Bullet Tree Falls
This old, lazy village of a few thousand people is less than three miles out of San Ignacio on the road to El Pilar. Bullet Tree’s ultramellow riverbank mood, combined with cheap and easy access to the relative bustle of San Ignacio, makes it a pleasant midrange alternative to the usual Cayo fare of fancy jungle lodges and backpacker camps.
Bullet Tree overnighters still have access to the full range of Cayo area activities, right down the road and easily reached by colectivo taxi (US$2 pp) or private cab (US$5). Most people like to just sit by the river or float it in a tube. You can also arrange a hike with Don Beto Cocom, a Maya shaman who offers medicinal plant trail walks for donations only. Ask at any local hotel. They can also arrange horseback expeditions to El Pilar and other sites.
Rolling into town, you’ll pass the soccer field on your right, then come to a fork in the road; this is the bus stop. Fork left to cross the bridge and reach the turnoff for El Pilar, right to reach Parrot Nest Lodge (tel. 501/669-6068 or 501/820-4058, www.parrot-nest.com, US$45–55), which is a unique, rustic hideaway with immediate river access (and free inner tubes). The tropical gardens have remarkable on-site birding. There are six simple, cozy cabins, including two treehouses on stilts under the limbs of a gigantic guanacaste tree. Each cabin has 24-hour electricity, a fan, a linoleum floor, and a simple single or double bed; two have private baths with cold water, four are shared bath. Meals are reasonable: US$4–6 for breakfast and US$11 for dinner.
A stone’s throw downstream, Cohune Palms Cabañas (tel. 501/824-0166 or 501/669-2738, www.cohunepalms.com, US$89–109) is a class act, beautifully landscaped, right on the riverbank under the shade of plenty of trees. They have just four thatch, bamboo, and wooden structures around a common area with hammocks and an open kitchen. The cabanas have loft bedrooms, colorful paint and tiles, and private baths. The owners will help you plan your time and get to and from San Ignacio, as well as rent you tubes and bicycles with which to explore their backyard. Home-cooked meals are available (US$20 for both breakfast and dinner), and there is plenty of common space in the kitchen or on the wooden yoga deck above the river.
A mile or so upstream (turn left before the the bridge when you enter Bullet Tree Falls), Mahogany Hall (Paslow Falls Rd., tel. 501/664-7747, www.mahoganyhallbelize.com, US$175–275) has a spectacular castle-door entrance to a striking view of the Mopan River. In this three-story building, there are six luxurious and stately rooms with heavy wooden furniture, high ceilings, large windows, and French doors, all cradling a pool and restaurant practically on top of the river; it’s a good choice for folks who want their air-conditioning and TV but want a lovely, unique setting.
© Joshua Berman and Avalon Travel from Moon Belize, 9th Edition