Bring your binoculars, camera and hiking boots! If it is the bounty of nature that draws you, Hidden Valley Inn will not disappoint. At our 2,000-foot elevation, the Reserve passes through the broadleaf jungle to the higher elevations and pine forest. Granite mountains sharply drop off to such depths that the great raptors of the area soar below you and virgin forests of bursting greens fill the ravines and where veils from the falls cascade from the lips of stony cliffs to meet them.
In the jungle, below the canopy, wooden bridges cross crystal steams and birds as bright as the tropical flowers light the branches overhead. Picturesque waterfalls, as if from storybooks, sparkle and glint just as the wings of the Blue Morpho butterflies that surround them do. Hidden Valley is a natural wonderland.
Off-site, canoe trips down the Macal River provide a full day self-guided tour of the Cayo area. And to see some of our fauna up close, plan a visit to the Green Hills Butterfly Farm, the San Igancio Iguana Preserve or the Belize Zoo for a personal introduction.
Of course, if you have the chance to speak with one of the conservationists working on the Hidden Valley Reserve (they often use The Hidden Valley Inn as a base), many great conversations are had in the lobby regarding what animals and birds they have seen in the area that day.
At the Green Hills Butterfly Farm, visitors can observe the life cycle of the blue-morpho butterfly, known locally as the Belizean Blue. Green Hills is a research-oriented butterfly farm and botanical garden whose primary mission is observing the interactions between different butterfly species.
The Butterfly Farm boasts the largest live butterfly display, with a 2,700-square-foot flight area. There are rearing facilities, a research facility and a visitors facility. The botanical collection includes passion flowers, bromeliads, cycads, heliconia, aristolochia and orchids, species of particular importance to butterflies. The collection has just undergone a renovation.
The Green Hills Butterfly Ranch exports its butterflies all over the world and is one of the most established butterfly farms in Belize.
Community Baboon Sanctuary
On the banks of Bermuda Landing, Belize District, an eco-tourism project offers an unexpected greeting from Black Howler Monkeys living within this sanctuary.
The Community Baboon Sanctuary is a quick jog west from Burrel Boom, one of the main roads en route from the Belize International Airport to Hidden Valley Inn and, as such, it is best experienced either en route to or from Belize City. The short tour costs just $7.00 per person and takes about an hour, but the opportunity to see the Howlers climb down from the trees to meet the guide is truly amazing.
The tour begins with an overview of the program, which is a wonderful example of community-based opportunity. The sanctuary benefits the seven villages that participate through its tourism dollars, the monkeys, the surrounding area, as it keeps the trees and wilderness protected, and educational awareness.
Monitoring the Magnificent Scarlet Macaw
The “Monitoring the Magnificent Scarlet Macaw” tour takes visitors into the wilderness of the upper Macal River. The tour begins with a drive across the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve through Mayan villages and to Chalillo Lake where visitors board a motorized skiff for a guided trip up the Raspaculo and Upper Macal Rivers.
On this tour participants enter a world of pristine wildlife, where they help rangers document the numbers and behaviors of the scarlet macaw as part of the conservation effort to keep these rare and beautiful birds from extinction. Along the way, other beautiful fauna include Kingfishers and the Great Blue Heron, Morelet’s crocodiles and Belize’s national animal, the Tapir.
The Belize Zoo is a must-do for families traveling with children of all ages. The zoo is located along Belize's Western Highway, the road route visitors take from Belize City to the Hidden Valley Inn area.
The Belize Zoo provides an up-close and personal view of Belize's indigenous animals. A locally run operation, enclosures are less inhibitive to the viewing experience than larger, more metropolitan zoos - just a fence and chicken wire separate you from the beautiful jaguars and pumas. Every animal found in the zoo is also found in the wilds of Belize, so a visit provides a preview to our wildlife.
Kids especially love the tapir exhibit. This large animal is relative to the horse, but with its snout, cloven feet and ears is quite unique to visitors. The howler monkeys often shout back at visitors and guides with their unexpected and deep rolling roars. The cats, snakes and spider are always favorites among children. The bird exhibitions highlight Belize’s beautiful and animated raptors, toucans and other notable feathered friends. The Belize Zoo obtains its animals through rescue. It relies on donations and admission to preserve these animals.
*Tip: On your arrival day, plan to stop at the Belize Zoo and at one of the Western Highway restaurants on your way to Hidden Valley Inn. This breaks up the travel day into a day filled with adventure as well. When you arrive at Hidden Valley, your children will have already had a Belizean experience and you can enjoy the pool deck and lounge and a little R&R.