Retreat to the Jungle at Copal Tree Lodge

 

Tucked away in a thick, lush rainforest on the outskirts of Punta Gorda in Southern Belize, Copal Tree Lodge (formerly known as Belcampo Lodge) is an elegant retreat featuring 16 gorgeous rooms and suites, an excellent restaurant, and tons of outdoor activities for those not satisfied with just lounging poolside (or in their own private hammocks) and listening to the distant echoes of resident howler monkey cries.

I visited in early December, at the tail-end of Belize’s rainy season, which meant every day was a mix of sunbreaks and sudden downpours, a welcome refreshment from 80-degree heat. Though there is an airstrip in Punta Gorda, about a 20-minute drive from the hotel, I made my way there by car from Belize City (via the quiet town of San Ignacio), stopping en route to learn about traditional cacao preparations at Lamanai Chocolate before heading over to St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park  for a quick dip in a cenote.

It was around sunset when my group arrived at Copal Tree. We were greeted in the beautiful lodge lobby (pictured below) with fresh ginger juice, registration forms, and complimentary water bottles, which we could refill at bottled water stations throughout our stay, eliminating the need for plastic. At the front desk was a plate of free cookies and a bunch of fresh mini-bananas, the type you can usually only get in the tropics, but I opted instead to buy some of the hotel’s homemade chocolate, on par with what I’d tried earlier that day.

I probably should have saved my appetite for dinner, served in a quiet terrace restaurant just above the lobby. Here my colleagues feasted on fresh seafood, washed down with a couple of bottles of imported Italian wine. As the vegan in the group, I expected to resort to my Central American mainstay of rice and beans, so was pleasantly surprised to see a gorgeous stack of polenta cakes served with homemade pesto. Many of the ingredients used at Belcampo are sourced from their on-site farm, and the hotel runs daily farm tours along with a host of outdoor activities that range from hiking miles of on-site trails to taking guided fly fishing trips out in the sea.

After dinner, I headed to my room, a gorgeous cottage with high ceilings, a screened in deck with its own hammock and sofa, and a huge bathroom with an enormous mosaic shower and floor-to-ceiling windows facing out onto a thick canopy of tropical trees. As is the case with many of the eco-resorts I’ve stayed at in the past, there was no TV to distract me, and while there was air-conditioning, I didn’t need to use it. Instead, I kept all the windows wide open and fell to sleep that night to the soothing lullaby of the surrounding jungle.

Rates run start at US $305 during low season at Copal Tree Lodge. Wi-Fi is free, though service can be spotty at times. Check with the hotel for package deals and all-inclusive details. You can also compare rates and make a reservation with Travelocity or Expedia.

All photos courtesy of Belcampo Belize. Margot Bigg’s stay was hosted by the Belize Tourism Board. All opinions are her own.

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