- Category: Belize Vacations
- Published on Saturday, 18 August 2012 15:25
- Hits: 24042
“As they say in Belize, you'll have an Un-Belize-Able Time!!!”
Reviewed July 7, 2012
We had a truly wonderful experience in Belize during mid June of 2012. My wife and I (30's) booked a 3 day, 4 night trip to Belize with Orchid Garden being the only place we were going to stay. Our experience started off with very prompt and clear responses from Jason, the owner of Orchid Gardens. He allowed us to completely customize our trip, choosing a base package and swapping out and adding on different excursions. While we were in shock of the great deal we received on our package, our excitement grew as our arrival date came closer. We received an excellent PDF with tips from Jason outlining what to expect, how to dress, temperature expectations, what the bring, the works!
Finally it was arrival day and we landed in the Belize Airport, retrieved our luggage and Alfredo was already waiting there with a huge sign to welcome us. He was extremely polite and as we saw other groups heading into vans to travel back to their hotel, I noticed Alfredos van was one of the nicest on the lot (as far as I could tell)! As we made our way back to the hotel, Alfredo began to spread his knowledge of this beautiful country and I grew thirsty for more. We stopped at the grocery store and headed to the hotel to find out we truly did have the place to ourselves and no one would be checking in until our departure day! We checked into our room and I was immediately impressed with the size of the room, complete with two desk areas, two padded chairs, a king bed and a buffet style table. One thing I wondered before I left was if each room had its own bathroom or not, so you know, you do have your own bathroom with tiled walls and a shower with nice warm water and a decent sprayer. It was very clean and I felt right at home. Then we met Christine, Jason's wife, who (with staff) prepared true culinary masterpieces. Every meal I was excited to see and taste what kind of edible artwork she had crafted for us. The food was exquisite and I loved the fact that there was no menu. Christine did present what we would be having for the next meal during the previous so you could make adjustments accordingly. My favorite was the fresh lobster tails they retrieved from the city, so good! The Wi-Fi was down during our stay, but the laptop in the media room/lounge was connected to the internet so I could check in on Facebook and email my family and friends.
Alvaro took us to the zoo and I was amazed at all of his knowledge and the personal experiences he shared as they related to what we were seeing. Let me jump really quick and say I was extremely impressed that our hotel guides (Alvaro and Alfredo) came with us on every excursion. Alvaro walked us through the zoo and explained different things, and Alfredo came with us on the river cruise and tour of Lamanai (quick tip, its pronounced La-Ma-Nai-EEN (but I'll let them tell you why :). No other couples we met on the tours had this service. The second day we switched things up due to the weather. It was the rainy season there, however it was just supposed to have started and it had started three weeks earlier. What a blessing! During the dry season it gets up to 110 but we were sitting around 89. It never rained, where we were, except for a 5-10 min sprinkle (which was so welcomed). We did the river cruise and tour of Lamanai. On the river cruise, Juanita the monkey jumped out of the trees, came onto the boat and sat on my lap for pictures. It was priceless and a truly unforgettable experience. The ruins were gorgeous and our boat guide took us through all of the different ruins with detailed explanations. (Make sure you take the river cruise!).
The next day we went jungle horseback riding and learned a ton about how the Mayans use SO many things from the jungle to cure different ailments. Alvaro drove us to the stables and the horseback guide took us through the jungle pointing out all of the different plants and wildlife and how they are used by Mayans. Then we headed over to river cave tubing. Alvaro talked the guide into taking us further up the river (farther than the normal tour goes). We spent the afternoon floating down the river with our guide educating us further on Mayan culture and the history of the three cave system we were going to see. Our guide was awesome here, younger and funny, we laughed and traded stories the whole time. He also took the time to stop and show us different plants along the way, watched him eat termites, it was great and none of the other groups were getting this kind of service. One part of the cave is completely pitch black, and we turned off our headlamps and floating in complete darkness (cannot see hand in front of face), with only the sound of falling water and the squeaking of fruit bats to accompany you. It was a great excursion, there was also some stopping for swimming and rock jumping.
When we got back we met Alfredo again for the Eco-tour. We walked all around the entire hotel, which used to be a college, while Alfredo told us everything about the history of Belize, to the reclaiming process they used to build the hotel, to everything about every single plant or animal we saw along the way. I loved the fact that you constantly had to look down at the ground to avoid geckos and iguanas scattering about. The iguana sanctuary was awesome, and we saw multiple iguanas over 3 feel long gathering near the water. Christine and Jason have even opened the first floor of their home to the guests and has an entire museum of artifacts from Belize. The next morning we got up early with Alfredo again and went bird watching which was neat and very informative. Alfredo and Alvaro could have their own shows on the Discovery channel, I was so impressed with the sheer amount of knowledge they shared with us.
We were sad to leave Orchid Garden, but for those who are looking for a place to call home while you're there, I HIGHLY recommend Orchid Garden Eco-Village. The staff really went out of their way to make us feel welcome and taken care of, the facility itself was a piece of artwork, being made from reclaimed materials. If you are looking for a luxurious hotel to lay on the deck and swim in a pool all day, this may not be for you. But for those looking to truly experience all Belize has to offer, lodging at Orchid Garden Eco-Village will ensure a plethora of pleasurable and truly unforgettable memories.