More about Mopan River Resort
An unforgettable blend of luxury and jungle adventure...
We were looking for the best way to see the heart of Belize's Mayan hill country while ensuring comfortable accommodations, and came across the Mopan River Resort's web site. Offering an all-inclusive stay, with scheduled trips to many of the places we wanted to see, we kept our fingers crossed that the descriptions on the Web would be fulfilled in reality. We can honestly say that the reality far exceeded our expectations!
Remote arrangements were handled through e-mail by Pam Picone, who graciously responded to our requests for travel information that was perhaps a little out of the ordinary. All transfer arrangements ended up being flawlessly executed, and although our arrival coincided with the early weeks of the rainy season, we didn't experience any real issues either in getting to and from Benque, or to any of the many day trip sites during our stay.
The atmosphere at the main lodge, where all of the meals and cocktail hours are held, felt more like the family room of your favorite exotic relatives, who (if you're lucky) have invited you to come stay with them and meet their interesting friends. There's an open bar there, with a truly entertaining bartender who keeps wonderful tropical concoctions coming your way as plates of delicious appetizers are passed around on the way to one of the "theme" dinners you'll enjoy during your stay. Conversation warms up as you get to know your neighbors over the first day or two, both at the meal functions and, more to the point, as you begin to share amazing experiences from your daily trips.
Depending on when you arrive, those trips could include hikes among well and lesser known Mayan ruins, both in Belize and Guatemala just a couple of kilometers upstream from the resort. You'll put on lights and wet gear for one of our favorite trips, cave tubing. Lights on again for a hike into an unusual cave system filled with Mayan artifacts, led by the amateur archaeologist who first discovered the system as a child. Or kayak down the Mopan River itself, from the resort's own shoreline to Clarissa Falls, where you'll be picked up in time for dinner.
The resort itself is beautifully landscaped with fruit trees and what we think of as "houseplants on steroids," truly exotic jungle flora where you're likely to see iguanas and basilisks lounging, or the bright yellow social flycatchers who frequent these environs. The Picons have constructed an observation platform to bring you nearer to the canopy, giving a great view not only of the birds and the sparkling swimming pool right below you, but of the nearby hilly borderlands with Guatemala. The cabana suite we stayed in was a true oasis at the end of our vigorously-lived days...there's AC for the jungle heat, of course, but we liked falling asleep with just the screened windows open and the twin ceiling fans turning overhead. And waking up to the frenzied squawking of parrots in time to make our breakfast call!
Numerous small and thoughtful touches along the way made our stay truly special...the Picons themselves are wonderful hosts, with great stories to tell and a generosity of spirit that makes you feel more welcome than if you were just passing through. There's a small library and shop in the main building where you can borrow movies or books, or buy guides and souvenirs to supplement what you might find on your day trips. Jay and Pamella are ably backed up by a wonderful staff, especially Alexi and Nazley (not to mention Victor, the intrepid barkeep!), who taught us many things about Belizean culture, environment and history. Their experience and friendliness made the experience of being there come alive for my wife, myself and our two children (ages 16 and 9).
By the end of the week, it really was hard to leave...but if we have the opportunity, we'll gladly go back!
A great action holiday experience
The resort is a series of thatched cottages built above the banks of the large Mopan River, in the jungle across from a small town. The owners, Americans in exile, take an active interest in their up to 24 guests, arranging daily excursions to Mayan and natural attractions throughout west-central Belize (as well as Tikal, Guatemala). All of the guides are resort employees, rather than separately-paid contractors as is the case for other resorts. A delicious variety of meals from many countries also is included in the price. We were there for a full week, which is probably more than most would find interesting. The cottages are kept clean, although my wife shrieked the first morning when she found a large spider in the tub (a common experience in tropical resorts, I guess). The owner and his wife have fascinating stories to tell, and they anticipated our needs very well. The resort is isolated from the local and nearby Guatemalan people, so we didn't worry about sanitation or crime, but we didn't experience as much of the local culture as we would have elsewhere.
Best fun and adventure in Belize.
My husband and I had so much fun at Mopan River Resort. Jay and Pam are wonderful people who make you feel welcome and at home from the get go. After our bummpy ride, roads in Belize are tough, Jay welcomed us with their delicious drink the Bannana Velvet. He then took us to our lovely cabanna explaining how everything works. At six we had mouth watering appetizers and drinks all the while sharing our life stories. They then took us to the dinning hall where we had a great dinner. Every night after our journies this is how we spent our evenings, sharing our stories of the day. We took a canoe ride in a cave, hiked the Caracol Maya ruins, toured a butterfly farm, hiked the Tikal Maya ruins in Guatemala, and shopping for trinkets. Alexis and Victor, who were our giudes and drivers, were very knowledgeable and friendly. They answered all our questions. Nasali was very helpful in arranging our arrivals and departures. We would definately go here again!
