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Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge, Belize

Luxury, tranquillity and adventure in the Belizean rainforest. We loved it so much we went twice!

I’ve been lucky to experience many wonderful accommodations in this world. When we booked a last-minute trip to Belize, I was fortunate to find the Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge.. I hit it out of the park on this one.

The lodge is about 90 minutes from the Belize airport and they will happily arrange transport for you. As we wind our way through the impossibly green countryside on the Hummingbird Highway, I wonder what awaits us in this jungle paradise. Nestled in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, the lodge promised beauty, relaxation and adventure. Would it deliver?

Arriving at the open air lobby, we are greeted with a fresh cocktail, complete with a bamboo straw. Sleeping Giant prides itself on being eco friendly, and they are committed to doing everything they can to support sustainable environmental practices. The lush landscaping, brilliant colors and friendly welcome draw us in. They already know our name, and we toast to new adventures. The grounds are lush, peaceful and verdant. Ducks splash in the streams and palm trees sway in the breeze. The smell of the flowers follows you everywhere you go and even though it rains nonstop for the first few days, we know this place is special. To say we were happy to be there would be a major understatement. As a matter of fact, we liked it so much we came back a month later!

Axel, our new friend (everyone in Belize is your new friend...I’m being serious!) walked us over to our Creekside cottage. The warm colors, Belizean hardwoods, open air bathroom and sumptuous fabrics made us feel at home and happy. All of the accommodations are pretty extraordinary, and next time we opt for a sprawling suite overlooking the Sibun River. All of the accommodations are nestled seamlessly into the river bank or the side of the mountain, and views are exceptional everywhere you look.





I’d say Paul loves hanging out in the hammock but that’s pretty obvious.



The grounds at the Lodge are spectacular, lush and peaceful. All we hear are babbling brooks, waterfalls and birds. OK so the first time we visited all we heard was the constant downpour of rain lots of peaceful showers, but it is still gorgeous. Like I said, we came back again a month later!





The bathrooms are an absolute dream, with spa amenities and my favorite, outdoor tubs and showers. I could live there.






The first time we visit the lodge we did not have a car so we spent all of our time on the property. Like I said, we battled almost nonstop rain but we learned to drink more cocktails make the best of it and just get wet. Honestly, when it’s 82° and you’re in a place this beautiful it really doesn’t matter.

The lodge has bicycles, kayaks and standup paddleboards that we can borrow any time. We eye the river, but with all the rain the water is high, so we are content to sit and watch the birds. One morning, we grab a couple of bikes and set off to find five “hammock bridges” over the river that runs through the property. We stop at each bridge and marvel at the beauty of the jungle landscape. We see a brilliant scarlet macaw in the distance and hear parrots squawking in the trees. The soft rushing water over the rocks in the river almost has a hypnotic effect. We sit on the bridge, swinging and watching.



At the fourth bridge, we find a swimming hole that looks like something out of a magical jungle movie set. I try not to think about all of the magical jungle creatures that are probably watching us, so I can focus on this extraordinary place. I remember someone telling me they saw a hundred shades of green during their travels, and I wondered how that could be. Now I know. We shed our wet clothes and swim in the warm, crystal clear water, stopping to listen to the jungle around us, and for some reason, we laugh. It feels marvelous. It rains for four hours straight and yet we return happy, soaked and ready for the hot tub in our Creekside garden.





So this is a cow and her calf. “That’s nice,” you say. Well, here’s the thing. All of the cows on the property roam free in the pastures, and are managed by real life Belizean cowboys. Apparently this calf gave birth a few days before we arrived, and the staff notices on trail cams that there were TWO jaguars stalking the calf, so they wrangle mother and baby and bring them to the corral near the lodge. “ I am so glad they are safe now!” I say to the cowboy. “Well, safer,” he replies. It is the jungle, after all.





When you stay at Sleeping Giant, you can be as chill or active as you want. They offer a variety of tours every day if you’re into that, and if not, the lodge has an incredible pool, great restaurant, elegant bar and as of February 2020, a woodfired pizza oven restaurant. They infuse all of their own vodkas with fruit and herbs from the surrounding area, and happy hour at the pool is from 2 to 4 PM. Happy hour at the bar starts again from 4 to 6 PM which suits us just fine! The restaurant, The Grove House, was voted best restaurant in Belize in 2019. Make sure you try the pollo asado. Wait, try the oxtail stew. The carne asada. Yes indeed, just try everything. You’ll be glad you did.







Did I tell you it rained a lot during the first trip? And we still came back!

















The Sleeping Giant is in the distance...can you see his profile and chest?












There are trails all over the property. One morning we rouse ourselves from our delicious bed, our relaxing hammock and our warm outdoor shower and make our way to the top, up a steep muddy trail in the rain. We climb over roots and vines, creep around long lines of leaf cutter ants, and wonder what the heck we are doing when we have such beautiful accommodations below. We ascend the gazebo stairs at the top and stand silent. We stare out at the impossibly green orange groves, the Maya Mountains and the always present Sleeping Giant. The view is so worth it. Let me think of something articulate and insightful to say to describe this moment. I’ve got it. “Wow.”










