This was the first true jungle lodge in the Cayo, and owners Mick and Lucy Fleming (he's from England, she's from the U.S.) have spent three decades polishing The Lodge at Chaa Creek to a fine, rich patina, while adding new features like a gorgeous bi-level swimming pool and appealing tree house Jacuzzi suites. To start, the gracefully landscaped grounds, surrounded by 365 acres of rolling hills above the Macal River, are magnificent. On the grounds are the Rainforest Medicine Trail, Natural History Centre, butterfly farm, horse stables, Maya organic farm, and one of the best spas in Belize. There's a friendly and highly competent staff of around 100. The whitewashed cottages with thatch roofs and custom-made furnishings are both simple and elegant, but not inexpensive. Ten percent of accommodations revenue goes to environmental and social programs. For cost-conscious travelers there's the Macal River Camp, with small A-frame rooms on raised wooden platforms, and the bargain rate gives
you full access to all lodge facilities. At the lodge itself, dinner is a special event, starting with cocktails in the bar and perhaps ending with brandy and Cuban cigar under the soaring thatch palapa. Chaa Creek's tours, although not cheap, are among the country's finest, and horseback riding is available. New air service to Maya Flats airstrip by Tropic Air makes getting here much easier.