Thank You, Mopan River
The only wonderful memories will stay for years with us after spending a few unforgettable days at Mopan River Resort in Belize.
Everything was absolutely perfect. A great place to spend your vacation. Accommodations are really in the jungle style, the territory is very well kept, clean, with a lot of exotic vegetation, palm and fruit trees. We loved the way everything was arranged, our very hospitable owners Pam and Jay tried to make our staying enjoyable and they definitely succeeded. All trip arrangements were done really with knowledge what it takes to get to any place, without any delays. We were absolutely fascinated with The Great Maya City of Tical in Guatemala, but not a bit less impression came after Che Chem Hah Cave. It is simply outstanding place with the very unique past it was discovered. We'd like to say how much we enjoyed our amazing guide William, his knowledge of jungles and history ,his very impressive and comprehensive way to lead people to this cave adventure, Thank You William!!! And certainly we loved our wonderful Alexei who was so considerate, attentive and always nice with us, his beautiful wife Nazley The Great Bartender, and Victor who accompanied us to almost all our trips.
We would love to come back to this wonderful place for sure!
Alexander and Svetlana
The Best Vacation!
We had such a great time. The food is great and so are the cocktails. Jay and Pam and the staff make you feel welcome everyday. The resort is very private and relaxing. Air conditioned cabanas are a plus also. All activities provided are amazing. We went to Tikal, Carocal, and also we went river tubing through caves. I wish now that we stayed more than 5 days! This was a PERFECT vacation and I highly reccomend Mopan River Resort to everyone.
Wonderful Resort, Wonderful Hosts, Wonderful Vacation!
Many other reviewers have sung the praises of the Mopan River Resort, and I'd like to do the same. My husband and I had very high expectations of Mopan River and they were all met and exceeded. It's safe to say we had the best vacation we've ever had while staying there. From the minute we stepped outside the airport terminal and saw Victor holding a sign with our names on it to the time a week later when we reluctantly said good-by, we had the time of our lives.
The setting and grounds of the resort are beautiful and the cabanas are spacious and comfortable. The thatched roof, polished wood floor and walls, full bathroom with shower and hot water, cable TV, stocked mini-fridge, and bamboo furniture on the veranda provide a kind of casual luxury. The owners, Mr. Jay and Miss Pam, are consummate hosts, warm and welcoming, and no one tells a story better than Mr. Jay. Alexi and Natalie, who oversee day-to-day operations, are a very friendly young couple who are eager to please. The whole time we were at Mopan River we felt more like friends who'd been invited for a visit than like paying guests. The entire staff works diligently to provide a superior vacation experience, and they definitely succeed.
No detail is overlooked--there are even umbrellas in the cabanas and at the lodge so that guests won't get wet if they happen to be caught in the rain! When we arrived, we mentioned that my husband would like to go on a tour of a cave that isn't included in the resort's itinerary. No problem. Two days later, without us having to ask again, Alexi had arranged the tour and drove my husband to San Ignacio to join the tour group, and picked him up again that night. They don't miss a thing.
A full program of tours is included at no additional charge, and the resort employs their own licensed guides. Victor was our driver and guide for the week, and his knowledge of Mayan history was impressive. We drove through Mennonite farmland on our way to canoe Barton Creek Cave, visited a butterly farm, and toured the Mayan ruins at Caracol, where there were very few other tour groups--much nicer than the mob scene that can be encountered at Chichen Itza in Mexico. One day we crossed the border to Guatemala and went to the ruins of the Mayan city of Tikal, where, despite my fear of heights, I climbed steep wooden steps to the 190' top of Temple IV, where I was awed at the sight of just the very tops of other structures poking up through the jungle canopy.
Our most adventurous experience was exploring Chechem Ha pottery cave, guided by William, the young man who discovered the cave on his family's farm. I have a touch of claustrophobia, and intended to skip the cave, but Jay, Pam, Alexi and Natalie urged me to reconsider, saying that it was something that I should see. They were right--once I gathered my courage and stepped inside the entrance to the cave, all of my apprehension and fear vanished and I couldn't wait to explore! My husband couldn't believe my enthusiasm. The sight of pottery that had been left by the Mayans hundred of years before was truly amazing.
