When planning my jungle adventure in Belize, touring Mountain Pine Ridge was on the top of my list. What more could you want than a gigantic cave, natural swimming pools and a cascading waterfall? Some travelers take on Mountain Pine Ridge alone, but I would highly suggest going with a guide. I had the pleasure of going with Mayawalk Tours and would tour with them again in a heartbeat! We had two incredibly friendly, knowledgable guides that picked us up directly from our resort and drove us to Mountain Pine Ridge. The drive is about an hour from San Ignacio, much of which was on old dirt roads. I can honestly say I would have gotten lost if I tried to tour on my own. Plus, the guides pointed many things out that I would not have noticed otherwise. Another perk of going with locals!
Driving into Mountain Pine Ridge was quite the experience. It is fascinating how the dense tropical jungle scenery changes into a pine forest, something you wouldn’t expect if you didn’t know it was coming. Our first stop was at Rio Frio Cave. The entrace to the cave will take your breath away at a staggering 65 feet tall. Upon entering, you will be greeted by large limestone formations and boulders to hike around. I was skeptical about taking my toddler to explore a cave, but this was a perfect choice for beginner cave explorers! The cave was a natural playground for my toddler and offered a much needed break from the hot Belize sun.
Next up was Rio on Pools. Rio on Pools consists of endless amounts of small waterfalls cascading over granite rocks that form into natural swimming pools. It is easy to spend hours here sunbathing and cooling off in the refreshing water. We actually lost track of time so I couldn’t even tell you how long we spent soaking in our surroundings. The water in most parts is very shallow, which makes it very kid friendly. My toddler enjoyed splashing around and climbing on the rocks. Just be careful; the rocks in the water are extremely slippery. Trust me, I fell several times. After our fun at the pools, we made our way to a picnic shelter overlooking Rio on Pools for lunch. Talk about a view! Mayawalk Tours had a traditional Belizean lunch waiting for us. We had chicken, rice, coleslaw and banana bread. They even packed my little one an entire lunch for herself! Bonus: they provided rum punch for the adults. Because what’s a jungle adventure without a little rum?
After our yummy lunch, we headed to Big Rock Falls. It is a bit of a steep hike getting to this hidden treasure, but it is completely worth it. The waterfall is an impressive 150 feet and cascades into an emerald green pool that is perfect for swimming. If you are feeling extra adventurous, you can go cliff jumping. I say go for it! I didn’t and instantly regretted not crossing it off my bucket list.
MayaWalk Tours made my dreams of visiting Mountain Pine Ridge a reality. This tour was a great intoduction to the Cayo district in Belize and was completely hassle free. Take it from me; if you want to see the local and hidden sights, go with a local. I was also amazed at how family friendly this tour was. I was a bit intimidated at first to bring my toddler on a jungle adventure, but I was pleasantly surprised. Kids of all ages would have a blast on this tour. Plus, the guides adore kids and cater to them. If you are up for an adventure and love exploring the outdoors, this tour is for you! Don’t visit the Cayo district without seeing Mountain Pine Ridge, or you’ll wish you would have.
Tips for visiting Mountain Pine Ridge:
-My number one tip is to bring sunscreen and lots of it. The Belize sun is no joke and the last thing you want is to turn into a lobster.
-Water, water, water! Drink up or you will be dehydrated and exhausted.
-Bring a swimsuit or change of clothes so you can indulge in swimming in the fresh spring water.
-Take your time. Soak up your surroundings. Put away the electronics and enjoy nature.
–Book your tour with MayaWalk here!