Moving on jungle fun at Lower Dover Lodge, the next part of our adventure took us to Parrot Nest Lodge, via Belize Zoo – back on the crazy bus again! Just being on the bus is a bit of an adventure in Belize, a lively, friendly rather bumpy ride with an assortment of passengers who look like an advert for the United Colours of Benetton. People selling a variety of snacks are always getting on and off the bus too. It was tricky for the candy floss man either way.
Get off that bus!
Belize Zoo is not a regular type of Zoo, but more of a conservation project, rescuing mistreated and injured animals and educating people about the wildlife of Belize. I knew that if I didn’t go there, then I probably wasn’t going to see a Belizean Jaguar, so we went, and we did. Buddy Junior looked unconcerned by our ogling, I guess he was used to it.
We tried to see the black panther Lucky Boy, who had been kept imprisoned in a small cage in the grounds of a hotel and was rescued as a bag of mangy bones, hours from death. Well and sleek again now, he could probably see us but, despite extensive peering into the thick foliage, we couldn’t quite see him.
Parrot Nest Lodge is a lovely place to stay in the jungle just out of the village of Bullet Tree Falls along from the small town of San Ignacio. It’s a family run business and the home of Theo and Marcus and several animals.
Tree house hideaway
Theo, having been born in America, and lived in Majorca, settled here with her family years ago and is still in love with beautiful Belize. There are seven cosy cabins in the jungle and also two super cute tree houses. Hearty home cooked meals are served with the other guests in the charming rustic dining room, open to the wild green jungle. Tea coffee and fresh water are always available too.
Theo and Amini
Amini, the cook is a former miss West Belize, and has appeared on the Belikin beer calendar. She also makes a mean omelet breakfast! All the staff here are part of the same family and Theo sees them as an extension of her own, paying to put the youngsters through high school, which is a luxury here and not free of charge.
Home Sweet Home
When we were here there was quite a bit of rain. It is one of my fondest memories of our trip lying in the cabin listening first to the sounds of the jungle, and then to the tropical rain thundering onto the roof. Music to the ears.
This idyllic tropical lodgeis surrounded on three sides by the Mopan River, and wildlife are never far away. Belize has incredible bio diversity and there are hundreds of species of birds including some of the most colourful show offs of the bird world, Parrots and Toucans.
Reading the Jungle Book at Parrot’s Nest Lodge
Coatimundis, agouti (a bit like a very big rabbit), otters, and the giant green iguana are among the regular visitors to Parrot Nest. Indeed, there are so many iguanas here that they managed to thwart Theo’s recycling efforts – ‘the compost was just full of iguanas,’ she explained. Theo’s family have long been involved as champions of eco tourism in Belize and her mother Katie Shea Stevens even wrote a fab book about bringing up a family here called PO Belize. Move over Gerald Durrell!
Bullet Tree Falls village, just 3 miles from the Cayo district’s main town of San Ignacio is the last outpost before the great forests to the west, south, and north. From here you can explore all that West Belize has to offer and Theo and Marcus can sort out any tours you may want to do while you’re there. From here is it possible to cross the border to Guatemala and do the world famous Mayan site of Tikal in a day trip which was something we really wanted to do.
Brought to life by our fantastic guide – Mayan native Mr Lewis, the incredible site.is the ruin of an ancient city, found in a rain forest in Guatemala. Tikal was the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya and dates back as far as the 4th Century BC. I think that these ancient monumental structures are as staggering a sight as the great pyramids of Giza. Mr Lewis took my picture in front of them. ‘That’s such a good picture!’ I exclaimed. ‘I have been doing this for thirty five years,’ he replied without missing a beat.
We left Parrot Nest Lodge reluctantly – I would have like to have stayed longer, – but we got on board the Marlin express bus this time, and set off on yet another marathon overland journey back across the border to Mexico…