It had always been my dream to go to Belize, which meant I had a lot of built expectations for what Belize would be and trust me when I say Belcampo facilitated far surpassing those expectations. Im not sure I can describe just how amazing our experience at Belcampo Lodge was but I will definitely try:
Location- Punta Gorda (Toledo District) is where Belcampo is located. It is the safest part of Belize and every local we encountered had a smile on their face and was always willing to help. We made a lot of friends on the public transit and always felt safe going into town to local hang outs/restaurants.
Staff: The moment we stepped foot at lodge, everyone working that evening came out to greet us. We were offered a cold towel to freshen up and a refreshing ginger drink was waiting for us as well. Elvina and Mara sat with us to find out how our travels were and the things we would like to do while we were in Belize. Everything felt very personalized including the note waiting for us in the room which was hand written and addressed directly to us. The staff cared, and we definitely could feel it. Timothy, the bartender, always created drinks on the spot for us based on what flavours we liked. Absolutely delicious every time. Even though the staff started work at 5:30 am Whenever my boyfriend and I would wake up early to catch the express bus at 6 a.m. into town not only did they make sure we were on time to catch the bus, but they ALWAYS made sure we had a on-the-go warm breakfast. On the days we stayed at the Lodge to eat, Ducky (the server) ALWAYS had a smile on his face and always made us laugh.The general sense of warmth you get from the employees will make your day better, we can promise you that.
The Lodge: Nothing we say or show you will do this lodge justice. It is absolutely gorgeous. You are in the middle of the rainforest, and when you are in your room you feel like you are in a private oasis. The beds were extremely comfortable, our private verandah (with a sofa and coffee table) jet out into the rainforest so the only thing separating you from outside was the mosquito screen. Finally, the shower is as great as everyone has said. We woke up every morning to most unreal sunsets and the sight of miles and miles of rainforest. Being in a rainforest may seem a little scary to some of you (my boyfriend and I were definitely nervous about animals) but we can guarantee you will not encounter any animals, as the staff said “they are scared of humans!” There are only 12 lodges, and because of the small number we are able to get to know and hang out with most of the guests at Belcampo while we were there.
Food:The breakfast is a fixed menu, however you will not be getting tired of the options! We couldn’t believe breakfast was included as part of the rate. What we loved about lunch and dinner was that the menu changed everyday! Since the lodge cooks with everything they grow and farm, the meals changed based on what was freshest, which guaranteed delicious meals every time.
Tours: We were only there for a few days, but wanted to get in a lot of activities because there is so much to see and do in Belize! Belcampo usually has pre-planned activities for each day, however, Mara assured us that she would make sure we had a guide for every activity we wanted to do. Every tour package we had was customized exactly to our needs. We snorkeled in Placencia(with a different tour operator), however we definitely wished we snorkeled with Belcampo after hearing the stories from our Alabama friends.
Day 1 Activities: Spice Farm/Cacao Farm/San Antonio Waterfalls
On our 3rd day at the lodge (which ended up being our first Belcampo guided tour) we started with a tour at a local spice farm run by an Indian expat doctor. Vince was our Belcampo tour guide for the day. Our guide at the farm was an employee of the farm, so he was obviously very knowledgeable about everything and was more than willing to answer any and all questions we had. We learned a lot about different spices and how they are grown and harvested, and were able to taste many different spices we come across in our every day lives in plant form. Who knew nutmeg was a fruit? The property was beautiful and at the end of our tour on the farm we were given fresh coconut water to cool us down. Our only qualm with this tour was that we were never made aware that we could purchase spices from the farm, which is something we definitely would have been interested in
We moved on to a visit to Pop Eladio's house and cacao farm. Pop Eladio is a cacao farmer in a remote Mayan farming village blessed with beautiful foliage and rolling hills. We were greeted with fresh lime juice as Pop Eladio retold his fascinating life story. He has 15 children, all of which help the family on the farm (his daughters make beautiful straw baskets and other crafts, so make sure to bring USD!). We were taken through the entire cycle of processing cacao beans, from picking the cacao off the tree, to roasting it and making a delicious cacao drink from it (similar to a cafe mocha, but pure cacao!). This trip is great, and Pop Eladio is a spiritual, philosophical man who has a fascinating take on life and cacao beans.
