Hidden Valley Inn: Maybe I AM Outdoorsy

Yesterday I described how I travelled from Ambergris Caye to Hidden Valley Inn in the Cayo district of Belize.  Once here there is almost too much to keep you occupied.We decided to take a morning tour around the property with one of the guides.  Like I mentioned yesterday, Hidden Valley Inn is set on 7200 acres of mountain ridge pine forest.  You could spend all week hiking the 90 odd miles of trails or visiting what seems like countless waterfalls and pools.  (All of you suffering with 100+ degree temperatures in the US should be way jealous right now.)As soon as we headed out I realized “Scoop, you are not in San Pedro anymore”.  Western Belize is like another planet.  You go from the bright whites and blues of the beach to green…everything is incredibly green.  And the fresh crispy air that smells of…well…pine trees.  Maybe I am the outdoorsy type!

We stopped by Lake Lolly Folly.  A great name for the man-made lake that the first owner created in 1960 and stocked with large mouth bass.

We saw some smaller falls like King Vulture Falls.  A baby at around 800 or so feet.  Apparently they are in the beginning phases to set up rappelling here!  YIKES!

On my request, we went to check out the food they grow on the property.  I had never seen coffee, one of my very favorite food groups, growing.

Looks to be a good year…but then, what do I know.  All I know is that they serve the Hidden Valley coffee in the lodge and it is really good.  Best I’ve had in Belize actually.

They have a small grove of macadamia nut trees.  Not native to Belize but pretty cool…

Apparently they are so much work, so difficult to crack, that they leave them for the peccaries (a smaller, hairy wild boar that lives in these forests.)  I know this is not particularly eco-, sustainability minded and Hidden Falls does not think this ever…but imagine a macadamia raised pork?  Mmmm….

On to the One Thousand Foot Fall, the largest water fall in Central America!  Pretty cool to have your inn five minutes away from that.   And until relatively recently, the falls were part of the Hidden Valley property but have since become a national park.

A well placed bit of graffiti.  Indeed there would be tears if you plummeted into this very deep river valley.

We met Mr. Peter, the park ranger and the guy who collects the $1 USD entrance fee.  He was very glad to have his picture taken, he says that he is famous around the world.

He let us know that the falls are actually 1600 ft. high (long?) and that there were measured “not too long ago”.  A guy rappelled over them to measure, didn’t have enough line and had to come up to start again.  Whoops.  It is really tough to tell just from the look-out how tall they really are.  Mr. Peter estimates that you can only see half of them.

Impressive.  Plummeting 1600 feet over granite into the Barton Creek.

We headed down to the last, the smallest and potentially most popular, Butterfly Falls, our only true hike of the day.  It’s about 20 minutes both ways and you want to be sure footed.  

Grab one of the walking sticks.  You’ll need it in a few spots.

We passed our first “camera trap”.  They are knee high motioned detectors and snap a quick picture of whatever is walking by.  So I’m sure some lucky scientist somewhere will be reviewing my muddy sneakers soon…but look at these AWESOME shots they’ve taken over the past months.  I’ve always dreamed of seeing a jaguar in the wild.  (Both pictures borrowed from Hidden Valley Inn’s Facebook page.)


There is one little bridge over the creek.

And then you see this.

An almost perfect looking waterfall.  Our guide told us about how the resort has done weddings in this very spot.  Love the idea.  Although hiking down in your dress…that is for the true adventurer.  Actually the bride generally has her dress carried down to the falls.  Imagine the ceremony?  And if you want,  very fun pictures wading into the water and hiking back up in your finery.

The falling water is gorgeous.  And supposedly great swimming.  I felt the very chilly water with my feet and retreated immediately.

Driving around the property, there are countless signs for more trails, water falls and swimming areas.  There are the Secret Falls, where the lodge brings honeymooners for a special private picnic with wine and flowers.    We spotted a large stygian owl dancing side to side high in the pine trees.  This land is incredibly beautiful even after much of the property burned in a serious forest fire (started by lightening) just over a year ago.  You’d hardly know it.  It’s amazing how resilient the forest can be.

Feeling quite pleased with ourselves, we headed back to the lodge for lunch and perhaps a dip in the pool.  I have much more to tell you (whether you like it or not) about the rooms and the food.  OH the food.

But now it is time to head back to the island.

What was I posting about one year today?  A michelada recipe and the beginning of my year long vacation and a Look Around the DFC Area of San Pedro.

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