Another Amazing Adventure from the Founders of Yampu Tours: Chan Chich Lodge and the Gallon Jug Estate
This past month, the Founders of Yampu Tours and his family took an enlightening trip to majestic Belize. Through jungle forests, Mayan temples, and masterful waters, they toured high and low, the most beautiful areas that the nation has to offer. Journeying through such Belizean wonders, Jose and Monica Irauzqui started by bringing their family to the majesties of Chan Chich Lodge. Set within 130,000 acres in Northwestern Belize, Chan Chich is part of the Gallon Jug Estate. The estate lies within the largest contiguous forest north of the Amazon basin. With a trail system that stretches between magnificent ruins, and a plush tropical rainforest, it was an exhilarating task to enjoy everything this lodge had to offer.
After flying to Belize City, the Irauzquis immediately found that Chan Chich reserved the true meaning of “off the beaten path”. Driving 3 ½ hours, they traveled through a rollercoaster of dry areas around Mennonite and Amish villages, then to greener areas through Mennonite Farms with amazing rolling hills. After the drive through such secluded lands, they approached the beautiful Chan Chich Lodge, and settled into your cabana. Chan Chich has 12 cabanas (6 regular, and 6 deluxe), and 1 Villa. In their thatched-roof accommodation they were fully-screened in and enjoyed local exotic hardwoods, a private bath, hot and cold water, ceiling fan, and a gorgeous wrap-around verandah with hammocks and futons. After recuperating from the travel, the family jumped right into their endeavors.
Monica was eager to break out her camera and take advantage of one of their most popular attractions… bird-watching. Chan Chich is home to over 350 bird species. From the Lovely Cotinga, to the Ornate Hawk-Eagle, and on to the plethora of toucans, parrots, and hummingbirds, the Yampu co-founder could not put her digital lens down. Her favorite was the Black-cheeked Woodpecker (which you can see in the picture she took) Many visitors at Chan Chich come specifically for this activity. Monica said the bird-watchers had the largest camera lenses she had ever seen in her life!
At the end of such an exciting day, the family said it was difficult to stay away from the lodge. You could take a refreshing dip in the pool while watching monkeys swing by, or relax those muscles in the Jacuzzi, while watching the sun go down. The lodge had a well-stocked bar, perfect for an evening margarita to go with your post-dinner hammock session. Chan Chich supplied the perfect ambiance for some good rest and relaxation.
The next day, the Irauzquis got up early to take advantage of another fantastic excursion that the lodge has to offer. Chan Chich has an extensive trail system of over 9 miles of well-maintained trails for hiking and exploring. At the heart of “La Selva Maya”, Chan Chich lies among a fantastic landscape of tropical rainforest, and fascinating Mayan ruins. Following one of the knowledgeable local guides, the family was able to see a surplus of wildlife including monkeys, Ocellated Turkeys, and many, many birds! Although they didn’t see one, they felt more comfortable with the guide as he knew the signs that may indicate a jaguar is near. One of the most interesting aspects of these tours was the trenches and the underground cave hidden throughout the landscape. As the Mayan Ruins on this property have yet to be excavated, there have been many incidents of looting. Although unfortunate, Monica said it was fascinating to see systems that looters had implemented to sneak under the ruins, into the ancient tombs. The trail systems were infused with culture and history.
At this point, it was time to take advantage of the delectable cuisine that Chan Chich has to offer. The lodge creates a balance between traditional Belizean meals and exceptional international cuisine. With locally grown produce, and arguably the friendliest wait staff to serve throughout Latin America, the Yampu Founders said they had no difficultly refueling after a long day of exploration.
As the next morning arrived, it was time to explore the unknown realm of the Gallon Jug. This estate includes scattered Mayan sites (including Chan Chich), various lagoons, and 2,500 acres that are currently under intensive agriculture. This working farm has attempted corn, soybeans, coffee, cacao, cardamom, and sugar cane. A great place to see wildlife, the farm attracts Ocellated Turkeys and white-tailed deer, which then in turn attract the jaguars. Monica heard from several people that the best place to see the jaguars is from the farm road! From here, there were a plethora of excursions to enjoy. The Yampu Team cruised with an evening canoe on Laguna Seca at sunset. With such a serene setting, they saw many beautiful birds and couldn’t believe how lovely the area was. There was also an option to go kayaking on Laguna Verde. This is a small natural spring-fed lake approximately four miles north of the Gallon Jug Farm. Along with the kayaking, the excursion includes the set up of cocktails and appetizers for those who partake. Another very popular option for taking advantage of this estate is taking an exciting horse-back ride throughout the area. With a stable full of beautiful horses at the farm, they offer 1, 2, or 3 hour guided rides along the jungle trails to the remote Mayan sites. The property had endless opportunity to take advantage of the fantastic estate.
As the Chan Chich Lodge provides incredible daily activities, they also assist in bringing visitors out of the estate to the near local attractions. Day trips to Tikal, Xunantunich, Lamanai, and the mysterious Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave can be organized by the lodge. Transfers to other locations are also made easy with the airstrip located in Gallon Jug outside of the Lodge. Monica and Jose enjoyed the drive into the area due to the mesmerizing scenery, but most visitors take a flight into the Gallon Jug Estate from Belize City, shortening the transfer to only 45 minutes. With no transfer fee, this is a great option for incoming guests.
Outlining the first section of their Belizean journey, the Chan Chich Lodge hosted an amazing introduction to the Northwestern Tropical Forests of the country. With breathtaking landscapes, and indefinite flora and fauna, the Gallon Jug Estate combined beauty with culture and history. Before heading to their next adventure, they knew the Chan Chich would make it on their customized itineraries for their future Belize-bound clients.
Interested? See it for yourself! https://www.yampu.com/en/trips/chan-chich-lodge/