A Special Mystic River Resort Tour: Sapodilla Falls and Blancaneaux Cave

After a day at the ATM Cave and then a gorgeous braised goat in red wine meal, I fell into my comfy bed at Mystic River Resort at about 7:30pm.  I really really REALLY tried to stay awake but by about 7:39pm, I was out for the night.

While the ATM cave does not leave you winded or have you performing any moves that require great strength, your body is trying to stabilize much of the time and I was sore in areas that are rarely sore.  Like my ankles and my hands (from just gripping the sides of the cave), the quiet moan of my calves and my thighs lulled me into a blissful jungle coma.  And I was up at dawn, invigorated, for my next adventure.

My pre-ordered breakfast was waiting for me down in the common area.  Goat yogurt, granola, fresh fruit and honey.  I ate it every day (and tried to recreate it when I got home…I’ll show you how below.)

goat yogurt

SO delicious.  I put SNEAKERS on for the second day – my feet are SO not used to being closed in – and set out.


7:30am, I met my guide Eber and my partner in the adventure Jenny from California.  And we headed out in the Polaris.

We took the back road towards San Antonio village – a predominantly Maya area – and…who knew?  The peanut capital of Belize!

Here is an older map of the area we covered.

mountain ridge

Peanut planting was in full swing.


And acres and acres of peanut plants.  Who knew?  When you see those little bags of peanuts for sale around Belize, they are most likely from San Antonio village in Cayo.


Bright orange winged grasshoppers (the orange is folded in when they land) took to flight as we drove down the roads.


Just a beautiful beautiful area.  And the Polaris is SUCH the way to go.


Even after driving for about 30 minutes, we saw a sign for Caracol (the largest Maya city in Belize).  37 more miles and a rough road.  One day I’ll make it out there.  I…just hope to own a helicopter by then 🙂

We entered the Pine Ridge Forest Reserve.


I learned something new that day.  I had always thought that the pines grew here due to higher elevation but that is not the case.  It’s the soil…and it changes when you go over streams…or certain hills.  The sandy acidic soil produces pines and brush and you drive a few feet and you are in broad leaf jungle.

I quickly found out what a Polaris is really for.


And my next gorgeous grasshopper friend.  We are friends, grasshopper, as long as you don’t touch me.


Pine lowland and jungled hills…


Many of the trails had been cleared by the Mystic River staff only the day before…and were treacherously awesome driving.

IMG_2176OH and look!  Here we are.  The “cave”.

IMG_2177Mr. Blancaneaux discovered the cave and really pioneered the area decades ago.  It was told to me that he is a descendant of Barry Bowen (of Belikin Beer) and used this area for his hunting lodge.

Kudos to any person who first lowered themselves into a cave.  Yikes.  I would have turned right back around.

Into the hole down a ladder?  With helmuts and lights?  Sure…why not.  Eber our guide was super knowledgeable and had done this many many times.  Plus, I just did ATM CAVE!  I can do anything.

This one is totally dry…so no wading through water but older than ATM and absolutely gorgeous.  Photos in the dark are tough but here is some of what I saw…as we walked, crawled and stooped through 1 km of cave.

IMG_2183One last look at daylight…


IMG_2187Extremely high ceilings in some parts dripping with crystals and stalagmites…or is it tites?IMG_2189

We saw bones, pieces of pottery and obsidian that have been brought into the caves hundreds of years ago.

We saw a break in the ancient stone columns (where the tites and mites meet) from some HUGE happening.  Probably the giant meterorite that hit the Northern Yucatan about 65 million years ago and may have been the end of the dinosaurs.  HOW COOL IS THAT?  (You can check out the top 10 Asteroid Impacts from National Geographic here.)


The asteroid caused total darkness on earth…a crater 25km deep (only a few hundred miles from here)…poisonous acidic rain across the globe and all is did was crack this incredible hard stone.  Crazy.

Eber showed us how the Maya may have used fire and these translucent formations to light up the cave.  One little flash light…


And a gorgeous crystal “waterfall”…


And oddly one of my favorite parts.  A huge row of disgusting termites had made their way from the light into the cave…hundreds of feet.  Termites do not eat rock.  They do eat wood, but there is no wood in this cave.  What they also eat is BONE!

They were making their way into the crevices of the cave.

IMG_2207With that, we hiked back out.  Daylight.


Back to our ladder and daylight.


The conquering heroes, lords of the underworld – Eber and Jenny.


We were off for the drive to location #2 – Sapodilla Falls.  Another place only used by Mystic River Lodge.

IMG_2217It was really a gorgeous day.

IMG_2218To drive across a river.  THIS IS WHAT POLARIS’S ARE FOR!


And we hiked down to the Privassion Creek.

IMG_2229And then along the hillside to the big falls…large granite rocks that drop off quite suddenly.  It’s absolutely beautiful.


Take a look at some amazing photos of a couple that got married at the bottom of these falls!


We ate a delicious lunch on a table cloth on a broad rock before making our way over to the swimming area and the smaller falls.

IMG_2237We passed some delicate, wild growing Black Orchids.  Belize’s national flower.

IMG_2239The view of the falls as we made our way through the forest.


We all went for a swim.  PERFECT after caving and tearing around in the Polaris…cool but not too much so.


We headed back out up the trail and out towards Francis Ford Coppola’s Blancaneaux Lodge.  The shift in the landscape in just a mile is like night and day.

IMG_2248 IMG_2249

A few quick pictures of the lodge – no.  I did not see Francis.

IMG_2250 IMG_2253

And this odd Pinocchio fountain out by the pool (which used to be the Croquet Court).  I’m assuming it is a nod to the 1998 Settlement that he won against Warner Brothers – they blocked him making a Pinocchio movie – he got $60 million dollars.

Is it just me or is it hard to imagine the director of Apocalypse Now and The Godfather films re-making Pinocchio?


Let me wrap this up!  We headed out and back home to Mystic River feeling again like serious adventurers and happily exhausted from the day.

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What a gorgeous SPECIAL trip.  Not only had the resort built the paths and cleared many of the trails and roads but they had been out there the day before – on miles of trails – to make sure it was ready for us.

We didn’t see anyone out there…and I love that.  Explorers of this people region.  Learning everything from peanut farming (is our next Prime Minister going to be from San Antonio) to geology to termiteology.

Plus a refreshing swim.  I absolutely loved it.

For more information on Mystic River, read my blog listed below and check out their website.  HIGHLY recommended.

OH!  And my recreation of yogurt granola heaven in San Pedro.

Take your favorite plain yogurt without sugar and strain it.  Either through a cheesecloth (or a clean towel) in a colander or through GOOD paper towels and a colander.  But it on a plate and by morning, the yogurt will have reduced to half or a third of it’s original size.  Now you have greek yogurt.

Put in bowl, add mangoes and honey and…I did plain oats.  Delicious.  Not AS delicious as the goat yogurt at Mystic, but pretty dang tasty.

yogurt creation
















  • Erik Terdal

    Yeah! My favorite part of Belize.

    • Belize Blog

      The…it’s so crazy how the land changes SO suddenly. I was strangely captivated by geology on this whole trip…ATM’s pink sedimentary stone was gorgeous…granite…limestone…super interesting!

  • Susan Watts

    Just beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

    • Belize Blog

      Thanks for hanging in there..I was getting wordy! But I really loved this spot 🙂

  • Peter L. Oberhaus

    Never to wordy, enjoyed this blog as always.

    • Belize Blog

      Thank you very much.