A Breath of Fresh Air: Enjoying The Great Outdoors at Hidden Valley
Author Credits: Carolee Chanona for Caribbean Culture + Lifestyle
A mini-village of a dozen cottages, each with their own log fires, surrounds what was once a private birding lodge. Welcome to Hidden Valley Inn, a quaint gem managed by innkeepers Gladness and Chris Besmehn that’s hidden amongst the crisp, spruce-green foliage of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. “It’s the first place we came to and immediately felt at home.” Now, they can’t wait to share their love of Belize with you—where guests can reunite, escape, and exhale this summer. Besides, Belize has something for everyone. Conquering an ancient temple inside a Mayan archeological site? Check. Hiking in the mountains to Central America’s second tallest waterfall? Check. Richly cultured cuisine? Check. Breathe deeply: you’re in the great outdoors now with Hidden Valley Inn.
Reunite, escape, and exhale in Belize
As the world re-centers itself after being completely consumed by a public health emergency, wellness tourism is back in the spotlight and the great outdoors is the main act in places like Hidden Valley. If there was any time to try travel experiences that aim to refresh, restart and regain, it’s now; besides a physical toll, mental health matters came to the forefront after prolonged isolation and anxiety during the pandemic. Regardless of where your ideal isolated adventure falls on the price spectrum, Belize is the place to experience it. The small luxe outpost of Hidden Valley Inn benefits from the eco-adventures of Belize’s innermost western district, Cayo, and its 7,200 acres of wild, private reserve.
After landing in Belize City, you’ll head approximately 90 minutes towards the Belize-Guatemala border to a district known for its parks, ecological reserves, and archeological sites. A Tripadvisor company, Viator, has released its 2022 Trend Report, measuring booking trends made on its website from 2019 to 2021 to reveal the biggest trends that could be taking over in 2022. Of them, experiential activities are going to be top-of-mind for many travelers, not just younger Gen Z and Millennial travelers who often lead the pack in their desire for an immersive experience.
The beauty of wide-open spaces
Hidden Valley Inn’s big brag? Over 90 miles of paths less traveled to hike directly from your cottage and more than 5 major waterfalls exclusively found on the property, for warm-weather adventures year-round. That’s a reassurance: in fact, Viator reported nearly half (48%) of the experiences booked this year through Viator were predominantly outdoors. It seems 2021 reminded us of the beauty of wide-open spaces while urban areas remained closed, but 2022 continues to be all about reconnecting with nature. Innkeeper Gladness is most likely to see you off for the day, even bringing your packed lunch with a smile, and jetting you off—whether hiker or biker—with a trail map + two-radios in the event of a return ride or directions needed for self-guided tours. But that’s just on the property. What happens when you venture out, even deeper, into the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve?\
Just an hour and a half away lie Caracol Archeological Reserve: the largest Maya site in Belize. Covering a site of 200 square kilometers, far larger than the current area of Belize City, significant finds are still being made today. Here, eco-travelers can put their best Indiana Jones impression to the test. Besides boasting the tallest manmade structure in the country to date, conquering the climb of Caana—meaning Sky Palace in Mayan—at 140 feet is an impressive feat all on its own.
Pop into the limestone Rio Frio Cave, perfect for first-time spelunkers to enter into Xibalba, what ancient Mayans classed as the ‘place of fright’ to enter the Underworld. Full of sunlight and air, the amphitheater-like limestone formation envelopes you in history, too. After, wash off the day at the Rio on Pools, a collection of invigorating splash puddles made even better with tired muscles (if any).
This summer, Belize awaits
Return to your cottage, equally exhilarated and exhausted in the best way possible, back to airy lodgings before open-air dining. The atmosphere is crisp with the night air yet fragrant: the Chef sends fresh bread to your table. Laughter and memories of the day synchronize with the rhythm of singing cicadas. Slowly, you sip a glass of fresh-pressed pineapple juice with sheer satisfaction. May your summer vacation planning commence, whether you’re a Gen Z traveler or just craving wide-open spaces. The great outdoors awaits in Belize, and Hidden Valley Inn is the answer you’re looking for.
This article originally appeared on Caribbean Culture + Lifestyle. Read here’