A Stay As Impactful As It Is Beautiful at Hidden Valley Inn
Author Credits: Carolee Chanona for Caribbean Culture + Lifestyle
Out-of-this-world hotels are only one part of the return to being pathfinders: the one-in-a-lifetime activities, meals, and smiles along the way all ensure our travels are impactful, too. Globetrotters are ultimately craving authentic, unreplicated experiences, and we’ve got just the place. According to the most recent American Express Travel global trend report, a whopping 81 percent of respondents would rather meet with and learn from locals than attend curated tours and activities crafted by major travel companies. How does conquering the climb of Caana at Caracol Maya Sites, birding with a local tour guide from the buffering community, and pottery-making with a women’s cooperative sound? Do it all, plus more, with Hidden Valley Inn—for a stay as impactful as it is beautiful.
Start by flying (or driving, the road into Mountain Pine Ridge is now mostly paved) from Belize City to the remote mountains in the heart of the country, where the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve juts over 2,000 feet above sea level; an impressive feat, considering Belize City, where you land at the international airport, is actually 0 cm, or at sea level. Up there, the lush jungle landscape gives way to scrubbier evergreen woodlands, stunning waterfalls, and cooler climates. This rare Central American environment makes Belize’s pine forests a hiking and birder capital, and Hidden Valley Inn emerges guests into each niche eco-activities.
How to participate in impactful eco-activities
Next, jump into outdoorsy activities without any impact on the environment you’re enveloped within: stargazing, waterfall-chasing, and hiking are fantastic starting points. Indeed, the bracing altitude and wilderness only enhance the appeal of this handful of eco-activities in the area. Hidden Valley Inn has over 90 miles of hiking trails inside its 7,200 acres of private reserve. For the beginner, head over to Cub’s Den or on the Coffee Grove trails; the always-captivating Butterfly Falls are private and pristine for intermediate hikers; while Cascade Alley—measuring 1.5 miles one-way—caters to those seeking intensity. Self-exploratory, pack a lunch and a walkie-talkie then hit the road.
And as a destination within a destination, it’s all about the activities with Hidden Valley Inn. Alongside your guide, head about an hour and a half more to Caracol—the largest Maya Site in Belize, found in the heart of the Chiquibul. Impressive by its sheer size alone, Caracol also boasts Caana (translating to ‘Sky Palace’) as one of the tallest manmade structures in the country. Besides being fit for Mayan royalty in the years prior, even British Royalty had a chance to stand in the epic footsteps of this ancient dynasty: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate, climbed Caana in March 2022.
As part of their first official Caribbean visit, Prince William and Kate spent a full day taking in the sites and sounds of the Chiquibul, first with the Caracol Maya Site, then with a crash-course on jungle survival training with BATSUB.
Unlike Prince William and Kate who took to the skies for a private transfer by helicopter, Hidden Valley Inn was the perfect base for our team covering their Caribbean tour—putting us in the front row for their adventures.
If you rather keep it a bit low-key instead, stay on property and head to the privately accessed Butterfly Falls for a picturesque backdrop, or keep a keen eye out on scope as raptors glide over a vast ravine where the aptly named 1,000 Foot Falls empties.
While the majority of trails aren’t difficult, they’re wonderfully quiet. And for those enjoying going toe-to-toe with adrenaline, steel yourself for a night hike in hopes of sighting a puma (a.k.a. Mountain lion), elusive jaguar, or even smaller wildcats like ocelot or margay.
During the day, cool off while zipping through the jungle canopy on a zipline, or best of all, go cave tubing for an invigorating dip into 1) fresh spring water and 2) ancient Maya history.
Have an impactful trip no matter what time of the year
Not only does Hidden Valley Inn give you an opportunity for you to relax and unwind, but they’re also an innovative means to tour the area you’re visiting to feel as though you’ve got the place all to yourself. After all, wanderlusters travel during the off-season as a good way to practice impact traveling. Instead of booking your vacation around Christmas, Memorial Day, Valentine’s Day, or other major holidays, how does a few weeks before or after sound? Belize is often overlooked in comparison to its more popular Caribbean neighbors, and its great outdoors is probably its warmest hug—besides a welcoming culture and eco-adventures by the score. So, are you ready for your impactful visit to Belize?
After all, we’ve been called Mother Nature’s best-kept secret for a reason.