GAIA RIVER LODGE, MOUNTAIN PINE RIDGE FOREST RESERVE, BELIZE
Located an hour and a half’s drive from the Guatemala borders within Cayo District, lies the breathtaking abode known as Gaia River Lodge.
Perched above the magnificent Five-Sisters waterfalls in Belize’s much acclaimed Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, lies the exclusive 13 room Gaia River lodge. It will truly blow your mind from the minute you arrive to your very last steps out of its reserve.
Think remote, pine tree lined dust tracks with wooden cabanas, the sound of gushing water from the waterfall beneath you, technicolour flowers glistening like jewels in the landscape and occasional birdsong from the odd flying friend that sweeps passed your path.
GAIA RIVER LODGE
The epicentre of Gaia is the wooden communal building, which houses the reception, the main bar and the split level, indoor outdoor restaurant area and the most perfect deck for sun downers and panoramic views of the Five Sisters waterfall beneath. As you check-in a welcome drink is pressed into your hand, your heart will literally skip a beat when you peer over to see the radiance of the waterfall.
Adjacent to this communal area is an electric tram, which takes you down to the Five Sisters waterfall and the decked out relaxation area featuring gazebos, sun loungers and hammocks. Go for a dip in the fresh waterfall waters, climb the boulders or simply relax with a cocktail or lunch in this stunning natural landscape.
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY CABANAS
When it comes to abodes, they don’t come as cute as these cabanas. The categories are Waterfall view rooms, Garden View Cabanas, Mountain View Cabanas, Waterfall View cabanas, Waterfall View Suite and the Riverside view suite. Gaia is an adults only environment and free of any intrusive technologies, especially in the restful sanctuaries of the rooms.
We spent three blissful nights in the Waterfall View Cabana (called Breeze), which was just perfect for us. It was located at the top of the waterfalls with breath-taking waterfall views and the soothing sound of the water beneath.
Gaia has made it a point to ensure that the cabanas blend in with the surroundings, ensuring each one has a thatched-roof ceiling, tropical hardwood floor, handpicked artwork and furniture.
The bathrooms are small but perfectly formed, decorated in dusky pink tiles and stocked with L’Occitane products.
Our king bed was draped in mosquito nets, which are let down and prepared for you during the lodges evening turn-down service.
Dining at Gaia is most definitely a memorable affair not only from the panoramic views but also from the Belizean cuisine, which incorporates a fusion of flavours and international flavour combinations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at set times with snacks being available all day. Most dishes will include fruit and veg, which is grown in Gaia’s own organic garden.
Gaia is very lucky enough to have its own Mayan farmer, Samuel who is responsible for the on-site organic garden, which provides hand-picked daily fruit and vegetables. Additional ingredients used at Gaia come from a network of gardeners and farmers who are based locally, to ensure their business and sustainability philosophy is supported.
A tour of the organic garden gives a fascinating insight into the local produce that is grown here and regular tour slots are scheduled on a weekly basis.
Gaia also operates on its own hydro power, runs a recycling project and supports the forest around it and the local economy effectively and thus are proud to have won the Green Globe Award
ACTIVITIES FROM GAIA
For those who like to pack in a few activities into the day, Gaia has a whole host to choose from, not to mention some relaxing treatments in the resident spa. We kept it pretty simple this time and spent time enjoying our surroundings and what the forest around us offered.
Onsite activities include an early morning jungle walk, on-site early bird-watching, advanced bird watching, nocturnal rainforest walk and the organic garden tour.
There are also a wide range of off-site experiences, which include; Caracol, Barton creek and canopy zip-lining, jungle horse-back riding, Tikal, cave tubing, visiting local villages to mention a few.
As well as partaking in some on-site experiences, we booked to go to Caracol and the nearby Rio Frio Caves. The recently excavated ancient Mayan site of Caracol is located deep in the Chiquibul rainforest and dates as far back as the 7th century AD. This is a day trip and includes a picnic lunch, which I organised by Gaia. If you have been to Tikal, this place is a must and will give you something to compare the Mayan sites sheer size with.
If you follow me on instagram, you will know about my hike and visit to Big Rock Falls, which is about 30-40 minutes from Gaia. It’s a stunning hike through the Pine forest, which leads you to a secluded waterfall however be warned as the British army use this as a training site and you never know when a group of very hunky men are going to go commando and dive in!!
Finally when it comes to activities, Gaia has its own post dinner entertainment in the form of Mr Chris Burrows! Yep Gaia’s night security is also an up and coming magician in the Belizian entertainment industry. He may not be into huge shows and levitation however, lets just say he can give David Blaine a run for his money. Fabulous sleight of hand in action every other night at Gaia!
Our three nights at Gaia came to an end so soon and with a heavy heart it was time to say goodbye to the Cayo District and board a very small flight from San Ignacio to our next destination and sister hotel to Gaia, Matachica on the island of Ambergris Caye.
SHEER UNADULTERATED PERFECTION FOR
Couples, Weddings, Honeymoons. special occasions, unfortunately not for children
Stay tuned to hear all about Matachica in the next instalment…
Gaia River Lodge
Mountain Pine Forest Reserve
Tel. 011. 501.834.4005
For best rates, please book directly with Gaia River Lodge on https://www.gaiariverlodge.com, which includes round-trip transfers.
Disclaimer: We were upgraded to the Waterfall View Cabana in exchange for this review however all views, opinions and photography are my own and remain a copyright of be-lavie