Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I really can't rave enough about our jungle vacation at eco-focused Cotton Tree Lodge in Belize.
Cotton Tree is located in the rarely visited Toledo district at the Southern-most part of Belize. It's a quiet area, especially in the summer rainy season, and ideal to "get away from it all," to borrow the cliche. The lodge itself is a half hour outside of town but feels deep in the jungle. You never mind the remote setting, because Cotton Tree provides all the requirements of a fantastic vacation -- a beautiful and peaceful location on the lazy Moho River, rustic but comfortable* cabins with lovely verandas and hammocks for relaxing, plus entertaining daily excursions to ruins, caves, islands, and even a local village**. As someone who normally plays tour guides on our vacations, it was such a treat to relax and know that every detail of our day was taken care of.
But you guys don't want to hear about our lazy hammock reading. You want to hear about green! And was Cotton Tree green! Most power came from solar panels, and most food from the organic gardens on the premises. Even better was their "sewage" system. We got to use normal flush toilets, but the water was then re-routed to a leach field of banana plants before being returned to the ground. I'm no expert in green toilets, but I can tell you this -- our bathroom was clean and easy, and despite the more natural waste system, the lodge's grounds smelled like jungle and never anything else. So Cotton Tree must have been doing something right!
What was most amazing about the green additions of Cotton Tree was how seamless they were. Our stay felt incredibly luxurious*** despite its lower impact; we certainly never felt that we were sacrificing anything to support a green endeavor. The other nice thing about the green lean? Our fellow guests tended to be open minded and eco aware as well!
All in all, we had an amazing week at Cotton Tree. If you do get a chance to visit Belize, definitely don't let it pass -- the country is beautiful and peaceful, with an active democracy I was delighted to support with my tourist dollars. And if you go, definitely consider staying at Cotton Tree and seeing what a fabulous vacation you can have while going green!
Cotton Tree Lodge, Toledo, Belize. From $109 /night for the simplest room during low season to $225 /night for all-inclusive with the most luxurious room in high season. Looking for a deal? Try bidding on a package through Luxury Link. Our fellow guests found great deals there.
* Comfortable though slightly buggy -- we had a host of moths circling our reading lights every night. But they made for interesting viewing and, let's be honest, what else can you expect in the middle of a jungle!
** If you are ever in Toledo District, the Blue Creek Cave is not to be missed. We scrambled up a few rocks to the entrance, then donned headlamps and tied life jackets around our waists. Then we swam deep into the dark cave, pushing our way against the current and running our hands along the mineral coated walls. When we hit as far as we could safely go, we all turned off our lamps and sat in the dark (redefining dark for me -- thick, inky, deep dark, utterly light free.) It might not sound like much, but it was just an incredible trip, peaceful, awe-inspiring, and like nothing I've done before.
*** M wants me to add the disclaimer that luxurious for us might not be luxurious for someone used to the Four Seasons or Sandals Resorts. But you can get a sense yourself from the website -- the photos there are exactly what we found on arrival.