Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve

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2012 Winter Solstice in Belize
Caracol Maya Ruins during the 2012 Winter Solstice

Established in 1944, the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve — known as “Pine Ridge” to locals — is a beautiful landscape of rolling pine forest spread over smooth, granite hillsides. The reserve is about 2 hours by car from San Ignacio, the main tourist hub in western Belize.

About a decade ago, Pine Ridge suffered a pine beetle infestation and it is still struggling to fully recover to its once majestic splendour. However, the area is still pretty spectacular and it is perhaps Cayo’s most popular destination since it offers a variety of things to do within one relatively small area.

Visiting Mountain Pine Ridge

Rio on Pools in Mountain Pine Ridge
Rio on Pools at Mountain Pine Ridge

Typically, a guided tour of Mountain Pine Ridge leaves San Ignacio at 7 or 8 AM. This is a scenic and active tour that includes tons of opportunities to hike, swim, and spot wildlife. Although you can negotiate your stops with the tour guide, typically, the most requested stops are at the Rio Frio Cave, Rio On Pools, and Big Rock Falls.

  • The Rio Frio Cave is an impressive natural attraction that has a 65-foot arch at its opening. This allows visitors to have a striking view of the entire cave and a stream that runs through it. Since this cave is just about a half a mile in length, it is a great choice for the first-time caver.
  • The Rio on Pools is a result of the river spilling over large granite ledges and rocks, making small waterfalls and cool round pools. On the bank of the river is a picnic area to relax and watch swimmers enjoying the troughs, pools and natural waterslides made smooth by the rushing water.
  • Big Rock Falls is one of the most underrated sights in the Cayo District. This 150-foot waterfall is located at Privassion Creek and is perfect for those who want to enjoy the beauty of an amazing waterfall and also be able to plunge into its pool and get a “waterfall massage”.

If you’re interested in booking this tour, take advantage of the Caracol Mayan Ruins being nearby and book the Caracol and Mountain Pine Ridge combo tour package. This, however, would mean that you would only be able to visit two of the above attractions in Mountain Pine Ridge.

Things to bring on tour:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Light hiking shoes or protective footwear
  • Change of clothes
  • Hat and sunglasses

Staying in Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve

Resort at Mountain Pine Ridge

There are a few hotel options for anyone that wishes to stay in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. Blancaneaux and GAIA are upscale resorts with luxury accommodations while Pine Ridge Lodge offers affordable rustic cottages in a laidback natural setting.

Blancaneaux Lodge is owned by francis ford coppola

Blancaneaux Lodge

One of Francis Ford Coppola’s esteemed luxury resorts, The Godfather movie fans will be particularly happy about staying here. Located deep in Pine Ridge, this upscale lodge is surrounded by rivers, waterfalls and wildlife and guests stay in palm-thatched wooden cabanas surrounded by lush gardens.

Waterfall View Rooms at Gaia River Lodge in Mountain Pine Ridge in Belize

GAIA Riverlodge

The sister property of Matachica Resort in Ambergris Caye, GAIA Riverlodge is a Green Globe-certified resort in the heart of Mountain Pine Ridge. It’s located right next to a river and waterfalls offering guests the opportunity to enjoy one of the most beautiful and tranquil locations in Western Belize.

Pine Ridge Lodge in Cayo, Belize

Pine Ridge Lodge

Located 5 miles within the forest reserve, Pine Ridge Lodge markets itself as an idyllic adventure base for exploring sites that are in and near Mountain Pine Ridge. The lodge consists of a few cozy cabins situated on a charming and well-manicured 6-acre property with a creek on-site.

Mountain Pine Ridge Guides

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