On Cascade Trail at Hidden Valley


January 2014, I tied my hiking shoes early in the morning to venture on a 2-hour hike. Cascade Trail, on the Hidden Valley Inn property, is a trail like no other. It is characterized by the beauty of the landscape throughout the entire path.

In order to access the hundreds of kilometers of trails on the property, you must stay on site. It is a 5-star inn, very calm and serene. At a high altitude in the Pine Ridge forest, mosquitos are a rare thing. It is with the sounds of fire crackling in the chimney that we fall into Morpheus’ arms before starting, on the very next morning, a full day out in nature. Hidden Valley really gets the essence of eco-tourism!

Cascade trail is very unique. On one side, you have Tiger Fern with several tones of flamboyant greens and pines. What a sight! The earth is of a reddish tint which enhances all other colors. All along the trail, dozens of cascades follow the river banks. Depending on the season, blues vary greatly. It is a trail for intermediate to advanced hikers since many small wooden bridges need to be crossed, along with some steep hills.

After the hike, if you still have energy left, take the path leading to Butterfly Falls, its vibrant blue color is of the most impressive. The sun mirroring on the basin, as well as the surrounding cliffs make it an exclusive site! You will find yourself alone in a magical place to have a picnic or a swim. This is also a unique wedding location.

The team and tour guides are very knowledgeable. And a special attention is dedicated to each visitor as we feel the personnel’s desire to share information. Comfort is guaranteed, tranquility and exquisite meals, as well as the most welcoming of experiences.

Horseback riding in Pine RidgeVolunteering with S6

Horseback riding in Pine Ridge


After a scouting trip in the Belizean Jungle in Mountain Pine Ridge, I made a great discovery. It is a place that left me speechless. I am talking about Mountain Equestrian Trails, a 30-horse ranch that also offers lodging under thatch roofs.

My encounter with the Bevis family, the ranch owners, was amazing! As soon as I arrived on the property, I was overcome by a feeling of stillness and calm. The landscape is breathtaking, and the whole place is surrounded by a serene vibe. The mountains, the horses, and the hummingbirds around the cantina all make for a heavenly sight.

In the past I used to go horseback riding once a year or less, but until this experience with MET, I didn’t understand what horseback riding really was. I stayed there at the same time as a group of Francophones for the week, and I was able to feel the passion people have for this eco-touristic activity. What a beautiful way to visit the site with a cultural incline. It’s a whole new perspective presented to us when we are on horseback. Passing by Hispanic and Mennonite villages, I saw pitahaya fields, churches, schools and lush green fields.

One of the aspects that appealed to me with MET is probably the kerosene lamps which transform the ambiance into a unique experience. Since the rooms don’t have electricity, they light 3 lamps for you at night. The meal at the cantina is also lit by oil lamps and candles, and everyone eats together around a table along with the Bevis family. At night, you fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle with dimmed lights, it is a place for tranquility…

In the morning, you open your windows to see a thick mist in the distant mountains. This makes for post-card photos!

See our Turf & Tikal route for more information.

Night Safari At Maya MountainsOn Cascade Trail at Hidden Valley

Night Safari at the foothills of the Maya Mountains


I just got back from a weekend in a captivating universe. That of the reptilian world, amphibians, insects as well as everything around us in the jungle. You may have understood that my source of inspiration is the mountains. There is so much there to discover and to learn from. Alongside biologists and herpetologists, I took part in my very first night safari in the middle of the jungle.

It’s in the beautiful jungle of the Sibun forest reserve that I discovered a Corytophanes cristatus/ Helmeted Iguana, and that I took in my hand for the first time an Amblypygi/ Tailless Whip Scorpion. It fascinates me to take pictures of unknown species in order to identify them later with books, and to talk about them with the team on site. Because I am interested in fauna and flora in general, it is also very exciting for me to follow into the footsteps of those passionate about ecotourism.

