Explore West Belize With A Stay At Parrot Nest Lodge

Explore West Belize With A Stay At Parrot Nest Lodge
Parrot Nest Lodge
Elaine
Elaine 
Contributing Writer
Published
| 7 min read

West Belize, inland from the sparkling Caribbean coast is an area of rainforest, jungle, rivers, caves and breathtaking Mayan ruins. Easily accessible by the fabulous local bus network, you can head West to San Ignacio, which is the biggest town before the border with Guatemala. There are a few hotels here, but it is much more fun to stay in the jungle in a tree house or lodge like Parrot Nest. This family run lodge has been here for eighteen years and is well versed in looking after the needs of travellers from all over the world. Read on to learn more about Parrot Nest Lodge and the wonderful things to do in the surrounding area.

Parrot Nest Lodge

explore west belize with a stay at parrot nest lodge | parrot nest lodge

Staying at Parrot Nest Lodge is a fun and unique tropical experience. There are seven cabins to choose from or you might like to try one of the two very cute tree houses built under a 100 foot or 30 metre guanacaste tree. Some of the accommodation has en suite bathrooms but others are outside under little thatched bathroom stations. The lodge is surrounded on three sides by the Mopan River, so a refreshing swim in clear water is never far away, and there is plenty of wildlife about to watch too. Belize is a great place for bird watching as there are over 500 species here. At Parrot Nest, you may well see wild parrots and toucans as well as other animals like coati, agouti (a kind of very large rodent), otter and the giant green iguana. The hotel has beautiful gardens which, though lush and exotic, are virtually mosquito free, a real bonus for those of you who, like me are, usually bitten to death in tropical climes.

The nearest village to Parrot Nest is Bullet Tree Falls, just 3 miles or 4.8km from the Cayo district’s main town of San Ignacio, and this town is the last outpost before the great forests to the west, south and north. Breakfast and dinner are served on the verandah of the main house. Dinners are generous, healthy and fresh, and meals for vegetarians are provided on request. Clean drinking water, tea and coffee are always available. Staying at Parrot Nest Lodge is a fun and unique tropical experience. There are seven cabins to choose from or you might like to try one of the two very cute tree houses built under a 100 foot or 30 metre guanacaste tree. Some of the accommodation has en suite bathrooms but others are outside under little thatched bathroom stations. The lodge is surrounded on three sides by the Mopan River, so a refreshing swim in clear water is never far away, and there is plenty of wildlife about to watch too. Belize is a great place for bird watching as there are over 500 species here. At Parrot Nest, you may well see wild parrots and toucans as well as other animals like coati, agouti (a kind of very large rodent), otter and the giant green iguana. The hotel has beautiful gardens which, though lush and exotic, are virtually mosquito free, a real bonus for those of you who, like me are, usually bitten to death in tropical climes.

The nearest village to Parrot Nest is Bullet Tree Falls, just 3 miles or 4.8km from the Cayo district’s main town of San Ignacio, and this town is the last outpost before the great forests to the west, south and north. Breakfast and dinner are served on the verandah of the main house. Dinners are generous, healthy and fresh, and meals for vegetarians are provided on request. Clean drinking water, tea and coffee are always available.

The Belize Zoo

explore west belize with a stay at parrot nest lodge | the belize zoo

The Belize Zoo is easily accessible from Parrot Nest Lodge on the bus. The buses are a great way to get around here, as they are cheap and regular. They are also a friendly, fun way to travel around this lovely country. The zoo was started in 1983, in order to provide a home for a collection of wild animals that had been used in making documentary films about tropical forests.

Shortly after the zoo began, it became clear that Belizean visitors knew little about the different species of wildlife that shared their country, so the zoo became a wildlife education centre as well as an important force for conservation.

The Belize Zoo covers 29 acres or 11 hectares of tropical savanna and is home to over 170 animals, representing over 45 species, all native to Belize. The zoo keeps animals that were orphaned, rescued, born at the zoo, rehabilitated animals, or those sent to the Belize Zoo as donations from other zoos.

I knew that if I didn’t go to the zoo, then I probably wasn’t going to see a magnificent Belizean Jaguar, so off we went, and see one we did. Buddy Junior was a magnificent specimen and he looked unconcerned by our ogling, I guess he was used to it.

