What's New at Mariposa

A visit to Actun Tunichil Muknal

Sharyn Brinker - Friday, September 13, 2013

A visit to Actun Tunichil Muknal, the “Cave of the Stone Sepulcher”, is an absolutely “must-do” for the physically-fit, nonclaustrophobic Belize adventure traveler who seeks unusual experiences. 


Year ago, I approached my first ATM venture with trepidation. My wonderful guide held my hand as I awkwardly traversed a river three times during the 45-minute hike to the cave entrance.  When I saw the large rocks blocking the entrance, I said, “I have to do what before I start swimming into the cave?”  Assured by my confident guide that I could do this, I proceeded to place my feet wherever he told me and climb over the rocks until I reached the cool water. 


After a short swim, I could wade, then walk.  My confidence built as we progressed slowly into the cave with stops to view awesome limestone formations and learn about the Maya priests who had exclusive access to this precious ceremonial cave.  We travelled quite a distance before reaching the chamber with relics, ranging from pottery shards to pieces almost intact.  It is unlikely we’ll find a piece of perfect pottery.  The Maya believed the spirit of its owner resided in the pot and must be released if its owner leaves. If a piece isn’t cracked, it will have at least a small “kill hole”, intended to allow the spirit to escape. 

Human skulls and bones rest amid the pottery relics, left in situ by the archaeologists who discovered and inventoried the site.  Moving past this chamber, we were led to a sheer rock that elicited my earlier reaction.  “I have to do what?”  I still can’t believe I’ve navigated that rock several times.  The reward was astounding.


We were led to an inner chamber where we climbed up an uncomfortable metal ladder, the only convenience or safety device installed by modern man, to view the cave’s piece de resistance.  The “Crystal Maiden”, a complete skeleton that sparkles as a result of crystal calcification.  She was believed to be a young human sacrifice.  We learned recently that “she” was actually a “he.”  I doubt he rested well with his epithet of “Crystal Maiden” and have not yet learned if he is renamed.


The skeleton provided a dramatic finish for the trip into the Cave.  Then we retraced our steps and strokes for the swim out.  The return trip was great.  My apprehension was replaced by confidence.  I was able to focus more on the exquisite surroundings and reflect on the spiritual nature of the place.  Imagine, priestly rituals and sacrifices actually occurred right there.  And physical residuals remain to be seen.


A great ATM phenomenon:  it gets better each time I return and observe a little bit more.  To me, adventure tourism just doesn’t get better than this.

“U” is for Belize

Sharyn Brinker - Thursday, August 22, 2013

U” is for Belize


As an American ex-pat living in the Belize jungle, who shared the wonders of Sesame Street with my young nephews, I find myself focused on the letter “U”.  I’ve traveled extensively during my life and continue to marvel over the natural and historical treasures of my adopted country.

“U” is for unique, unknown, under-visited, under-promoted, unbelizable!

What is unique in Belize?   The opportunity to visit Maya archaeological sites in various states of excavation, ranging from pristine to partially restored.    The Maya site at Caracol in the Chiquibul National Park is the primary “U”.  It is “under-promoted” in the national tourism arena for reasons I don’t understand.  Perhaps because the world’s second largest barrier reef is another extraordinary feature of this tiny jewel of a country.   Perhaps because the Guatemala governmental representatives have seen the importance of having the great Maya site at Tikal designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site while the Belize parties in interest have not done so, or at least have not done so successfully.  Perhaps because the Belize government concentrates its limited resources on the reef-related sites because scuba diving and snorkeling attracts more tourist spending than cultural and historical wonders.  I expect the truth to remain “unknown”, and Caracol to remain “under-visited” and “under-promoted” in the foreseeable future. 

Perhaps as an ironic byproduct of these factors, Caracol retains the characteristics of “unique” and “unbelizable.”   Former visitors of the great Maya sites of Chichen Itza in Mexico , or Tikal in nearby Guatemala, are typically astonished by the opportunity to visit such a superb ancient Maya site, to climb the temples, including Caana, the tallest manmade site in Belize at 136’, and take pictures without any other people in them.  The underutilization of this site is unbelizable and affords the unique opportunity for exploration at one’s own pace and photographic wonders.  Best visited with a licensed Belize guide, our visitors have an unusual, relaxed opportunity to learn as much as they care to absorb about the life and extraordinary accomplishments of the Maya, the geopolitics of Maya life, and the theories about the Maya diaspora.  We rely on the oral tradition because Spanish invaders destroyed the written history of the people. Thus, Caracol should be a high priority among a traveler’s Belize adventures, before its wonders are better known.


