The Lodge at Big Falls is a tourism pioneer in Belize’s southernmost Toledo district. We are both an accommodation provider as well as a licensed tour operator working and developing tours and itineraries in the southern half of Belize.
Ten years ago the 128kms/80 miles of dirt road that divided Toledo from the rest of Belize were a serious deterrent to tourists. The Lodge opened eight years ago, before the road was completed, with the purpose of providing holidays of “the highest quality which develop the individual’s appreciation, understanding and knowledge of the reef and rainforest ecology and local history and culture of Belize.”
As pioneers in the district we understood that we had to offer wholesalers and tour operators great reasons to send their clients here. We found them in the enormous diversity of nature, culture and adventure that still thrives here, partly because of Toledo’s previous isolation.
We have written, edited, produced and distributed “The Toledo Howler” for the past four years on behalf of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA). It is a sixteen-page free publication that is packed with articles giving reasons why visitors should come here.
Toledo is perfect for visitors who want to follow “the road less travelled” offering adventure and discovery in a corner of the world that still retains its traditions and diverse cultures amid a fabulous forest environment. The lodge offers elegant accommodation with en-suite shower and bathroom facilities in thatched fan-cooled airy cabanas in a tropical garden setting on the banks of the Rio Grande.
Our visitors, like so many coming to Belize, usually opt for the reef and rainforest combination and spend half their time inland and half on the coast or cayes. We link our Toledo itineraries with those continuing in Placencia, Hopkins, Ambergris Caye or elsewhere on the Belize barrier reef system although Toledo uniquely in Belize can offer “surf and turf” combos with guests staying put throughout their stay.
In 2008 the Lodge was the first Belizean property to become an accredited member of EcoClub.com and last year was voted Best Small Hotel in Belize by our former guests and partners in the travel trade including those ATTA members with whom we already have long standing relationships.
Our guests include many 50+ European and North American couples for whom travel is part of life long learning. We increasingly host families and also family reunions with several generations from early teens upwards and work with our wholesaler partners to develop itineraries that offer a blend of all the three key elements of adventure, nature and culture.
Generally upper-income and highly-educated they are wonderful guests and find the soft adventure and cultural experiences memorable and rewarding; not least because, as an English speaking country, visitors can interact easily with the English speaking Maya and other local cultures.
We want to develop more relationships to exploit these market segments as well as work with ATTA members to develop more jungle hiking and adventure experiences, educational groups during the summer months and other niche markets such as alumni travel, yoga and meditation, art and photography and birding groups.
We offer kayaking, cave swimming, snorkelling, river tubing and jungle hiking. We have a hugely talented local birding guide and a local bird count of around 500 species. The forest is alive with birds, animals, butterflies, orchids and bromeliads. The jaguar and other animals thrive in the mountains, the coastal savannahs and swamplands and tropical forest that blanket Toledo. It is home to Lubaantun where the Crystal Skull was discovered in the 1920s and Nim Li Punit that is home to some of the largest carved stelae in Belize.
On site at the lodge we offer table tennis and badminton, a swimming pool, river tubing, mountain biking and a frisbee lawn that is second to none. Parents should have no worries that the kids will be bored although we do have WiFi for the terminally connected.
Toledo is the Mayan heartland of Belize with more than fifty traditional communities of both Mopan and Kek’chi Maya. The staff of the lodge are all Kek’chi Maya living in the nearby village of Big Falls. Our tours introduce visitors to local musicians, craftspeople and organic cocoa farmers and their families. We explore the relationship between these farmers and Green & Blacks Mayan Gold Chocolate that was one of the first Fairtrade products. Cacao which flourishes here represents a win/win for the farmers, the environment and tourism. It provides a high value cash crop for the grower; it encourages the grower to preserve valuable shade trees; it reduces slash and burn agriculture and thereby preserves the environment which gives hope to everyone for the sustainable future of the region. The Cacao Festival during May celebrates Toledo as the home of cacao and other Garifuna and Mayan cultural and musical weekends punctuate the year.
We look forward to getting to know you and collaborating to develop authentic experiences that your clients will not stop talking about.