The adventure begins as you turn off the Western Highway and pass through the village of Teakettle. Four miles later, you’ll turn onto a one-lane drive that literally becomes a tunnel through the dark green thicket, with magnificent cohune palms arching gracefully overhead. A mile and a half further, daylight returns as you emerge, into the little clearing of Pook’s Hill. On the same site as an ancient Maya ruin, chosen for its beautiful vistas of the rainforest, you will find a grassy knoll dotted with quaint thatched cabañas surrounded by towering hardwoods and dense vegetation.
A visit to Pook’s Hill is like a step out of reality with 300 acres of pristine jungle habitat. The property borders on the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve (open to researchers only) and Roaring Creek. Pook’s Hill is definitely recommended for birders, nature lovers and those just wanting to get away from it all. However, because of its easy access to the highway, excursions to the popular sights elsewhere in the area can be arranged without trouble.
Although most guests arrive with the intention of making these excursions, once there, they often decide to stay on the property and enjoy the trail circuit, horseback riding, and swimming close at hand. And of course, doing absolutely nothing is always an option!
The lodge is twelve miles from Belmopan and 21 miles from San Ignacio, conveniently located for visiting the many Maya ruins (such as Caracol), caves, rivers–and more–of the Cayo District. Pook’s Hill is only about a 1-1/2 hour drive from the International Airport, making it an easy driving destination following your afternoon arrival in Belize City.
Vicki and Ray Snaddon built this unique facility as a way to enable themselves to enjoy the property on a full time basis. Although both have British backgrounds, and met each other in England, Vicki was born in Trinidad and Ray hails from South Africa. They’ve been in Belize about eleven years now, and Pook’s has been operating for three years. They are friendly hosts who genuinely enjoy getting acquainted with their guests, and will look after your needs personally, ensuring that you get full enjoyment out of your stay.
Vicki does most of the cooking herself, serving up delicious meals with Caribbean and European flavors. After relaxing with cocktails and conversation in the lounge, we moved to the lantern-lit dining room and enjoyed a delicious dinner of Lime Chicken and rice, complemented by ratatouille, beans and vegetables. We were then served a refreshing frozen dessert with bananas. Meals are served buffet-style and eaten round a large table with the hosts.
The trails offer a close up look at the rainforest habitat, with an abundant variety of plants and flowers, birds and butterflies, as well as the possibility of wildlife sightings for the quiet and vigilant hikers. The well-marked trail routes are relatively easy walks and you can go it alone with a map, but Vicki and Ray are happy to accompany you. There are a couple of nice “swimmin’ holes” in the creek along the trails, for cooling off and tubing. You can also opt for a more vigorous hike, using a compass, searching out caves and exploring the jungle; and horseback riding is another option as Ray keeps seven riding horses.
Make a visit to the iguana hatchery near the lodge building, where the Snaddons are into their second year of rearing the green iguana for release into the wild. It’s likely that you’ll see a bundle of the cute little green things in their protective enclosure.
Our morning bird watch and trail hike revealed many species familiar to us such as oropendola, toucans, hummingbirds, euphonia, trogons and woodpeckers, but we also added a handful of new birds to our list of sightings. Many noted ornithologists visit Pook’s Hill regularly, and used their sightings here in compiling information about the birds of the region. There are many spots within the clearing itself which are great bird watching locations, including the shade of your cabaña!
There are eight thatched cabañas, each fully screened, with a private bathroom and electric lights. The rooms, though relatively small and simply furnished, are quite comfortable and have the traditional high roof and a nice open air design. The bathroom area is situated behind a partition wall and has hot showers. Rooms are available with the following bed arrangements: One double; one double and one single; two singles; and three singles.
The Veranda Bar and lounge has a small library, and a display of some butterflies and moths found here. This area is great for gathering in the evenings with your travelling companions, your hosts and fellow guests; watching the sun set behind the treetops and hearing the calls of the wild rise up from the darkness beyond.
To get the most out of the tranquil setting at Pook’s Hill, most guests spend about three days here. It is a nice location for honeymooners, or a second honeymoon!