Since it was so rainy during our first trip to the lodge, we opted not to do day trips. We did find out that Danny the cowboy was hosting carriage tours of the property, so we sign up because we are feeling lazy looking forward to learning more about the area. We do learn a lot and even make it back in time for happy hour (OK we planned that part).

We sit in the carriage, dodging the raindrops. Danny tells us about the lodge, its history, and the geography of the area. We stop to pick fresh oranges and eat them like little kids, with the juice running down our chins. We meet the horses in the pasture, who barely notice us as we pass by, while they nod to the horses leading our little tour. “Not my turn today,” they seem to say. The carriage crosses the river, and as we splash through the shallow water, the horses speed up, as if the water might catch them. We stop to learn about growing cacao - the fruit that ends up as chocolate. I am forever indebted to whoever figured out how to turn this orange, squishy bean into something everyone can love. I enjoyed learning about something that I would love to eat every day enjoy on special occasions. I never knew the pods grew right out of the trees! Did you know they only harvest them once a year? Don’t you feel smarter just knowing that? I know I do.





Next stop... Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Lodge

Posted by traciekochanny 16:54 Archived in Belize Tagged mountains rainforest jungle belize sleeping_giant sleeping_giant_rainforest_lodge luxury_hotel unique_properties Comments (0)

The Belize Zoo and Mayflower Bocawina National Park, Belize

Most of these creatures want to kill you but just enjoy and keep walking!

sunny 93 °F

I am not generally a zoo person because I feel bad for animals in captivity, but I also realize that the best zoos are trying to create awareness and provide care for animals that may not survive otherwise. In Belize, seeing many of the local animals will get you killed can be a rare thing, so I really wanted to make the trek to The Belize Zoo. I had heard good things about their environmental commitment to education and the care of birds and animals, and I knew that many of their animals were rescues that would have been absconded for the pet trade or shot as nuisance animals. Here’s what they say about what they do...

The Belize Zoo was started in 1983, as a last ditch effort to provide a home for a collection of wild animals which had been used in making documentary films about tropical forests.

Shortly after the backyard "zoo" began, it was quickly realized that its Belizean visitors were unfamiliar with the different species of wildlife which shared their country. This very aspect fomented the commitment to develop the little zoo into a dynamic wildlife education center.

Today, The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center exhibits over 200 animals, representing over 45 native species. The Zoo keeps animals which were orphaned, rescued, born at the zoo, rehabilitated animals, or sent to The Belize Zoo as donations from other zoological institutions.

The Belize Zoo has become the first nature destination in Belize that is fully accessible to visitors with physical disabilities. It is a non-governmental, non-profit organization focused on wildlife conservation through wildlife rehabilitation and environmental education. 52 Belizeans are currently employed at TBZ.

We also found out that the Belize Zoo works with other zoos to safely relocate Belizean Jaguars. If you want to see one, visit the Milwaukee or Philadelphia zoos.

We loved our visit and learned a lot.





Have you ever seen a tapir? I hadn’t! The tapir is the national animal of Belize. Its nickname is the ‘mountain cow’ although it’s not a cow at all! We found out it’s most closely related to the rhino and the horse. Do the math on that one.



This is Sylvia the Jaguar. She is clearly not happy here, but she was considered a ‘nuisance’ animal because she was killing livestock. Had she not been relocated to the zoo, she would have been shot. Considering that there are less than 800 jaguars still estimated in the wild in Belize, putting her here gives her a fighting chance.







This guy is a harpy eagle. He is HUGE. He has hind talons that can be as large as those of a grizzly bear and stands 4 feet tall. His wingspan is 7 feet! However, it can only fly with prey weighing less than one half its own body weight so he probably won’t kill you. Watch your kids, just saying.



Belize is a great place to try local food, so we stop at roadside stands whenever we can. Three tacos for $1 Belize, which is 50¢ US. Not a bad deal.



Our next stop was Mayflower Bocawina National Park. Home to spectacular waterfalls and an entire city of unexcavated Mayan ruins, it was a great place to spend an afternoon. Plus PK got to play Tarzan in the hanging vines so that was a bonus.





This is Rose. Her brother works at Sleeping Giant. Her cousin works at Jaguar Reef. Her cousin knows Amir and Axel from Sleeping Giant. Walter at Jaguar Reef is married to Jessica whose cousin is Alcindor at Ian Anderson’s. The point: everyone knows everyone in Belize.




This is an unexcavated Mayan Temple. They estimate that there may be as many as 3,000 structures in this park alone.


These are leaf cutter ants. They are amazing. They can carry more than 50 times their weight, and travel in lines up to 100 feet long. They are so focused on their work that they don’t stop to sting you, but if you wreck their line by stepping on some of them, they will try to crawl in your shoes and invite all of their friends to come along. Just a piece of jungle advice. Keep walking.


Next stop: Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge. You’ll love it. I know we did.

Posted by traciekochanny 12:40 Archived in Belize Tagged rainforest zoo jungle waterfall parrot crocodile belize toucan tapir jaguar belize_zoo bocawina_national_park Comments (0)

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