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Tour Belize - Chocolate, Nature and Culture

Organic garden at the Cotton Tree Lodge.

Learn about the culture and wildlife of the small Central American nation of Belize through excursions and workshops, with a special focus on sustainable development, tropical agriculture, and chocolate.  Explore cacao farms, learning how cacao is grown and its role in traditional and modern Maya culture and economy.  Then learn modern day methods of making your own chocolate at the Cotton Tree Chocolate factory.  Visit ancient Mayan ruins and meet with modern Mayan villagers in their homes.  Identify some of Belize’s nearly 600 bird species with a local expert.  Learn about Mayan bush medicine with a traditional Mayan healer.  This trip will bring you to the unspoiled Toledo District of southern Belize, offering you unique opportunities to see wildlife and enjoy genuine cultural interactions with the local people.

Environmental Sensitivity and Conservation Commitment

Belize has designated nearly half of its land as protected areas, and is home to a variety of wildlife: puma, jaguar, ocelot, gray fox, howler monkey, Central American spider monkey, tapir, peccary, red brocket and white-tailed deer, agouti, paca, Mexican porcupine, scarlet macaw, jabiru stork, toucan, ocellated turkey, harpey eagle and many others. In addition to animals, Belize is home to over 4,000 species of plants, including over 250 types of orchids.  

Cotton Tree Lodge strives to be a good neighbor to both the villages and wildlife surrounding it.  The lodge uses solar power, composting toilets, biodegradable cleaning materials, rain water, and reusable water bottles.  Cotton Tree Lodge has partnered with a non-profit called Sustainable Harvest International, which is working with local farmers to encourage sustainable agriculture techniques and environmental conservation. 

Belize Tour ItineraryFood during a tour of BelizeBelize Tour LodgingBelize Tour Brochure

Cost per person, double occupancy: Contact us
Number of participants: 10
Tour dates: on demand
Duration: 8 days
Overnight stays:  Cotton Tree Lodge
Itinerary: Toledo, Belize: Organic Cacao Farm, Birding, Rio Blanco Waterfall, Tortilla Making, Ancient & Modern Maya Culture, Punta Gorda Farmers Market, Cotton Tree Chocolate Factory, Nim Li Punit Mayan Ruins, Study of Medicinal Plants, Snake Caye Boating Excursion

National Georgraphic Traveller Cotton Tree Lodge Issue

Activities or Tour details

The pace of this trip is moderate, and most participants in reasonably good physical condition will have no problems.  You may be expected to walk for up to two hours in sunlight while visiting a site or completing an activity.  Most transfers to excursions and field trips will be under 1 hour and in an air conditioned van. 


For the duration of this itinerary the group will stay at Cotton Tree Lodge in San Felipe, Belize which has recently been featured on the cover of National Geographic Traveler magazine. The tour will take day trips to local points of interest from the lodge. 

Cotton Tree Lodge is an off-the-grid ecolodge with 11 handcrafted thatch cabanas and one Main Lodge housing a restaurant and bar.  The lodge is located on 100 private acres of old growth rainforest and tropical gardens, and is bordered by the tranquil Moho River. The lodge is about 2 miles away from the rural Mayan villages of San Felipe and Santa Anna, and 15 miles away from the closest major town of Punta Gorda and the Caribbean Sea. Kayaking, swimming, hiking, birding, and a variety of other activities are available at the lodge. 

Tour Leader - Anne-Michelle Marsden

Anne Michelle Marsden with Local Maya

Anne-Michelle Marsden, a Rutgers professor and the author of “The Living Maya: The Mopan and Q’eqchi’ of the Toledo District based in Punta Gorda”.

In addition, your group will be accompanied by local, trained guides who have been certified by the Belize Tourism Board.  On many excursions, you will meet with local people in their homes and have the opportunity to learn directly about their lives in Belize.  Local experts in birding, organic farming, and cacao (chocolate) processing will join you for portions of the trip.  All guides are fluent in English, which is the official language in Belize.

More about Anne-Michelle Marsden.

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