The best of Belize converges in the remote Toledo District, where thick tangles of rainforest meet sparkling Caribbean waters, and Maya traditions meld with Garifuna, Creole, and other local cultures. Few places on the planet offer such astonishing diversity—and yet Copal Tree Lodge feels as if it’s tucked away at the end of the world. The property, which has been heralded as one of the world’s premier agritourism hotels, overlooks a 12,000-acre nature reserve that encompasses pristine jungle, an organic farm, and cocoa and coffee plantations. Settle into a villa-style suite, and set out on excursions as diverse as the surrounding landscapes, from fly-fishing in the neighboring Rio Grande to snorkeling the Belize Barrier Reef or delving into the cultural and culinary legacies of the Maya.
In 2005, marine conservationist Todd Robinson bought the property where Copal Tree now sits with the hopes of transforming the former farm-turned-fishing lodge into a world-class eco-resort. He first worked with the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment to preserve more than 45,000 acres of surrounding rainforest, including 12,000 that belong to the lodge. Then he joined forces with sustainable food expert Anya Fernald to help bring agriculture back to the heart of Copal Tree.
Today, sustainable methods are used to cultivate organic sugarcane, cacao, coffee, and other native and heirloom crops on the lodge farm, which sources more than 70 percent of the food served to guests. With this agricultural ethos comes an in-depth culinary experience for travelers, as well as ample employment opportunities for local people. Nearly all of the lodge employees—from expert guides to farmers and kitchen staff—are from southern Belize.
Each of our lodges has created a special complimentary experience offered exclusively to guests who visit on a National Geographic expedition. At Copal Tree Lodge, National Geographic guests enjoy a bean-to-bar chocolate-making class, followed by a coffee cupping. Visit the lodge’s cacao nursery, try your hand at grinding dried cacao beans on a traditional matate, and mold a chocolate bar to take home. Later, join the resident coffee expert for an in-depth coffee tasting.
Condé Nast Johansens, Best Green Hotel, 2017 World Luxury Hotel Awards, Country Winner: Best Luxury Forest Resort, 2016
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