A recent trip to southern Belize's Toledo district gave me the opportunity to experience a packaged trio of eco-lodges owned and operated by Belize Lodge and Excursions (BLE). The all-inclusive booking includes mandatory stays at Ballum Na/Indian Creek, Jungle Camp and, lastly, Moho Cay. The experience allows for the unique opportunity to stay in one of the last unspoiled ecosystems in Central America.
After flying to Belize City, a 45-minute Tropic Air (a local airline carrier) flight takes the traveler to Rio Dorado private airstrip, adjacent to the first lodge experience: Ballum Na/Indian Creek. Ballum Na is ideal for small groups or a single family while the nearby Indian Creek can accommodate a larger number of guests.
Upon arrival to Ballum Na, one enters the great room, which includes sitting area, bar, and dining room. The room is appointed in local wildlife lithographs while the structure itself is built of Belizean hardwood. The property consists of three suites, two Juniors and a Master. The Junior Suites comprise a sitting area with views of the forest, and the four poster-bed makes these oversized accommodations comfortable and inviting.
The bathroom is equipped with a pre-fabricated shower stall and single sink. The amenities are basic. The luxurious master suite overlooks the jungle sanctuary, home of two rescued jaguars that you see upon arriving at the property. The comfortable sitting area is next to a private bar. The large master bath has a Jacuzzi soaking tub and a shower stall. There is a double vanity sink as well. In keeping with the eco-friendly environment, none of the BLE lodges are air-conditioned.
Each suite at all of the lodges are cooled by multiple ceiling fans that run on generated power. There is an observation deck on the roof of Ballum Na that allows guests to view BLE's 13,000-acre Boden Creek Reserve. Each lodge has a chef on site to prepare all meals. Local excursions include tours to Mayan ruins, the local Mayan village and a cave expedition to view preserved relics. Local art and craftwork is frequently available for sale at archeological sites. Kayaks and bicycles are available at Indian Creek Lodge.
After a two-day stay at Ballum Na/India Creek, guests are delivered to Jungle Camp, the next lodge, by guided canoe along the Golden Stream River. During this two-and-a-half- hour ride, the guest is surrounded by the unspoiled jungle habitat, which gives the opportunity to view local birds and wildlife. Jungle Camp lodge consists of a well-appointed great room similar in appearance but larger than the one at Ballum Na.
Guests stay in 10 stilted thatched roof cabins, which are connected to the main building by a thatched roof walkway. Eight cabins contain a queen-size bed and bathroom with tub and shower. Two larger cabins have two king beds and a larger bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and separate shower stall. These larger bathrooms also have double sinks. All cabins have a private veranda overlooking the Golden Stream River and jungle canopy. Local excursions include wildlife hikes and guided kayak and pontoon trips to view and experience the jungle. Following two days at Jungle Camp, guests are taken downstream where they are met by a speedboat at the point where the Golden Stream River meets the Port Honduras Marine Reserve. From there, guests travel 45 minutes to the last lodge, Moho Cay.
On a small private island are eight thatched-roof and safari-style tents. Each identical stilted tent contains a queen-size bed, veranda overlooking ocean vistas, and bathroom with pre-fabricated shower stall. There is a simple gift shop on the premises. Excursions at Moho Cay include full-day snorkeling, swimming, and sea kayaking trips within the marine reserve. A notable day-excursion is to the southern tip of the Great Belize Barrier Reef (the second largest in the world), and the Sapodilla Cays marine reserve. Deep-sea fishing excursions and scuba diving trips can be arranged in advance. After three days at Moho Cay, guests are brought 30 minutes by speedboat to the town of Punta Gorda from where they depart.
Reservations can be made directly with BLE at their website, www.belizelodgeandexcursions.com, or through the North American representative for BLE is Noel Carroll at The Carroll Group, who can be reached at 800-860-8672 or 212-351-5007, or [email protected]. The managing director is Ken Karas ([email protected]).