Tranquility takes on an entirely new meaning at Gaia Riverlodge as its remote location deep inside Belize’s Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve brings you so close to nature, so much that you can feel, see, hear and pretty much taste it. Disconnect and disappear off the grid for a few days and see how it feels to absorb nature and experience tranquility in an entirely new way.
Formerly named Five Sisters Lodge, the new Gaia Riverlodge boasts 16 private cabañas that have a rustic touch of luxury eliminating all the televisions, air conditioning and electronic devices that generally distract us from fully appreciating our surroundings. Why the need to disconnect? Well the lodge delivers some of the most stunning scenery in all of Belize that will have you forgetting about everything else, but being in a ‘nature state of mind’.
The ‘centerpiece’ of Gaïa is the Five Sisters Waterfall that is located 300 steps below the lodge along the Privassion River that runs alongside the property. It’s the lodge’s natural swimming pool in which you can stay relaxing all day long under its gentle cascades, soaking in its natural pools and even explore the area by climbing over the waterfall’s large boulders and natural rock formations.
Gaïa’s ideal location provides stunning views of the pine forest valley and the falls are visible from the observation deck/outside dining area. It is impossible to stay in your rooms as you cannot take your eyes off the pristine beauty of the lodge’s natural surroundings. It is within all the natural landscape that Gaïa has placed its private cabañas that have a rustic luxury to them. Remember, there is no air conditioning anywhere in the resort, however the cabañas are fully screened which allow the cool mountain breezes and jungle sounds to enter the room.
Design décor inside the rooms include Belizean hardwoods, traditional thatched roofs and rich varnished mahogany interiors with panoramic windows that allow you views of the garden, mountains or the waterfall. Each cabaña is positioned to highlight one of these great views of the lodge’s property. The cabañas also have ceiling fans, a bathroom decorated with hand-painted Mexican tiles, beds with pillow top mattresses for a great night’s sleep and mosquito nets to protect from the bugs.
Yes, we have to be truthful and say that there are bugs, spiders, mosquitoes, etc, heck it’s in the middle of the forest and one cannot expect it to be bug free. Also, don’t expect the luxuries of the Waldorf and during the summer months it does get hot. But that is easily fixed with a chill spot at the deck or enjoying the comforts by the waterfall; that is all it takes and it’s all worth it, “Belize” you me. Everything else becomes secondary once you start embracing the comfort and commodities of the lodge.
Affiliated with the award-winning Mata Chica Resort in Ambergris Caye, Gaïa Riverlodge delivers the same quality of service, cuisine, ambience and luxury that has kept Mata Chica as one of the top resorts on the island. The staff at Gaïa walks along the same lines of professionalism and hospitality that has placed Mata Chica on top. The result is a first class service and one of the many reasons that our stay at the lodge was unforgettable.
Gaïa Riverlodge’s restaurant and lounge is located directly above the falls and offers spectacular views that make your dining experience a very pleasant one. There is an expansive verandah that wraps itself around the building and provides panoramic views of the valley, falls and pine forest. Waking up early and lounging on the verandah with a cup of coffee in hand as you admire the sunrise over the mountains is just magical. Breakfast choices include Continental, American, Belizean and Mayan options. Fresh fruit, assorted cheeses, eggs, cereal and yogurt are all available.
We found out that the restaurant’s cuisine is very Belizean, influenced by rich and local ingredients. Lunch items like the shrimp skewers burst with flavors of pineapples and ginger and the enchiladas are authentic to Belize’s Mestizo cuisine. The lunch menu offers a variety of salads, sandwiches, and local Belizean fajitas and enchiladas.
At night the dining area is accented and lit up by lanterns that set the mood for a really peaceful dinner. Evenings are even quieter in the area and all you hear is the cascading waters of the falls which disappear from view in the darkness. The sound is very therapeutic and provides for an excellent dining experience. The Lodge’s dinner menu highlights fresh local vegetables, seafood, beef and chicken. Try the barbecue pork chops that are served with baked beans, flour tortillas and a green bell pepper coleslaw; it is a Belizean favorite. Finish off dinner with a decadent coconut pie that is infused with a fluffy meringue and coconut flake drizzle. You will go to sleep very happy, we guarantee it.
Explore While at Gaïa
Being in the middle of the forest reserve, Gaïa is the perfect base from where to start your exploration of Belize’s natural wonders. At the lodge you can swim at the falls, explore the surrounding area and do some excellent bird watching. The treetops are alive with bird activity, and bird watchers enjoy spotting species unique to this habitat, such as the Acorn Woodpecker, as well as the regular visitors like Orioles, Oropendolas, and Kites.
Adventurous tours include guided excursions to Caracol, Belize’s largest Mayan ruin, hiking or biking along the many trails that wind throughout the surrounding Pine Forest Reserve, or horseback riding through the jungle to visit many of the area’s Mayan plazas and caves. The adventures continue with canoeing, zip-lining, cave tubing and repelling. They can all be arranged for you at the lodge.
Gaïa Riverlodge draws its magic from the property’s natural surroundings. Getting there is an adventure in itself as your drive through lush rainforests turns into a journey through pine forests; it’s quite an interesting change in scenery. Because the lodge is so remote, I recommend a minimum of two to three nights stay to make the most of your journey. You definitely need more than one overnight to appreciate the beauty of the area, the comforts of the lodge and the feeling of being one with nature in Belize.