My Happy Place is in the Rainforests of Belize
Our trip to Belize in 2016 was the first time we traveled beyond North America. Really, it was our first major exposure to a foreign country (we had spent a couple of nights in Canada previously). Our time in Belize was truly magical! It is hands down one of my favorite destinations to date. The experiences and beauty this country has to offer will move you. I am forever charmed by Belize and have to thank the most generous locals we’ve ever encountered for sharing.
The people of Belize know they are sitting on a treasure. With 80% of the rainforest under the government’s protection it should be no surprise that there is a lot of support for ecotourism. Much of the jungle remains unexplored. Belize feels wild! It is lush, fragrant and full of life.
“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
-Native American Proverb
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Rainforests of the Mayan Mountains
This trip is a great example of how we compromise while traveling. Evan loves the beach, he gravitates towards islands and hammock time. I need adventure, to hike and explore. So, it was decided that we would spend the first portion of the trip in the rainforest with hopes that I would wear myself out enough to enjoy the islands later.
We flew into Belize City, rented a car and drove 2.5 hours to our lodging on the Macal River. As if driving in Belize isn’t interesting enough, we turned into the rainforest just as the sun went down. We found ourselves driving on a narrow road in the dark jungle, not at all sure of what was ahead. A quick glance to the side and we could just make out the steep drop to the river below. The jungle air was warm and thick with the scent of earth. The songs of insect and frogs created a loud buzzing. I was in heaven.
We checked in and found our way to our room in the dark. It is impossible to describe the delight I felt when I woke up and was finally able to see exactly where we were.
Lodging - Black Rock Lodge
We stayed at the Black Rock Lodge and I can’t recommend it enough. Nestled in the thick rainforest, this eco-lodge is near San Ignacio, but you could easily spend your entire vacation with them. The onsite restaurant and bar offer welcome drinks, family-style dining with vegetarian options and an unbeatable view. The cabins are private, airy and incredibly clean. You just can’t beat these views!
Activities at Black Rock Lodge
The lodge is super convenient for solo travelers and those traveling without a rental car. They offer shuttle transportation as well as tours to many of the nearby attractions. Without leaving the lodge you can canoe and tube down the river, go hiking (the guided night hike was great), mountain bike, do some yoga or go for a swim.
Birds, Birds, Birds
Birding is very popular with an opportunity to see nearly 400 different species. The rainforest is home to all 3 species of Toucan. The lodge kindly puts out a tray of fresh fruit every morning for the birds. Very little beats watching the birds with a cup of coffee in hand as the morning mist rises up and out of the jungle canyon.
Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM CAVE) - A MUST!
The highlight of our trip to Belize was the day long ATM Cave tour! We went with an eco-friendly and reputable tour company out of San Ignacio, MayaWalk Tours. Our tour guide really put in the effort to make this an unforgettable day. My memories of this experience are still so vivid and completely make up for the fact that photography was not allowed. Do your homework first so you are prepared to tour the cave in a way that respects and preserves the local culture and artifacts.
Day Trip to Xunantunich
A trip to Belize isn’t complete without seeing at least one of their many ancient Mayan sites. We took a day trip to Xunantunich which is accessible by crossing the river on a hand-cranked ferry. Once we got there we found a local guide (or really he found us) who provided us with a very informative tour of the grounds. From the top of Xunantunich, you can see over the border into Guatemala. It was amazing to imagine how expansive and developed the Maya civilization had been.
Hang out with Iguanas
Evan surprised me with a stop at the Belize Iguana Project in the San Ignacio Resort Hotel. The project aims to conserve the endangered Green Iguana through education and rehabilitation. For a small entry fee, you get a tour of their facility, a handful of greens to feed the iguanas and a chance to interact with the lizards. I allowed several Iguanas to climb and cling to me while barely getting Evan to hold just one for a photo.
Support the Native species
The Belize Zoo is a great way to get a closer look at the different animals of Belize. The zoo was started as a sanctuary for wild animals who had been used in films and couldn’t return to the wild. They now focus on teaching others about the native species of Belize and their importance in the world. They raise funds and awareness for several conservation projects, run a Problem Jaguar Rehabilitation Program and are “Keen to be Green”.
Inspiration: Rainforests of Belize
Belize left me with a never-ending supply of inspiration. Belize inspires my design work, but most importantly how I choose to live. It helped cement my views on how I treat the earth and the choices I make daily. We truly do live in a beautiful world!
Cheers! To the wild things!
This trip took place during the fall of 2016. When planning your own adventures, please be sure to check for any current travel alerts or changes in destination conditions first. Keep in mind that businesses mentioned may no longer exist or offer the same products recommended in this post.