Mountain Pine Ridge

The Magic of Mountain Pine Ridge

A common refrain you hear from the savvy traveller is; “I want to go where the locals go.” Mountain Pine Ridge.

Which makes sense – who else knows where the best, most interesting and relaxing places are?

And there is such a place Belizeans will head to with the family or friends for a delightful change of scenery and cool, fresh, pine-scented air. An uncrowded paradise where you can enjoy a picnic, a swim in fresh water, take in the view and generally relax. For people living in the Cayo District – especially the San Ignacio and Chaa Creek area – it’s nearby, yet very different.

Welcome to the Mountain Pine Ridge

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Rio On Pools, Mountain Pine Ridge

It’s no longer a secret that Belize boasts one of the most stunningly beautiful and diverse geographies on the planet; and rising above much of this variety is a unique habitat most people would not expect to find in the tropics – some three hundred square miles of pine scented hills replete with rivers, creeks, waterfalls, caves and pools.

The Rio On Pools are one of those places that make you wonder why they’re not more famous, a sort of natural spa where you can kick back in your own pool, get an aqua massage under a waterfall, breathe in the subtle incense of evergreens while your eyes wander over very pretty vistas or gently close for that quiet meditation that comes naturally in such settings.

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Rio On Pools, Mountain Pine Ridge

Often times, people will pack a nice picnic, fill the cooler with beverages, grab the swimsuits and spend the day there. Kids love it, and so do the adults who, when not swimming or soaking themselves, can let the youngsters do their thing. Years of cascading water have softened the rocky edges, most pools are shallow, and parents can keep an eye on things from the tables or other picnic spots.

And to make for a more interesting day, the nearby Rio Frio Cave never gets old. A wide mouthed, big open cave with a beach and ledges that always made us think it would be an amazing place for a concert. It’s incredibly picturesque, so don’t forget the camera.

But wait! There’s more!

Mountain Pine Ridge Big Rock Falls
Big Rock Falls, Mountain Pine Ridge

Big Rock Falls, a 150-foot cascade over Privassion River, is one of our favourite waterfalls anywhere. It’s not that it’s huge – 1000 Foot Falls, also in Mountain Pine Ridge, is Central America’s biggest – but Big Rock has something about it, a certain je ne sais quoi we find irresistible. Plus there’s a nice pool at its base that’s perfect for yet another swim.

In addition, the Mountain Pine Ridge is home to abundant wildlife and birds, some of which you’ll find nowhere else in Belize, including another of our favourites – the rare and wonderful orange-breasted falcon. You may also see king vultures, keel-billed toucans, ocellated turkeys, the noisome acorn woodpecker, stygian owls, mot mots and many more.

And on the ground look out for cougars, ocelots, jaguars, tapirs, and, along the rivers, little Morelet’s crocodiles and frogs that, again, exist nowhere else in Belize.

But then, the Mountain Pine Ridge is like nowhere else in Belize. Just ask a local…

To go from the lush jungle habitat surrounding the Macal River Camp to such a different environment and return in time for one of Francelia’s fabulous home cooked dinners is truly something special.

But then again, this is Belize.

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