Whilst travelling southwest through the country of Belize with nothing but a backpack each, we were struck down with a pretty intense bought of travellers sickness and decided to spend a few days recovering somewhere that wasn’t a hostel.
Sure, we were travelling on a backpackers budget, but we had agreed before we left Australia that sometime during the two months we would stay somewhere really nice as a bit of a treat to ourselves – and this was going to be it.
The sickness and subsequently the decision to look for somewhere nice to go happened quite suddenly whilst we were staying in the town of San Ignacio (read about it here),
so we basically just jumped on tripadvisor and browsed what was available at such short notice (read: that afternoon).
We chose Black Rock Lodge because they are eco-friendly, renowned for their birding opportunities and in an incredible location – all without breaking the bank. We were actually really pleasantly surprised at the price.
When you’re backpacking, you tend to stay in some pretty sketchy places so always have to have your wits about you, keep your valuables on you and pay attention to your surroundings – it can be quite exhausting when healthy, let alone when you’ve spent twenty-four hours vomiting and sweating. We were ready to be in a clean, safe environment, and let our guard down and relax a little, all whilst witnessing the wildlife and beauty of Belize. This lodge did not disappoint! The staff were ridiculously friendly – so hospitable and welcoming.
From the moment we arrived we were greeted by the lodge manager who sat us down with a drink on the house and chatted about where we were from and our travels so far. He was lovely and we really appreciated the info he gave us about the lodge and the area.
We stayed in a small stone cottage with a hammock out the front overlooking the Macal River. It was decorated simply but elegantly, there were fresh cut flowers throughout, and the products in the bathroom were all eco-friendly!
We spent the next few days exploring the area and participating in some fun guided activities.
Keep reading for more photos and info, and check out the video below to see all of the adventures first hand!
On our first full day, we got up early and had breakfast with the birds at the lodge. They put out fresh fruit scraps from the kitchen and heaps of different species of birds come down by the balcony to get a free feed. I’m really horrible at remembering all of the smaller species, but the Collared Aracaris were a definite highlight.
Black Rock Lodge is the only place in Belize that you can see all three toucan species found in Belize in one place at the same time! They are the Keel-Billed Toucan, the Collared Aracaris and the Emerald Toucanets. We did see all three, but the Collared Aracaris were there in droves and were so fun to watch and incredibly photogenic – I could have watched them all day!
After breakfast we grabbed some bikes and headed down one of the many trails that start from the lodge. We rode through fruit tree orchards, paddocks with friendly horses and teak tree plantations.
One thing that was unique about the lodge was the family style dinners. They seat you at large tables with other lodge guests. We were initially a little unsure of how that would go but had a good time chatting to everyone. The food was good too, they were pretty accomodating for us plant-based folk.
The next day, we organised to do a kayaking trip along the Macal River. There were a few other guests on the trip and there was a guide for every two people . Our guide was so young it was hilarious, he had to be no older than seventeen, but he knew what he was doing and we survived, so it was all good!
We saw Green Iguanas, birds of prey, bats and some lovely scenery before heading back for the afternoon.
Another epic feature of Black Rock Lodge was their spring-fed swimming pool. No chlorine, no salt, just pure spring water. It was freezing cold but so damn invigorating!
That night, we went on a spotlighting trip with a guide. We saw a tarantula, a paraque, a basilisk, a red-eyed tree frog and a few other critters.
The next day, our final full day, we wanted to do something a bit cultural and meaningful. As soon as we saw that there was an opportunity to visit a local cacao plantation, we knew that was it. We have used cacao for many years in our diets and wanted to learn more about it. A driver from the lodge took us out to the plantation and we spent the whole morning with the beautiful family who live and work there. They taught us about the age-old Mayan tradition of growing and harvesting cacao, and the different uses for it both now and throughout history.
We got to roast cacao beans, shell them, and grind them into a paste that is used to make chocolate products whether it be bars of chocolate or a chocolate beverage. It was such a humbling experience and we’ll never forget how special it was.
That special afternoon concluded our stay at Black Rock Lodge. It was bittersweet to leave. I truly hope we get to go back some day!