My father and I wanted to spend the night near Lamanai so we could see more of the jungle the next morning, then return to Orange Walk Town by boat in the afternoon. However, were were dismayed that the only dedicated hotel seemed to be the Outpost Lodge, which charged Bz$300 (US$150) per night and didn't even have air conditioning.
Fortunately, one of our guidebooks mentioned a second option. The boat landing at the ruins has several gift shops, and we inquired at the one run by the local women's co-op. The shopkeeper arranged for us to stay with her brother's family in Indian Church Village, then guided us there at the end of the afternoon.
We were pleased with our stay. Though utilities were rustic (a private bathroom, but no hot water, and the village has electricity for only 3 hours per evening), the 2-bed guest room (with separate entrance) was fine, and we enjoyed meeting a local family. Best of all was the price: only Bz$40 ($US20) for the two of us. Home-cooked supper for my father & me was another $Bz5 each.
Our hostess runs an old-fashioned mini-grocery, so we had the ability to buy food, other supplies, and even shirts if needed. Our host enjoyed showing us his collection of foreign currency, and we met the animals. After the breakfast they kindly provided the next morning, we explored the reserve some more and caught one of the riverboats back to Orange Walk Town. (This fare option costs an additional 33% or so more than the standard 2-way-in-same-day boat trip.)
Where do I start? We loved this place! It’s not as fancy as Chaa Creek, but in its way it is even more special. From the moment we arrived and were greeted at the dock by the friendly housekeeper, to the moment she saw us off four days later, we felt totally at home here, despite the fact that Lamaniai couldn’t be more different from our city life in London.
The wooden cabins are dotted on a hillside that slopes down to the lagoon, with the public areas at the highest point. We were lucky to be allocated a cabin at the bottom of the hill, its deck (with wooden seats and a hammock) overlooking the water. Despite the rustic appearance, the cabin was a good size and fairly well-appointed, with a small fridge (with complementary bottled water), a comfortable bed, en suite shower (basic toiletries but plenty of towels), ceiling fan and a cool leather safety box! There is no air-conditioning but I can’t imagine that it would be needed even on the hottest of days, as the louvered (and screened) windows fill two walls and let in plenty of cooling air from the lagoon.
Stays here are on an “all-inclusive” basis, but it couldn’t be further from the usual image of such arrangements. Your meals will be good Belizean / international food, served in the open air with spectacular views over the lagoon, but they won’t be fancy and you won’t be offered an elaborate menu – see my restaurant tip for more information. And if you participate in the included activities you won’t find yourself doing water-sports but instead maybe climbing Mayan ruins, hunting for wildlife at night or maybe trying your hand at traditional recipes in the nearby village. I have described these and many other activities in the “Things to do” section.
It’s easy to get carried away by the range of activities on offer, especially when you look at all the extra ones for which a (usually very reasonable) charge is made. You could find yourself engaging in four a day as the programme is structured to allow that, with two free activities at dawn, during the morning, at 4.00 PM and in the evening. But this is also a very pleasant place in which to unwind, so do give yourself time to appreciate a slower pace of life. Grab and book and head for a hammock with a view of the lagoon; wander through the grounds and enjoy the tropical plants; head for the bar where tea and coffee are on tap all day; take a seat on the dock, armed with binoculars, and do some bird-watching; or take one of the canoes out on the lagoon and have a leisurely paddle. With so much to do, I only wish we had been staying longer!
In addition to all of the above, there’s a comfortable bar decorated with interesting images and artefacts from the surrounding area (and the bar staff make a mean rum punch!), a small area with a computer for guests’ use, free wifi throughout the premises, and a small shop where we bought a few postcards and a very useful guide to Belizean birds.
It seems to me that this whole place is pretty unique. I really can’t fault it and would love to go back one day.
Sort by: Most recent | Most helpful