Chan Chich is one of the best nature lodges in Central America according to many professional naturalists, who come annually to explore the 130,000 acres of pristine tropical forest surrounding the lodge, where a quiet walk will be rewarded with the sights and sounds of tropical birds, and, if you are lucky, a glimpse of the elusive jaguar. There’s plenty to keep you occupied for 3 or 4 days of exploring, although many guests stay a week, and it’s easy to combine Chan Chich Lodge with other destinations in Belize even on a brief vacation.
The tropical resort is tucked away in a Mayan ruin, on a plaza abandoned centuries ago, and the 12 cozy cottages are at once luxurious and rustic. The sum of the parts doesn’t disrupt the wilderness feel and you awaken to the calls of parrots and howler monkeys. When you are not exploring the forest, the Chan Chich Lodge is a wonderful place to relax, take a dip in the cool pool, and enjoy a delicious meal on the thatch-covered veranda of the restaurant.
You’ll be welcomed at Chan Chich by a friendly staff that includes local naturalists who know the forest intimately and are happy to introduce you to the colorful flora and fauna at a pace that suits your interests. There are lots of well groomed trails to wander on your own, but you’ll see much more with the help of the Belizean guides.
The food is surprisingly good and much of it is produced at a small farm and ranch within the reserve boundaries. There’s free range chicken, grass fed beef, shrimp flown in from the coast, and fresh vegetables, prepared in a way influenced by the tasty Mayan, Mexican, and European traditions of Belize. The bar is pleasant and well stocked with a nice selection of wines, liquor and Belikin Beer.
"One of the top ten birding sites in the world..."
"Clearly one of the premium ecotourist facilities in the world, with a focus on tropical forest preservation and hospitality second to none."
—John Kricher, author A Neotropical Companion.
Read our Chan Chich reviews to read more information about this Belize nature trip.
The lodge is in northwestern Belize about 30 minutes from Belize City by air taxi or 4 hours by vehicle. If you are available in the morning, we highly recommend going overland to the lodge, stopping at Lamanai, a Mayan site, and leaving by plane.
By vehicle: the lodge will pick you up at Belize City Airport for the 4-hour drive.
By vehicle and boat via Lamanai: this transfer includes a boat ride about an hour up the New River to the Mayan site at Lamanai, where you take a guided tour and have a picnic lunch overlooking the river. Total time is about 7 hours, and it’s well worth it.
By plane: the lodge has a landing strip and you can fly directly into and out of Chan Chich in a small air-taxi. We arrange these charter flights and you can go directly to Belize City International Airport, San Pedro (El Pescador), Punta Gorda (Machaca Hill), Blancaneaux Lodge, which has its own landing strip, or elsewhere in Belize.
Explore the site of a spectacular Mayan city on the way to Chan Chich, enjoy 3 full days at the Belize nature lodge, and fly out. We highly recommend this schedule and you can add extra days if you prefer.
Starting at Belize City International Airport with an arrival by 11 am, you are picked up by a driver from Chan Chich. You stop at the New River where you transfer to a boat for a leisurely excursion upriver, stopping to observe birds and getting a glimpse of rural Belize. Arrive at Lamanai, a restored Mayan site, and spend about an hour on the grounds with your Belize tour guide. After a picnic lunch overlooking the river, you continue by vehicle with your driver from Chan Chich, crossing Mennonite farms in the rolling hills until you enter the grounds of Chan Chich nature reserve late in the afternoon. The exact time varies, but it’s an all day tour and you can plan on being at Chan Chich in time to settle into your cottage, clean up, relax and enjoy dinner. Picnic lunch and dinner included.
Rise to the calls of parrots and howler monkeys. Rise early (optional) for a guided dawn walk starting from the lodge. There is no traffic on the trails or roads and you will see and hear a tremendous variety of birds as you walk slowly through the grounds.
Return to the nature lodge for a delicious, relaxing breakfast in the dining room overlooking the garden.
After breakfast, take a walking tour of the ruins on site, learning about the Mayan culture and history of Chan Chich. The lodge is built in the center of the ruins, and you start from the Reception area.
Return to the lodge for lunch a delicious lunch, choosing from the ala carte menu that changes seasonally.
After lunch, take an afternoon drive to Gallon Jug village, where you will see traditional gardens of corn, squash and beans in the Mayan tradition, visit the shade grown coffee plantation, and visit the coffee roasting facility. The guide will explain the sustainable farming and ranching program, which supplies the lodge with much of its food supply.
Return to the lodge and take a refreshing swim in the cool waters of the swimming pool and relax on your verandah.
Listen to the evening song of tropical birds and enjoy a cool drink at the resorts bar or in the garden, then have dinner at your leisure in the restaurant.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
N.B. the exact timing and order of activities is at your discretion and you can work out your own schedule at the lodge. You will have your own personal guide for the most part, and there is great flexibility in the program.