There is a strong energy that emanates when people with the same interests meet, and where the minds switches into learning and survival mode. It is a true way to disconnect from the routine.

The Maya Mountains is an incredible playground. At 200m above sea level, on the foothills of the Maya mountains, the view is pure magic! This is without mentioning the multiple trails all around the forest reserves and the national parks of the Stann Creek valley. It is an ideal location for students and scientists alike who wish to do some research, or an internship in wildflife biology, herpetology, or environment management. It is a treasure chest of information to exchange between amateurs and professionals.

For more information, see the itinerary Wildlife Immersion

Volunteering with S6Horseback riding in Pine Ridge

Volunteering with S6 in the Chiquibul reserve


14 days straight in the Chiquibul Reserve spent with the S6 -Scarlet 6- team… Being in the jungle was quite a learning experience in itself! Survival skills start to develop as well as the six senses. Why six? I’m glad you asked! The subconscious mind, being in a totally different environment, captures new feelings, sounds, tastes, etc. that the body experiments. Therefore, falling asleep with a background symphony of howler monkeys mixed with an orchestra of crickets, the brain functions differently. Nights were cool & comfortable in a Hennessy hammock and my dreams became so vivid, night after night. I had the deepest sleep, after, of course, scratching the dozens and dozens of mosquito bites all over my body! Getting up at night or -should I say going out of my hammock for #1, was not an option at first so I was making sure I would not drink too much liquids before going to sleep.

Later, in the second week, my steps and moves became more confident. I got more adventurous but always very careful. A few directives to follow… for example, look underneath your hammock with a lamp in your hands before going out of your hammock, shaking your boots or keens before putting them on -actually shaking anything you take from the ground or in a bag or on the clothes line. Because snakes are attracted by light, it is more cautious to have the lamp in your hands when flashing outside of the trail. By chance, we had no more than one night and one afternoon of rain which reduced the risk of seeing fer-de-lance (commonly known as the Tommy Geoff or Barba amarilla) and other snakes.

Time…Hmm! Time is certainly another concept out there. What usually takes small or no time to accomplish, such as the regular day tasks, is actually stretched during the whole day, as long as there is still light. No one would really want to swim with the crocs at night. And this is no joke, we saw some Morelets crocodiles that had an approximate length of up to 6 feet. We figured that the key was to bathe where there was rapids, and by scouting the area previous to jumping in the water!

Talking about the river, by the time we ended our commitment with S6, the Raspaculo and the Macal rivers were lower of at least 3 to 4 meters. In that timeframe, the Chalillo Dam released a lot of water to insure a minimum risk of flash floods during the rainy season. On the last days, it became necessary to push the canoe and the motorboat to go bathe, get fresh water from the creek, do river surveys and to return to Bailarina -entrance of the Chiquibul Reserve. What took us 1 hour on Day 1, took us 3 on Day 14.

Nonetheless, the focus of this trip is to help preserve the population of Scarlet Macaws. Back in 2012, the eggs and the chicks of the Macaws were poached in a large quantity; 90 to 98% of them, to say the least. Mr. Roni Martinez and Mr.Luis Mai, amongst others, from the beautiful San Antonio village, all started the researching phase in 2010 for S6. Their program has definitely been a success, since now in 2015, they estimate no more than 15% of them being poached.

I would like to stress the importance on volunteering for this cause. After returning from the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, I believe there is a need for awareness, especially for this endangered specie which is the Scarlet Macaw. Small changes have a lot of impact on wildlife. Hence, we can barely imagine when the 3 dams were built (Mojillon, Vaca & Chalillo), how it affected this environment and the surroundings.

The Macaws generally come in the Chiquibul during the breeding season which extends from April to September. The rest of the year, they migrate to Red Bank, in the Stann Creek district from early January to March. The reason why they go in that area is to feed on the clay where they can extract minerals from it. This will further help with the development of calcium for their eggs. It usually takes 12 to 13 weeks before a chick can fledge from its nest -the nest being a cavity in a Quam tree. These trees can grow as tall as 130 feet high.

