“That’s the kind of place this
is. You can always come back and see things you’ve never
seen before—and never knew existed.” —Jon Martin,
Las Cuevas Research
Station and Explorers Lodge
lie in the heart of the Chiquibul
Rainforest in the Maya Mountains and is the largest protected
area in Belize, totaling half a million hectares. It is an area of outstanding biological
diversity providing critical habitat for many endangered species and
forming a key part of the tri-national Maya Forest - the largest
remaining intact tropical forest north of the
Classified as lowland tropical broad-leafed rain forest, the Maya Forest boasts 375 plant species found nowhere else on earth. It stretches from the Caribbean coast of Mexico, through Belize and into Honduras and the Petén region of Guatemala, but only here in Belize have vast swatches of the once might forest escaped the march of development, thanks to the country's small population of only 280,000, the inaccessible terrain and a keen awareness of the value of eco-tourism.
"The Chiquibul Reserve", says project manager Chris Minty, " is a rare, pristine fragment of the Maya Forest, providing sanctuary for many endangered species" and is
home to an astonishing diversity of
flora and fauna,
from the large and familiar - jaguars, pumas, tapirs,
black howler monkeys and scarlet macaws - to the small and
Some of the more endangered species frequently seen by
visitors to Las Cuevas include: Jaguar, Ocelot, Harpy Eagles, Bairds Tapir, Black Howler Monkey, Tree
Frogs, Morelet's Crocodiles and Scarlet Macaws.
Though the main purpose of Las Cuevas remains biological research, Las Cuevas has recently began welcoming eco-tourists. "This is no mint on the pillow eco-lodge" Chris Minty emphasizes, its main selling point is the fact that it's a functioning research station.
Visitors have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and help scientists, or join field courses similar to those the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh MSc students take part in.
For visitors wishing to experience this remote, unexplored part of the world, Las Cuevas provides support for campers at their Monkey Trail Campground and at the Explorer Lodge with clean, single and double rooms; hot and cold water, excellent food, laundry
service and bar.
There is no shortage of things to do ....
Apart from the fascinating array of wildlife and plants at your
doorstep, Las Cuevas Research Station is near rivers for adventures in canoeing and at the center of numerous Mayan archaeological sites,
including the awe-inspiring Caracol, just 24km away, as well the most extensive cave system in the Western Hemisphere, providing exciting opportunities for underground exploration.
For those interested in natural
history, Maya archaeology
or simply the experience of living
in a rainforest, the relaxed atmosphere of the Explorers Lodge at Las Cuevas
offers the ideal place to stay in an area of outstanding
biological diversity. Visitors to Las
Cuevas not only have the opportunity to stay in one of the
world’s last unspoiled wildernesses, but also have the chance to see
and learn about the cutting edge science and forest management
that is helping to conserve it.