Ek’ Tun

The way to paradise is not an easy one, but in the case of Ek’ Tun, taking the road less travelled is well worth the effort. The site is literally carved out of the jungle on a hillside with stunning views of the Macal river and the surrounding high cliffs which are dotted with massive caves once used by the Maya. The name is Mayan for the “Black Rock”, after which the area is called, due to the large blocks of slate along this impressive stretch of the Macal River.

A long six miles from the Western Highway, you leave the world behind as the bumpy road turns into more of a narrow, four-wheel drive trail into the tall bush to a path that leads you down to the river. From here you board a small boat which takes you a few hundred yards upriver to a private beach where you disembark for a short climb uphill to the compound. You immediately notice the stunning, lush landscaping with colorful tropical plants, that has been meticulously planned and well-maintained.

This exclusive location is the site of a mere two thatched guest cottages, with jungle and river views, and private patios where you can watch for birds each morning while sipping fresh coffee that has been delivered to your door. You will hear the screaming call of the Orange-breasted Falcon as it flies high overhead. This area is home to a pair of this extremely rare, globally endangered creature. Over 200 different species of birds have thus far been spotted here.

Your hosts, Phyllis and Ken Dart, will make you feel like welcome guests as they personally attend to all your needs. They will guide you through the jungle or down the river on your private expedition and prepare delicious, exotic meals with many fruits and vegetables from their own garden. Meals are served in the romantic, candle lit living/dining area of the main building. It is beautifully decorated and surrounded by verandas where you will sip cool drinks in the evening and talk about all of the day’s wonderful events. Later you will be served an appetizing meal such as grilled beef rib eye with chile/cumin crust and a savory horseradish sauce, and roasted potatoes-finished off with a slice of delectable Key lime pie. Breakfast is also a treat, with “Neo-tropical Eggs”…you’ll have to find out on your own.

Each rustically elegant cottage with loft has a double bed below and one double and one single bed above. They are furnished with hand crafted furniture and little touches that lend a special character. The unique design is carried into the large, well appointed bathroom which has one of the few “hot showers” in Belize that lives up to its name. There are numerous large windows that frame the surrounding natural beauty, but you’ll probably spend most of your time outdoors. While limited electricity is available, your primary source of light will be several kerosene lamps.

It began with a dream…

Most folks go through life with visions of an idyllic retirement, but by the time this ripe age approaches, the dreams are tarnished, and they either haven’t saved up enough money or the aches in their bones have eroded their desires. The Darts are an unusual young couple from Colorado that broke out of the pack at an age where energy, desires and dreams come together, and came to Belize to escape the cold weather and realize their own vision. Ken and Phyllis have spent many years perfecting the site. Everything has been designed with an eco-sensitive approach, using solar electricity, batteries and inverters, and the water supply, is fed from a fresh, underground spring, using a unique, self-powered “Ram” water pump.


While off-site excursions are available, your time here will be better spent enjoying the natural wonder of the lush jungle surroundings and the river. Ek’ Tun has become a favored destination among birders and naturalists. With 200 acres of land at your disposal, situated on Belize’s largest contiguous area of uninhabited reserve land, it’s possible to spend several days exploring the flora, fauna, ruins and caves without leaving the site; and don’t forget tubing or canoeing and fishing. The three-night minimum stay allows you to enjoy the full potential of Ek’ Tun, and packages are available to provide an even wider variety of activities, including a visit to Tikal in Guatemala. It is also possible to customize your package to suit your own desires.

Because Ek’ Tun can accept only a few guests at a time, reservations are required. It would also be prudent to arrange to have Ken pick you up upon arrival at the international airport or in San Ignacio. There is a charge for these transfers, but it is a better arrangement than renting a vehicle and driving yourself.

Ek’ Tun is the most beautiful property we have seen in Belize, and we would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. It has great facilities and the feeling of total seclusion and privacy here makes it perfect for honeymooners, too. Best of all, are your delightful, down-to-earth hosts, who are devoted to making your visit here the highlight of your Belizean holiday.