and gear for the trip.

Belize 8-Day Itinerary

Trek through jungles to Mayan ruins and relax on white sand beaches. Get an authentic taste of Belize and Guatemala with an adventure that combines the mystery of ancient ruins with crystalline waters of the Caribbean.

Day 1: Depart Boston in the early morning and arrive in Belize City at lunchtime. Visit the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center that has 29 acres of tropical savanna and exhibits over 150 animals, representing over 45 species, all native to Belize. After the zoo, we'll continue on to San Ignacio where we'll stay for the night. 

Day 2: We will visit the Barton Creek Cave and glide through a remote underground cave system in canoes equipped with powerful spotlights. Barton Creek lies deep within lands owned by the Amish. It is believed that the Maya once used this cave for ritual ceremonies. While canoeing through the Cave we will see large and colorful formations, skeletal remains and other cultural artifacts left behind by the Maya centuries ago.

After the cave tour, we will drive to the El Remate Area where we will spend the night.

Day 3: After breakfast we will be going on a guided tour of Tikal, the greatest of all classic Mayan cities. Set in the jungle canopy, the site today consists of over 3,000 structures extending over six square miles including temples, palaces, ceremonial platforms, ball courts, terraces, avenues and plazas. The Maya began building Tikal around 600 BC and at its peak some 1,500 years ago Tikal was a wealthy metropolis, home to an estimated 100,000 Mayans, as well as an important religious, scientific, and political center. The five great pyramids of Tikal give this ceremonial center a majestic grandeur unique among Maya cities.

In addition to its numerous well-excavated temples and pyramids, Tikal presents an excellent opportunity for animal and bird-watching. Roaring howler monkeys and squawking parrots will serve as nature’s soundtrack and along the paths, we may spot spider monkeys, grey foxes, coatis-mundis, deer and peccary.

Day 4: We will visit the Guanacaste National Park and then make our way to Dangriga. We will spend the evening in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary/Jaguar Reserve. From our dormitory verandah we will be able hear, and possible see one of Belize’s indigenous cats;  Jaguar, Puma, Margay, Jaguarondi and Ocelot. As well, we might encounter the endangered Baird’s Tapir. For those seeking further adventure, a guided night hike will be conducted.

Day 5: We will hike the sanctuary’s trails with a naturalist who will describe the jungle flora and fauna. We will eat lunch at a spectacular waterfall with time for a refreshing swim and then travel to Hopkins. On our way to the village of Hopkins we will stop at the Maya Village Women Cooperative. This is a great place to buy indigenous art work, clothing and crafts.

Hopkins village is a small Garifuna fishing village. Garrnagu, the people whose language and culture is Garifauna, have a rich and interesting culture which in Hopkins is continued and preserved more than in any other settlement in Belize. We will stay at Jungle Jeanie’s by the Sea, which “offers delightful tropical accommodations on palm tree lined white sand beach with relaxation and water sports along the sandy Caribbean seashore” and has a 2012 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.

Day 6: Today you will have a free day for leisure to explore Hopkins. We will also have a bonfire activity at night!

Day 7: We will take a snorkeling tour in South Water Caye areas.In 1842, Charles Darwin referred to the Belize Barrier Reef in the West Indies in his study of the origin and evolution of coral reefs. Since then it has become renowned as the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, nearly 260 km long. The many shallow reefs of Belize allow snorkelers to uncover the wonders of over 65 coral species and over 300 fish species. We will have the opportunity to explore this underwater treasure.

We will return to our hotel at Hopkins for a banquet dinner and Garifuna Drummers.

Day 8: Say good-bye to the wonderful country of Belize! We will travel back to Belize City for our return flight to Boston.


Dr. David B. Jones (Dave), Ed. D., CTRS, an Associate Professor in Recreation and Leisure Studies at the University of Southern Maine, received his doctorate from the University of Oregon. Throughout his professional career, both in academic and non-academic settings, he has led diverse groups (i.e., university students, youth-at-risk, adjudicated young people, and people with disabilities) on extended wilderness adventures. Currently Dave serves as a board member to the Maine Chapter of the International Appalachian Trail/Sentier International des Appalaches. In addition to serving as a board member with the International Childhood Enrichment Program, he is helping to build playgrounds for children in Afghanistan and Haiti.


A complete application includes all of the following and is due at the Office of International Programs. The deadline is September 27, 2013:

* Signed, completed application form*
* $200 non-refundable deposit (applied to the program cost)
* Typed 200-word essay
* A letter of recommendation from a faculty member or academic advisor
* Official copies of all academic transcripts

Incomplete applications will not be accepted. You will be notified by e-mail of your application status. If your application is not accepted, the nonrefundable deposit will be returned. If the program is canceled for any reason by the USM, all deposits will be returned.

* If you are having trouble downloading the application, please contact us at (207) 780-4959 or and we will send you one. You may also want to try upgrading to the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Tuition and Fees

The program fee is estimated to be $3115. The cost of three credits of tuition and fees at the in-state rate are in addition to the program fee. The program fee includes accommodation, roundtrip airfare, scheduled in-country travel, site visits, field trips, all meals in Belize, and emergency medical and evacuation insurance through iNext.

Not included in the program fee is the cost of tuition, fees, books, academic supplies, or other personal expenses. Three credits of tuition is $759 plus $84 for the university unified fee. All participants on USM travel programs receive the in-state tuition rate regardless of residency.

The winter session is part of the fall semester and these additional credits may put you in a higher bracket for other academic fees. Please visit the Student Accounts website for complete information on tuition and fees. All participants on USM travel programs receive the in-state tuition rate regardless of residency.

All participants will be automatically registered for a payment plan. The $200 deposit will go towards the cost of the program and the remaining balance will be due as follows:

50% of the balance due Friday, November 8, 2013
Remaining balance due Friday, December 6, 2013