Rise before dawn for a guided walk with your guide through the forest, taking a different route than you tried yesterday. The trails radiate out from the lodge and present a nice variety without traveling far.
Return for a breakfast of fresh squeezed tropical juice, fruit, perhaps some eggs with salsa or other tasty treat the kitchen has on the day’s menu.
After breakfast, travel further afield by vehicle, driving to the Escarpment, stopping along the way to observe wildlife. The birds and animals are moving constantly, some migrants, some residents, and the guides are in the field every day and know where they are likely to see something of interest. At the Escarpment, look for Ornate Hawk Eagles and King Vultures.
Return to the Chan Chich lodge for a late lunch.
Relax, swim in the pool, or take an afternoon walk on the trails with, or without, a guide, as you choose.
Enjoy a drink on the verandah as the sun sets and the tropical bird chorus closes the day.
Dinner at your leisure in the restaurant.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Rise early for a dawn birding walk with a guide, or on your own if you want some solitude on your final morning at Chan Chich. (Or simply sleep in and enjoy the dawn chorus of birds from your cottage.)
Enjoy breakfast in the restaurant, including a final cup of coffee from beans grown at the Gallon Jug farm within the reserve.
Transfer to the airstrip, which is about 10 minutes from the lodge, where your air taxi will fly you back to Belize City. The exact schedule is flexible and can be coordinated with your onward travel plans. If you need to fly someplace other than Belize City it can be arranged.
Breakfast and air taxi transfer to Belize City included.
Chan Chich Lodge has an extensive trail system of over nine miles of well-maintained trails for hiking and exploring. Directional signs are numerous and trail maps can be provided allowing you to wander the trails unaccompanied if you wish, or you may sign up for a guided tour with a knowledgeable local guide.
Over 350 species of birds have been recorded at Chan Chich, making it one of the world's premier birding destinations - large birds, such as the Ocellated Turkey, Crested Guan and Great Curassow, hunted out in so many other places, are readily seen here as well as a myriad of other species. All five cat species - jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay and jaguarundi - are well represented with jaguars seen at the rate of about one per week, a record that is unmatched elsewhere. Tapir, both white-lipped and collared peccary, brocket and white-tailed deer can be found in great quantities as well as smaller species like tayra, fox, agoutis and kinkajou.
There is a network of roads throughout the reserve and vehicle tours are offered to various locations day and night. These include the wetland habitat at Laguna Seca, Laguna Verde, the upper Escarpment, Sylvester Village, and tours of the Gallon Jug farm, in particular the coffee plantation and production processes.
Day trips to the significant ruins at Lamanai, the second largest Mayan site in Belize, are offered. The Lamanai transfer may be done entirely by road, or in conjunction with a spectacular one hour boat ride down the New River from Orange Walk to the site. We highly recommend the road/river option
There is a stable of beautiful horses at the Gallon Jug farm. One, 2 or 3 hour guided rides along jungle trails and/or to remote Mayan sites, such as Punta de Cacao, hidden deep within the jungle of Gallon Jug, are offered.
Canoeing is offered on Laguna Verde, a small natural spring-fed lake approximately four miles north of the Gallon Jug farm. While canoeing around the lake it is not uncommon to come face to face with turtles, birds or American crocodiles.
Note: Horseback riding, canoeing, night walks and day trips to Lamanai or La Milpa are not included in package prices. There are additional charges for these activities, which may be paid on site by credit card.
There are 12 cottages built on raised platforms with high thatched roofs, ceiling fans and a shaded veranda. They surround a tropical garden and a restaurant, bar, lounge and reception area which are a short walk from any room. All have private baths with plenty of hot water and electricity 24 hours a day.
There are two types of rooms, although there is not a great deal of difference. The deluxe rooms are slightly larger, have two queen beds or one king, a large bathroom, and a walk-in closet. The standard rooms have two queen beds and smaller bathrooms, but are very nice and the main difference is the size of the closet and bathroom. In both cases, the wrap around verandah extends the rooms out into the garden. Both types are cooled by a ceiling fan, not air conditioning, although there’s little need for a/c, especially during the winter months from December through April.
All prices are per person in US dollars
|Orvis Tropical Nature Package: 4 nights, deluxe room, meals, activities, and transfers|
|2013||Nov. 1 - Apr. 30||May 1 - Oct. 31|
|Per person, double occupancy||$1670||$1510|
(per person, double occupancy)
|Child under 12, sharing a room
(rate per night/day)
Note: the air transfer is based on 1 – 2 persons in a plane. The price may vary for larger parties that require a larger plane or when children are members of the group.
Transfers to other destinations in Belize are available. The price will vary depending on destination and the plane required. Orvis Travel will be glad to modify your package to include such flights.