If you are thinking about visiting Belize, by all means go, and stay at the Mopan River Resort. You'll enjoy comfortable accomodations, great food, and congenial company. What more could you ask for? I know that we will always cherish the memories of the very special time we spent there.
Paradise on the Mopan
My wife Janet and I had the best time of our lives. From the moment we arrived at the secluded, intimate resort we were treated like family. The cabana was immaculate. We ate like kings three meals a day. The Banana Velvets were worth the trip by themselves and the Belizian beer was always cold and close at hand.
Jay and Pam Picon are the two friendliest hosts that I have ever had the pleasure of being cared for by. Jay's stories of his life and of building the resort out of the jungle are priceless. They have the whole place running like a Swiss watch.
The guides, Alexi and Victor, are incredibly knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the region. They both grew up in this area. They know as much or more about the Mayan ruins and culture as any archeologist. Every tour was a real "Indiana Jones Adventure".
Nazle handles the day to day logistics of pampering us guests and does so with a smile and much patience. She went out of her way to keep me in postage stamps.
The only downside was leaving for the airport to come back to Reno. Thanks to everyone at Mopan River Resort for making this the best vacation of our lives. To paraphrase General McArthur, " We shall return"!
To encounter this level of resort in the jungles of Belize was a treat. I'm certain that it's due in no small part to the fact that the owners live on site; they care about their product and it shows. Immaculate grounds, thatched-roof cabanas, great food, knowledgable staff and terrific outings each day. My wife and I were there for 7 nights and our favorite outing was the pottery cave - not to be missed. We're amateur bird watchers, and really appreciated the expertise that the drivers had regarding where to look and what we were looking at. Many species were present on the resort grounds. We'd go back, and I don't say that about very many destinations.
The Best All-Inclusive Resort
Where to begin......My husband and I recently spent our honeymoon in Belize at the Mopan River Resort. We spent eight nights and had the best time. There are so many good memories that we would like to share. Here are some of the main highlights that hopefully will help you decide that this Resort is the place to be when staying in Belize.
The food was excellent! All meals are provided and each night we enjoyed a different international culinary delight. Every morning we enjoyed fresh fruit as well as cook to order items. We recommend the belize scramble and of course...the cinnabuns.
The accommodations were great! We stayed in a thatched roof cabana. It had all the amenities of a hotel but found we did not need some of them because we were so taken by the surroundings that we spent many evenings and mornings either bird watching or just sitting on our porch enjoying the balmy breeze. It was wonderful to not turn on the TV but it is there if you want it. Our small fridge was stocked daily with beverages. We don't drink alcohol so the resort made sure to stock us with non-alcoholic beverages. The resort also takes great care to filter their drinking water. That is always a concern when traveling abroad and Mopan gets it right. Did I mention that beverages are included in the price, yes even the alcoholic kind. You don't find that in many all-inclusive resorts.
The tours were spectacular! We never got sick of seeing the Mayan Ruins and are ready for more some day. The tour guides, all native to the country not only shared their knowledge of lost cultures but they did it in such a way that you could feel their pride for their ancestors. All our tour guides delivered information with passion and exuberance. Note: You need to be in pretty good shape for the tours. We were surprised how worn out we got each day. The heat and humidity might have contributed but seriously we encourage everyone to go on these tours because they truly are an experience to remember.
Our hosts (Jay & Pam Picon) made us feel at home. You can tell they love their place in paradise and they love to share it with others. We really felt like we were a guest in their home the whole time we were there. They take the time to get to know their guests. They also have a great support staff in which we need to mention because they made our stay even more special. Alexie and Nazly Trujillo are both very personable and provide the best customer service. They live on the grounds and run the operations. The teamwork and behind the scenes communication made it is so you never had to ask for anything twice. The whole crew is very sensitive to making sure we had a good time and that all our needs were met.
Something special and unique to mention is, Mopan River Resort does not accept tips. Most other places, tips help you get better service. Not here! They already provide top notch service to everyone that visits.
Too many details to mention like Banana Velvets, the cutest frogs greeting you on the walk way, the elusive toucan making a special appearance, the flowers! did I mention the flowers??!! Airplants growning out of every tree. Mosquitos....not so many especially on the the resort grounds but.....wear your deet just incase.
Mopan River Resort is the place to go. You just have to trust all the reviews, we did and were not disappointed in the least. If you can, stay for at least 5 days.
Grant and Mary Anne Young
P.S The zoo......a must see.