Along with S6, the participation of FCD -Friends for Conservation and Development (see here: http://www.fcdbelize.org) and Dr.Isabelle Paquet-Durand from the Belize Wildlife Referral Clinic in the Cayo district (see here: http://www.belizewildlifeclinic.org) there is a greater chance of success in increasing the population of the Macaws in the Chiquibul. It is important to emphasize on this area in particular since studies have been made for this particular area and the Macaws usually return to the same nests year after year unless it is wet. You may see some long white boxes hidden in Quam trees; those were installed for a study, before the dam was built. This was to assess the effect it would have when the dam would destroy their environment. This project failed considering the box were too small, too hot inside and unstable.

The Macaws don’t care for the loud noise they make and they are very curious, stretching their head out of their nest to look at us. The chick from the nest we were supervising was given a check up from Dr.Isabelle to ensure it was healthy. There is also a chip being put underneath their skin belly in order to be able to follow them by the mean of a GPS. The way to find out if a nest is active is by finding chips at the foot of the tree. S6 is very careful to how they climb up trees to verify the cavities every 2 weeks. Thumbs up Scarlet Six!

Cascade Trail In Hidden ValleyNight Safari At Maya Mountains

Drive to outperform vs. comfort zone

Outperforming : being torn by voices coming from within generating an adrenaline that one is not accustomed to deal with. How do we get motivated to carry on a mission taking us out of the ordinary, exposing ourselves to what we do not control? Eco Camino went on the field to make you shiver a little… naturally, until you can come and experiment from yourself!

Just returning from this last journey in the jungle, Eco Camino has just experienced two days A la Indiana Jones’ style! Goose bumps, scratches, shivers, fear of heights… perfectly feasible, but so much thrill! By chance, I already had in mind what 300ft. could represent, having rappelled the Black Hole Drop the previous year; added to this the weight of a high-flow shower on my body, and the instability under the feet caused by the slippery walls of the waterfall.

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Get ready! The grand opening of the newly site of Angel Falls, located on the Hummingbird Highway, in the Stann Creek district, was announced for this tourist season 2017! Whether you are an intermediate or extreme adventure enthusiast, you will be enchanted at Angel Falls Extreme Zipline and Repelling Ltd. Though the rappelling activity seems, at first glance pure motor ability, the neurons are working in concert in order to think about the overall guidelines taught prior the descent. Gradually, well seated in your harness, legs shoulder-width apart, it is about positioning your feet in the crevices across rocks, pushing yourself far from the walls, and to self-control the rope all the while descending.

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For greater comfort (to say the least!), it is best to wear long sports clothing and adjusted to the body, which will facilitate movements with the weight of the water. As for shoes, whether they are hiking boots or Keens water shoes, it is very important to cover your toes and feet as much as possible because you may lose control or slip on the rock face. Rest assured! No risk of free falling, the equipment being the safest and of course, to secure your descent, a guide is positioned at both ends. A 45-min to 1hr-hike in the mountain, with a good incline, will lead you above the waterfall. A walking stick is recommended and stretching well before starting to play Indiana Jones!!

For a semi-extreme adventure, still on the same site, Angel Falls possess not only the longest zip line in Belize, but the one offering the most impressive views, and this, from start to finish!

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Remarkably, this structure, made of 8 zip lines, is built strictly from human strength, no heavy equipment. Conservation of the surroundings is the daily concern of fieldworkers and to keep the impact on the ecosystem minimal.

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Hard to imagine it is possible to reach speed limits of nearly 50 miles/hour on a zip line course: you read that right!! In order to reach the next platform, it is best to let yourself slide until the very end, where a guide will let you know if you need to slow down. Using the innovative BrakeHawk brake system, the best braking system that exists, it allows you to adjust your speed and to brake –without the bulky welding gloves of before!

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Sun & Sand

Adventure & Ecotourism

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