We tried to see the black panther Lucky Boy, who had been kept imprisoned in a small cage in the grounds of a hotel and was rescued as a bag of mangy bones, hours from death. Well and sleek again now, he could probably see us but, despite extensive peering into the thick foliage, we couldn’t quite see him.

There were also parrots and toucans to see, tapirs and howler monkeys, coatimundis and pumas. It’s a great way to spend a tropical afternoon. It costs 15 USD or 30 BZD to get in.

Tikal Mayan Ruins

explore west belize with a stay at parrot nest lodge | tikal mayan ruins

Parrot Nest Lodge is in West Belize but is close to the border with Guatemala and a visit to the world UNESCO Heritage Site of Tikal is quite doable in a day trip. Theo and Marcus, the owners of Parrot Nest Lodge, will help sort out the best trips and the best guides for whatever you want to do while you are here. In the heart of the jungle surrounded by lush vegetation lies one of the major sites of Mayan civilization, inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. The ceremonial centre contains superb temples and palaces, public squares and the remains of domestic dwellings.

Tikal National Park is one of the few World Heritage properties that is of both of natural and archaeological importance. It has huge stretches of wetlands, savannah, tropical broadleaf and palm forests with thousands of types of flora and fauna. Big cats, including Jaguar and Puma, live here plus several species of monkeys and anteaters and more than 300 species of birds.

Brought to life by our fantastic guide — Mr. Lewis who is of Mayan heritage — this incredible site is the ruins of a great ancient city. Tikal was the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya and I think that these ancient monumental structures are as staggering a sight as the great pyramids of Giza. Mr. Lewis told us about the way of life of the Maya, their incredibly accurate calendar and their sophisticated use of medicinal plants from the jungle. It is a fascinating place to visit and Guatemala is a country I would definitely like to visit in the future.

San Ignacio

explore west belize with a stay at parrot nest lodge | san ignacio

Parrot Nest is not far from the town of San Ignacio where you will find the bus terminus, the main shopping centre, and quite a lot of backpacker hostels and hotels. There are quite a few more comfortable hotels here too and nice little shops, restaurants and places organising local tours. You can take tours to the caves (the ATM cave is very popular) or you might like to try zip lining through the jungle canopy, if you are feeling adventurous. You can go horse riding or cross the border to see Tikal. Or why not explore some of Belize’s own famous Mayan sites, Xunanuntich, Caracol, Cahal Pech or Altun Ha.

Track down the tiny chocolate shop AJAW where you can see how local, high cacao concentrate Belizean chocolate is made and sample some — it is quite delicious. The banks are here which is quite important as there aren’t many places you can get cash in Belize, and a small market where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables and a few local crafts. It’s worth a visit but it’s nice to return to the peaceful jungle life of Parrot Nest Lodge.

Back at Parrot Nest Lodge

back at parrot nest lodge

Back at Parrot Nest lodge you can enjoy the tasty home cooking of Amini. Amini, the cook is very pretty and a former miss West Belize. She has appeared in a teeny bikini on the Belikin beer calendar and was last year’s Miss September if you want to look her up. She also makes a mean omelet breakfast! Theo, who owns Parrot Nest having been born in America, and lived in Majorca, settled here with her family years ago and is still in love with beautiful Belize. Marcus, Theos’ husband teaches at the local college and is heavily involved in local community life and contributes to the local newsletter — the Cayo Scoop.

All the staff here are part of the same family and Theo sees them as an extension of her own family, paying to put the youngsters of the staff’s family through high school, which is a luxury here and not free of charge.

When we were at Parrot Nest Lodge there was quite a bit of rain. It is one of my fondest memories of our trip lying in the cabin listening first to the sounds of the jungle, and then to the tropical rain thundering onto the roof. Music to the ears. A special place to stay in West Belize, Parrot Nest lodge is a real taste of jungle life in this charming and surprising country.

Explore West Belize

Belize is a small country with a huge amount of variety to offer for the visitor. Away from the glittering coastline and the pristine barrier reef teeming with fish, you can find just as much to engage and fascinate inland in the Western forests and jungles. Small friendly villages, cute and colourful jungle lodges, breathtaking Mayan ruins and a wealth of exotic animals and birds await. Parrot Nest Lodge is a charming and authentic place to stay with great company good food and the paradise of Belize right on your doorstep.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Elaine, a writer and traveler, is drawn to vibrant cultures distinct from the United Kingdom, relishing local street markets. She also has a penchant for eco and nature tourism, and her travels...Read more

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