A buffet-style lunch at Coleman's cafe was next, which was included in our tour package. The cafe is off the beaten path, but don't let this affect your judgment of the restaurant, because it's amazing. We had delicious pork, chicken and beef to choose from along with three different kinds of rice, and three different kinds of beans. Coleman's wife served us the most incredible bread pudding we have ever had. I had my first many Belikin beers here (at no extra charge) and was thoroughly impressed.
To wrap up our full-day tour, Vince drove us to San Antonio waterfall, a beautiful oasis hidden in between two of San Antonio's many hills. The waterfall itself isn't as big as the waterfall on the Rio Grande, but the scenery is better and the environment is much more intimate. Not to mention, there are different parts I was able to climb and jump off of because the waterfall's size made it a little bit more interactive. The water is crystal clear blue and you're going to love it here.
Day 2 activities: Lubaantun ruins/Mayan Lunch at Vince's house/Blue Creek cave
Vince was our tour guide again for the second day, which ended up being our favorite day of the trip. Our tour started off with a trip to the Lubaantun Mayan Ruin which, while not as vast as Tikal or Caracao, has a small-time charm to it that we really enjoyed. Vince, a Mayan himself, guided us around the ruin and was extremely knowledgeable about each aspect of the site and what the significance was. Although we can't speak on how Belcampo's other tour guides would be on this tour, we definitely recommend Vince for this tour whose Mayan background allows for an interesting perspective on things. The site is on top of a hill with beautifully manicured green grass and a handful of different types of trees which added to the experience. Our personal favourite was the Red Bark tree that peels as it is hit by UV rays from the Sun. This has been aptly re-named the "tourist tree" by Belizean locals.
After Lubaantun we headed to Vince's home town, Blue Creek. Blue Creek village has 450 people (as the hand-painted sign at the border of the village will tell you) and is nestled right in the middle of a rainforest mountain range. On our drive in, Vince flew past his house, pointing it out, driving right out of town onto a dirt road, and kept driving, only to stop and pull a U-turn a couple KMs outside of the village. He told us to look back at the gap in the Blue Creek mountain range and said that was where we would be hiking to Blue Creek cave later in the day.
We drove back to Vince's house for lesson in making corn tortillas (my girlfriend was a natural, me not so much) from Vince's wife and sister in law, as well as a delicious Mayan lunch featuring baked chicken, rice, stewed beans and the corn tortillas we had just made. The hospitality of Vince's family was tremendous.
After lunch Vince grabbed life vests and flashlights for the hike to Blue Creek cave and we literally walked out of his front yard and into the rain forest to begin the hike. The first portion of the hike is relatively easy, on a path through the rain forest beside Blue Creek, which is the purest blue water we have ever seen. As we hiked a little further things became slightly more difficult as we started having to climb "up" versus just walking forward. My girlfriend was not expecting (and was not warned of) a difficult hike and wore sandals not meant for anything even remotely athletic, so this made her journey more difficult. That said we had climbed up enough to reach the Blue Creek rapids and the mouth of Blue Creek cave was in sight. At this point we left all of our things and made the rest of the climb through the rapids in bare feet. The climb to the cave is difficult, and make sure you take your time as the rocks are slippery and rarely smooth. The work is well worth it though as the view from the mouth of the cave is absolutely stunning. We equipped ourselves with life vests and flashlights as we ventured into the cave. The current in the cave is very strong so Vince told us to stick close to the wall and hold on, moving forward that way. After getting to a certain point, no more light is entering the cave and your flashlight will be your best friend as the difference between the darkness in the cave and having your eyes closed is literally nothing. It is at this point that the current becomes too strong and we have to climb up the wall of the cave and over wet rocks to move forward. This was by far the most dangerous and challenging part of the trip, and I would not recommend you do this section unless you're very confident in your mobility. After defeating the rocks here we plopped back into the water and let the current carry us all the way back to the mouth of the cave.
We hope you enjoy Belcampo as much as we did. We loved this Lodge so much we have already recommended it to our family and friends. We have never felt the need to write a review for this Lodge, but Belcampo truly deserves this.
Enjoy your Belize adventures!!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.