A Far-From-Home Thanksgiving Escape To The Pine Forests of Belize
Author Credits: Carolee Chanona for Caribbean Culture + Lifestyle
Thanksgiving isn’t a day celebrated in Belize—although the average Belizean would revel any opportunity for turkey dinner—but because it’s the catalyst of our busy tourism season, we do. Travelers love Belize for its seemingly untouched offshore islands, jungle-hidden Maya sites, and adrenaline-fueled adventures. Not to mention, Belize is a short-haul away from the continental U.S., just a 2-hour stint from hubs in Houston and Miami. It may not be more than a half day away from your port of embarkation, but you can still get that far-away feeling with a place like the Mountain Pine Ridge—a protected forest reserve replete with caves, waterfalls, and natural pools within 300,000 wild acres. “Why wander far and wide when the good things are so near?” German poet Goethe once asked, and we agree. This year, take a Thanksgiving escape to the pine forests in Belize for a Turkey Day like no other.
What November In The Jungles of Belize Can Be Like
Big Rock Falls. Image via Roeming Belize
Of all of Western Belize’s wild spaces, this is the most unexpected, shimmering oasis in the heart of pure greenery. Thanksgiving falls on the last Thursday of the month and oxygen-charged crisp winds replace sultry summer humidity here in the Pine Ridge. You’ll come to Belize in November for the pleasantly sunny weather this time of year, but there are plenty of other things to do far beyond the gorgeous coastline.
The amphitheater of Rio Frio Cave. Photo courtesy Duarte Dellarole
Go spelunking inside the limestone Rio Frio Cave, perfect for first-timers entering Xibalba — the “place of fright” by ancient Mayans to enter the Underworld. With an entrance spanning 65 feet tall, you’re automatically enveloped in archeological history, too.
Caracol. Image via Kevin Quischan Photography
Or, delve deeper into the Maya Mountains with the winding road of the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, culminating with the country’s largest Maya Site. Once one of the most powerful cities in the entire Maya world, Caracol — translating to “snail” — still boasts the tallest manmade structure in Belize with its temple of Canaã rising 143 feet high.
Butterfly Falls is just one of five major waterfalls inside Hidden Valley Inna dn Reserve.
Then, of course, you’ve got a myriad of waterfalls to chase in the Mountain Pine Ridge. There’s the Thousand Foot Falls that sends water (unlike its name suggests) plummeting nearly 1,600 feet into a deep gorge below. Big Rock Falls is a popular crowd favorite too, with its 150-foot falls and wading-perfect cenotes and pools below. For a touch of romanticism, head to the private Butterfly Falls exclusively available to guests of Hidden Valley Inn to swim, simply stare, and savor a picnic lunch.
Cozy Up To Hidden Valley Inn’s Thanksgiving Special
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. Where adventure beckons at your doorstep within its 7,200 acres—that you’re free to explore on your own, equipped with lodge-provided site maps and walkie-talkies—and unhampered relaxation awaits in your private chalet.
Fall for Belize and get 20% off a 4-night Discovery Package with Hidden Valley Inn; valid for travel from November 1, 2022, to January 31, 2023, enter promo code WINTER at checkout when booking direct.
This article originally appeared on Caribbean Culture + Lifestyle.