Belize Cotton Tree Lodge Voluntourism Itinerary
Below is a sample itinerary of a past Goway Group. It is provided to give you an idea of what we have already done & what you might also consider doing.
However, because of timing, your own group's special interests and budget, we expect to custom make a program just for you. Contact your favorite travel agent click on "Inquire about this Trip" to fill out a request for a group quotation.
Arrival And Orientation
Arrive at Belize International airport, and transfer to Punta Gorda by local plane (1 hour) or group road transfer (4 hours). In Punta Gorda, a Goway Representative will meet you and transfer you the rest of the way to the lodge by boat. You will receive a brief orientation and introductions at dinner. D
Farm visit, Chocolate Workshop, Lubaantun Ruins
Today we’ll visit the organic cacao farm of Eladio Pop, a Mayan farmer who lives in the village of San Pedro Columbia. Follow Eladio on hilly jungle trails, tasting edible plants like jippy jappa, sour oranges, wild ginger, and others along the way. And of course, we’ll learn about the cacao fruit! Pick cacao pods and taste the sweet pulp inside. Return to Eladio’s home and share a traditional Belizean lunch with his family. After eating, Eladio’s wife and daughter will teach you how cacao is traditionally roasted, winnowed, and ground into a delicious hot chocolate drink, savored by both the ancient and the modern Maya. This is a hands-on workshop, so don’t hold back!
In the afternoon we’ll visit Lubaantun Mayan ruins and learn about ancient Mayan civilizations in southern Belize. View a Mayan ball court, a king’s bedroom, and the spot where a mysterious crystal skull was allegedly unearthed in the 1920s. Fact or fiction? You decide.
This evening we’ll meet with staff from Sustainable Harvest International to discuss our volunteer projects. Hear about SHI’s mission and the communities we’ll be working with, and learn what to expect when volunteering in local communities. BLD
SHI Service Project
Break into small teams and work on one of three Sustainable Harvest International service projects: building a fuel-efficient stove, planting trees, or setting up a family garden. You will complete meaningful work alongside local families and SHI staff. Sustainable Harvest International is a non-profit organization which works in Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. SHI provides farming families in Central America with the training and tools to overcome poverty while restoring our planet's tropical forests.
They teach sustainable agriculture techniques as an alternative to slash and burn farming. There is an SHI demonstration garden on the Cotton Tree Lodge property which you are welcome to visit anytime during your stay.
Share a traditional lunch prepared by one of the families with whom we are working, before returning to the lodge for a free afternoon. Try swimming in the Moho River, kayaking, horseback riding, or just relaxing in your hammock.
In the evening, we’ll have a Kekchi language lesson outdoors around our riverside firepit. Learn numbers, greetings, animals, colors, and other basic words and phrases in this Mayan dialect. English is the national language of Belize and we will have no trouble communicating with our hosts throughout our stay, but this fun activity will introduce you to the language commonly spoken in the villages around the lodge. BLD
Modern Chocolate Workshop, Pottery Project
This morning we’ll transfer to the Toledo District’s largest town, Punta Gorda. We’ll take some time to explore the colorful fruit stalls and watch the catch of the day come in at the local market, then proceed to the Cotton Tree Chocolate factory for our first chocolate-making workshop. Here we’ll learn the first few steps of the modern chocolate-making process. Help the factory staff roast, mill, winnow, grind, and conch cocoa beans. Learn about recipe formulation, and find out exactly what goes into a chocolate bar.
In the afternoon we’ll meet in the Cotton Tree Lodge pottery studio to make clay tiles depicting our birth months. Review the Mayan calendar and your own horoscope, before getting your hands dirty with local clays. BLD
SHI Service Project, Nocturnal Jungle Survival Hike
Today your team will rotate to another of the SHI service projects, which may include building a stove, planting trees, or establishing a family or school garden. Work alongside local families and make a tangible difference. We’ll enjoy a traditional lunch prepared by one of the family’s we’ve been working with. Return to Cotton Tree in the afternoon, and enjoy free time to swim in the Moho River, kayak, try out our rope swing, horseback ride, or just relax.
This evening we’ll meet with a local guide whose training in the Belize Defense Force made him an expert on jungle survival. Learn where to find fresh water in the jungle, how to trap small animals, and which roots and plants are safe to eat. Watch for nocturnal animals, such as tapir, and listen for the howler monkeys! BLD
Blue Creek Cave & More fun with Chocolate
Hidden in the jungle behind the small village of Blue Creek, there is a stunning limestone cave with a clear blue river running from its mouth. The Kekchi Mayan name for the cave is Hokeb Ha, or “where the water enters the earth”. We’ll hike 30 minutes to the mouth of the cave, then put on headlamps and life jackets to swim into its beautiful limestone interior, climbing up waterfalls and viewing unique rock formations along the way. Those who don’t wish to swim in the cave are welcome to relax by the clear pools and waterfalls outside it.
After swimming, we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch by Blue Creek before heading to Punta Gorda for our second chocolate making workshop. Learn the important steps of tempering and molding, and finish off our batch of cacao. We’ll then help with packaging and design our own labels. You’ll leave with chocolate bars you made yourself! BLD
SHI Service Project, Plant Your Own Cacao, and Garifuna Drummers
Today we’ll complete our third rotation of service projects with Sustainable Harvest International. Work alongside Belizean families and SHI staff on a meaningful service project, and share lunch with an SHI family. This morning we’ll head to Punta Gorda Return to Cotton Tree Lodge and plant your own cacao seedling on the Cotton Tree Lodge grounds. We are growing our own plantation of several hundred trees, and someday your seedling will become part of the chocolate production here. After dinner, we’ll have a farewell party with Garifuna Drummers. This Afro-Caribbean culture has developed a unique sound with drums and singing. The rhythms are sure to get you dancing!
Transfers to Punta Gorda for flights to Belize International and home
- Three days of service projects in local communities
- Explore a Mayan Cacao Farm and taste cacao fruit fresh from the pod
- Learn modern chocolate making in hands-on workshops, and leave with bars you made yourself
- Swim through the caverns of Blue Creek Wet Cave
- Visit the mysterious site of Lubaantun Mayan ruins
- Dance to the live music of Garifuna drummers
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