See It to Belize It

From beach to back-a-bush, the other Caribbean's best adventure base camps

Aug 22, 2006
Outside Magazine
Casa Estrella

IT'S A BREEZE: Upstair's bedroom in Cayo Espanto's Casa Estrella    Photo: Cayo Espanto

[Rainforest Respite]
Orange Walk Town

THERE'S A REASON HEART OF DARKNESS comes to mind when your motorboat emerges from the snaking New River into a 28-mile-long lagoon towered over by the jungle-cloaked Maya temples of Lamanai: Part of the 1994 film adaptation of the Joseph Conrad novel was shot here. Docking at the well-concealed Lamanai Outpost Lodge—where workers clad in camouflage whisk away your bags as black howler monkeys woof from the trees—adds to the private-dominion effect, but no worries: There are no madmen in this luxe encounter with a lost world. The resort's 20 palm-thatched cabanas are handsomely built from local hardwoods and come with ceiling fans, minibars, and verandas slung with hammocks. Gravel paths wind through orchid gardens to the lofty restaurant and bar, a fine perch for enjoying sweeping views of New River Lagoon, where you can swim, canoe, and fish for freakily large tarpon. Spot toucans and red-lored parrots as you wander around the highly atmospheric, 950-acre Lamanai Archaeological Reserve, one of the largest ruins of the pre-Classic Maya world, dating to 1500 b.c. Doubles, $312–$513 (based on double occupancy), all-inclusive; 888-733-7864,

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