Set in the central plaza of a small Mayan ceremonial city, Chan Chich is one of the most unusual jungle lodges in Mesoamerica. The low hills that surround 14 individual bungalows are all unexcavated pyramids and temples. The rooms feature high-pitched thatch roofs and wraparound wooden decks, and are all spacious, clean, and quite comfortable. Most come with two queen beds made up with heavy comforters and lots of pillows, plus essential mosquito nets. It’s so remote that it's safe enough to leave your door unlocked, which takes some getting used to. The deluxe bungalows are slightly larger, especially in the bathroom area, and feature king-size beds and some Japanese-style decor. There’s also a luxurious two-bedroom villa, with its own Jacuzzi, expansive living areas and A/C, well suited for families.

Behind one of the overgrown temple mounds, there’s a screened-in pool and Jacuzzi area with its own bar. Some 14km (8.65 miles) of well-groomed trails lead off from the central plaza, and a host of guided tours and hikes is available. Wildlife viewing here is excellent, with more than 350 bird species identified nearby. They host nighttime safaris that contribute to the many annual jaguar sightings. They are committed to the big cat's success, among other sustainability endeavors, so Chan Chich hosts and supports jaguar researchers as they place camera traps in the area. You can go horseback riding, visit nearby agricultural communities, or canoe and swim at Laguna Verde. Day trips to Lamanai, La Milpa, and other Mayan sites can also be arranged. The food here is excellent, which is a good thing, since you have no other options.

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Some advice on transportation: You can either drive here or take a charter flight to nearby Gallon Jug; if you choose the charter, Chan Chich can arrange the flight and pick you up at the airport. If you choose to drive, it takes about 4 hr. from Belize City, much of it on dirt roads, so a 4-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended. If you are driving here, you will need permission to pass through the Programme for Belize’s lands; call the lodge in advance to arrange this.