The River House Lodge
Humming Bird Highway
The drive over the Hummingbird Highway is always a beautiful trip. Last year we made this trip in May, at the tail end of the Dry Season so normal beauty of the highway was tempered by the dryness and smoke from the numerous forest fires burning in the Mountain Pine Ridge area. We have been experiencing a bit of a drought in the Consejo area this year but is seems the Stann Creek District has been getting plenty of rain. Everything was green, all those lovely incredible shades of green that make the hillsides almost magical. The rivers and creeks were flowing near their normal levels and the air was crystal clear. Simply put, it was perfect.
The River House Lodge
Our destination was The River House Lodge, about 7 miles off the Southern Highway on The Sittee River. The turnoff is the next left after the Hopkins exit. We have stayed in Hopkins several times and we were just looking for a little different experience. River House Lodge is a small, well maintained lodge on the river. All the normal amenities like hot and cold water, electricity even AC are there. They have a lovely indoor pool next to the bar and they provide "upon request" dining. Mosquitos were not a problem, however there was an hour or so around sundown when the no-see-ums were active.
It was surprising the we were the only guests. Early December should be high season for resorts in Belize. We noticed a fair number of tourist about, more so in Hopkins and Placencia then around Sittee River, but not the numbers we expected.
We drove the 30 miles south to Red Bank hoping the Scarlet Macaws might be feeding on the early annato fruit. Alas, the early fruit was ripe in October and the normal annato isn't ripe yet, so no Macaws. According to Geronimo Sho, February is the only guaranteed time to see the Scarlet Macaws at Red Bank.
Boat Ride On Sittee River
Unable to see the Scarlet Macaws, we drove back to River House Lodge where the proprietor, Keith, arranged a boat ride down the river for early afternoon. Our guide was Levi, a long time resident of Sittee Village. He proved to be a knowledgeable guide and excellent boat handler. We spent about 3 hours on the river and it was the highlight of our trip.
Almost invisible on the southern shoreline is the channel into Anderson Lagoon. This channel was dug by hand by a guy named Anderson in the early 1980's. It was originally only wide and deep enough for a canoe but years of erosion have widened and deepened the channel enough for our ponga to easily pass through into the Lagoon.
Anderson Lagoon is one of those magical places, secluded and eerie calm. Levi said that at night the lagoon is lit by an abundance of phosphorescent fish. That would be something to see. Maybe next time.