But Belize has more that’s “unique.”  Where else can you hike in the jungle along a river until you reach a point of entry to embark on the only known Maya cave tubing route.  Float through the caves while a knowledgeable, licensed Belize guide explains the significance of myriad formations and the particular areas where Maya relics were discovered.  This is a beautiful, relaxing experience for visitors of most ages.


Then, there’s the unbelizable Maya ceremonial cave, Actun Tunichil Muknal, the Belize version of “ATM.”  Words are inadequate to describe the multi-sensory, physically challenging experience of hiking through the jungle, traversing a river three times, climbing over rocks, swimming into a cave, wading and walking through chambers replete with exquisite limestone formations, culminating in an area in which you discover the treasure of Maya relics and human remains found less than 25? years ago.  The site is living history.  The unique and unbelizable opportunity currently afforded by the Belize government is the privilege of visiting this cave in it nearly pristine condition.  The conditions are simple and reasonable.  You must be among a maximum group of eight, accompanied by one of only 19? licensed Belize tour guides who are personally certified by Dr. Jaime Awe, the Director of NICH (the National Institute of Culture and History?) to lead tours into this national treasure.  The only indicia of regulatory involvement are a few yellow caution tapes that alert visitors to beware of damage to historical Maya treasures.  There are no exclusionary ropes, manmade steps or rails, or artificial lights.  This is a truly unique opportunity to visit a Maya ceremonial cave in its pristine condition.  Photography was allowed until a recent tourist leaned over and accidentally dropped his camera on a precious Maya skull.  How long before there are further restrictions on experiencing this unique adventure?

The “U” words also apply to many of the caves in the extensive Belize limestone cave system.   Whether it’s the physically challenging Crystal Cave in the Tapir Mountain National Forest, or the relatively user-friendly and accessible Actun Chapat in the Succotz area of western Belize, or the demanding Panti Park Ceremonial Cave that houses some of the largest remaining pieces of Maya pottery, caving in Belize is superb.  This cave and its exquisite formations and relics were recently closed to the public until further notice, illustrating why the Belize Maya ruins and ceremonial caves should be among Belize travel adventures while they’re accessible and in pristine condition.

In a short distance from Caracol and the great Belize caving options is Mariposa Jungle Lodge, our boutique luxury resort created to offer travels “Adventure by Day and Comfort by Night.”  We are committed to the principles of eco-tourism, ranging from environmental protection, to promotion of local arts and culture, to the education and training of the local peoples.  Our Mayan/Mestizo staff is eager to share knowledge, information and experience of all aspects of Belize jungle life, ranging from their efforts to sustain cultural heritage to the new generation to teaching about the abundant flora and fauna of the area.  Unless visitors request an alternative, meal selections typically focus on a high-quality version of Belizean and Maya specialties.   The special touches might include a Maya dance exhibition by local teenagers or a fireside Maya copal ceremony.  At Mariposa Jungle Lodge, the final “U” is for “unexpected” and “unforgettable.”





Happy Labor Day Belize!!!

Sharyn Brinker - Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Jungle Love - 4 night Package - 10 Percent Discount

Sharyn Brinker - Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Normal Price: US$3155/couple

Now: US$2840/couple

Valid until November 2013

This Special Vacation Package includes:

  • Roundtrip ground transportation from Belize Airport/Belize City
  • Belizean Cocktail upon arrival
  • 4 nights lodging in a luxury cabana under the Belizean Jungle Canopy
  • All meals from dinner on arrival day through breakfast on departure day
  • Jungle BBQ and overnight at our Birdwatching tower under the stars
  • Tours to Caracol, Rio Frio Cave & Rio On Pools with stop at Big Rock Falls
  • ATM Tour
  • Jungle Hike & River Tubing
  • Morning nature trail hike
  • Bottle of champagne in room 
  • Private romantic candlelight dinner
  • Gift basket
  • All applicable taxes and service charge
  • Park fees Not included
  • Morning guided tour of Nature Trail on site

    Jungle BBQ  & Overnight at our Bird Watching Tower

    Decorated room with chilled champagne upon arrival

    Private Romantic Dinner

3-Night Jungle Adventure

Sharyn Brinker - Friday, April 19, 2013

3-Night Jungle Adventure

US$745/pp based on double occupancy

US$330 for each additional person sharing room 

This Special Vacation Package includes:

·         Roundtrip ground transportation from Belize Airport/Belize City

·         Belizean Cocktail upon arrival

·         3 nights lodging in a luxury cabana under the Belizean Jungle Canopy

·         Dinner & Breakfast Daily

·         All applicable taxes and service charge

Effective April 17th – December 15th, 2013

Fine Dining!!!

Sharyn Brinker - Saturday, April 06, 2013

Last night was another successful night with wonderful guest enjoying fine dining. We pride ourselves in personalized service and live by our motto “Adventure by Day & Comfort by Night”.    

15 Percent Discount on a 4-night Package

Sharyn Brinker - Saturday, April 06, 2013

Summer Special 2013

15% Discount on a 4-night Package 

Was US$1480/pp

Now ONLY US$1260/pp

Package includes:

  • Meet & Greet Service at the Belize International Airport or any area near Belize City
  • Roundtrip private transportation from the Airport or any area near Belize City
  • Stop at the Howler Monkey Sanctuary, the Belize Zoo & the Belikin Beer Brewery en route. At The Belize Zoo you can pet “Lucky Boy”, the rescued black jaguar.
  • Belizean Cocktail upon arrival at the Lodge
  • 4 nights accommodation in a private luxury cabana under our Belizean jungle canopy
  • All meals from dinner on arrival day through breakfast on departure day
  • Guided tour of Caracol, Rio Frio Cave & Rio On Pools with stop at Big Rock Falls
  • Option of ATM Cave or Barton Creek Cave & Bol’s Cave Museum
  • San Ignacio day: includes shopping time in town, guided tour of Cahal Pech & Xunantunich; optional stop at the Belize Botanical Garden & the Iguana Hatchery
  • Sunset Cocktail at our 23ft Birdwatching Tower on site
  • Special Belize Wine Taste
  • Tortilla Lessons
  • All applicable taxes and service charge

Not included:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Park fees
  • Tips & gratuities 

Complimentary Amenities
Swimming Pool & Palapa Bar
    Hammock Palapa
    Jungle Nature Trail
    Jungle Birdwatch Tower

Valid for June, July & August 2013. Direct Bookings Only! 

For reservations or additional information feel free to contact us by phone at (501) 675-2113 or (501) 834-4113. You can email us at info@mariposajunglelodge.com and visit our website at www.mariposajunglelodge.com.

“Adventure by Day and Comfort by Night”

EASTER 2013 - Special Family Package

Sharyn Brinker - Saturday, February 02, 2013

National Bird

Kristen Lindsey - Monday, January 28, 2013

Have a Great Monday Everyone!!! 

Have you been to our Belize Zoo? You can add a stop at the Belize Zoo en route when coming to Mariposa Jungle Lodge or when going back to the Airport/Belize City. 

The Zoo is the only option for seeing all the Belize indigenous animals, most of which are nocturnal, as well as the rare Harpy Eagle (largest known eagle) and our National Bird; the Keel-Bill Toucan. 

Did you know?

The Keel-billed Toucans ranges in length from around 17 to 22 inches (42–55 cm) including its bill. Their large and colorful bill averages around 5-6 in (12–15 cm), about one-third of its length. It typically weighs about 380-500 grams. While the bill seems large and cumbersome, it is in fact a spongy.

Keel-billed toucans have zygodactyl feet (or feet with toes facing in different directions) - two toes face forward and two face back. Because toucans spend a large portion of time in the trees, this helps the birds to stay on the branches of the trees and hop from one branch to another.

Wonderful Guests at Mariposa!

Sharyn Brinker - Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Aegina and Tricia were 2

 of our guests this December. Their thirst for adventure brought them to us. They stayed 3 nights at a Beach Resort before their 4 nights in the Jungle with us. 

They said they wanted "Adventure", we just made it happened. These girls stopped for a guided tour of the Belize Zoo, they went Cave Tubing at Jaguar Paw, visited Tikal, explored the underworld of Xibalba- ATM cave, went horseback riding, visited Xunantunich and walked the Medicinal Trail. Wow!! all of this is 4 days, yes!!! 


You are next!

Nelmarie and Clara with Aegina and Tricia just before their departure back to New York!!

December 22nd, 2012.